Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations

Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
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Besides magnificent annual flower, bird and butterfly shows, the western Saudi town of Yanbu is attracting tourists with its rich biodiversity. (Shutterstock)
Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
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Besides magnificent annual flower, bird and butterfly shows, the western Saudi town of Yanbu is attracting tourists with its rich biodiversity. (Shutterstock)
Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
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Besides magnificent annual flower, bird and butterfly shows, the western Saudi town of Yanbu is attracting tourists with its rich biodiversity. (Shutterstock)
Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
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Besides magnificent annual flower, bird and butterfly shows, the western Saudi town of Yanbu is attracting tourists with its rich biodiversity. (Shutterstock)
Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
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Besides magnificent annual flower, bird and butterfly shows, the western Saudi town of Yanbu is attracting tourists with its rich biodiversity. (Shutterstock)
Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
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Updated 13 May 2022

Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations

Why Yanbu on the Red Sea is fast becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s must-visit destinations
  • Beyond its scenic charm, favorable climate and natural beauty, Yanbu has a particular appeal for history buffs
  • own’s historic architecture, including a house where T. E. Lawrence once lived, have been faithfully restored

DUBAI: Just a few hours’ drive west of Madinah is the historic port town of Yanbu, the second largest settlement on Saudi Arabia’s western Red Sea coast. With its curious heritage and growing wealth of attractions, this unassuming coastal gem is fast becoming a must-visit destination in its own right.

Visitors to Yanbu can traipse along the town’s historic harbor, enjoy Red Sea-caught fish prepared in the local style, and explore the recently restored Souq Al-Lail, or night market, where they can buy local dates, green mulukhiyah leaves, as well as other sweets and delicacies.

At night, the old harbor area comes alive with locals flocking to outdoor eateries overlooking the tranquil waters, protected from the waves by unspoilt coral reefs that have long lured divers to the coastline.




Yanbu's iconic lighthouse overlooking the town's coastal area by the Red Sea. (Shutterstock)

As one of the oldest ports on the Red Sea, Yanbu has a history reaching back at least 2,500 years, when it served as a crucial staging post on the ancient spice and incense route from Yemen to Egypt and onward to the wider Mediterranean.

Its strategic importance in the world of commerce continues to this day. Further south along the coast from the idyllic old town is an important petroleum shipping terminal that is home to three oil refineries, a plastics factory, and several other petrochemical plants.

While Yanbu has long enjoyed a reputation as a place of commerce, it is now developing into something of a tourism hotspot.




The market in the heritage village of Yanbu Al-Nakhl. (Shutterstock)

“In the past, most tourists were from Saudi Arabia, but now we are getting more foreigners, from France, Germany, and the UK,” Ghazi Al-Enezi, who runs the Riyadh-based operator Ghazi Tours, told Arab News.

“Yanbu has been receiving many visitors via cruises from Jeddah, cities in Egypt and Jordan.”

In 2014, Al-Enezi was named the Best Tour Guide in the Kingdom by the Saudi government. Since then, his fledgling operation has grown into a successful enterprise, with 12 members of staff operating tours across the country and a wealth of local and international clients.

The Kingdom’s growing tourism market has offered a boost to Yanbu’s hospitality industry, with the recent opening of a Novotel, a Holiday Inn, and the Al-Ahlam Tourism Resort. This in turn has drummed up new business for local cafes and restaurants.




Yanbu's nice weather make the coastal town a favorite escape during the summer months. (Shutterstock)

“Many hotels and restaurants are opening now, and local people are also trying to serve visitors their own local dishes,” said Al-Enezi. “The weather is nice as well. It doesn’t get too hot in the summer, which means during the hot months people can escape to Yanbu.”

Beyond its scenic charm, favorable climate and natural beauty, Yanbu also has a particular appeal for history buffs. The British army intelligence officer T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, lived in Yanbu for a time between 1915 and 1916 in a typical Hijazi building.

The British archaeologist, diplomat and writer became famous for his role in the Arab Revolt and the Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

Lawrence was deployed to the region to help the Arabs overthrow their Ottoman rulers, who had sided with Germany against Britain and France.




