Arab travel influencers discover a local specialty: Pakistani hospitality

Arab travel influencers discover a local specialty: Pakistani hospitality
1 / 2
Saudi vlogger Ragdah Al-Howaish, who traveled to Pakistan by herself in November last year, had to confront questions of safety from friends and family back home. (Screenshot)
Arab travel influencers discover a local specialty: Pakistani hospitality
2 / 2
When Jordanian travel vlogger Joe Hattab visited Pakistan for the first time two years ago, he experienced something he never expected to: Unparalleled hospitality that has kept him coming back. (Screenshot)
Short Url
Updated 27 November 2020

Arab travel influencers discover a local specialty: Pakistani hospitality

Arab travel influencers discover a local specialty: Pakistani hospitality
  • Arab News interviews popular vloggers Joe Hattab, Kasem Hato and Ragdah Al-Howaish, who recently visited Pakistan
  • Al-Howaish describes Pakistan trip as ‘life-changing,’ Hattab says coming back was an ‘easy decision’

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: When Jordanian travel vlogger Joe Hattab visited Pakistan for the first time two years ago, he experienced something he never expected to: Unparalleled hospitality that has kept him coming back.

The 30-year-old filmmaker runs his own YouTube travel channel, which has over 5.7 million subscribers, mainly from Arabic-speaking countries. He has been to Pakistan thrice since 2018, each time visiting a different part of the country and making videos about the country’s heritage, landscapes and people.

“My friend in Pakistan, Ali, hosted me and told me, ‘I will show you something you have never seen before.’ And it was the hospitality,” Hattab told Arab News in a recent interview from Dubai, where he is currently based.

“As we traveled between cities, the people’s hospitality was striking,” he said.

“They wanted to be on camera, they wanted to share their stories with me and the channel.

“Coming back was an easy decision. There are still so many places to discover and to film, and I love sharing that with my audience, with the Arab people and with those who speak Arabic. Every time I visit Pakistan, it surprises me more and more,” Hattab said.

Pakistani hospitality also overwhelmed Kasem Hato, another Jordanian travel vlogger whom Arab News interviewed in Islamabad last Saturday.

“I had heard about the hospitality in Pakistan. It really is the best hospitality in the world,” said the 26-year-old, who calls himself Ibn Hattuta after the famed 14th-century Muslim explorer and storyteller from Morocco, Ibn Battuta.

“People here not only want you to see the best of their country, but they want you to feel like the country is yours too.”

 

Hato began documenting his travels in 2015 and has since visited more than 50 countries. His YouTube channel, Ibn Hattuta Travels, has over 760,000 followers.

“The beauty in the north of Pakistan was so unexpected,” Hato said, referring to his trip to the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“It is my hope that when people — including Pakistanis — watch my videos, they will realize just how much is out there to discover.”

But did he feel safe in Pakistan?

“It’s sad that people think Pakistan is a dangerous country, a country that is off limits to them,” Hato said.

“It’s very safe. You have so many people visiting neighboring India, and Pakistan can provide similar experiences, as well as additional ones that you can’t have in India.”

Saudi vlogger Ragdah Al-Howaish, who traveled to Pakistan by herself in November last year, also had to confront questions of safety from friends and family back home.

 

“A lot of people asked me, ‘Ragdah, you went to Pakistan, are you crazy? How did you do that? Why did you do that?’” she told Arab News, adding that many had even urged her not to go at all.

Their perceptions changed, she said, when she began sharing her videos from Pakistan.

“After I sent them videos, they understood that Pakistan was really like any other country and certainly not something to be afraid of.”

Al-Howaish, who studied film and media, estimates she has been to some 90 countries, but it was only in Pakistan that she became serious about vlogging. Watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers, her videos showcase her daily adventures and street food reviews.

“People would help guide me, give me advice on what to do. It was amazing,” she said. “People there do not ignore you; they want to help you,” she added, describing her Pakistan trip as “life-changing.”

“I love Pakistan. I have traveled all around the world, but I have not been to a place that stole my heart the way Pakistan did,” Al-Howaish said.

