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.”


Comic book fans unite at Stan Lee Super Con in Riyadh

Updated 15 min 49 sec ago

Comic book fans unite at Stan Lee Super Con in Riyadh

RIYADH: The Stan Lee Super Con kick-started at the Riyadh Front, providing a place for comic book fans to express themselves.

The conventions were divided into two parts — Anime Con and the Stan Lee Super Con. The Super Con was a comic nerd’s dream come true, bringing together everything from the Batmobile, the Delorian from “Back to the Future” and the time-traveling Tardis from “Doctor Who.”

The convention also brought together a variety of celebrities, including actors, creators and famous artists.

The comic book artist Bob Layton, best known for his work in Marvel Comics’ “Iron Man” and “Hercules” sat in a booth to give autographs to star-struck fans.

“I am looking forward to seeing Saudi Arabia very much — because of work I haven’t seen much. When I travel, I am more interested in where culture is than where it has been, especially in Saudi Arabia because this country is opening up and it is very exciting,” Layton told Arab News.

“I am very glad to be meeting so many Saudis here, since they come here to see me. Americans have a very warped perception of Muslim countries and I don’t share that because once you get to meet the people you see that we are very much alike.”

He shared his story of how he got into comics, which tells of how useful of a tool comic books can be: He learned how to read by reading comics.

“All the pictures made sense to me and as a child it made me want to understand what was in the text balloons, so I became a reader at the age of four. If they can teach a four-year-old how to read, they can teach a lot of things to a lot of people.

“Part of my achievement as a comic artist is that my work has transcended comics and became global. So, now wherever I go in the world I see that comics have become universal.”

The actor Sam J. Jones, who played the infamous “Flash Gordon” in the 1980 film, was also present.

He said he was thrilled to be in Saudi Arabia for the first time, and was deeply moved by the positive attitude of the Saudi people.

“Even before I stepped in Saudi Arabia I traveled with Saudi Airlines, and even in Los Angeles when I arrived at the ticket counter everybody was smiling, and people haven’t stopped since.

“I did the panel and met people afterward and the fans have been amazing. It is a blessing to be here in Riyadh for the first time, I am used to doing comic cons but this being my first time in Saudi Arabia is amazing and hopefully, there will be more to come.”

Melinda Jean, a cosplayer, walked among the crowd with a magnificent cape, dressed up as the popular villain Hela from “Thor: Ragnarok.” She was extremely excited to be a part of the Super Con, she said.

“I am so excited — it is my first time being in Saudi Arabia. It is so surreal that we are here, and we get to do this. I will be sharing my tips and tricks on how to become a cosplayer and get into cosplay so I will be here all weekend.”