EgyptAir resumes flights to Benghazi after 8-year hiatus

Special EgyptAir resumes flights to Benghazi after 8-year hiatus
EgyptAir has resumed flights from Cairo to Benina International Airport in Benghazi, Libya. (AFP)
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Updated 18 April 2022

EgyptAir resumes flights to Benghazi after 8-year hiatus

EgyptAir resumes flights to Benghazi after 8-year hiatus
  • Official cites ‘presence of many Egyptians residing and working in Libya,’ efforts to enhance trade
  • Flights were suspended in 2014 due to insecurity in Libya

CAIRO: EgyptAir has announced that it resumed direct flights between Cairo and Benghazi on Monday, after an eight-year hiatus due to insecurity in Libya.

Amr Abol-Enein, chairman of the board of directors of the holding company for EgyptAir, said there will be a daily direct flight between the two cities.

He added that the move comes within the framework of the company’s plan to strengthen its presence in Africa.

“The company pays special attention to points of strategic importance, including the city of Benghazi, especially with the presence of many Egyptians residing and working in Libya, in addition to the endeavor to enhance trade and economic exchange between Egypt and Libya,” he said.

Last September, both countries’ civil aviation authorities agreed to take the necessary measures to resume flights between Libyan airports and Cairo.

That month, Afriqiyah Airways and Libyan Airlines resumed flights from Mitiga and Benina airports to Cairo.


Sounds of the summer: Make travel plans with music in mind

Arab pop-rock outfit Adonis will perform at the Baalbeck International Festival in Lebanon this July. (Supplied)
Arab pop-rock outfit Adonis will perform at the Baalbeck International Festival in Lebanon this July. (Supplied)
Updated 02 June 2022

Sounds of the summer: Make travel plans with music in mind

Arab pop-rock outfit Adonis will perform at the Baalbeck International Festival in Lebanon this July. (Supplied)

DUBAI: After two-years of COVID-related cancellations, live music is back with a bang. Here’s where music lovers should travel to over the summer.

Glastonbury

Where: Somerset, England

When: June 22-26

What: Fifty-two years on from its debut (although it didn’t become an annual event until the 1980s), Glastonbury remains one of the biggest draws on the international festival circuit — not just for the 200,000 or so people who attend, but for the artists themselves. The festival retains a strong link to its hippie-era roots and attendees can often be as entertaining as the onstage activities. This year is a prime example of the wide net the festival casts, covering a dizzying array of genres and generations, with over 3,000 performers across 12 stages. Paul McCartney will become the festival’s oldest-ever headliner, while Billie Eilish will become its youngest. Kendrick Lamar is the other main-stage headline act. 

Other must-see acts: Sam Fender, Lorde, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Haim, Diana Ross, Elbow, Wolf Alice, Herbie Hancock, Megan Thee Stallion, St. Vincent, Idles, Foals, Pet Shop Boys.

Billie Eilish will become the festival’s youngest ever headliner. (File/AFP)

Roskilde 

Where: Roskilde, Denmark

When: June 25 – July 2

What: Scandinavia’s largest festival has many similarities to Glastonbury; it debuted just a year later and shares many of the same ideological roots, promising “music, arts, activism, camps and freedom” — a remit it takes seriously. It’s also a multi-genre event with artists that appeal to a huge age range with an emphasis on indie/alternative acts but happily includes mainstream pop artists too. It does offer a more diverse international lineup than many US or UK festivals too, like Brazilian pop icon Anitta this year. Even though it officially runs for eight days, the big names perform over the last four nights. Headliners are US rap star Post Malone; UK pop diva Dua Lipa; former Odd Future luminary Tyler, The Creator; and arguably the most influential rock band of the 2000s, The Strokes.

Other must-see acts: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Megan Thee Stallion, St. Vincent, Haim, Biffy Clyro, Arlo Parks, Chvrches.