Lawrence of Arabia, left, and the renovated house in Yanbu where he lived between 1915 and 1916. (Getty Images)

On Dec. 1, 1916, the Ottoman forces of Fakhri Pasha launched a daring offensive against Yanbu with the aim of reestablishing control over the strategically vital port.

After some initial Ottoman successes, the Arabs counterattacked with the support of five British Royal Navy warships anchored off the coast. By Jan. 18, 1917, the Ottomans were in full retreat.

Yanbu served as a supply and operations base for Arab and British forces for the remainder of the war.




Yanbu industrial harbor. (Shutterstock)

In 1975, the Saudi government decided to transform Yanbu into one of the country’s two new industrial centers, the other being Jubail on the Arabian Gulf.

Since then, state and private development projects in Yanbu have boosted its economic value and prestige, attracting huge petrochemical and logistics infrastructure.

Today, as the Kingdom undergoes a fresh transformation, heralded by the Vision 2030 economic and social reform agenda, Yanbu’s fortunes are once again shifting — this time toward tourism, heritage and culture.

In 2020, the Ministry of Tourism launched a project to restore T.E. Lawrence’s Hejazi house, renovating its white stone walls and ornate wooden screens in what would become the first of the ministry’s efforts to revive the old town of Yanbu.




Heritage houses being restored in Yanbu. (Shutterstock)

Soon, other traditional Arabian homes followed, with sensitive restoration work launched to restore their coral-stone walls and wooden latticed windows to their former glory. The rebirth of Yanbu’s authentic architecture has made the city a highly desirable place to visit.

Since then, a host of tour operators have sprung up across Yanbu to cater for this recent influx of visitors.

Al-Enezi, who has run tours in Yanbu since 2008, offers a choice of two main tours — one along the coast that features a visit to Oyster Island, known for its pristine beaches and clear waters, and another into the urban heart of Yanbu that acquaints visitors with local heritage and crafts.




Ghazi Al-Enezi was named the Best Tour Guide in the Kingdom in 2014. (Supplied)

He also takes visitors to Umluj, which is situated 150 km north of Yanbu. Often referred to as the “Maldives of Saudi Arabia,” the coastal town is made up of more than 100 small islands where hotels and other attractions are now under construction.

Also outside the town, thrill-seeking visitors are drawn to Radwa Mount, with its red-hued jagged peaks towering some 2,282 meters above sea level, making it the highest point in the Al-Nakhil range.

Known for its rich biodiversity, including lynx, tigers, ibex and wolves, visitors can enjoy a safari tour along the rugged highland landscape and stop at high-altitude villages to sample the local honey.




Yanbu also boasts of attractive highland landscapes. (Shutterstock)

For Al-Enezi, the tourism industry in Yanbu is unrecognizable today from what passed for it when he began organizing tours there 14 years ago.

“It was hard for the few of us working in the business in the beginning because at that time the Saudi government wasn’t focused on tourism and not many people were coming to visit the Kingdom,” he told Arab News.

“But this is now a growing and changing business.”


Crown prince cites Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards

Crown prince cites Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards
Updated 59 min 4 sec ago

Crown prince cites Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards

Crown prince cites Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards
  • Over 35 Saudi students won 22 awards at ISEF, which was held from May 7-13 in the US

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday received Saudi students who won Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2022 awards.

The crown prince expressed happiness and pride in what the talented students have achieved in the international competition, adding that this achievement is considered a motivation for other Saudis, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He also said that this achievement is a first step for a prosperous future, wishing the winners success.

(SPA)

Over 35 Saudi students won 22 awards at ISEF, which was held from May 7-13 in the US.

The ISEF 2022 saw the participation of pre-college students from over 80 countries in the biggest competition showcasing innovation in scientific research and advancement.

Student Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen, earning him the award for “Best Research Scientist,” in which he competed against over 1,700 submissions from students across 65 countries.

