RIYADH: With cooler winter weather sweeping Saudi Arabia, and with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) surges putting many countries back into lockdown, people in the Kingdom are heading to open spaces so they can have fun and relax in a safe yet socially distanced way.
Camping in the Kingdom, called kahsta, often involves activities that take place throughout the day and late into the night with locals enjoying different dances, cuisines, and games to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
One of the places becoming a major attraction for young people and families to enjoy the magic of wintertime is Wadi Hanifa, which is located on the outskirts of Riyadh.
It was known in the pre-Islamic era as Wadi Al-Irdh and was renamed Wadi Hanifa after the Bani Hanifa tribe that populated the area.
The valley, which runs for a length of 120 km from the northwest to southeast, was once a waste disposal site. Now it has water channels, green corridors, walkways, and picnic spots for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty that includes orchards and farms.
Jerry Inzerillo, who is CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), told Arab News the wadi was famous because it had what humans needed: Water, food, shelter, and shade. He said it was a place where people told stories, raised their families, and prospered together, but then people began taking it for granted.
Inzerillo said that next year there would be several new attractions opening as part of the development of Wadi Hanifa.
“We’re putting tens of thousands of new palm trees, big parks. We’re going to have pets and horses, walking and jogging trails, cafes and restaurants and petting zoos and activities. It’s going to be so much fun to be in the wadi that there will be plenty to do.”
Afnan Ahmed, who is a frequent visitor to Wadi Hanifa, said it was a place where people could enjoy themselves in big groups.
“Recently, my friends and I have been going to Wadi Hanifa, especially when the weather has become a little cooler. We wanted a place that we can all fit in, that can accommodate us, because we are many, a place where we don’t need to make any formal reservations, a place where we can relax and have fun. I think Wadi Hanifa gained popularity, especially after COVID-19 where people can’t travel abroad, and people need somewhere to breathe as it has amazing scenery.”
The popular location has ready-set tables and cushions available for rent in designated spots. The open area overlooking the valley, and with the Riyadh skyline in the distance, can be added as a newly favored evening getaway for all.