Mad Cool Festival

Where: Madrid

When: July 6-10

What: This sprawling five-day festival in the Spanish capital pretty much guarantees a killer lineup every year. It doesn’t often book pure mainstream-pop acts, instead focusing on rock and electronica, with a heavy emphasis on alternative acts that perform long into the night. Headliners this year are Metallica, Imagine Dragons, Muse, Kings of Leon, and Jack White and there are some old-school throwbacks to whet the appetite of older indie fans, including the seminal Boston band Pixies. Away from the main stage, there’s “The Loop” featuring some of the best electronic music producers and hip-hop acts in the world, including Four Tet, Nina Kraviz, Flume, and SFDK.

Other must-see acts: Twenty-One Pilots, Placebo, The Killers, Stormzy, Queens of the Stone Age, Florence + The Machine, Nathy Peluso, Sam Fender, Royal Blood, Leon Bridges, Phoebe Bridgers, Deftones, Chvrches, Yungblud, Wolf Alice, Editors, Two Door Cinema Club.

Muse is one of the headliners this year. (File/AFP)

Ultra Europe

Where: Split, Croatia

When: July 8-10

What: One for EDM lovers, this glitzy three-day outdoor festival with multiple venues is an offshoot of Miami’s Ultra Music Festival that began in 2013 and attracts tens of thousands of revelers to the beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea. Headliners this year include Armin Van Buuren, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Tiësto, Richie Hawtin, Nina Kraviz, Marshmello, Above & Beyond, and more.

Other must-see acts: Joseph Capriati, Marco Carola, Hardwell, Amelie Lens, Alesso, Vini Vici, Frank Walker.

Baalbeck International Festival

Where: Baalbeck, Lebanon

When: July

What: The summer months might close down events in the Gulf, but you can still get your music fix in the region, thanks to this long-running (the first event took place in 1955) festival in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, where artists get to perform in the stunning surrounds of an ancient Roman Acropolis and the audience is treated to an eclectic mix of classical, dance, theater, opera, jazz, modern-day world music and some great indie acts from the Arab world. Few details have been released by the organizers for this year’s event, apart from the tagline: “We Are Alive.” We do know that Arabic pop-rock outfit Adonis and flamenco guitarist José Quevedo Bolita will perform.

Pitchfork 

Where: Chicago

When: July 15-17

What: This is the festival you need to go to if you want to impress your fellow audience members at one of the other big-name festivals in two years’ time, when you’ll be able to say, “Oh yeah. I saw them before they were famous.” Aside from big-name headliners and some old-school icons, the festival features some of the best up-and-coming talent in the alternative music scene, from across practically all genres. This year’s headliners are The National, Mitski, and The Roots.

Other must-see acts: Spiritualized, Japanese Breakfast, Parquet Courts, Low, Noname, Earl Sweatshirt, Toro y Moi, BadBadNotGood, Lucy Dacus, Cate Le Bon.

The National will perform at Pitchfork. (Supplied)

Rolling Loud Miami

Where: Miami, Florida

When: July 22-24

What: There are four Rolling Loud festivals this summer: Toronto, New York, Portugal and Miami. The latter is the pick of the bunch. Rolling Loud bills itself as the “world’s largest hip-hop festival,” so if you’re looking for a wild mix of genres, this isn’t the event for you. If you’re a rap fan, though, with headliners Ye (or whatever Kanye’s calling himself by late July), Future and Kendrick Lamar and an impressive supporting cast, this has everything you need for a great weekend.

Other must-see acts: Lil Baby, Playboy Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Kodak Black, Ski Mask the Slump God

Lollapalooza

Where: Grant Park, Chicago

When: July 28-31

What: Founded in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell as a traveling festival primarily geared towards alt-rock fans, Lollapalooza is now held annually over four days in Chicago and has broadened its remit to include electronica, hip-hop, soul, and pop, in addition to its guitar-driven origins. This year’s headliners are Metallica, Dua Lipa, J. Cole and Green Day. Jane’s Addiction will also make an appearance.

Other must-see acts: Lil Baby, Jazmine Sullivan, Manchester Orchestra, Machine Gun Kelly, Glass Animals, Kygo, Doja Cat, Charlie XCX, Tove Lo, Sam Fender

This year’s headliners include Metallica. (AFP)

Primavera Sound LA

Where: Los Angeles

When: September 16-18

What: Primavera Sound originated in Barcelona and has built a reputation for booking stellar lineups of trending acts and established stars across a range of genres, with a focus on diversity and gender equality. This will be its first US version (plans to launch Stateside in 2020 were stymied by you-know-what) and it looks every bit as brilliant as its Spanish parent-festival. Headliners are Arctic Monkeys, Lorde and Nine Inch Nails.

