Asir ‘could be hotspot for global tourism,’ say travel bloggers

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YouTuber and blogger Joshua Van Alstine. (Photo supplied by: Laura Alho)
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Travel blogger Paris Verra.YouTuber and blogger Joshua Van Alstine. (Photo supplied by: Laura Alho)
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YouTuber and blogger Joshua Van Alstine. YouTuber and blogger Joshua Van Alstine. (Photo supplied by: Laura Alho)
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Instagram and travel blogger Paris Verra.
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Paragliding is among the attractions for thrillseekers in addition to bungee jumping, ropes course, slingshot and paintballing. (Photo courtesy: @AlsoudahSeason)
Updated 04 September 2019
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Asir ‘could be hotspot for global tourism,’ say travel bloggers

  • Flower Men Festival a hit with visitors
  • Season ends Aug. 31

AL-SOUDAH: Asir province has the potential to become a hotspot for international tourism, according to bloggers who were impressed by the events and activities on offer at Al-Soudah Season. Joshua Van Alstine, who shot to fame in Saudi Arabia with his YouTube videos, said the public and private sector were taking advantage of the area’s potential and would develop it to accommodate demand.
 Van Alstine and his wife, who hails from the southwestern city of Tanomah in Asir, were driving to Abha from Riyadh and were invited to explore Al-Soudah Season.
“I loved it, I am so glad I accepted the invitation,” he told Arab News. “The best part of visiting Al-Soudah was trying out the bungee jumping.”
He also met his wife’s relatives. “We had dinner with them, they came to visit us in Al-Soudah and I gave them a tour and they really liked it. They could not believe this was happening in the region and I could not either. This is something so special, even as an American and we have had these events for years back home, this to me is something incredibly special.”
Al-Soudah has other attractions for thrillseekers in addition to bungee jumping. There is a ropes course, a slingshot, paintballing and paragliding.
Slightly more leisurely activities include trekking, cycling, enjoying performances of a local dance, and learning more about the distinctive traditions of the region’s Flower Men, a tribal group famous throughout the Kingdom for their floral crowns who live high up in the mountains.

I loved it, I am glad I accepted the invitation. The best part of visiting Al-Soudah was trying out the bungee jumping.

Joshua Van Alstine, YouTuber and blogger

“They did a great job,” said Van Alstine. “I am sure they had a lot of challenges moving up and down the mountain area into that valley. There are not that many places where you can walk into a town and see people singing, dancing and that is what happened when we visited. We walked into this old school village and people were laughing, dancing and the smell of food ... it was kind of like a barbeque.”
Travel blogger Paris Verra, who also visited Al-Soudah, said the region’s people were hospitable and welcoming. “The place is unreal, the beauty is just incredible,” she told Arab News. “Coming here I feel safe and there are many misconceptions of coming to Saudi Arabia. If people would open up there are so many great things about this country in general, especially in this region.”
Verra experienced four seasons in one hour. “I mean, it was like eating lunch in the clouds. Then there was rain, then there was thunder, and then clear blue sky ... and the Flower Men festival is on a whole different level.”
Al-Soudah Season runs until the end of the month and its programs are held across seven locations. The main area, called The Hub, is suitable for families. There is also the Kids Zone, where the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation is holding educational workshops at the House of Qatt.
It is one of 11 festivals being held across the Kingdom to promote the country as a global tourist destination.
It also seeks to contribute to achieving goals within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to improve the quality of life, raise living standards, and create career and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.


King Abdul Aziz lookalike to star in new Saudi Movie 'Born a King'

Updated 6 min 51 sec ago

King Abdul Aziz lookalike to star in new Saudi Movie 'Born a King'

  • Rakan Abdulwahid is the 32-year-old Saudi actor who plays King Abdul Aziz
  • The rapper, singer, designer, model and now actor considers himself a 'Saudi ambassador of arts to the US' 

RIYADH: With his long dreadlocked hair, handsome Arabian looks and a quiet disposition, Rakan Abdulwahid is the 32-year-old Saudi actor who plays King Abdul Aziz in “Born a King.”

His family history runs deep with the Al-Saud family. “My great grandfather fought alongside King Abdul Aziz,” Rakan told Arab News.  

His family’s lineage goes back to the days of King Abdulaziz as they are considered the official “Al-Arda” dance performers. They have been performing the pre-war and celebratory dance for over a century, before the founding of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

His uncle, Salah Abdulwahid, is featured in the movie, as the main Al-Arda performer.

The Saudi actor felt a connection to the founder of the Kingdom, not only physically resembling the king, but also embodying his charisma.

Before the shooting of the movie, he began reading up on anything he could get his hands on to learn more about the founder’s personality, to try and pefect his character and do him justice on the big screen.

Born in the US and raised in the Kingdom, and an avid athlete in his youth, he was a soccer player until he broke his hip in a tournament.

The multitalented actor not only shines through on the big screen, but is a rapper, singer, model and designer. As a lover of the arts in all forms, he believes that culture can build bridges across the world.

He has vowed to represent his country in a positive manner while breaking stereotypes about Saudi Arabia. He also speaks French, English and Spanish fluently.

The actor obtained four degrees in just 7 years, having majored in industrial engineering with a minor in business and math from Northeastern University.

He later continued his education and received his master’s in engineering project management and an MBA certificate in global supply chain management. However, that didn’t stop him from taking law classes at Harvard for a semester.

As a child he would write 300-page stories, cooked passionately and danced with abandonment.

He returned to his homeland to play one of the most influential people in the Kingdom’s history: Its founder King Abdul Aziz.