ThePlace: Rajajil Columns, the ‘Stonehenge of Saudi Arabia’

Archaeologists believe the Rajajil Columns have stood in position since about 4,000 B.C.  (Supplied)
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Archaeologists believe the Rajajil Columns have stood in position since about 4,000 B.C.  (Supplied)
Archaeologists believe the Rajajil Columns have stood in position since about 4,000 B.C. 
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Archaeologists believe the Rajajil Columns have stood in position since about 4,000 B.C. 
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Updated 02 October 2021

ThePlace: Rajajil Columns, the ‘Stonehenge of Saudi Arabia’

ThePlace: Rajajil Columns, the ‘Stonehenge of Saudi Arabia’
  • Archaeologists understand that the site served as a burial place but others believe the columns served an astronomical purpose

The Rajajil Columns, a mysterious site located 20 kilometers south of Sakakah city, are often nicknamed the “Stonehenge of Saudi Arabia.”

The name of the site translates to “the men,” and the monument might be the oldest in the region, researchers say.

Mystery surrounding the origins of the monument has attracted significant attention and visitors from around the Kingdom. Many myths and superstitions surround the columns. Archaeologists understand that the site served as a burial place, but have yet to discover more about the importance of the columns.




Archaeologists understand that the site served as a burial place but others believe the columns served an astronomical purpose

The site consists of 50 monolithic stones that stick out of the ground at different angles. It is believed that they have stood in position since about 4,000 B.C. However, over the centuries, some have fallen to the ground.

Despite the dominant burial site theory, a competing belief proposes that the stones originally served an astronomical purpose due to the angles in which they stand in relation to the stars above, adding to the mystery of the site.

Visitors must seek prior permission from authorities before visiting the site.


Jeddah Jungle takes visitors on ultimate safari experience

The Jeddah Jungle is home to about 1,000 species of wild creatures, as well as 200 species of rare birds. (SPA)
The Jeddah Jungle is home to about 1,000 species of wild creatures, as well as 200 species of rare birds. (SPA)
Updated 28 min 50 sec ago

Jeddah Jungle takes visitors on ultimate safari experience

The Jeddah Jungle is home to about 1,000 species of wild creatures, as well as 200 species of rare birds. (SPA)
  • Guests discover wildlife firsthand, including wild cats and other exotic animals

JEDDAH: For the first time in the Middle East, “Jungle Trek” has been set up for a real-life animal-watching experience, where visitors walk along shaded paths and can interact with exotic animals.

The trek is one of Jeddah Jungle’s experiences as part of the Jeddah Season.

Experiencing wildlife firsthand, Jeddah Season visitors will also get to go on a thrilling safari experience on a Jeep and encounter seven different kinds of wild cats as well as other exotic animals.

On the Safari Game Drive, visitors can learn interesting facts about the wild cats with the tour guide.

For example, lions are the only cats that live in groups — a group can include 30 lions — and their roars can be heard up to 8 km away, with female lions being the main hunters.

Another fact: There are less than 2,000 Bengal tigers left in the wild, and their strips are just as unique as human fingerprints.

The tigers are an endangered species, grow faster than their orange counterparts, and are rare and happen once out of 10,000 births.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Visitors to the Jeddah Jungle can wear costume symbolizing their favorite animals. It is an educational and entertaining initiative where children and young people compete in the designs of costumes for their favorite animals.

• It also encourages them to expand their knowledge about these animals and gain new information from the zone’s guides, in addition to removing the fear of some animals, learning to coexist with them, and dealing with them as a friend to humans.

The golden tiger, also known as the strawberry tiger, is extinct in the wild. There are about 30 remaining, with Jeddah Jungle having three of these.

White lions are only born if the mother and father have the same gene, and the earliest recorded sighting of them was in 1938.

The liger — a lion and tiger breed — with a mane like a lion and stripes like a tiger, is the largest known cat in the world, and there are less than 100 ligers left in the world.

Faisal Al-Rahili, Saudi, 18, has visited Jeddah Jungle five times since it opened. The teenager said that he loves animals and grew up watching wildlife shows and channels such as Nat Geo Wild.

“I have always had a love for animals since childhood, and this safari experience is a childhood dream fulfillment,” he told Arab News.

