Adventure-seeking Saudis ready to answer call of the wild

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Hiking in Abha’s mountains, fishing in the clear waters of Umluj in Tabuk and exploring some of its 104 islands and stargazing from the red sand dunes of the Nafud desert are just some of the trips on offer. (Photos/Masarat club)
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Hiking in Abha’s mountains, fishing in the clear waters of Umluj in Tabuk and exploring some of its 104 islands and stargazing from the red sand dunes of the Nafud desert are just some of the trips on offer. (Photos/Masarat club)
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Exploring Al-Wahba crater image courtesy of Riyadh Hiking
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Image courtesy of Khaled Zaroq/Masarat Club
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Image courtesy of Masarat Club
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Graffiti rock. Image courtesy of Masarat Club
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Exploring Al-Wahba crater image courtesy of Riyadh Hiking
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Edge of the World- Riyadh image courtesy of Riyadh Hiking
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Image courtesy of Osamah Al-Shubbar/Masarat Club
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Updated 30 June 2020

Adventure-seeking Saudis ready to answer call of the wild

  • Travel groups gear up to launch virus-safe trips to some of Kingdom’s natural wonders

JEDDAH: Adventure-seeking Saudi citizens are being lured by the Kingdom’s great outdoors after months of being cooped up under the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown.

Following the partial easing of restrictions, which forced residents to stay at home, travel and activity groups are encouraging people to get back out and about exploring the Kingdom’s natural treasures and attractions. With international flights still suspended, Saudis and expats are being urged to rediscover the country’s beauty spots through organized activities, while still observing safety measures designed to stop the spread of the virus.
Hiking in Abha’s lush green mountains, fishing in the clear waters of Umluj in Tabuk province and exploring some of its 104 islands and stargazing from the red sand dunes of the Nafud desert are just some of the trips on offer.
One organization gearing up for a return to action is the Masarat Club. Founded in 2017 by travel enthusiasts with the aim of promoting adventure and exploration to Saudis, the group’s summer tours in the Kingdom are set to get underway in mid-July.
Bader Al-Omar, the club’s co-founder, told Arab News: The whole idea behind Masarat was based on the love of adventure. We made sure our mandate was based on exploring new untouched areas, especially in the Kingdom. Given the circumstances, we are resuming our trips mid-July, but with caution.”
He said outdoor adventuring and recreation could have major psychological benefits for people after months under lockdown.
“Masarat Club is not only about venturing out and discovering new untouched destinations in Saudi, we’re also very keen on supporting locals around the Kingdom by making the most of their amenities.


“We explore our Kingdom and play our role in showcasing the beauty of our regions as well as playing a role in supporting those who help us along the way,” added Al-Omar.
Considering COVID-19 protocols set by the Saudi authorities, he said the club would be cutting tour group numbers by half, enforcing social distancing among vehicle passengers, running health checks on clients, and allocating separate rooms and tents.

HIGHLIGHTS

With international flights still suspended, Saudis and expats are being urged to rediscover the country’s beauty spots through organized activities, while still observing safety measures designed to stop the spread of the virus.

Trippers will also be required to use their own personal items for food and drink. “This is important because we want everyone coming along to feel secure and stay safe,” added Al-Omar.
The lifting of the nationwide lockdown has provided adventure enthusiasts not only with the chance to get back to nature, but also offered an opportunity for discovery.
A number of companies have come up with creative strategies to run local recreation activities or trips to destinations throughout the Kingdom.
Faisal Al-Mshari, founder of Riyadh Hiking, told Arab News that even visiting familiar places would help people to regain a sense of belonging and connection with nature.
“We chose a sunrise hike for our first activity back, to rejuvenate and kick-start our trips again, following the protocols provided by the tourism ministry and relevant authorities.
“It’s important to start exploring again, not just for tourism and recreation but to also get away from our busy lives,” he said.
The club’s main activities include group hikes, stargazing, games, and camping and next on the trip agenda was walking Abha’s mountain trails.
However, Al-Mshari pointed out that many Saudis were still cautious about leaving the safety of their homes and had signed up for trips further down the line.
“We took advantage of the time we spent under lockdown and searched for new areas to visit and cover. Whether it be trails or beaches, it will be a challenge but we are ready to go,” he added.


New agreement for green hydrogen production plant in NEOM

Updated 07 July 2020

New agreement for green hydrogen production plant in NEOM

  • The joint venture project is the first partnership for NEOM with international and national partners in the renewable energy field

JEDDAH: A $5 billion production facility powered by renewable energy to supply 650 tons of carbon-free hydrogen daily for export to global markets is to be built at the main NEOM site under a new agreement.

Air Products, a world-leading industrial gases company, and ACWA Power, a developer and operator of power generation and desalinated water production plants, signed the agreement with NEOM to build the hydrogen-based ammonia production facility, which will be equally owned by the three partners. It aims to produce green ammonia for export to global markets by 2025.

The joint venture project is the first partnership for NEOM, a new model for sustainable living located in the north west corner of the Saudi Arabia, with international and national partners in the renewable energy field. It will include the innovative integration of more than four gigawatts of renewable power from solar and wind power and storage using various methods of production.

“This partnership reflects our deep commitment to developing a carbon-positive society that will be a beacon for sustainable living and a solution to many of the environmental challenges facing the world,” said Nadhmi Al Nasr, NEOM CEO.

“NEOM’s Board of Directors, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the company’s executive team are delighted to announce this significant milestone, the world’s largest renewable hydrogen project, for NEOM to make it a global leader in green hydrogen production and green fuels. We are also excited that two world-class organizations, Air Products and ACWA Power, have joined us in developing this major project, the first of many developments at this scale that will put NEOM at the heart of a new future society.”

“We are honored and proud to partner with ACWA Power and NEOM and use proven technologies to make the world’s dream of 100 percent green energy a reality,” said Seifi Ghasemi, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer for Air Products.

Ghasemi went on to say that harnessing the unique profile of NEOM’s sun and wind to convert water to hydrogen will yield a clean source of energy on a massive scale and will rid the world of over 3 million tons of CO2 emissions annually and eliminate smog-forming emissions and other pollutants from the equivalent of over 700,000 cars.

Air Products will be the exclusive off-taker of the green ammonia and intends to transport it around the world to be turned into green hydrogen for the transportation market.

ACWA Power chairman Mohammed A. Abunayyan said that “based in NEOM’s Industrial Cluster and enabled by its unique mandate, this investment will integrate and localize cutting-edge technologies that will harness solar and wind power to produce sustainable and globally accessible green energy.”

“ACWA Power has a proven track record of leveraging pioneering renewable technologies to deliver carbon-free power at the lowest cost. With our global experience, we are confident that our collaboration with an industry-leading company like Air Products will create significant opportunities in the production of green hydrogen, and further us in our goal to help countries meet their clean energy targets and unlock significant socio-economic benefits.”