Other must-see acts: Clairo, Stereolab, Faye Webster, Shygirl, Kim Gordon, Drain Gang, Low, King Krule, Jeff Mills


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 30 May 2022

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: The adventure brand Jungle Trek has opened a park in Saudi Arabia, offering visitors a real-life animal-watching experience, where visitors can walk along shaded paths and get close up to 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.


How Saudi Arabia can become the vanguard of sustainable tourism

How Saudi Arabia can become the vanguard of sustainable tourism
Updated 22 May 2022

How Saudi Arabia can become the vanguard of sustainable tourism

How Saudi Arabia can become the vanguard of sustainable tourism
  • An agreement with Jamaica puts resilient tourism at the heart of the industry’s post-pandemic recovery
  • The pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of tourism not only to pandemics but also extreme weather

LONDON: Saudi Arabia is stepping up its efforts to become the vanguard of a UN pledge to develop a sustainable model of tourism after the sector’s levels of resilience were pushed to breaking point by the pandemic and new dire warnings of tourism’s environmental footprint emerged.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on May 6, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said lessons about tourism’s vulnerability to sudden, unexpected events must be taken from the pandemic — which cost the sector 62 million jobs worldwide — and changes made.

“COVID-19 highlighted the vulnerability of the sector, not only to pandemics but also to the effects of extreme weather, so addressing climate change must be at the heart of building a more resilient tourism, and there is no resilience without sustainability,” he said.

“We must work collaboratively, putting sustainable, resilient tourism at the heart of inclusive recovery. Only by doing these things together will we ensure better and more resilient futures for the millions around the world reliant on tourism.”

A partial view shows an ancient Nabataean carved tomb at the archaeological site of Hegra, near the northwestern Saudi city of AlUla. (Photo by 

The UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) welcomed the Saudi efforts, noting that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 has already provided the blueprint for a “transformative and deeply ambitious” economic strategy, and could do the same for tourism.

A spokesperson for the UNWTO told Arab News: “This ambitious plan aims to reshape the social and cultural landscape, accelerating growth through strategic investment, new industries and leadership.

“It is an opportunity to bring Saudi Arabia’s heritage, culture and hospitality to the world; and deliver on climate and sustainability goals. Properly managed, tourism can play a key role in achieving this vision.”

Scientists have said CO2 emissions from tourism will increase by 25 percent by 2030 compared to 2016 levels, which if left unaddressed could be a bullet for the sector as visitors begin to factor in the impact, and morality, of climate change on their destination choices.

Signaling the Kingdom’s intent to become the shepherd to sustainability, Al-Khateeb and his Jamaican counterpart, Edmund Bartlett, signed earlier this month a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on developing sustainable and resilient tourism between the two countries.

Part of the agreement also included determination to not only embrace the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development but to lay out a blueprint that can be rolled out globally for a sustainable model of tourism.

The Taif rose season draws visitors from Saudi Arabia and beyond. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Although firm details on the blueprint have yet to emerge, the UNWTO spokesperson noted that policymakers are “best placed” to play a central role so long as their policies include aims to reduce environmental impacts of consumption and production patterns.

“National tourism planning is a well-established practice among national authorities with national tourism policies covering on average a time frame of 10 years and addressing the same thematic areas across regions,” the spokesperson added.

“Aspects such as human resource development, investment, marketing and promotion, employment, product development and diversification have been factored into the policies as these are relevant aspects for the sustainable economic development of tourism.”

Jonathon Day, associate professor and Marriott School of Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate program director, applauded the Kingdom’s “ambition and commitment,” believing it could become a leader in sustainable development.

“Tourism developed sustainably has the potential to contribute substantially to sustainability challenges faced by Saudi Arabia and the world, and I’m sure that through tourism Saudi Arabia can join the destinations leading in sustainable development,” Day told Arab News.