Al-Rahili’s favorite zone is the Jungle Trek because it allows him to get close to and interact with a giraffe.  

“I love everything about this place; it’s huge and there is a place for each type of animal,” he said.

Six-year-old Saudi animal lover, Omar Kaaki, listed the big cats he saw to Arab News.

 “With some tigers, lions and white lions, we saw deers too and a tiger with gold stripes,” Kaaki said.

“Cheetahs and tigers are my favorite animals,” he added.

The first-grader asked his parents to take him to Jeddah Jungle. His mother, Dareen Akbar, said that the experience had brought so much joy to her son.

“He loves animals so much, as soon as we found out they are making a safari experience in Jeddah, we came here,” she told Arab News.

“It is a very nice experience, you do not have to travel abroad to go on a safari and see the animals; you can take your kids to see the animals here in your country,” she said.

Indian engineer, Mohammed Anish, visited Jeddah Jungle with his wife and children for the first time.

“It is a great place to spend quality time with your family; my kids love animals,” he told Arab News.

“Jeddah Season is fantastic and provides a very good experience,” he said.

Visitors to the Jeddah Jungle can wear costume symbolizing their favorite animals. It is an educational and entertaining initiative where children and young people compete in the designs of costumes for their favorite animals.

It also encourages them to expand their knowledge about these animals and gain new information from the zone’s guides, in addition to removing the fear of some animals, learning to coexist with them, and dealing with them as a friend to humans.

The Jeddah Jungle is home to about 1,000 species of wild creatures, as well as 200 species of rare birds. It has a reptile section, a bird section, a dog section and a farm, in addition to sections for shows and other services, and an entertainment section.

Jeddah Jungle zones are; the Tram Station, Elephant Enclosure, Lighting Garden, Lucaland, the Aviary, Taxidermy Museum, Reptile Land, the Farm, Safari Game Drive, Jungle Trek, and the Park.

The park includes an adventure zone, a children’s playground, an open theater, an archery space, paintball area, karting, and a workshop zone.

The annual Jeddah Season festival aims to highlight the city’s rich heritage and culture through a total of 2,800 activities in nine zones over the event period.

Held under the slogan, Our Lovely Days, the second Jeddah Season follows on from the success of Riyadh Season, which recorded more than 15 million visits over five months.

The festival season offers 70 interactive experiences, more than 60 recreational activities, seven Arab and two international plays, marine events, a circus, four international exhibitions, and a host of other options for families.


Rural shop in Asir offers freshly baked traditional breads

Elham Asiri attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh breads known as mifa and hali, among others.
Elham Asiri attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh breads known as mifa and hali, among others.
Updated 28 May 2022

Rural shop in Asir offers freshly baked traditional breads

Elham Asiri attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh breads known as mifa and hali, among others.
  • Dressed in traditional Asir attire, including a burqa and tafsha, and a straw boater hat to protect her from the sun, Asiri opens her shop every day at 2 p.m. with customers already lined up to give their day’s orders

ABHA: The aroma of freshly baked bread emanating from local bakeries and homes fills the cool air in an Asir district.

Arab News met Elham Asiri, a mother and an expert baker, who attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh traditional breads known as mifa and hali, among others.

Located at Al-Sawda mountain peak, about 3,133 meters above sea level on the way back to Abha, Asiri’s shop can be found on the side of a route leading to Rijal Alma, a historical village.

Dressed in traditional Asir attire, including a burqa and tafsha, and a straw boater hat to protect her from the sun, Asiri opens her shop every day at 2 p.m. with customers already lined up to give their day’s orders.

She prepares large batches of dough overnight, and in the afternoon she puts them in the oven for baking. The breads are primarily made of white or brown flour, salt, yeast and water. Mifa is an oval-shaped bread that is made of brown flour without any filling, with sesame or nigella seeds on top, which gives the bread a distinct taste and flavor when baked.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Dressed in traditional Asir attire, including a burqa and tafsha, and a straw boater hat to protect her from the sun, Asiri opens her shop every day at 2 p.m. with customers already lined up to give their day’s orders.

• Located at Al-Sawda mountain peak, about 3,133 meters above sea level on the way back to Abha, Asiri’s shop can be found on the side of a route leading to Rijal Alma, a historical village. 

