JEDDAH: Whether you’re going to the beach or on a desert trip with your friends, it’s always a good idea to carry an icebox with you to keep your food and beverages cool in the heat. But did you know you can now do so in style?
Polarbox is a Spanish-made icebox that comes in pastel colors (lavender, blue, turquoise, pink and yellow), has a retro font design, a leather strap, and looks eminently attractive and reliable.
It’s lined on the inside with expanded polystyrene foam, a material that’s lightweight and has excellent thermal insulation.
I took my stylish pastel yellow Polarbox to a family desert picnic and it kept the beverages cool for long hours. I found it to be a great tool and an actual necessity for road trips and the like.
I ordered my icebox from www.gfz.sa and a fun feature on the website is that you can choose your straps. It can come in different patterns such as floral, colorful leopard prints, tie-dye, geometric, patchwork and more.
You can adjust the strap three ways to carry it on the shoulder, by hand, and to close the cover securely.
The colorful iceboxes are delivered every Wednesday. The company can deliver from Riyadh to any city in the Kingdom.
I am taking my fashionable Polarbox along for all my outdoor activities, and I am excited to use it for those sunny days at the beach.
She shared snaps of herself, alongside her husband Jared Kushner, and their three children at the pyramids, riding camels and exploring the Hanging Church in Old Cairo, as well as the Ben Ezra Synagogue.
The holiday comes hot on the heels of her sister Tiffany Trump’s wedding.
On Nov. 12, Tiffany was escorted down the aisle by her father as she married Lebanese-born businessman Michael Boulos at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida
Ahway’s call to connect with Saudi Arabia’s beauty
New Saudi tourism project embraces concept of disconnecting from everyday life to get back to nature
Updated 23 November 2022
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s diversity — which includes deserts, rock formations, the Red Sea coastline, forests in the southern region and mountains in Makkah — makes it an attractive tourist destination.
Ahway is a new Saudi tourism project that embraces the concept of disconnecting from everyday life in order to connect with nature.
It offers well-equipped caravans, all boasting beautiful views.
Taif, in Makkah, is where the project is starting out, but it is expected to expand to other spots in the Kingdom, including AlUla, Tabuk, and Asir.
Its founder and CEO Saeed Azhar told Arab News: “It is an escape to nature from the distractions of the digital world.”
The project’s name is derived from the word “awestruck,” and the Arabic expression “ah,” which is used to express a range of emotions, including surprise, pleasure, sympathy and realization.
The project’s name is derived from the word ‘awestruck,’ and the Arabic expression ‘ah,’ which is used to express a range of emotions, including surprise, pleasure, sympathy and realization.
Ahway caravans are placed in the Al-Shafa Mountains, 180 km from Jeddah, at the Wadi Thee Ghazal, one of the most serene spots in Taif and an area synonymous with picturesque nature.
Its weather is moderate throughout the year, and visitors head for the destination in the summer season as it is one of the most beautiful.
Azhar said that although promoting local tourism is his main goal, he is also keen to promote the concept of Ahway.
He added: “I want to help tourists and locals experience the real joy of different terrains, where they can find solitude with nature.
“There are lockers for phone addicts inside each caravan, so visitors can live the experience to the fullest and away from social media distraction.”
Saudi Arabian terrain is ideal for camping and hiking trips, and the new project gives those with a taste for the great outdoors the chance to enjoy a unique and comfortable experience while enjoying the glories of nature.
The well-equipped caravans are designed in a way that offers privacy, each one being placed at a distance of 18 to 28 meters from another. All contain a fire extinguisher, smoke detector and first-aid kit.
There are also safety cameras at the site, and a guard around the clock to ensure guests’ well-being.
Travel website Hihome aims to give tourists the authentic Saudi cultural experience
Locals across the Kingdom can sign up with the platform to host international visitors in their homes and offer them the chance to take part in traditional activities
Founder Noura Al-Saadoun said the Saudi people and their homes offer a great point of entry for visitors to learn about the culture of the country and engage with locals
Updated 19 November 2022
MAKKAH: What better way for tourists to experience the true, authentic culture of the country they are visiting than by spending time with locals, ideally in their homes, and joining in their traditional, day-to-day activities.
Hihome, an online platform established in 2019, aims to make this possible for visitors to Saudi Arabia, by bridging the gap between tourists and locals. In addition to providing accommodation, hosts can also offer traditional activities for guests so that they learn about and experience local culture and heritage firsthand.