“Even now, no matter where I go, I think about Pakistan. Pakistan left something in my heart, and I didn’t want to let it go.”

Related


6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece
Updated 11 min 15 sec ago

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

ATHENS: A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit central Greece on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, prompting residents in the city of Larissa to rush into the streets according to local media.
The Institute of Geodynamics in Athens said the quake, which could be felt across central and northern Greece, had measured at a magnitude of 6.0.
According to the Athens observatory, the epicentre of the quake was 21 kilometres (13 miles) south of the town of Elassona, near Larissa.


Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca
Updated 03 March 2021

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier opted for an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine

NEW DELHI: Government ministers and officials were following Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead by opting on Tuesday for an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine approved without late-stage efficacy data, instead of the AstraZeneca one.
India’s health, foreign and law ministers, and state governors, all flocked to Twitter to express support for the much-criticized Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN vaccine, after it was administered to Modi on Monday.
“Made-in-India vaccines are 100% safe,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said after being inoculated with COVAXIN.
Many state officials and doctors have refused to take COVAXIN before its effectiveness could be proved. Bharat Biotech says it has completed the late-stage trial and results will be out this month.
The company said the endorsement by Modi and other ministers would set an example for other Indians and reduce “vaccine hesitancy.” It is seeking to sell COVAXIN to countries including Brazil and the Philippines.
COVAXIN and the AstraZeneca vaccines were approved by India’s regulator in January. The government has distributed to states a total of 50 million doses of the vaccines but only 12 percent of the 12 million people immunized so far have taken COVAXIN, according to government data.


Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police
Updated 03 March 2021

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

AMSTERDAM: Dutch police on Wednesday said a coronavirus testing location north of Amsterdam appeared to have been intentionally targeted after an explosion went off at the location before the site opened.

The blast in the town of Bovenkarspel, 55 km north of the capital, shattered windows but caused no injuries, police from the province of North Holland said in a statement.

They said they had cordoned off the area to investigate.

The explosive “must have been placed” there, police spokesman Menno Hartenberg told Reuters, adding that “something metal” had caused the explosion.

“We don't know yet exactly what exploded, the explosives experts must first investigate,” Hartenberg said.

“What we're saying is that something like that doesn't just happen by accident, it has to be laid,” he spokesman said.


Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority
Updated 03 March 2021

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority
  • Imran Khan’s coalition does not have a majority in the Senate, needed to pass key legislation

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The ruling party of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his political allies will seek to wrest control of Pakistan’s Senate from opposition parties on Wednesday in indirect elections to 37 seats in the 104-member upper house of the country’s parliament.
Though his party won the 2018 general election, Khan’s coalition does not have a majority in the Senate, needed to pass key legislation – including legal reforms sought by global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and money laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“They have difficulty in legislating, and many laws are stuck,” Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, head of the independent research organization PILDAT, said.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which translates into Pakistan Movement for Justice, has 12 seats in the Senate, and the two main opposition parties Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) have 12 and 25 seats each.
PTI is looking to go up to 25 seats after the elections, and, along with other coalition parties and independents, have a slender majority in the Senate.
The electoral college for the Senate elections, which are held every three years on half of the chamber’s strength, comprises Pakistan’s four provincial assemblies and the lower house of parliament.
With opposition parties controlling the Senate, the government has had to pass interim legislation through Presidential Ordinances, which expire in 120 days.
The government’s legislators and allies in the lower house of parliament will vote on making Khan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, a senator. The result could show how much confidence there is in the administration.
“It could determine who has a majority in parliament... it will be an embarrassment for the government, and could even lead to seeking a fresh vote of confidence,” Mehboob said.
The lead up to the potentially pivotal election has been marked by the government and opposition charging each other with seeking votes through unfair means.


Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan
Updated 03 March 2021

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan
  • Daesh fighters targeted three female employees of a television station

Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack that killed three female media workers in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday evening.
The militant group, which has a presence in Afghanistan, said its fighters had targeted the three female employees of a television station in the eastern city of Jalalabad, according to SITE Intelligence group.
Three women who worked for Enikas TV aged between 18 and 20 had died and a fourth was critically injured after being shot on their way home from work, Afghan officials had said.