Saudi desert offers respite from virus lockdown

The site offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 18 March 2020

Saudi desert offers respite from virus lockdown

  • Corona is negative, but the positive is that this place is full of people, says rescue volunteer of the Edge of the World

JABAL FIHRAYN: As Saudi Arabia suspended international flights and shuttered entertainment venues this weekend over coronavirus fears, locals and residents once again turned to wide-open desert spaces for recreation, including the breathtaking “Edge of the World.”

There has been a surge of interest in getaways to the rugged desert just outside the capital Riyadh, guides say.
Those seeking isolation away from home can make the two-hour drive northwest from the capital Riyadh to the Edge of the World site, where 300-meter-high cliffs offer expansive desert vistas.
Described as a “window framed by rock,” the site offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation.
“I came to enjoy trail hiking because many places are closed: Cinemas, public spaces and we cannot travel,” Khalid Al-Harbi, a Saudi from the Eastern Province, told Reuters.
Sarah, a Briton living in Riyadh, said the metropolis had gone quiet nowadays. “But here is an incredible place to come, lots of fresh air, you’re outside. There are lots of people here but there’s such a lot of space,” she said.

HIGHLIGHT

Those seeking isolation away from home can make the two-hour drive northwest from the capital Riyadh to the Edge of the World site, where 300-meter-high cliffs offer expansive desert vistas.

Saudi Arabia has reported 118 coronavirus cases but no deaths. It suspended the Umrah pilgrimage and locked down its eastern Qatif region where many infections are located.
The authorities have shuttered sports, entertainment and wedding halls, asked people to avoid shaking hands, and urged the population of 30 million to limit their movements.
Buses and 4x4s transport families and young people to the desert site for a day of trekking and a campfire barbecue with music, dancing and waterpipes. The cliffs, officially known as Jabal Fihrayn, overlook ancient caravan trade routes.
The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.
“Corona is negative, but the positive is that this place is full of people,” said Abdulrahman Edres, who knows the area well as a rescue volunteer.


Saudi foreign minister calls for ‘transparent and independent’ Beirut explosion investigation

Updated 09 August 2020

Saudi foreign minister calls for ‘transparent and independent’ Beirut explosion investigation

  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan told an emergency donors conference that Saudi Arabia stands with Lebanon
  • Minister condemns 'destructive hegemony' of Hezbollah, which has history of storing explosive materials among civilians

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia called for a transparent and independent investigation into the Beirut explosion, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Sunday.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan told an emergency donors conference that Saudi Arabia stands with Lebanon. He described the explosion that killed more than 150 people as “horrific.”

Prince Faisal said strong state institutions that work for the interests of the Lebanese people are vital to the reform required to guarantee Lebanon's political and economic future.
“The continued destructive hegemony of the terrorist organization Hezbollah worries us all, and we all know this organization’s history of using explosive materials and storing them among civilians in several Arab and European countries and in north and south America.”
“Lebanon is in dire need of comprehensive and urgent political and economic reform to ensure that this terrible disaster will not occur again,” he said.

He added that four planes carrying Saudi aid have arrived in Beirut.
The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has provided 290 tons of medical equipment, food supplies and housing materials.

The conference was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.