These might include the brewing of traditional Saudi coffee, preparation of one of the host’s special family recipes, handicraft lessons, picking fruit on a farm, or simply spending time together listening to a host’s stories of life in the Kingdom.
Noura Al-Saadoun, the founder and general manager of Hihome, told Arab News that the philosophy behind the service is based on the principle of investing in the Saudi people and their homes, because they offer a great point of entry for visitors to learn about the culture of the country, and the wider region, and to engage with its people.
She said the idea for it came to her after visiting several foreign countries that have similar platforms and finding that the experiences they offer make a good impression on travelers. So when the Kingdom announced in 2019 that was offering tourist visas for the first time, Al-Saadoun realized it was the perfect opportunity to launch a service that could introduce visitors to the beauty and diversity of the Kingdom by providing them with an authentic Saudi experience in the home of a local family.
She said that there are currently more than 500 guests and hosts registered on the platform, and more than 80 registered experiences that have generated “wonderful feedback” from guests.
“What confirms this is the messages they send to us, which contain their photos and opinions about the experience, and we are proud to publish this feedback on our website to show how happy we are to host them in one of our Hihome experiences,” Al-Saadoun said.
In his review, Stefaniic, a tourist from Germany, said: “I thought I have been around the world, and I have been everywhere, but I have not been to Saudi Arabia. This is the first family home I visit in this country, and I tell you what … I love it. People are so friendly, so nice. They are so generous. You must come here.”
Another Hihome user, Mia from China, described her experience as “memorable days that cannot be forgotten.” She added that it was very interesting to visit a home in Riyadh, see all its decorations, designs and open spaces, and talk to the friendly people there.
“The most beautiful thing is that communications between guests and hosts do not end with the experience … rather, friendships are formed between them, through which exchange of knowledge about different cultures takes place between the two parties,” she added.
The registration process is simple, Al-Saadoun said; hosts simply create a listing on the Hihome website that includes a description and photos of the experience and the space, and the price.
The site’s team reviews all listings and suggests any amendments that might be required, and then it goes live. The site also offers hosts support and advice to help them develop and market their experiences.
“We have been honored to host people from several nations, such as Germany, Japan, America, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, India, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Scotland, Singapore and Brazil, among others,” Al-Saadoun said.
Guide Asmaa Khattab’s walking tours take in some of Egypt’s lesser-known highlights
Updated 17 November 2022
DUBAI: Egypt has long been one of the Middle East’s most popular destinations for tourists. Despite recent political instability, its historical sites and cultural treasures continue to dazzle visitors from across the world.
However, an independent, Cairo-based tourist guide has been shaking things up a bit by looking beyond the country’s typical, much-publicized offerings. “Tourism in Egypt hasn’t changed much in almost 100 years,” Asmaa Khattab told Arab News. “The early travel agencies came to Egypt and researched what potential it had for tourism. They did their cruises and palace tours. But from that time until now, few people actually changed how cultural tourism (goes) in Egypt.”
Ten years ago, when social-media usage soared in the country, due in large part to the Egyptian revolution that ousted the former president Hosni Mubarak, Khattab started posting pictures of some of the country’s heritage sites on a Facebook page she called, “Walk Like An Egyptian.” In 2015, she launched what are billed as Egypt’s first off-the-beaten-track cultural walking tours.
Her clients are treated to in-depth, quality-driven experiences, uncovering gems including celebrity museums and houses of worship in the capital as well as neighboring cities, including Alexandria and Suez.
“People come to Egypt, but they don’t get a full Egyptian experience. It’s very touristy,” said Khattab. “Of course, it’s important to visit the pyramids, but there’s always something special about Egypt that makes it Egypt. I wanted people to see Egypt like an Egyptian, and this was how I thought of the name Walk Like An Egyptian.”
Here, Khattab highlights some of her favorite sites from her tours.
A World Heritage Site, Historic Cairo is home to numerous important monuments that date back to the 7th century CE, as well as traditional crafts such as glass-blowing. “It’s precious to my heart, because I was always fascinated with Islamic art,” said Khattab. The tour takes in Cairo’s oldest mosque, Ibn Tulun, which features elements of Abbasid architecture and was built in the 9th century by the then-ruler of Egypt, Ahmed Ibn Tulun. The area also contains the City of the Dead, home to royal tombs.