Five other first-place prizes were awarded to Dana Al-Eithan and Maria Al-Ghamdi, who won in chemistry; Tahani Adel, who won in material sciences; and Yousef Khoja, who won in embedded systems.


Saudis take a trip back to their childhood days at Jeddah Season’s Rasha Rizk concert

Rasha Rizk performed to celebrate the grand opening of Anime Village, one of the zones in this year’s Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Rasha Rizk performed to celebrate the grand opening of Anime Village, one of the zones in this year’s Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Updated 24 May 2022

Saudis take a trip back to their childhood days at Jeddah Season’s Rasha Rizk concert

Rasha Rizk performed to celebrate the grand opening of Anime Village, one of the zones in this year’s Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
  • Rasha Rizk is voice of childhood dreams that lives in memories of three generations

JEDDAH: Rasha Rizk, the voice of childhood innocence, hopes, and dreams that lives in the memories of three generations, performed in Jeddah to celebrate the grand opening of Anime Village, one of the zones in this year’s Jeddah Season.

Syrian chanteuse Rizk is best known for performing Arabic versions of anime and cartoon theme songs and is credited with over 100 tracks, including “Doraemon,” “Gundam,” “Detective Conan,” “Captain Tsubasa,” “One Piece,” “Offside,” and “D.I.C.E.”

After three nights of filling the air of Anime Village at City Walk, Rizk held a meet-and-greet event at the SuperDome area on Sunday.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Rasha Rizk started the event with the Arabic version of the ‘Hunter X Hunter’ theme song.

• The singer ended the hour-long session with snippets from two of her widely loved songs: ‘Remi’s Anti Al-Aman’ and ‘Anastasia’s Ah lo fo Alahlam.’

• Most of those attending grew up in the 1980s, 1990s, and noughties. Now adults, they brought their children along to meet their anime-singing idol.

Before coming on stage, a variety of anime theme songs performed by her rang through the venue, awakening the inner child in every adult and re-igniting the flame of happy and innocent days from times past.

“Rasha is (one of) my unforgettable childhood memories. She taught me all about hope, strength, and happiness,” said 23-year-old Asma Alsaggaf. “I will introduce her to the coming generations, including my children, their children, and their children.”

“She (Rizk) is my entire childhood as all the childhood songs that I grew up listening to are mostly sung by her,” said 29-year-old Fatma Abdurahman. “I feel like I’m above the clouds after meeting her because I’ve been dreaming about this moment forever.”

Rizk started the event with the Arabic version of the “Hunter X Hunter” theme song. She then began welcoming and talking to fans of all ages.

“Honestly, I first listened to Rasha during my teenage years and immediately fell in love with her voice,” said 22-year-old Read Sindhi. “I’m thrilled with the fact that I met her.”

The singer ended the hour-long session with snippets from two of her widely loved songs: “Remi’s Anti Al-Aman” and “Anastasia’s Ah lo fo Alahlam.”

Most of those attending grew up in the 1980s, 1990s, and noughties. Now adults, they brought their children along to meet their anime-singing idol.

“I will allow the new generations to get to know Rasha to know how kind she is and listen to her songs because every track has a moral lesson,” said 24-year-old Raigah Zain.

Rizk told Arab News that she was thrilled and delighted to meet the people who had grown up listening to her and giving back the love she had received through the years.

“Meeting people and receiving this much love,” was what Rizk said she would remember most about the Jeddah events. “Seeing the audience singing every word and letter along with me is the best thing I could ask for. It feels like seeing my own children growing before my eyes.”

Rizk said she hoped to see more local anime works representing different Arab cultures and traditions go global. “I support every cultural project that sends a beautiful image to the world about Arabs.”

Besides singing anime and cartoon theme tracks, Rizk has released three albums, performed at opera houses and concerts around the world, played roles in musicals and movies, and was the voice of Anastasia in the animation movie.

She works with the cartoon channel “Spacetoon,” which shows dubbed animation and cartoons. She lent her voice to the Saudi animated movie “The Journey,” which was released in theaters last year.

