Saudis ditch the beach for mountains as hiking interest peaks

Saudis ditch the beach for mountains as hiking interest peaks
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There are many great places in the Makkah region for outdoor activities, even for sand dune riding. Khulays is one of those areas that nature lovers should explore. (AN photos by Rawan Radwan)
Saudis ditch the beach for mountains as hiking interest peaks
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There are many great places in the Makkah region for outdoor activities, even for sand dune riding. Khulays is one of those areas that nature lovers should explore. (AN photos by Rawan Radwan)
Saudis ditch the beach for mountains as hiking interest peaks
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Bandar Al-Jehani
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Updated 28 December 2020

Saudis ditch the beach for mountains as hiking interest peaks

Saudis ditch the beach for mountains as hiking interest peaks
  • Cooler weather and high tides in the sea change outing options for many

JEDDAH: With the weather turning cooler and beaches set for bonfires and barbecue dinners, Jeddawis have instead turned to deserts and mountains for weekend getaways as part of their yearly exploration for new lands to discover.

Jeddawis have always romanticized their city by sea, giving it the title “The Bride of the Red Sea.” A normal weekend for most Jeddawis is spent at the beach, taking part in water sports activities or enjoying seaside picnics all year around.
Now that it is winter, high tides have become a problem for divers, the wind has hindered some water sports, and it is not a popular time to get a tan, so beach lovers have gone to test out different sands in the desert.
Arab News spoke to tour agencies and hiking guides to find out why hiking and desert trekking have risen in popularity among residents of the city and western region.
Bandar Al-Jehani, 33, founded the tour agency YOLO Jeddah in 2017. He said that people began to hike and arrange public excursions in the area around three to four years ago, and that since then, it has spiked in popularity.
“It used to be more exclusive — just groups of friends or small groups that all know each other, and it took off from there,” he told Arab News.


Al-Jehani said the change in weather affects beach trips, which are organized and available year round. People often choose to head east as soon as the weather drops below 30 degrees Celsius, he added.

Jeddah winters are known to be mild and temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees Celsius during evenings, which is considered peak time for desert excursions.
“Jeddawis are known to be beach lovers. They’re always at the beach in the summer, but strong waves could arise in winter. From here, Jeddawis turned to hiking in the winter,” he said.

The practice of hiking in the Kingdom dates back to the ancient Lihyan kingdom.

Hassan Humadi

He added that there are many great places in Jeddah for outdoor activities, even for sand dune riding.
Ahmed Abduljawad, a senior marketing specialist at Destifind tour agency, said hiking has been practiced in Jeddah for more than 12 years, but that it used to be closed to small groups of friends and was nonexistent for the general public until tour groups for daily excursions in the area began to appear, with the help of social media.
“None of these activities were organized or referred to an association,” he told Arab News. “We wanted to make it proper and meet higher standards in terms of organization and safety.
“Jeddawis are always active. When the weather gets cold and beautiful they try to find alternative activities other than the beach. And that’s when they start looking for nice outdoor locations to spend the weekend.”

FASTFACT

Jeddah winters are known to be mild and temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees Celsius during evenings, which is considered peak time for desert excursions.

For the past few years, many new opportunities have been provided to Saudis after explorers revealed some of the hidden gems the Kingdom’s vast lands have to offer.
Hassan Humadi, a 43-year-old Saudi tour and hiking guide certified by the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation and the Ministry of Tourism, said hiking traditions in the Kingdom date back to ancient civilizations.
“The practice of hiking in the Kingdom dates back to the ancient Lihyan kingdom where people crossed long paths and valleys, and climbed mountains for food and water,” he told Arab News. “It became popular in the Kingdom and has been considered a sport during the past five years.”
He added that Jeddawis have been exploring the activity in growing numbers, especially this year after lockdown restrictions were eased. Humadi said that he guided many groups on hiking trails in the area, often up to four or five groups a week, all from Jeddah.
“We all love going to the beach, and Jeddawis love going to the beach as it is close to them and plays a part in their daily lives. Hiking has become another hobby added to their list.”
Humadi said hiking is not dependent on seasons and can be practiced year round, but that there are certain activities that feel special in the winter, such as making a campfire in the cold weather.
“Jeddawis come to Taif in August to enjoy cooler weather, rain and nature. During the winter, they enjoy the fog and making campfires.” He said that areas around the
city are filled with tourist spots with high potential that deserve to be visited.
“As a tour guide, and even before attaining this position, I knew that Jeddah is a special historic area famous for its beautiful beaches and sea. When I first became a tour guide, I gained knowledge about Historic Jeddah (Al-Balad) and other beautiful historic areas. In all honesty, Jeddah deserves to be visited as a tourist destination.”


Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. (SPA)
Updated 54 min 2 sec ago

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
  • The new regulations cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic

RIYADH: The General Assembly of the Saudi Supreme Court has ordered the waiving of overdue rents on businesses hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and called for a review of such contracts between tenants and owners.

The steps have been taken in view of the circumstances caused by the pandemic, wherein an obligation or contract cannot be implemented without unusual losses.

The president of the Supreme Court, Khalid bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Luhaidan, approved the decisions backed by 32 members of the assembly, Okaz newspaper reported.

Authorities have set conditions that have to be met before a case can be considered for review under the new regulations.

If a contract was concluded before the commencement of the preventive measures announced in the wake of the pandemic, then the impact was direct and unavoidable. If in such a case, an affected party was not compensated or did not reach a deal to mitigate the impact of the health crisis, then it qualifies for a review and the new regulations will then take effect, said legal sources.

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

It also said the new provisions will be applicable to tenancy contracts and movable properties affected by the pandemic.

It clarified that if, due to the pandemic, a tenant was unable to use the leased property, in whole or in part, the court would reduce the rent as much as the usually intended benefit was reduced.

A lessor, meanwhile, does not have the right to terminate the contract if a tenant is late in paying rent for the period during which it was impossible to fully or partly use the property due to the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

The new regulations also cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic.

If the pandemic causes an increase to the cost of materials and labor wages, etc., the court shall increase the value of the contract while ensuring the obligor can afford to bear the expense. The obligee, upon increasing the obligation, has the right to request the termination of the contract. If the increase in the cost of materials is temporary, the court reserves the right to temporarily suspend the contract.

If the pandemic causes a shortage of material in the market, the court can reduce the quantity to the extent it deems sufficient to protect the obligor from harm.

Moreover, if the shortage of materials is temporary, the court can temporarily suspend the contract if the person obligated to it is not severely affected by this suspension. If he is harmed, he may request termination of the contract. If the materials were not available at all, leading to the impossibility of implementing the contractual obligations or some of them, the court will terminate the clauses that are impossible to implement upon the request of one of the parties to the contract.

If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. If the other party fears unusual damage due to the suspension, he may request termination of the contract.

In addition, the court also stressed the need to carefully assess the damages on a case-to-case basis, and that one or more experts should do the assessment. While assessing damages, it should be made clear what losses were incurred directly due to the pandemic and had nothing do to with seasonal upswing in certain activities.

The Supreme Court explained that a court is bound, when considering cases arising from contracts and obligations affected by the pandemic, not to apply penalty clause or fines in whole or in part — depending on the case.

In the event that a contract includes a clause of exemption from liability for one of the contracting parties when an emergency or force majeure occurs, the condition has no effect, and the party that breaches the obligation must provide evidence that the pandemic was the reason for the breach.

The affected contracts that are not covered by the provisions of this principle shall be subject to the legal and statutory litigation principles, said the court.

Commenting on the decision, Talal Albotty, the regional director of the Central Region, Salama Insurance Co., said there is a type of insurance called “suspension of operations” because of continuous epidemics, and falls under property insurance.

“This type of insurance can be found in European countries and some Asian countries but it is not applicable in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News. “The insurance against projects does not exist because when the project stops, insurance stops.”

Regarding the rise in prices of commodities, or the increase in prices because of pandemics and suspension of imports, a condition must be added stating that the value of property or project must increase by 10-25 percent, he added.

“Now most reinsurance companies around the world stopped offering insurance related to pandemics and contagious diseases in most countries, including COVID-19, because their impact was huge and the companies sustained huge losses,” he said.

Saudi lawyer Reem Alajmi said the resolution aims to treat and remedy the losses incurred by parties to the contract in terms of obligations.

“The parties could not fulfil their obligations because of a lack of sufficient resources or suspension of working hours during the pandemic. Fulfilling the obligation fully or partially was difficult because COVID-19 pandemic was a force majeure,” she told Arab News.

According to Alajmi, the effects or damage caused by the pandemic must not be covered by other laws. “Proving the occurrence of damage is the responsibility of the plaintiff and the defendant based on evidence submitted to the court,” she added. “The contracts and obligations are amended accordingly.”