Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations

Special Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations
Many Saudis visit Taif and the Hijaz Mountains during the summer to escape the heat in the cities. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 09 August 2022

Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations

Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs opt for staycations
  • Hotels, resorts throughout Kingdom offer summer deals to tempt cash-strapped travelers
  • The mountains of Taif are a popular staycation destination with incredible landscapes, panoramic views, outdoor adventures, fruit markets, rose farms, cafes, and restaurants proving a major draw

JEDDAH: Thousands of cash-strapped Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs are opting for summer staycations.

Instead of heading abroad, droves of trippers are taking advantage of the Kingdom’s tourism industry boom to explore destinations closer to home.

Air fares and the costs of traveling abroad have soared after the coronavirus pandemic, prompting many hotels and resorts throughout the country to offer special deals on a range of getaways.

Vacations in Saudi Arabia or day trips to local attractions are proving increasingly popular.

Hamoud Abdulazez, who lives in Riyadh, said: “This summer, I have planned a short break and will take my family on a road trip to explore places in the neighborhood.

“We must face the reality of the situation, that travel budgets are double the amount nowadays. The best option for a holiday is to stay in this country.

“Also, many hotels and resorts have summer-season offers. Despite the extreme heat, the hospitality sector in the country accommodates to weather conditions and provides alternative entertainment activities,” he added.

Ali Rahman, an Indian resident living in Jeddah, said a rise in flight prices to India had forced him to reconsider his summer vacation plans and he was now looking at holidaying in the Asir region.

“Though traveling to India is not really far, the cost of a staycation in the Kingdom is less expensive than traveling outside the country,” he added.

Post-pandemic, many people now work from home or remotely. This has led accommodation providers to offer comfortable working spaces with high-speed Wi-Fi facilities.

The Kingdom boasts a variety of resorts and hotels in locations including Riyadh, Jeddah, Alkhobar, Taif, and Abha.

For adventure and entertainment activities Nofa Riyadh, a Radisson Collection Resort, offers a taste of Africa with its own safari park, along with horse- and camel-riding, water sports, bowling, cinema, buggy rides, cycling, mini golf, children’s entertainment, and an adventure zone.

Nofa Riyadh’s general manager, Fabrice Collot, said: “The resort team members are committed to creating memorable experiences for all our valued guests.




Residents can enjoy amazing experiences at hotels and resorts in the Kingdom with the ultimate staycation offering. (Supplied)

“From arrival, where guests are greeted by the bright smile of one of our front-office attendants, to anywhere over the resort, visitors receive warm and true hospitality. And our concierge will help people to discover every amazing amenity that the resort has to offer.

“A safari is just the beginning. There is an African village with incredible facilities and restaurants offering a vast array of food that guests can have served at their villa while relaxing by their private pool.”

For the beach, nature, and exclusivity, King Abdullah Economic City, on the Red Sea coast 100 kilometres north of Jeddah, is a family favorite.

Activities include go-karting at Juman Park, swan paddling on the Marina Canal, 4-D movies, a science and technology museum, water sports such as scuba diving, snorkelling, and kayaking at the private beaches, horse-riding, and a Lagoona Adventure tour.




Residents can enjoy amazing experiences at hotels and resorts in the Kingdom with the ultimate staycation offering. (Supplied)

With views of the Red Sea, natural lagoon, and mangrove, Bay La Sun Hotel and Marina, and Views Hotel and Residences, in KAEC, offer a range of amenities.

Mustafa Ainen, general manager of Bay La Sun Hotel and Marina and Views Hotel, said: “We are delighted to invite locals and expats to come for staycations and try this side of the country.

“We have created an environment where our guests can have the best personal time of relaxation along with unpretentious fine food and genuine services, big swimming pools surrounded by lush greenery and a snack bar, and a tennis court.

“Staycations save greatly on travel fees. With the current international situation, air fares and transportation costs in general have shot through the roof. As a result, residents in Jeddah, Makkah, and other regions nearby are happy visiting us as we are only a few hours away.”