“I offer it with many fillings such as labneh, za’atar or cream cheese and then I add a drizzle of honey to give it a twist of sweetness to those who do not prefer it the traditional way,” said Asiri, who single-handedly runs the shop.

To give the breads an authentic feel and flavor, Asiri switched to outdoor baking — like her ancestors — from using a conventional indoor oven. The outdoor traditional oven, called mwassm, is typically used by most villages in the Asir region.

“Most visitors here also order a bread called hali, which translates to ‘sugary.’ It is a brown bread made without yeast and kneaded with ghee, which gives it a strong taste. It gives the body energy and warmth in cold weather,” she said.

One of the visitors, Mohammed Asiri, told Arab News that he visits this bread shop every weekend while going to his home in Rijal Almaa. “I discovered Elham Asiri’s bread shop three years ago, and since then I pass by to pick up my favorite order on my way back to and from Rijal Alma. We love the bread she offers; it is so fresh and tasty. I usually order hali with cheese filling, extra roasted, and a cup of red tea; and I enjoy it so much during the ride,” he said.

Another visitor, Bodour Aggad, who is originally from Jeddah but lives in Abha for work, said that she found out about Asiri’s shop while she was looking for a good mountain view in Ramadan on her way back from Al-Sawda. “Some cars were crowded at a place and it caught my attention; I stopped out of curiosity to find Asiri baking fresh bread on order. I tried it and fell in love with it,” she said.

Aggad said that whenever her family or friends visit Abha, she makes sure to introduce them to this rural bread shop to complete their experience. “Asiri’s shop is unique as she kneads and bakes the bread and serves it hot to her visitors once she receives an order, unlike other food booths who offer you the bread ready-made at home.”

Asiri also offers her customers pastries with different kinds of fillings, in addition to hot milk, Saudi coffee, and karak tea. She laughingly said that in the past, women of the region had to master the art of bread making to be able to get married.


Saudi Shoura Council to discuss reports on general intelligence, draft labor agreements

Saudi Shoura Council to discuss reports on general intelligence, draft labor agreements. (SPA)
Saudi Shoura Council to discuss reports on general intelligence, draft labor agreements. (SPA)
Updated 57 min 11 sec ago

Saudi Shoura Council to discuss reports on general intelligence, draft labor agreements

Saudi Shoura Council to discuss reports on general intelligence, draft labor agreements. (SPA)
  • The council is expected to discuss a report from the Human Resources and Social Development Committee on the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority's annual report for 2021-2022

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Shoura Council will meet on Monday to discuss several items, including reports on general intelligence, international strategic partnerships, and draft labor agreements.

It will listen to the Trade and Investment Committee’s observations on the Saudi Accreditation Center's annual report for the fiscal year 2021-2022, the Security and Military Affairs Committee’s observations on the General Intelligence Presidency's report for 2021-2022, and the Islamic Affairs Committee’s observations on the civil transactions draft.

It will vote on recommendations for these items.

It is scheduled to discuss findings from the Media Committee on the Saudi Broadcasting Authority's annual report for 2021-2022, and the report from the Human Resources and Social Development Committee on the General Organization for Social Insurance's annual report for 2021-2022.

It will discuss the report from the Human Resources and Social Development Committee on a draft agreement between Saudi Arabia and Burundi to employ workers and another draft agreement between the two countries to employ domestic workers.

Also on the agenda are two reports from the Foreign Affairs Committee on the annual report on international strategic partnerships for 2021-2022 and a draft memorandum of understanding on political consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Kenyan counterpart.

The council is expected to discuss a report from the Human Resources and Social Development Committee on the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority's annual report for 2021-2022.

During the Wednesday session, the council is scheduled to review reports from the Islamic and Judicial Affairs Committee on a draft memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Public Prosecution and the Algerian Ministry of Justice.

The annual report of the Supreme Judicial Council on administrative and financial work for the fiscal year 2021-2022 and the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques' annual report for 2021-2022 will also be reviewed and discussed.

The council will discuss the reports from the Transport, Communications, and Information Technology Committee regarding the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology's annual report for 2021-2022, and reports on two draft memoranda of understanding between the Saudi Ministry of Transport and its French counterpart.