“The Kingdom has the resources to invest in infrastructure to support sustainability goals and knows that tourism that doesn’t adopt the principles of sustainability can make sustainability issues worse. It requires commitment to achieve positive outcomes.”

Day is not alone in seeing Saudi Arabia’s financial resources as key in any effort it may make to lead the way in green tourism, with Prof. Willy Legrand of the International University of Applied Sciences believing it “would translate” in attracting talent and developing policy.

AlUla, home to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, is at the heart of the Kingdom’s tourism ambitions. (Courtesy: Royal Commission of AlUla)

“Not only this, the resources allow the country to develop and implement state of the art (existing) solutions as well as being a pipeline for the testing of new solutions to tackle some of the greater tourism challenges,” Legrand told Arab News.

Architect and sustainable tourism consultant Amine Ahlafi said that while Saudi Arabia had only recently opened for tourism more broadly, it was important to remember it had a rich history of religious tourism, and this was something it could learn from.

Anywhere from 2.5 million to 9 million pilgrims travel to the Kingdom each year, Ahlafi told Arab News that this results in around 15 million plastic cups being used to cater to the water needs of everyone traveling.

“You can of course use technology to recycle all the disposable cups, but sustainable tourism should be about finding ways to raise awareness so that we don’t have to rely on technology,” he said.

“As for developing new tourism, I think they should promote the desert potential of tourism as they can market it as a very interesting place for sustainable tourism — which does not mean they have to reduce the quality.

“We can do luxury combined with sustainability and not in a greenwashing way with the design of luxury desert camps that optimize the natural resources, the sun and the wind for energy.”

Ahlafi said a blueprint would need to be predicated on pushing technology and the habitat you find yourself in. “Technology is the tool, not the solution, the solution is building to suit the environment, not trying to have the environment suit you.”

Legrand said the Kingdom’s capacity to achieve its aims would depend on a “declaration of transparency” in which it not only set out its goals but communicated actions undertaken and results achieved.

Day said it was also important to construct the blueprint not as a series of steps that would work for every country but rather to realize it as a list of questions that all countries could ask of themselves.

“Sustainability and sustainable tourism are ‘wicked problems,’ which means there are many things that need to be done, and it requires many organizations and parts of government to work to achieve common goals,” Day said.

“And while there are a common set of tasks, each destination will have different priorities. So, the questions may be the same — but the answers may be different. For instance, Saudi Arabia probably will focus on water conservation more than some destinations.”

Legrand agreed that the Kingdom’s ability to produce a global blueprint would depend on its ability to recognize that there would be “no one size fits all” approach, but rather a series of questions and inclusion of all stakeholders in the process.

He suggested the questions could include: What are hoteliers’ views on sustainability? Are the restaurateurs capitalizing on local agriculture? Are local communities involved? What are the challenges for these different actors? Are the destination marketers aware?

But he also noted that there were “clear, key topics” that would need to be addressed in a global, universalized manner, not least of which is the elephant in the room: Long-haul air travel.

“Long-haul travel remains a major challenge on the emission front and will remain so for the years to come, although airlines are making progress both in terms of efficiencies and fuel technologies,” he said.

“Transparency at the booking stage is critical to make the right decisions about a trip, here Travalyst and its many members are making progress in providing travelers with that information, such as the carbon footprint of specific airline routes, for example.”

Both Day and Legrand agreed that for Saudi Arabia to meet its ambitions as the vanguard in a push towards sustainable tourism, the country would need to hang its efforts around the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for industry, not least “collaboration and cooperation.”

They face many challenges, foremost of which is improving citizens’ trust in state institutions.

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Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife
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New survey reveals GCC residents’ travel intentions as world opens up post-pandemic

New survey reveals GCC residents’ travel intentions as world opens up post-pandemic
Updated 19 May 2022

New survey reveals GCC residents’ travel intentions as world opens up post-pandemic

New survey reveals GCC residents’ travel intentions as world opens up post-pandemic

DUBAI: As Joni Mitchell observed: “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” That has certainly proved true for travel since the onset of the COVID-pandemic saw worldwide restrictions on movement cause the industry to grind to a halt in early 2020. 

