A visit to the Barking Lot in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia’s first cafe dedicated to dogs

With plenty of snacks for both humans and dogs, the cafe caters to those who want their animals to play in a safe and controlled environment. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
With plenty of snacks for both humans and dogs, the cafe caters to those who want their animals to play in a safe and controlled environment. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Short Url
Updated 13 September 2022

A visit to the Barking Lot in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia’s first cafe dedicated to dogs

A visit to the Barking Lot in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia’s first cafe dedicated to dogs
  • New cafe allows them to get up to their old tricks
  • Brings out their inner animal with showers, nail clipping

ALKHOBAR: Blal Antika overcame his big fear of dogs when he began working at the Kingdom’s first cafe dedicated to canines, the Barking Lot, eight months ago.

Today, Antika is like a protective big cousin, standing stoically at the entrance of the building with its clear glass exterior, mindfully scanning the area, while energetically high-fiving people he recognizes.

He is the first friendly but firm face that greets you and the last one you see before leaving.

A jack of all trades, he does a little bit of everything. While sipping on his favorite iced white mocha from the cafe, he lifts the gate to let people and their best friends in and out.

He is now part of the whole Barking Lot visitor experience, but even he was surprised to be in this position.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The unique cafe has 14 in- house dogs while others visit regularly.

• The cafe also has a grooming station where dogs can get their nails clipped and showered.

• In Saudi Arabia, dogs have traditionally been excluded from living in homes. They were kept on farms or used for security purposes. But over the last decade, there has been a shift in the culture.

“Growing up in Jeddah, I never thought I’d be surrounded by dogs. I’ve always had a sense of adventure so when I got an offer to work at the dog cafe in Alkhobar, I was curious. Even though I always had a fear of dogs, I thought to try it anyway. Now, I miss them whenever I am not around them,” Antika told Arab News.

The unique cafe has 14 in-house dogs while others visit regularly.

The Alkhobar branch has been in operation for over two years. With plenty of snacks for both humans and dogs, the cafe caters to those who want their animals to play in a safe and controlled environment or chat with other people, to exchange tips and show off their furry friends’ new tricks.

Humans can sit in chairs in the back, placed along the clear glass walls overlooking the city, where passersby occasionally peer in curiously.

Occasionally, some dogs will urinate from excitement but a staff member quickly comes to mop and sanitize the spot. You can hear bursts of barking, as dogs enter and exit, but this doesn’t last long.

The cafe also has a grooming station where they can get their nails clipped and showered.

Ameerah, who was raised in Dhahran, returned last year after living in Canada, armed with a degree and her first dog, Lilly.

The 20-kilogram highly energetic combination golden retriever and poodle is a golden doodle.

“When I first got Lilly, she was only seven weeks. I was very excited because this is the first time I got a pet, and that was a dream of mine from childhood. When I first got her, it was abroad so everything was open. You know, people there understand what it means to own a pet and raise it. It’s like their child in the house but here it’s different,” she told Arab News.

In Saudi Arabia, dogs have traditionally been excluded from living in homes. They were kept on farms or used for security purposes. But over the last decade, there has been a shift in the culture.

On the night of our visit, you could hear giddy children calling out to Lilly. One young girl asked if she could feed Lilly a treat but Ameerah gently declined and explained that this would give the canine indigestion. The little girl happily petted Lilly instead. It’s not hard to see why Lilly is a local favorite.

Lilly sweetly interacts with other larger dogs and socializes in the controlled environment. Her mother enjoys these visits and appreciates how the Barking Lot cafe is helping to broaden the understanding of what it means to include a woman’s best friend to the cultural mix.

Lilly helped Ameerah cope with being away from home during the pandemic and is now helping her hometown accept dogs as legitimate members of the family.

The cafe also helps both of them beat the sweltering Saudi heat.

“The weather, of course, is a shock for me and her and when I came to the cafe, you know, everything is enclosed. It has AC so I’d rather bring her here than taking her to play in the park. We’re either at home or at the cafe,” she said.

The Barking Lot was launched in Kuwait by Dalal Al-Sharhan with the Alkhobar branch opening in 2020 as the first canine-friendly cafe in the Kingdom followed by its second branch in 2021 in Riyadh.

For their hours and menu items, including grooming for the pets and coffee for their humans, visit @TheBarkingLot.sa


Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday

Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday

Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday

King Salman invited President of China Xi Jinping for an official visit to attend the Saudi-Chinese summit held in Saudi Arabia from Dec. 7 to 9, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday. 

The summit will be chaired by King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It will look at relations between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states with the People's Republic of China,

Discussions are expected to focus on strengthening joint cooperation in economy and development.


Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco

Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco

Saudi’s aid agency concludes anti-blindness program in Morocco
  • KSRelief continued providing medical aid to Syrian refugees residing in Jordan’s Zaatari camp

RIYADH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has concluded an anti-blindness voluntary program in Morocco’s Tiflet.

Under the Saudi Noor Voluntary Program, held in collaboration with the Kingdom’s Al-Basar International Foundation, doctors performed 462 cataract removal operations, examined 5,800 patients and distributed 1,470 glasses.

The program comes as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to help low-income families in the region, according to a statement by state news agency (SPA).

