From white sand beaches to orange groves, Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk has it all

From white sand beaches to orange groves, Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk has it all
Tabuk is one of the most important tourist destinations in the Kingdom, home to major heritage sites. (SPA)
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Updated 25 January 2021

From white sand beaches to orange groves, Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk has it all

From white sand beaches to orange groves, Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk has it all
  • Tabuk has much to explore, such as the ancient Tabuk Castle, one of the many archaeological sites, the old buildings of Hijaz Railway Station and Ain Sukkar, which is one of the city’s oldest water springs

JEDDAH: From the dark, deep blue waters off the coast to the surrounding valleys and orange farms, the city of Tabuk has it all.
The city has enjoyed a surge of tourists recently as many Saudis have opted to visit new regions and cities across the nation due to the restrictions on foreign travel.
Families and groups can explore Tabuk’s attractions either on their own or as part of a tour group through the Saudi Winter season website, which is registered with the Saudi Tour Guides Association.
Tabuk is one of the most important tourist destinations in the Kingdom, home to major heritage sites. Visitors driving to the city are engulfed by mesmerising mountains with glimpses of the Red Sea to the west until they finally enter the city limits.
Manar Al-Harthi, a private sector worker in Jeddah, traveled with her husband and family recently and was in awe of the city’s varied landscapes and beauty.
“The city’s amenities were really amazing. You had a variety of restaurants if you’d want to eat out, lots of fresh local produce for picnics, great beaches to relax and enjoy an outdoor excursion, and so much more,” she told Arab News. “This is our first time to the area. The people are so welcoming and we’ll be back for a second visit soon.”
What attracted her is not only the diversity of the geographical features of the city but how unspoilt it is.

HIGHLIGHT

Families and groups can explore Tabuk’s attractions either on their own or as part of a tour group through the Saudi Winter season website, which is registered with the Saudi Tour Guides Association.

It is said that Tabuk is the “gateway to the north,” and the relics it houses reflect the successive civilizations that inhabited it. It is also called “Tabuk Al-Ward” (Tabuk of roses) because its vast rose farms export their produce to the world.
“Not only did we visit the rose farms, but we also went to the orange groves and discovered that we have kumquats. They were absolutely delicious and I’ve never seen them grown here in Saudi Arabia before. You can see how fertile the soil is as we passed by the many farms to get here,” she said.
Tabuk has much to explore, such as the ancient Tabuk Castle, one of the many archaeological sites, the old buildings of Hijaz Railway Station and Ain Sukkar, which is one of the city’s oldest water springs.
Tour operators often include the most beautiful tourist oases on the Tabuk Mountains in their packages. One of those is Tayyib Asim, which is a few hours from the city, 314 meters above sea level, and overlooks the Gulf of Aqaba. It is known for its many palm trees, reeds, and clean water springs, making it more like a very beautiful nature reserve.
Tucked between towering red sandstone escarpments and canyon peaks, the valley of Wadi Al-Disa is known for its abundance of crystal-clear stream and palm trees. Lying approximately 2 hours away from the city and secluded from any kind of pollution, the area is ideal for hiking and camping out in the canyon and provides some of the best views of the heavens, a dream for stargazers.


 


KSrelief, UNHCR chiefs discuss humanitarian efforts

KSrelief, UNHCR chiefs discuss humanitarian efforts
Updated 12 min 59 sec ago

KSrelief, UNHCR chiefs discuss humanitarian efforts

KSrelief, UNHCR chiefs discuss humanitarian efforts

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), met with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi virtually on Thursday.

Al-Rabeeah reviewed KSrelief’s aid and humanitarian efforts to stricken countries all over the world, especially Yemen, and the Kingdom’s efforts towards Yemeni and Syrian refugees and the Rohingya minority in Bangladesh, as well as the joint executive programs signed by KSrelief and the UNHCR.

The meeting covered topics of common interest, their strategic partnership, the close relations between the two sides and ways to enhance it.

They also discussed mutual future programs and projects to serve refugees around the world.
 


Experts discuss WhatsApp’s new privacy update

Experts discuss WhatsApp’s new privacy update
Updated 17 min 16 sec ago

Experts discuss WhatsApp’s new privacy update

Experts discuss WhatsApp’s new privacy update
  • “People have made this into a bigger issue than it really is”: cybersecurity expert

JEDDAH: As WhatsApp launches a new in-app banner in response to the backlash over its privacy issue, Saudi experts and users weigh in on the company’s strategy.

