Rakayb Jubbah: An authentic Saudi desert experience in Hail

People on the first trip included visitors from Spain, the US and Tunisia. Saudi influencer Ibtisam Azzam was also one of the participants in the first trip. (Supplied)
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People on the first trip included visitors from Spain, the US and Tunisia. Saudi influencer Ibtisam Azzam was also one of the participants in the first trip. (Supplied)
Rakayb Jubbah: An authentic Saudi desert experience in Hail
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Saudi influencer Ibtisam Azzam was one of the participants in the first trip. (Supplied)
Rakayb Jubbah: An authentic Saudi desert experience in Hail
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20-kilometer camel ride in King Salman Royal Natural Reserve. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 March 2022

Rakayb Jubbah: An authentic Saudi desert experience in Hail

People on the first trip included visitors from Spain, the US and Tunisia. Saudi influencer Ibtisam Azzam was also one of the participants in the first trip. (Supplied)
  • The northwestern Saudi city is the fourth place in KSA to be inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites
  • The trip is a mix of entertainment and harmony inside the King Salman Reserve in the Nafud desert

JEDDAH: The northwestern Saudi city of Jubbah has the most famous rock art inscription site in the country, and is the fourth place in the Kingdom to be inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.

This ancient location, with its spectacular dunes and sandy landscape, is being offered to adventurous travelers as a gateway to the desert.

The King Salman Royal Natural Reserve, which is the largest in the country and the fourth largest wild reserve in the world, is offering people inside and outside Saudi Arabia an immersive desert experience amid the 130,700 square kilometer space.

Rakayb Jubbah, which started on Feb. 24 and continues until March 19, allows visitors aged 18 and above to get a taste of an authentic Bedouin lifestyle.

The program has four trips, with each trip lasting three days.

The reserve tweeted earlier this month: “The desert adventure that people have experienced for so long to survive and look for water resources has now become a journey leading to recreation moments in the desert.”

Ebtisam Azzam, a Saudi radio and TV presenter, was one of the 20 people on the first trip.

HIGHLIGHTS

• This ancient location, with its spectacular dunes and sandy landscape, is being offered to adventurous travelers as a gateway to the desert.

• The King Salman Royal Natural Reserve is offering people inside and outside Saudi Arabia an immersive desert experience amid the 130,700-square-kilometer space.

“Rakayb Jubbah is an adventure, a unique and strange trip,” she told Arab News. “It is a mix of entertainment and harmony inside the King Salman Reserve in the Nafud desert. In the past, people used to go for long camel rides to search for water resources, trade, and travel. Now, we are experiencing the same trip but for leisure, a place where you find seclusion and some mental clarity.”

The adventure includes trekking on camel back for 20 kilometers over six hours, a simulation of camel caravans from the past, meaning participants need to have medium-level fitness.

“Camels, that’s another story. It is one of the greatest creatures and the tangible relation between the camel and its owner, and how the camel understands a sound or a sign that his owner made, is all spectacular,” Azzam said. “Just looking at the camel can make you figure out something about yourself. It takes time to make the camel familiar with a new person and I think I'm on the way.”

Safari trips and adventures require travelers to be well equipped and dressed in an outfit that suits the nature and atmosphere of the place they are going to.

But Rakayb Jubbah took place four days after Founding Day, and Azzam was still celebrating the new Saudi national holiday by wearing regional attire during the camel ride to represent the southern Asir region.

“I brought the southern (style of) dress with me, specifically the black Asiri dress, the scarf, the yellow head tie, and some silver accessories. I took a lot of beautiful pictures on the camel to document the moment and the beauty of the place.”

The trip aims to introduce activities that will help visitors understand more about the reserve’s natural and tourism elements.

It wants to activate ecotourism, as people will learn about Hail chants, folklore dances, and other aspects of the area's heritage.

Visitors will also be exposed to ways of coexisting with desert environments and learning about rare plants in the reserve such as talha, ghada, and arfaj, in addition to dealing with camels.

The area has a history spanning thousands of years and is full of remnants from the past, including more than 4,000 Thamudic drawings and inscriptions.

Abdulaziz Al-Damkh, a Saudi traveler who has been to over 45 countries, was also on the trip. “The trip exceeded my expectations in terms of organizing, the side events, safety measures, and the amazing team spirit,” he told Arab News.

Al-Damkh said that, although he was a huge adventurer, it was his first time experiencing a six-hour camel ride.

“I am Saudi and I was born in Saudi and camels are part of my culture, but this was my very first time to experience what a long ride feels like. Such trips should have been happening a long time ago.

“The first two hours of the ride were very tiring, as some of the participants have not been into such experiences, but it went well eventually.”

People on the first trip included visitors from Spain, the US and Tunisia, and the trip was organized by Pangaea, a Saudi firm offering outdoor activities.