KSRelief continued providing medical aid to Syrian refugees residing in Jordan’s Zaatari camp. The agency’s medical clinics offered consultations to 14,704 refugees during November, said SPA.

The laboratory and radiology departments also received 1,480 people.


Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen
  • MASAM removed over 375,000 mines from Yemen since its 2018 launch

RIYADH: A total of 1,307 mines planted by the Iran-backed Houthi militia across Yemen were dismantled in one week under King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSrelief) Masam project.

The extraction, which took place at the end of November, included 20 anti-personnel mines, 113 anti-tank mines, 1,170 unexploded ordnance, and four explosive devices, state news agency (SPA) reported.

Since its launch in 2018, the landmine clearance project has removed over 375,000 mines from Yemeni lands.

Earlier in June, KSRelief renewed Masam project for a fifth year at a cost of $33.292 million.


Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day
Updated 05 December 2022

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day
  • Naif told Arab News that the walk had been “another accomplishment” after he previously completed more than 4 billion steps, covering 4,000 km on foot, through nine treks taking in NEOM, Makkah, Abha, Madinah, and AlUla

JEDDAH: Two Saudi adventurers have arrived in Abu Dhabi after walking for 30 days to celebrate the 51st UAE National Day.

Thirty-two-year-old Naif Shukri and his nephew Abdul Ellah Shukri, 19, started their trek from Riyadh passing through Al-Ahsa and Al-Hofuf before arriving at the UAE border, a journey of 1,200 kilometers.

Naif told Arab News that the walk had been “another accomplishment” after he previously completed more than 4 billion steps, covering 4,000 km on foot, through nine treks taking in NEOM, Makkah, Abha, Madinah, and AlUla.

He said: “Our journey titled, the Saudi is Emirati and the Emirati is Saudi, has several goals, but the most notable was the participation with Emirati brothers in their UAE National Day. It was a way to express our love and affection to the Emirati people.”

He broadcasted his trip on social media and was amazed by the interaction from Emiratis many of whom were waiting to greet the duo on the UAE border.

On Dec. 1, followers, supporters, and friends gathered at Bani Yas as Naif sent pictures of himself and his nephew holding the Saudi and UAE flag and another showing them arriving in the UAE.

“The Emirati people have been so hospitable and encouraging. The best part of the journey was the warm welcome we received upon our arrival,” he added.

 

 


Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex
Updated 05 December 2022

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex

Film AlUla begins construction of studio complex
  • Film AlUla has hosted 694 production days since opening in 2020

JEDDAH: Film AlUla, the film agency of the Royal Commission for AlUla, has started construction on the first phase of its studio complex.

The finished complex will cover around 30,000 square meters and is set to be up and running by the end of next year.

The first phase will include two world-class soundstages, production support buildings, workshops, a pyro/sfx building, a sound recording studio, catering and administration buildings and a 6,500 square meter backlot.

HIGHLIGHT

The first phase will include two world-class soundstages, production support buildings, workshops, a pyro/sfx building, a sound recording studio, catering and administration buildings and a 6,500 square meter backlot. It is located near 12 sq. km of outdoor shooting locations showcasing the beauty and ancient heritage of AlUla, making it the best suitable for on-location filming and set construction.

It is located near 12 sq. km of outdoor shooting locations showcasing the beauty and ancient heritage of AlUla, making it the best suitable for on-location filming and set construction.

“AlUla is a thriving center for arts, culture and heritage. With the film and screen sector of central focus the first phase of this studio complex is carefully planned and part of a much larger program of infrastructure development,” said Charlene Deleon-Jones, executive director of Film AlUla.

“This complex will satisfy the growing demand from regional and international producers to shoot at AlUla, while also supplying an epicenter for our production ecosystem. The studio complex will diversify AlUla’s economy, in line with the objectives of RCU, as we build a home to nurture Saudi talent in the screen sector for generations to come,” he added.

Film AlUla worked with the US-based company Tait to ensure that work in AlUla would be uncluttered and comfortable, including during summer.

The studio complex will be 14 minutes from the Film AlUla Residence, which has 300 rooms, restaurants, recreational facilities and office space for industry professionals, and 20 minutes from AlUla International Airport, which recently opened a hangar for private jets. It lies outside the airport’s flightpath.

Phase two will be announced in the second quarter of 2023.

The project aims to attract local and international productions is bolstered by Saudi Arabia’s offer of a cashback rebate of up to 40 percent for international and local feature films, television series and documentaries.

The studio complex is also meeting rigorous environmental standards. Film AlUla contracted environmental agencies to conduct a 10-month impact assessment on the new location and will build it under continuous environmental monitoring.

Film AlUla has hosted 694 production days since opening in 2020. Movies include Kandahar, directed by Ric Roman Waugh and starring Gerard Butler, which was the first major Hollywood feature to shoot almost entirely in AlUla, and the Iraq war story Cherry, starring Tom Holland and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

Additionally, Norah was the first Saudi feature film to shoot at AlUla entirely and featured an all-Saudi cast and more than 40 percent Saudi crew.

A number of TV productions have been filmed in AlUla including the British series Expedition with Steve Backshall and Nat Geo documentaries, along with commercials, promotions, photo-shoots and short films.