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.”


Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Updated 22 November 2019

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

  • Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout
Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
its people.

 Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state. 

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family. 

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.

BACKGROUND

At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

 Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

 To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

 At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century. 

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

 Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

 Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

 In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud. 

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.