The Kingdom has embraced leisure tourism in recent years to attract visitors from around the world.

“Such events provide you with a truly authentic desert experience. It contributes in promoting our Saudi culture, and it sheds light on Vision 2030 and its goals in diversifying tourism in the Kingdom,” Al-Damkh added.

Each trip has 20 participants and costs SR2,000 ($533) per person. The trip includes camping, stargazing, and traditional Saudi food.

The reserve aims to resettle natural life, develop vegetation, and preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the area, which is part of Saudi Arabia’s environmental identity.

 


Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
Updated 35 min 52 sec ago

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
  • Pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by hosts Saudi Arabia to make their pilgrimage safe, comfortable and meaningful

JEDDAH: Officials at the Halat Ammar border crossing are continuing their efforts to welcome pilgrims from abroad through an integrated system of services provided by civil, military, and government agencies.

The services aim to better help pilgrims and improve the quality of services provided by the Saudi government, from the moment pilgrims arrive in the Kingdom, on their way to the holy sites, and until they return to their home countries.

Under the direct supervision and follow-up of Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the region’s Hajj work committee at Halat Ammar’s Pilgrims’ City also provides medical services and religious awareness programs.

Pilgrims expressed their satisfaction with the services provided, saying that King Salman had spared no effort to help his Muslim brothers and sisters wherever they were.

Palestinian pilgrim Widad Ibrahim expressed her great pleasure in being among this year’s pilgrims. She also thanked the Saudi authorities for the services they were providing.

“The pilgrims are receiving the finest services, and for that, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the services and hospitality we found. In fact, they reflect the Saudi government and people's interest in serving the guests of Allah who come from all corners of the world to perform their Hajj rituals,” Ibrahim said.

Pilgrims also expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by Saudi Arabia in utilizing its capabilities and services to aid pilgrims coming through the Halat Ammar border point so they could perform their rituals in an atmosphere of security, safety, comfort, stability, and tranquillity.

Another Palestinian, Wael Al-Humaidat, said he was happy for the opportunity to perform his first Hajj. He commented on the excellent services provided by the Saudi government and the warm welcome pilgrims had received.

Al-Humaidat prayed for Saudi Arabia and its people to be protected from evil. He also called for Allah to perpetuate his blessings of security and safety upon Saudi Arabia.

 

 


Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
Updated 25 June 2022

Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
  • Karting, online gaming, rock climbing and arts all available
  • Wide array of restaurants, areas to relax and enjoy karaoke

RIYADH: Now that summer has arrived and the school year ended, Boulevard Riyadh City is the place to be with activities for everyone. It’s best to go early because entry is free and the place will be packed.

Doos Karting

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills and win podiums against family and friends.

The pre-Formula 1 stage race lasts anywhere between five and eight laps on two tracks. The first is 435 meters and has three challenging turns. The second is more streamlined, at 465 meters, with only two turns.

You can have a great time and experience an adrenaline rush while traveling at a top speed of 80 km/h.

Up to 10 karters can race concurrently on the multi-level tracks.

Takenda

Avoid the summer heat and enjoy a fantastic fun day in Takenda, the Middle East’s most prominent technology entertainment destination.

Takenda connects to a lounge where people can sit, relax, and enjoy a beverage while taking in the scenery of the boulevard.

You can also have a karaoke night with friends, throw a party with a stage and projector, enjoy a mascot show, and have three hours of VIP parking.

Takenda has over 60,000 games suitable for all ages, whether you are five or 50.

Visitors can play classic ones like bumper cars, arcade, table hockey, novelty, and virtual reality in a modern setting.

Adventure Park

If you like physical activities, the indoor adventure park is for you.

The place allows you to scale 10 different walls inspired by real locations in the Kingdom, including the mountains of Tuwaiq, Shammar, Hijaz, Al-Lawz, Faisal’s Finger, Al-Qara and Souda. There are also other walls mimicking climbing areas in Wadi Lajab, Harrat Rahat and Ain Heet Cave.

Children can also play in the monkey cage or on trampolines.

In the future, the company will open halls in Baha and other regions of Saudi Arabia.

Upark

If you are interested in skateboarding, Upark’s facilities will allow you to enjoy yourself thoroughly.

For beginners, training is provided for one-hour sessions.

Avalanche

Let’s not forget the world’s tallest fun slide in the Avalanche attraction for those daring enough. In the same area, a special section has been set up for those wanting to paint, draw or make pottery.

Up to 10 karters can race simultaneously on the multi-level tracks. (Supplied)

 


Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 25 June 2022

Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • Saudi, Bahraini ministers discuss deal to join digital network

RIYADH: Bahrain is set to become the first country to sign up with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital, the largest network of its kind in the world.