 


Saudi Arabia’s PNU joins King Fahd National Library catalog

The agreement was signed by Rabiah Al-Barrak and Othman Mohammed Al-Asmari. (SPA)
The agreement was signed by Rabiah Al-Barrak and Othman Mohammed Al-Asmari. (SPA)
Updated 25 May 2022

Saudi Arabia’s PNU joins King Fahd National Library catalog

The agreement was signed by Rabiah Al-Barrak and Othman Mohammed Al-Asmari. (SPA)
  • In February, the library joined the International Federation of Libraries and Institutions for 2022

RIYADH: Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University has signed an agreement to join the Saudi Unified Catalog of the King Fahd National Library.
This development ensures that intellectual resources can be easily accessed from one database, which will benefit the nation’s researchers.
The agreement was signed by university representative Rabiah Al-Barrak and Othman Mohammed Al-Asmari, director of the catalog project.
The library aims to build a national reference to standardize technical practices. It also seeks to develop information and knowledge projects, and to facilitate coordination between institutions in Saudi Arabia.
In February, the library joined the International Federation of Libraries and Institutions for 2022. The federation consists of 1,600 members from 150 countries around the world.
Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the KFNL, pointed out that joining the federation is the culmination of the library’s efforts in strengthening international cooperation, which would not have been possible without the continuous support from the Saudi leadership. AN Riyadh
Al-Zamil stressed that by joining the federation, the library will be able to share knowledge, experiences, standards and methods of work and keep pace with global developments, in addition to actively participating in meetings, seminars, workshops and conferences.

 


Saudi education minister meets with UK counterpart

Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh. (SPA)
Updated 24 May 2022

Saudi education minister meets with UK counterpart

Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh. (SPA)
  • The meeting discussed ways of enhancing opportunities of educational, academic and research cooperation between the two countries

LONDON: The Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh met with British Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi on the sidelines of the Education World Forum 2022 in London.

Al-Sheikh also met with the UK prime minister’s special representative to Saudi Arabia for education, Steve Smith.

The minister is currently on an official visit to London to take part in the forum, running from May 22-25.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed ways of enhancing the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of education and science, as well as the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Program on Scholarship, according to the recent strategy launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The meeting also discussed ways of enhancing opportunities of educational, academic and research cooperation between the two countries and developing educational curricula, including teaching the Arabic language through the internet and training Saudi doctors.

The meeting was attended by Salih Al-Gesoomi, undersecretary at the Saudi Ministry for International Cooperation, Ohood Al-Fares, undersecretary for public education; and Dr. Mohamed El-Mugbel, undersecretary for educational programs, as well as the cultural attache at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in the UK, Amal Fattani.


Saudi Arabia’s RITA signs deal to promote performing arts

(Twitter @TRITA_sa)
(Twitter @TRITA_sa)
Updated 25 May 2022

Saudi Arabia’s RITA signs deal to promote performing arts

(Twitter @TRITA_sa)
  • The deal contributes to encouraging national talents, entrepreneurs, artists, craftspeople and those with a passion for traditional arts in both countries by providing incentives for them to continue their work and acquainting the public with them

RIYADH: The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts has signed a cooperation agreement with the Performance Arts School at the Korea National University of Arts.
The agreement is aimed at enhancing cooperation in the field of performing arts and enriching traditional arts through initiatives that focus on developing educational programs and establishing an exchange program for students and faculty members between the two institutions.
The agreement will also help boost cooperation in the field of research and studies.
The deal contributes to encouraging national talents, entrepreneurs, artists, craftspeople and those with a passion for traditional arts in both countries by providing incentives for them to continue their work and acquainting the public with them.
Visual arts form a vital part of the Kingdom’s heritage. It includes traditional performing arts such as dance and folk music from the various regions of the Kingdom.
In February, the institute and Diriyah Gate Development Authority signed an agreement for strategic cooperation in a number of projects and initiatives, the authority said.
The agreement included plans for projects related to education and training in fields such as the protection of heritage sites, and documentation of tangible and intangible heritage sites.