Local group highlights Saudi Arabia as prime tourist destination

1 / 4
Qairawan promotes domestic tourism and has a database on its website of all the places people can visit in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)
2 / 4
Qairawan promotes domestic tourism and has a database on its website of all the places people can visit in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)
3 / 4
Qairawan promotes domestic tourism and has a database on its website of all the places people can visit in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)
4 / 4
Qairawan promotes domestic tourism and has a database on its website of all the places people can visit in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 26 January 2020

Local group highlights Saudi Arabia as prime tourist destination

  • Qairawan, an Arabic word for caravan, is an initiative that encourages and enables people to travel around the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Long before Saudi Arabia began promoting travel and exploration, an adventurous group of locals from Jeddah aimed to showcase the Kingdom as a prime tourist destination, and succeeded.

Qairawan is an initiative that encourages and enables people to travel around the Kingdom. It consists of Saudis Esraa Rayes and Omar Edrees, Yemeni Nada Al-Nahdi and Lebanese Ziad Traboulsi.

“Each of us used to travel separately, posting our adventures on social media. We received a lot of positive feedback, praise and questions on how to travel around Saudi Arabia,” Al-Nahdi told Arab News. 

“Despite answering each query in detail, many still hesitate to venture to untapped places in Saudi Arabia.”

In February 2019, Al-Nahdi came up with the idea of gathering people and taking them on trips in the Kingdom.

The first official trip was the following month.

“Qairawan was inspired by our passion for traveling, our love for underrated beautiful places in Saudi Arabia, and our determination to spread awareness and knowledge on how to travel responsibly and in a minimalistic way,” she said. 

The aim is to cover all areas of the Kingdom.

Edrees told Arab News: “Since March 2019, we’ve traveled to the western region, Al-Baha, Jazan, Asir, Tabuk, the central region and northern borders. We’ve explored around 30 cities and villages.”

He added: “Our community is open to all nationalities, classes, genders and ages. Our aim is to encourage and enable travel across the Kingdom for everyone.”

The most common questions the group receives are about locations and how to reach them. Traboulsi said: “There isn’t enough information online on places in Saudi Arabia, and many of them are even undiscovered. We aim to enrich our website with a database that will be continuously updated as we travel around.”
He added that tourists visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time have little knowledge of how vast and diverse this country is.
“With Qairawan, we’ve helped in broadening their perspective and enlightening them with many unexplored sites to see,” he said.

Rayes told Arab News: “After their visit, tourists are astonished by the lush green mountains in the south, pristine beaches along the coast, and rugged mountains and valleys that they hadn’t expected to witness in Saudi Arabia.”

She said: “We want to show the world that Saudi Arabia has everything for everyone, and we want to show locals that going to beautiful places doesn’t require traveling abroad.”

Saudi Arabia holds all the beauty of the world in one place, said Rayes, adding: “From the tops of snowy mountains to the depth of the colorful coral-covered floors of the Red Sea, everyone will find what they’re looking for.”

Qairawan is building a database on its website of all the places people can visit in the Kingdom, with an interactive map that shows the location and activities in the area.
Al-Nahdi said they wanted a name that signifies what the initiative does. “Qairawan was perfect because it means a group of people traveling,” she added.


World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

Updated 06 April 2020

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

  • Be strong, Pope Francis says
  • US faces ‘Pearl Harbor moment’

JEDDAH: World leaders urged people on Sunday to show courage and strength in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as the global death toll approached 70,000 from more than 1.25 million cases of infection.

Pope Francis described the outbreak as a tragedy, Queen Elizabeth of the UK offered her personal thanks to frontline health workers, and Americans were warned that they faced the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives.

Saudi Arabia reported five more deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 34. The number of confirmed cases rose by 206 to 2,385, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

The Foreign Ministry will register requests this week from Saudis abroad who want to return home, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and people in countries most affected by the pandemic. Those who return are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and about 11,000 hotel rooms have been set aside for them.

The Health Ministry warned that too many people were ignoring advice to stay at home. “Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent mobility in shopping and outdoor activities. This is a very alarming percentage,”ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“We are all in this boat together, and those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too.”

The six Gulf states have reported 6,757 cases of infection and 54 deaths from the coronavirus. The UAE, where 1,505 people have been infected and 10 have died, will increase its stockpile of strategic goods and waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year, said the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In Rome, on Palm Sunday, a Christian religious festival, Pope Francis celebrated mass by live stream with St.Peter’s Square empty of the usual huge crowds.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love’,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth gave a rare special address to the British people, only the fourth in her 68-year reign. She praised frontline health workers and more than 750,000 people who volunteered to help the state-run National Health Service.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

In the US, as the death toll approached 10,000, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives … our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”