The first is about technical cooperation in rail transport. The second is about cooperation in transport and innovation in the transport and logistics sector.

The Shoura Council will review two draft memoranda of understanding between Saudi Post and Egypt Post for cooperation in postal services provided to Egyptian pilgrims.


Saudi student brings hope to deaf drivers with award-winning invention

Renad Al-Hussein said that her invention will improve road safety by protecting the lives of deaf drivers. (SPA)
Renad Al-Hussein said that her invention will improve road safety by protecting the lives of deaf drivers. (SPA)
Updated 28 May 2022

Saudi student brings hope to deaf drivers with award-winning invention

Renad Al-Hussein said that her invention will improve road safety by protecting the lives of deaf drivers. (SPA)
  • Renad Al-Hussein said that her invention could allow more than 466 million deaf people worldwide to drive

RIYADH: A Saudi medical student has won a string of an international awards for an invention that opens up a new world for hearing impaired or deaf drivers by dramatically improving their safety behind the wheel.

Renad bint Musaed Al-Hussein, a student at the College of Medicine at King Saud University, developed special sensors that operate as soon as they detect sounds outside the vehicle.

Sound frequencies are sent to a device inside the car, which then identifies and displays a description, image and color of the sound source visually, alerting the driver to any possible risk.

HIGHLIGHT

Sound frequencies are sent to a device inside the car, which then identifies and displays a description, image and color of the sound source visually, alerting the driver to any possible risk. Sound frequencies are sent to a device inside the car, which then identifies and displays a description, image and color of the sound source visually, alerting the driver to any possible risk.

Her innovation has won several global awards and medals, including best invention at the World Intellectual Property Organization Cup and a gold award in the international invention competition as part of the Korea International Youth Olympiad.

The awards honor outstanding inventors, creators and innovative firms from around the world.

Al-Hussein said that her invention will reduce the risks facing hearing impaired drivers and may also help to save lives.

“One of the things that prompted me to come up with this invention is that some countries prevent hearing impaired or deaf people from driving because they are unable to hear important sounds. This invention will contribute to reducing the risks they face,” she said.

The Saudi inventor said that her invention could allow more than 466 million deaf people worldwide to drive, while also improving road safety by protecting their lives and the lives of others.


Who’s Who: Muhammad Bassrawi, chief domestic officer at the Saudi Tourism Authority

Muhammad Bassrawi
Muhammad Bassrawi
Updated 18 sec ago

Who’s Who: Muhammad Bassrawi, chief domestic officer at the Saudi Tourism Authority

Muhammad Bassrawi

Muhammad Bassrawi has been the chief domestic officer at the Saudi Tourism Authority, the official promoter of Visit Saudi, since April 2022.
A managerial expert, Bassrawi first joined the authority in August 2020 as commercial vice president and acting chief commercial officer, during which he led Saudi seasons for winter 2020 and summer 2021, covering all program aspects from strategy, marketing, to execution.
Prior to that, in 2018, he occupied the position of senior director and head of marketing, content, social media, leisure assets and destination at King Abdullah Economic City.
From March 2017 to June 2018, Bassrawi worked as a consulting director at Pure Consulting, and as head of trade marketing and merchandizing at leading global food company BRF for a year in 2016. During his time at BRF, he led over 200 employees while fully managing a $10 million budget for trade marketing operations for Sadia Co. in the Kingdom.
Bassrawi also worked as the marketing manager at AMS Baeshen & Co. in 2015. From 2010 to January 2015, he was the marketing manager and business cell leader at British multinational Unilever.
He worked as client servicing manager of events and activations at Lenzo Arabia from 20019 to October 2010, where he successfully executed over 30 events and 50 activations in the Kingdom for both multinational and local companies such as Maraie, Savola, and Pepsi.
Bassrawi first started his career in marketing as a coordinator at Red Bull Middle East from 2005 to September 2009. He has been recognized numerous times throughout his career, such as at the Saudi International Golf Tournament “Leading Marcom” in 2019 and 2020.
Bassrawi received his bachelor’s in science from King Abdulaziz University. His certifications include marketing planning from George Washington University, Unilever digital marketing foundation, time and conflict management, and emotional intelligence.