The mountains of Taif are also a popular staycation destination with incredible landscapes, panoramic views, outdoor adventures, fruit markets, rose farms, cafes, and restaurants proving a major draw.

Abdulrahman Al-Sufiyani, deputy director of Gazelle Resort, said: “Many people visit Taif during the summers to escape the heat in the big cities and enjoy the cool weather of the hill stations.

“Our resort is located on a mountain with a view of the pool and a rustic coffee shop. The villas and suites are decorated in soothing natural hues with a private balcony that looks out over the majestic mountain allowing guests to have a mesmerizing experience and views of the moving clouds.”

Other exclusive summer staycation offers are available at numerous locations around the Kingdom such as at Dana Beach Resort in Half Moon Bay, Alkhobar, and the InterContinental Hotel in Abha.


Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister
  • Walid bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, received the message from the Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, received a written message on Wednesday from Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s Prime Minister.
In the letter, Andersson expressed her appreciation for the Crown Prince’s role in ‘mediating the exchange of prisoners in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis’, according to Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA.
She added that Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts reflected ‘keenness to support all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis politically and mitigating its impacts’.
Walid bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, received the message from the Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia, Petra Menander, who delivered it at the Ministry's headquarters.
The pair reviewed bilateral ties between the two nations during their meeting, and exchanged viewpoints regarding issues of common interest.


Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

RIYADH: Saudi police arrested four citizens for counterfeiting banknotes in Riyadh, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The suspects used houses located east of Riyadh as their headquarters to make fake money.

At the site, police found tools for counterfeiting money, counterfeit money and a stolen vehicle.
All items were sized and the vehicle was recovered.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense
Updated 45 min 53 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense
  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his gratitude and appreciate for ministry of defense’s efforts
  • The event was attended by commanders from the ministry of defense and the armed forces

JEDDAH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, met with the Kingdom’s Minister of Defense and commanders, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his gratitude and appreciate for ministry of defense’s efforts and the progress achieved in the development program.
The Crown Prince also commended the increase in internal self-sufficiency of military industries, which saw a 13-percent rise from two percent to 15 percent, hoping it reaches 50 percent under the supervision of the minister of defense and the military personnel.
Prince Khalid highlighted the ministry of defense’s achievements throughout the various development programs in addition to the achievements they wish to fulfill in the future.
The event was attended by commanders from the ministry of defense and the armed forces.


KSRelief continues assistance to communities in disaster-stricken areas

KSRelief continues assistance to communities in disaster-stricken areas
Updated 28 September 2022

KSRelief continues assistance to communities in disaster-stricken areas

KSRelief continues assistance to communities in disaster-stricken areas
  • New humanitarian campaign to spray residual pesticides was launched in Yemen

RIYADH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has continued providing assistance to vulnerable communities living in disaster-stricken areas.

Five tons of food baskets were distributed among 678 people in residential areas in the Red Sea State in Sudan as the country reels from the damages of torrential rains and floods that recently hit the country.
In Lebanon, 1,600 beneficiaries received 21 tons of food baskets as part of KSRelief’s efforts to serve Palestinian and Syrian refugees and the host community in Lebanon, according to a statement by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
A new humanitarian campaign to spray residual pesticides was launched in Yemen to eliminate disease-carrying mosquitos in Al-Mahra Governate. The campaign, which targets 1,677 homes, will be carried out by 46 workers and 14 observers.
Meanwhile, shelter materials were distributed to 1,200 displaced people in Al-Atira camp of Lahij in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Aid distribution continued in Pakistan, where the center has already sent nine relief planes for those affected by the heavy floods. On Monday, the center’s teams distributed 1,900 food baskets, 350 tents and 1,200 mosquito nets in Punjab and Sindh provinces, benefiting 11,200 people.
A new campaign was also launched in Bangladesh under the Noor Saudi Volunteer Program to combat blindness. Since the start of the campaign, which will run until October 1, the center’s volunteer medical team has examined 3,000 cases, distributed 911 eyeglasses, and performed 146 cataract surgeries.


Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy

Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy
Updated 27 September 2022

Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy

Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy
  • Culinary Arts Commission registers 13 famous Saudi foods on the Ark of Taste list of endangered foods

RIYADH: The Saudi Culinary Arts Commission is hosting a pavilion at the Terra Madre Network conference in Turin, Italy, to showcase some of the Kingdom’s unique dishes and indigenous foods.

The commission said on Tuesday: “At the conference, 13 elements of Saudi cuisine were added to the Ark of Taste Archives, an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods managed by the Slow Food movement. 

“This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Culinary Arts Commission and Slow Food to support the Kingdom’s burgeoning culinary sector, including the involvement of Saudi farmers’ markets in the Global Slow Food Earth Market list, and the identification of further opportunities for cooperation.”

Mayada Badr

Slow Food is a global movement that operates in over 160 countries to preserve and increase awareness of endangered foods that are unique in taste and native to a certain region.

Some of the Saudi foods that were listed in the Ark of Taste include hassawi rice, native to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and considered one of the most expensive types of rice, and samh seeds, native to Al-Jouf Province. 

The list also includes the distinct white desert truffles of the Northern Region called Al-Kamaa, khawlani coffee beans from Jazan Region — among the finest in the world — and Al-Maghmi dates, a traditional Saudi dish made with molasses and sesame seeds.

HIGHLIGHT

Some of the Saudi foods that were listed in the Ark of Taste include hassawi rice, native to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and considered one of the most expensive types of rice, and samh seeds, native to Al-Jouf Province.

Registering these foods comes as part of the commission’s efforts to preserve the historical legacy of culinary arts in the Kingdom and encourage the public to protect them from extinction.

Commenting on the participation, Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission, said: “The commission’s attendance at this event is a culmination of the work by dedicated producers around the Kingdom to elevate our culinary sector. We are delighted to showcase the best of Saudi cuisine at Terra Madre, and we hope audiences will enjoy sampling some of our unique and delicious dishes.”

The conference also saw the Aseer region in Saudi Arabia formally awarded the title of World Region of Gastronomy 2024 by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism.

The international jury of IGCAT experts recognized the welcoming spirit of the Aseer community and their willingness to showcase and share their food and culture.

The jury commented: “The light of the Middle East shines from the region of Aseer. A lot of work has been done to empower the community and prepare them for welcoming future visitors to their unique culture. The culinary scene of Aseer is rooted in tradition and it has the potential to become a culinary destination and contribute to the creative economy.”

On the award for the Aseer region, Badr said: “Saudi Arabia has a diverse culture and a rich heritage, and we are proud that the Aseer region has been formally awarded World Region of Gastronomy 2024, in recognition of their efforts to preserve the region's diverse and distinctive food culture while protecting the environment and empowering younger generations.”

Saudi chef Hatoon Altoukhi, touted as one of the best authentic Italian food chefs on social media, told Arab News: “We have reached a great milestone towards our (Vision) 2030 goals. The Saudi region of Aseer is awarded World Region of Gastronomy in Italy, where the Italians respect and give much more attention to the food industry.

“Being a Saudi chef who specializes in Italian cuisine and (who) married into an Italian family, I immediately shared the news with our family in Italy and felt so much pride that we are now en route to greatness and international gastronomy recognition,” he said.

The Kingdom’s participation at Terra Madre is part of broader efforts to stimulate cultural exchange and dialogue with counterparts worldwide while introducing Saudi Arabia’s diverse culinary heritage and native agricultural crops to the world.

Terra Madre is a network of food communities that holds a major conference every two years in Turin to foster discussion and present innovative concepts on food, globalization, and economics.

The conference aims to connect producers from across the food supply chain to encourage collaboration and improve their skills for a more developed global food system.