“Harvesting user data is part of Facebook’s strategy,” Abdullah Al-Gumaijan, cybersecurity expert, told Arab News.

“It seems this will never change, even if it costs them millions of users, like what happened to WhatsApp last month when they updated their policy,” he said. “Today, WhatsApp will force their users to accept a similar policy. However, this time around they made it very clear they will not share users’ actual conversations.”

As long as WhatsApp remains a free app, he added, Facebook will make sure to get what it can from its users’ data.

Fahd Naseem, a WhatsApp user, said: “People have made this into a bigger issue than it really is. Facebook and other social media platforms are already using the data; there’s nothing wrong in WhatsApp using it too.”

He told Arab News that this data helps the apps deliver better and more personalized ads to their users.

Fatimah Al-Maddah, owner of Labothecaire, said that the privacy issue does not concern her and her team. “We use services like Dropbox for sensitive matters, and if we need to discuss something, we normally call. So, we don’t risk our information to begin with.”

WhatsApp will allow users to review its privacy policy, and users will have to agree to the new terms or risk losing access to the app. The firm said that it was facing issues because of “misinformation” regarding the changes, which led users to believe that their information was accessible by WhatsApp’s parent firm, Facebook.

However, WhatsApp said that it would never allow that to happen and that its end-to-end encryption ensures that people on both ends of the conversation are the only ones who can read those texts; not even the company has the access to them.

In a blog post, the company clarified that it would be working hard to clear up confusion and that it would be sharing the updated plan for how it will ask users to review the terms of service and privacy policy.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll display a banner in WhatsApp providing more information that people can read at their own pace,” the blog post read.

The company also faced backlash because of the poorly worded terms in the previous update, which caused confusion and concern and resulted in users abandoning the app entirely and moving onto other platforms.
 


Jeddah municipality closes 227 businesses

Jeddah municipality closes 227 businesses
Updated 24 min 26 sec ago

Jeddah municipality closes 227 businesses

Jeddah municipality closes 227 businesses
  • The municipality has urged people to follow the precautionary measures

JEDDAH: The municipality of Jeddah governorate and its sub-municipalities closed 227 commercial facilities for violating anti-coronavirus health protocols.

A total of 4,397 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities were carried out by the municipality to ensure adherence to coronavirus precautionary measures.

During the tours, 341 violations were detected and 227 facilities shut.

The tours covered commercial centers, shops, malls, cafes and restaurants to ensure the suspension of all indoor services and the closure of cinemas, indoor entertainment centers, independent and indoor playgrounds and game centers, as well as gyms and event rooms.  

The municipality has urged people to follow the precautionary measures and report breaches through the 940 call center number or the Balady app.
 


2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced

2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced
Updated 28 min 14 sec ago

2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced

2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced
  • The festival is set to be launched in Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historic downtown

JEDDAH: Under the theme of “Metamorphosis,” the first edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSFF) will take place from Nov. 11 to 20.

The festival is set to be launched in Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historic downtown, to celebrate cinema as a force for positive change. It will reflect on the impact of cinema’s triumphant return to Saudi Arabia since 2019, the blossoming film culture, and explore how cinema can create an interface connecting a new, outward-looking Saudi and the world.

The festival will consider how cinema has successfully adapted from analog to digital and now to new platforms delivering content and focus on the changing role of women.

The RSFF has also announced a team of Saudi and international curators, film specialists, and industry veterans, including the RSFF’s Managing Director Shivani Pandya and Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics Antoine Khalife, both formerly of the Dubai International Film Festival.

Critic Kaleem Aftab has joined the RSFF as director of international programming while Jumana Zahid leads the Red Sea Lodge, the festival’s incubator for Saudi and Arab filmmakers.

RSFF’s Souk Manager Zain Zedan is leading the festival’s industry platform for distributors and sales agents. The senior team, which has a 50/50 gender split, is completed by Ibrahim Modir, head of shared services.

The event looks to life beyond the coronavirus pandemic that postponed the festival’s debut in March 2020 and will bring together local film lovers, filmmakers, and international industry leaders. November’s event will be the largest annual celebration of cinema in the region.
 


Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  

Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  
Updated 38 min 7 sec ago

Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  

Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Antony Blinken discussed bilateral relations during the phone call

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister received a phone call from the US Secretary of State on Thursday, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

During the call, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Antony Blinken discussed bilateral relations and the strategic partnership between the two countries.

They also reviewed aspects of cooperation on regional and international challenges.