Many feared airlines and hotels would be struggling for years to come, but at this month’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, experts were bullish about the near future, with recovery looking extremely healthy. The ability to hop across borders for a long weekend or a summer vacation, or even a work trip — has now become something precious; the chance to escape everyday routine has become more alluring than ever. 

“Travel has moved from something that we took for granted to something that, now, we really need,” Paul Kelly, managing partner of Dubai-based consumer-insight company D/A, told Arab News. “That’s something that came through in this analysis: This huge pent-up demand — the emotional side of traveling has changed a lot.”

Residents of the GCC are eager to get travelling again, as research that D/A presented at the travel market proved. The company assessed millions of social media and online posts with its AI-driven “Sila” tool to discover the travel intentions and desires of more than 2.2 million Arab speakers across the GCC. What D/A found was that while many of the favored destinations remain the same (with one major exception — more on that later), the reasons for visiting them have changed significantly. It seems people are longing for relaxation in natural surroundings, along with cultural experiences, more than they are looking for shopping destinations and material acquisition.

“Visiting cities for shopping used to be much (more popular). It was never as big as the ‘Beach Holidays,’ category, but ‘Shopping’ was always number two,” Kelly said. “It’s now the lowest. Beach destinations are still number one — for instance, since the pandemic, visitor numbers to the Maldives from the GCC are higher than ever. But the ‘Nature and Mountains’ category — so, lakes, for example; think Switzerland more than the Maldives — has become much more popular. And cultural tourism — say, music festivals, art events, and general cultural experiences — has also become far more important, especially among younger people.”

Here are some of the main findings from D/A’s research.

SAUDI RISING 

One country has seen a major increase in interest over the past three years: Saudi Arabia. While the glitz of the UAE — and particularly Dubai — remains in high demand, the Kingdom is now the second-most desirable destination for travelers from the GCC, according to D/A’s research. “Saudi has become a really big destination. That was never the case previously, except for pilgrims, but this research discounts religious travel,” Kelly explained. Clearly, the Saudi authorities’ efforts over the past few years to position the country as an attractive tourism destination have been a huge success. More and more Saudis are looking to take short breaks in their own country, and travelers from the Emirates, Oman and other GCC countries are taking the opportunity to explore the rich culture and stunning landscapes that had previously been all-but-impossible to access.

“This has all been driven by what’s currently open — festivals like MDLBEAST, the Riyadh and Jeddah seasons, AlUla, the sporting events,” Kelly said. “That stuff works.”

THINK LOCAL 

The top three destinations for GCC travelers were all in the Gulf: The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. This is a recent development, according to Kelly. “The Gulf countries were never really factors before – apart from the obvious, Dubai, which has always been a beacon for the Middle East. But what’s been interesting is the rise of Qatar, because of the World Cup, and then Saudi as well,” he said.

“Khaleejis like going for short breaks — five days or something. And a lot of people, for those breaks, are now staying within the GCC. Saudi hasn’t overtaken the UAE yet, but it’s really come up as a tourism destination,” he continued. “The whole concept of staycation within the region has really come up — people are staying for longer periods too. Shorter stays are much more valued now.” 

TURKISH DELIGHT

Turkey is one of the most desirable international locations for GCC travelers, according to D/A’s research. It’s always been popular, but what the social-media chatter suggests is that people aren’t just heading to the big cities anymore — instead it’s the country’s mixture of “beach and mountains” that is attracting attention, with its Mediterranean areas proving especially in demand.

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTENT

While GCC travelers are eager for new experiences, they’re also looking for the reassurance of the familiar. So destinations like the UK, the US and Thailand remain extremely desirable, but, Kelly said, they are now looking for new experiences in places where they may have been several times before. 

“What we found across most of the countries is that there’s a big movement towards new experiences, even in really familiar settings,” Kelly said. “So they like to go to the same places — London, for example, is a big destination. But while they’re in London, they want to do something different, maybe be there a bit longer and go out into the countryside. There’s also an eagerness to fill out itineraries a bit more, do more things.”

FORBIDDEN FRUIT

“People really wanted to go to the countries that closed their borders early because of COVID,” Kelly said. “You want to do what you can’t do, I guess.” China and Japan were the main beneficiaries of this particular quirk of our brains, with both featuring prominently on the wishlist of destinations in the Far East for GCC travelers. China, in particular, is a desirable place for studying for GCC residents, D/A found.