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel recently met his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed, who is on a visit to the Kingdom, for talks on an agreement that will link Bahrain with the virtual hospital.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ministers discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post- vaccine complications.

• The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

The hospital was launched in February this year as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to digitalize its healthcare sector.

Al-Jalajel outlined the functions of the Seha Virtual Hospital and its command and control center, and welcomed the prospect of Bahrain becoming the first country to be linked with the facility.

The ministers also discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post-vaccine complications.

Al-Sayed highlighted the importance of cooperation in the fields of genetic diseases and genes, telemedicine and clinical trials.

The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

Later, the Bahraini minister toured the Seha Virtual Hospital and was given a detailed explanation of the facility’s services. She also visited the command and control center.

With a growing live network of 130 connected hospitals, Seha Virtual Hospital is the largest of its kind in the world. The only other virtual hospital to rival it is in the US, with 43 connected hospitals.

Patients of the virtual hospital will no longer need to travel to different parts of the Kingdom to be seen by specialized physicians, nor will they be limited by 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic hours.

Earlier, an official told Arab News that patients can now receive second and third medical opinions from the same consulting room.

Unlike simple video calls with doctors, the virtual hospital allows patients to visit their local hospital and attend a real-time live video clinical session with top specialists from across the Kingdom. During the session, vitals signs can be shared, while tests and X-rays can also be taken and shared with the network of specialists.

Emergency interventions can be provided round the clock, and real-time consultations with top specialists will guide local junior staff in dealing with complex cases.

Seha Virtual Hospital covers 12 main specialties and more than 35 subspecialties, including hospital-at-home follow-ups, where chronically ill patients, from the comfort of their homes, can stay connected with doctors.

 


Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Updated 24 June 2022

Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
  • In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme”

JEDDAH: Two classic 1950s-themed diner options from Hong Kong have made their way to Jeddah Season’s grand theme park, City Walk.

With vintage music in the background, staff in “soda jerk” uniforms, and a one-page menu of burgers, fries and shakes, Burger Circus offers visitors a “blast from the past” experience.

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter arrived on May 5 and will stay throughout the two months of the Jeddah Season.

Both outlets belong to Black Sheep, a Chinese company with about 35 restaurants in Hong Kong and one in Shanghai.

Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep, explained the concept behind both outlets, adding that it is “an honor” to be operating in Jeddah.

HIGHLIGHT

‘Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,’ said Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep.

“Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,” he said.

“So it’s a little bit of nostalgic childhood memories. He has always wanted to open a diner.”

In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme,” he said.

Burger Circus also offers two side orders, two milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and two drinks on its menu.

“We want to bring good food and good stories to Jeddah; we just want to do that,” he said.

“People in Jeddah or in Saudi Arabia are open minded to try new things. There’s room for everything here, we love it here,” he added.

Talking about Butter, Leung said the background story is about a single mother with two children, who works very hard at a diner to make ends meet.

“She’s strong and generous, but she’s also very sassy. That’s Butter,” he said.

“Burger Circus and Butter go hand in hand and go very well together, it sort of came from the same era; diners prefer classic American cake,” he added.

Luke Barry, culinary director for Leylaty Group, worked with Black Sheep in Hong Kong for six years.

“I’ve always loved Black Sheep restaurants. We have a very good relationship, so I thought Jeddah Season is a good opportunity to bring them here,” he said.

“They have 30 to 35 restaurants, niche burger restaurants that are very strong and conceptualized, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of room for what they do. They have amazing restaurants, from casual to premium to Michelin star,” he added.

Barry said that they tried to replicate Hong Kong’s Burger Circus in Jeddah as much as possible.

“We spent 16 hours painting a wall (that is identical to the branch in Hong Kong), the exact posters that you find in Hong Kong, and the uniform is almost exactly the same,” said Barry.

“It was very important to us to use the exact same playlist, to bring Hong Kong’s Burger Circus here,” he added.


Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport

Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport
Updated 24 June 2022

Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport

Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, represented by the Transport General Authority (TGA), has signed a joint maritime transport cooperation agreement with the Department of Maritime Affairs in Djibouti, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The agreement was signed by the TGA Vice-President for the Regulatory Sector, Fawaz Al-Sahli and the ambassador of Djibouti to the Kingdom, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mohammad Ali Hassan, in the presence of a number of transport sector officials in the two countries.

The agreement aims to strengthen relations between the Kingdom and Djibouti at a strategic level and open new horizons for cooperation in various fields, especially maritime transport, one of the pillars of economic development in the world. 

It also looks to encourage trade exchange, facilitate the requirements and procedures for accessing the ports of both countries with their ships, and promote the exchange of experiences and technologies between companies, institutions and maritime institutes in this field.

The agreement includes a mechanism for treating the ships of the two countries with regard to access to their ports, docking and departure, and in cases of emergency and maritime accidents in the territorial waters.