A wealth of natural wonders and historic sites make Tabuk the perfect Saudi tourist spot

Tabuk region is a popular destination during the summer months. (SPA)
Updated 10 July 2019

A wealth of natural wonders and historic sites make Tabuk the perfect Saudi tourist spot

  • Tabuk is nestled between the Red Sea, to the west, and Al-Nafud desert, to the east

TABUK: Tabuk region offers a wealth of tourist attractions that help to guarantee a rewarding visit. The varied geography of the area means that a wide range of natural wonders are within easy reach, including the Red Sea, expansive plains and majestic mountains, along with ancient historical landmarks.

The region also hosts a number of festivals, organized by the Saudi Commission of Tourism and National Heritage, and the climate is wonderful all year round, making it a particularly popular destination during the summer months.

Tabuk is nestled between the Red Sea, to the west, and Al-Nafud desert, to the east. Five of its governorates are on the coast: Haql, Dabba, Al-Wajh, Amlaj and Al-Bada. Tabuk City is one of the largest and most important cities in the northern region, with a heritage dating back to the 5th century BC. It has acquired a number nicknames, including “Tabuk of the Roses” and “Northern Gate.”

The region’s abundant water reserves mean that it is one of the Kingdom’s largest agricultural areas. In addition to wheat, fruit and vegetables, Tabuk is renowned for its roses, which are popular within the country and also exported.

Noteworthy heritage sites in the city include Al-Tawba Mosque and the nearby Tabuk Castle. The Prophet Muhammad set up camp at the latter during his Tabuk expedition. The ancient mosque was built by Umayyad Caliph Omar bin Abdul Aziz in the location where the Prophet prayed. Thanks to its historical significance the city’s impressive railway station, which covers 80,000 square meters, is also worth a visit, as is the nearby Tabuk Regional Museum.

Other regional landmarks include: the Shuaib caves (Maghair Shuaib), which date back to the days of the Nabateans; the Great Tabuk Mountains, which contain Thamud and Nabatean scriptures; the Haddaj well of Tayma, which is one of the most important wells in the Kingdom and dates back to the first millennium B.C.; Tayma Castle; King Abdul Aziz Castle; and Al-Hamra Palace.

In recent years, Tabuk has undergone an urban and cultural revival. New hotels have been built and the number of passengers arriving at the region’s new airport, which opened in 2011, has risen to an estimated 1.5 million a year.

Tabuk city is currently preparing for its Roses and Fruits Festival, the largest event in the region, with about half-a-million visitors expected, so this is the perfect time to plan a visit.


Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

Nutrition is the most important part when it comes to bodybuilding, then comes type of exercise, and good rest. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

  • Ali Al-Salam, who stopped consuming animal products in 2017, says certain steps must be completed to have an athletic body

JEDDAH: The vegan diet has risen in popularity in Saudi Arabia in recent years and has been a constant topic of debate among Saudis, attracting the interest of many, including athletes.

Ongoing debates about whether the vegan diet is sufficient for normal people, let alone bodybuilders, abound, but one Saudi is answering them physically.
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.
Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease, but other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.
Speaking to Arab News, 33-year-old Saudi vegan bodybuilder, Ali Al-Salam, who first started his vegan diet three years ago when he was suffering from high blood pressure, highlighted that the consumption of animal products is a deep rooted idea among bodybuilders and athletes.
“We always hear that in order to build muscle, we must consume animal products. In some parts of the world, there are people who can only have a small amount of animal products yet they live their lives healthily and comfortably and are not suffering from malnutrition — on the contrary, they have a lower level of chronic illnesses.”

When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.

Ali Al-Salam, Saudi vegan bodybuilder

He said it also opened his eyes to what goes on in the dairy and meat industry; he began researching in 2016 and decided to become vegan in 2017.
“I was just like every other athlete, I used to consume a high amounts of protein. I remember in the last days before turning vegan, I used to have 10 egg whites and a piece of steak for breakfast to fulfil my protein needs. This made me think, ‘is this the only way to consume protein?’ And from then on, I started researching and got introduced to the vegan diet at a larger scale,” he said.
“When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.”
He explained that bodybuilding does not solely rely on protein, and that there are steps that must be completed in order to reach an athletic body. Nutrition is the most important part, then comes type of exercise, and good rest.
“When we talk about good nutrition, it does not just rely on protein. Yes, it is important, but the amount of calories in general is more important,” he said.
“Let’s say you needed 200 grams of protein, does that mean if you consumed 200 grams of it, you would gain muscle? No. You need all the basic nutrients to reach a certain amount of calories in general,” he added.
He highlighted that as soon as people register for gym memberships, they immediately look for supplements because they think they cannot reach the needed amount of protein.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.

• Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease.

• But other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.

• Vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants.

• Animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.

“I’m talking about non-vegans here too, where their protein intake is already high. Marketing plays a big role here. People link protein to animal products because our society grew up with this idea as well.
“Can a vegan build muscle? Yes, when they eat right, exercise correctly and rest well. The misconception about protein stems from amino acids. People think vegan food lacks amino acids, and only animal products are full of them and that is far from the truth,” he added.
When comparing vegan athletes to regular athletes, he said vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants which helps greatly in recovery, and because “animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.”