RT documentary shows Saudi Arabia as it’s never been seen before

In AlUla, numerous societies and civilizations have followed one another. Their remains have been exceptionally preserved. (Supplied)
Updated 14 October 2019

RT documentary shows Saudi Arabia as it’s never been seen before

  • 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

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.

HIGHLIGHTS

• 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.

• Many of those featured in the documentary are young Saudi tour guides.

• One scene shows the visitor drinking a signature coffee from one of Jeddah’s finest coffee houses.

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.”


Museum telling Jeddah’s historic story to open in 2022

The building, designed in typical Jeddah style, bears white walls made of a heady mix of coral stones extracted from the nearby reef along the Red Sea shores, and purified clay from nearby lakes. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 40 min 48 sec ago

Museum telling Jeddah’s historic story to open in 2022

  • Red Sea Museum in the Bab Al-Bunt building will house rare collections, manuscripts, pictures and books

JEDDAH: Jeddah’s rich and colorful past is riddled with events that can take a lifetime to tell, and which will soon be on display for all to see.

Situated on the western shores of the Kingdom, the city is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, languages and ethnicities. Jeddah, “The Pearl of the Red Sea,” will soon have a museum in the heart of its historic district that will showcase the city’s story.
The Ministry of Culture (MoC) has announced that the Red Sea Museum in the Bab Al-Bunt building will open to visitors at the end of 2022. The building’s location was historically known as Bab Al-Bunt port, connecting the residents of the Red Sea coast to the world, and a key gateway for pilgrims, merchants and tourists to the city.
The port also served as the departure point for Kingdom’s founding father, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, when he sailed to Egypt to meet King Farouk 74 years ago.


The building, designed in typical Jeddah style, bears white walls made of a heady mix of coral stones extracted from the nearby reef along the Red Sea shores, and purified clay from nearby lakes used to cement them, with the walls dotted with the unique intricate woodwork balconies and windows known as “rowshan,” historically known to have been influenced by the Levant.
It is believed that the building was also named after one of Jeddah’s old gateways, dating back over 200 years.
The MoC announced that the museum will house rare collections, manuscripts, pictures and books that tell the story of the building and city. It is seeking to celebrate the cultural value that the Red Sea coast represents, and the experiences of its residents, shedding light on stories of seafaring, trade, pilgrimage, diversity and other cultural elements that have shaped Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.
Saudi artist Dia Aziz Dia, one of the Kingdom’s pioneers of the arts told Arab News that Jeddah’s unique place in history was a story that could be told in many ways, but that showcasing it in a museum would be the right approach.

Dia Aziz Dia, Saudi artist

“Our placement and history must be placed in a museum because if it’s not placed now and studied properly to show to the world who we are, then all of our heritage could be lost in time,” Dia said.
He added that it is no easy task to reach international museum standards, as many of the items, paintings and artifacts will need special attention with highly skilled workers to ensure optimal preservation and display, fitting for a museum that will accommodate not only locals, but visitors from across the world.
The museum will house more than 100 creative artworks, hold about four temporary annual exhibitions, and offer educational programs for all age groups.
It will tell stories of woven cultures and traditions handed down throughout time — of east meeting west, openness, and centuries of progress.
“Whatever will be on display in the museum will show the history of the city and its special location in the world, because Jeddah is a gateway for all (pilgrims) arriving to head to Makkah and Madinah for Hajj (and Umrah),” said Dia. “At the same time, those who stayed in Jeddah throughout history, the mixing and diversity that resulted from that gives Jeddah its broad culture because the people are not from one category or one nationality, such as in other cities in the Kingdom.
The Red Sea Museum is part of the Quality of Life Vision Realization Program of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. It also comes under the umbrella of the Specialized Museums Initiative, part of the first package of the MoC’s range of initiatives.