Jeddah park’s carnival opening marks start of season of activities

One of Saudi artist Meead Anwar Abulata’s live paintings portrayed a lady in a dress with hues of blue. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
One of Saudi artist Meead Anwar Abulata’s live paintings portrayed a lady in a dress with hues of blue. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 14 May 2022

Jeddah park’s carnival opening marks start of season of activities

One of Saudi artist Meead Anwar Abulata’s live paintings portrayed a lady in a dress with hues of blue. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
  • Covering an area of 140,000 square meters, the park, that cost nearly SR80 million ($21 million) to build, can accommodate 54,000 people

JEDDAH: A carnival-style parade on Wednesday marked the opening of a Jeddah park to visitors as part of the Red Sea port city’s annual festival of activities.

Entertainers in colorful costumes led a procession that included stilt walkers and unicyclists during an inauguration ceremony for Prince Majid Park attended by Jeddah Gov. Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Jalawi.

A host of artistic, cultural, and recreational events have been lined up to entertain Jeddah Season 2022 crowds.

Prince Majid Park in Al-Rabwah district is one of the city’s main attractions and will be welcoming visitors free of charge. Activities and entertainment will include live performances, diverse cultural folklore, recreational events for children, shopping booths, a carnival area for challenges and games, a horror house experience, and a cultural celebration week.

HIGHLIGHT

Prince Majid Park in Al-Rabwah district is one of the city’s main attractions and will be welcoming visitors free of charge. Activities and entertainment will include live performances, diverse cultural folklore, recreational events for children, shopping booths, a carnival area for challenges and games, a horror house experience, and a cultural celebration week.

Covering an area of 140,000 square meters, the park, that cost nearly SR80 million ($21 million) to build, can accommodate 54,000 people. Visitors are greeted by a 30-meter-high interactive fountain that dances and sways to the sound of music and there is also a 9,730-square-meter children’s play area.

The 900-meter-long pedestrian pathways and 1,800 meters of routes for cyclists and scooters are decorated with 918 trees and 382 palm trees as part of efforts to satisfy one of the Saudi Vision 2030 goals to increase the amount of green and recreational spaces.

Faisal Al-Shaalan, founder of the shop Gharsa, has set up an educational and agricultural booth in the park to introduce children to the concept of planting.

“I turned it into a cultural business project to spread the concept of the importance of agriculture and its impact on the internal and external environment,” he told Arab News.

“It is necessary to make the children harness their energies into something that benefits the environment and them. They need to make a physical and intellectual effort. Parents must find useful hobbies for them, including agriculture,” Al-Shaalan said.

On the character-building aspect of the hobby, he added: “What distinguishes planting is that it makes the child take responsibility to follow up and water the plants and take care of them, which develops the child’s sense of responsibility.”

The park has an open theater that accommodates more than 1,000 spectators, and an events area covering 5,624 square meters.

Saudi artist Meead Anwar Abulata, said: “I’m glad to be participating in Jeddah Season alongside other Saudi painters to offer the park’s visitors a captivating live art show.”

One of Abulata’s live paintings portrayed a lady in a dress with hues of blue. “In the painting, I mimic the shades of deep blue waters on the ballerina’s dress to convey the relationship between the deep sea and the depth and fluidity of women’s emotions.

“It also expresses that the sea is deep and contains secrets and surprises, like the endless potential and ambition of women and what they provide in today’s Saudi Arabia,” she added.

The park will also be hosting an international bazaar featuring accessories and products reflecting the cultures of various countries, in addition to service areas, restaurants, and cafes.

Jeddah Season is part of the Saudi Seasons initiative, launched to enrich the lives of people in the Kingdom and promote the country as an important world tourist destination.

The annual 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.

Being held under the title, Our Lovely Days, the second Jeddah Season follows on from the success of Riyadh Season that recorded more than 15 million visits over five months.

Jeddah 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 services for families.

Its nine zones will hold events related to their historical and cultural aspect of their location and function. Tickets are available at https://jeddahseason.sa/index.html.