RIYADH: With Saudi Arabia’s latest venture into the world of global tourism, many are curious to see what the Kingdom is all about.
From its golden sand dunes to its coral-dotted seas, top Saudi tourist attractions were recently highlighted in an RT documentary, bringing the best that the Kingdom offers to Russian viewers and others across the world.
Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to the world, and the documentary, “Saudi Like You’ve Never Seen It Before,” provides a glimpse of the diverse wonders of the Kingdom.
The documentary starts off with the TV reporter, Maxim Al-Toury, taking a stroll in Madain Saleh, 300km north of Madinah, with the area’s magnificent tombs carved in the sandstone outcrops scattered across the area.
The site was not only the southernmost settlement of the Nabataeans, who carved out the city of Petra in Jordan, it is the first archaeological site in Saudi Arabia to join UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Sites filmed during the documentary range from the clear night skies of AlUla to the Edge of the World on the outskirts of the Kingdom’s capital.
The reportage, in Arabic, shows viewers a side of Saudi Arabia that many know little about.
Did you know that Saudi Arabia’s farms, such as Astra Farms, are irrigated by artesian wells and produce enough fruits and vegetables to export? Deserts make up 95 percent of Saudi Arabia — this is news to many viewers in the Kingdom as well as viewers abroad.
The reporter does not simply talk about Al-Toury’s tour around the Kingdom, he takes part in the different experiences he is highlighting — from boat tours and diving excursions to a simple sit-down over a cup of Arabic coffee in the middle of the desert near AlUla.
“When we initially began thinking about tourism in the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) three years ago, we took into consideration ‘international standards.’ After three years of hard work, we’ve finally achieved these high international standards and we’re ready for international tourists,” said Ahmed Shaker, associate director of the Marina and Yacht Club in KAEC.
Many of those featured in the documentary are young Saudi tour guides, project managers with varied years of experience with one goal — to show Saudi Arabia’s treasures in their truest form.
The objective was to break down stereotypes. One scene shows the visitor drinking a signature coffee from one of Jeddah’s finest coffee houses, Toqa, a brand owned by businesswomen, before heading to the airport with a young female tour guide taking the RT team on a tour of the coastal city.
“We are two of many women that helped to build the Kingdom, not just recently, but for a long time now,” said Ghada Ghazawi, a co-owner and businesswoman with more than 20 years of experience in public relations told the reporter.
“Allowing women to drive is the best gift given to all Saudi women,” said Abrar Bashuwair, a tour guide who drove the RT team around the coastal city before the end of the documentary.
“The whole world is watching Saudi women and what they’ll be doing next,” Bashuwair said. “We’re going to do so much in the field of tourism, aviation and more. We are with the change.”