Located in Upper Egypt, Minya is a stunning, oasis-like site that houses ancient necropolises and temples. “Minya is underrated,” said Khattab. “Nature in Minya, like the Nile and greenery, is mind-blowing.” It is also a place of contemporary talent. One of its best-known artists is Minya-born self-taught painter Hassan El-Shark, who creates folkloric art. His modest house has been turned into a public museum.
Another underrated gem in the eyes of Khattab is this southern Cairo district located on Rhoda Island in the Nile River, which includes a little-known water temple known as a nilometer — an ancient invention used to measure water levels of the life-giving river. There is also a museum dedicated to the iconic Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum on the island. Opened in 2001, the intimate museum displays her personal costumes, jewelry, records, letters, and awards. Another must-see is the ornate Manial Palace, which was inaugurated in the early 20th century. Built by the uncle of Egypt’s last monarch, King Farouk, it is influenced by Andalusian, Ottoman and European styles.
Complex of Sultan Qalawun
This complex was built over the course of just one year during the artistically productive Mamluk period in the 13th century and was commissioned by Sultan Al-Mansur Qalawun. The complex is impressive in terms of both scale and design. It houses a mausoleum, a school, a mosque, a public hospital, and one of the country’s largest minarets. This central landmark aesthetically resembles other prominent monuments in Europe and the Middle East, such as Granada’s Alhambra Palace, Palermo Cathedral in Sicily, and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
Meaning ‘Courtyard of the Pasha,’ this large, domed complex is the final resting place of the influential ruler of Egypt Muhammad Ali Pasha’s family members. The site was built in the early 1800s by the Pasha, although the man himself is not buried there. Instead, his sons, their spouses and children, along with servants and counsellors, lie in rest at the mausoleum.
Saudi Arabia presents exceptional opportunities to global tourism partners
The pavilion included over 40 partners from the Saudi tourism system, representing tourist destinations, airlines, tour operators, service providers and tourism experiences from all over the Kingdom
Updated 16 November 2022
RIYADH: The Saudi Tourism Authority concluded its participation in the World Travel Market exhibition, which was held in London from Nov. 7-9.
The Saudi pavilion drew the attention of visitors to the WTM by displaying the treasures, destinations, landmarks and tourist experiences that the Kingdom offers.
It also highlighted the Kingdom’s natural, climatic, cultural and social diversity, while the Saudi cafe received the pavilion’s guests in celebration of the Year of Saudi Coffee.
By organizing the pavilion, the STA was keen to highlight the potential and opportunities of the tourism sector in the Kingdom, and consolidate relations with its current partners while building new ones to attract tourists from all over the world.
This year there were over 35,800 visitors to the WTM, exceeding expectations and more than double the number in 2021. The number of global travel buyers at the event increased by 25 percent compared to 2021.
The pavilion included over 40 partners from the Saudi tourism system, representing tourist destinations, airlines, tour operators, service providers and tourism experiences from all over the Kingdom, to build strategic partnerships with the most important global markets.
On the sidelines of the exhibition, the STA signed 11 strategic partnership deals with global travel and tourism companies including Agoda, Satguru Travel, Edreams, Lufthansa and others.
The pavilion was inaugurated by Ahmed Al-Khatib, tourism minister and chairman of the STA’s board of directors, and Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, ambassador to the UK.
Fahad Hamid Al-Din, CEO and member of the STA’s board of directors, delivered a speech at the opening session in which he said: “The tourism and travel market in the UK is keen to build partnerships with Saudi Arabia and expand the tourism investment opportunities that exist in Saudi Arabia, which is the fastest-growing destination in the G20, as it witnessed a growth of 121 percent on an annual basis after the coronavirus pandemic.
“This confirms the confidence of the global tourism sector in Saudi Arabia, and clearly shows the desire of those interested in learning about the homeland of Arab authenticity.”
Saudi Arabia is making great efforts to attract tourists by making travel smoother, and is working to create competitive, renewable and low-cost travel programs in cooperation with international companies such as Wizz Air.
It is also providing electronic tourist visas to new segments of visitors, and as recently announced, the extension of the period of time to travel.
Residence for single-visit visa holders is up to three months, and transit visa holders can spend 96 hours in Saudi Arabia without fees.