Saudis share their pick of quirky and romantic outdoor adventures this Valentine’s Day

Special Saudis share their pick of quirky and romantic outdoor adventures this Valentine’s Day
let off some steam together by showing the computer who’s boss at SmashLab. (Instagram)
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Updated 13 February 2023

Saudis share their pick of quirky and romantic outdoor adventures this Valentine’s Day

Saudis share their pick of quirky and romantic outdoor adventures this Valentine’s Day
  • As the Kingdom’s tourist destinations expand their offerings, couples are finding new ways to break the mold
  • From sunsets and camping to road trips and even sledgehammers, Saudis are trying something new this year

RIYADH: Roses, chocolates, diamonds (a girl’s best friend) and assorted gifts are Valentine’s Day staples. But while some people stick to the classics, others prefer to venture out, explore and spend quality time together for the sake of their love.

As Saudi Arabia’s tourist destinations expand their offerings with a wide variety of experiences throughout the year, many couples are finding new ways to break the routine and enjoy the day with each other, or with loved ones or close friends.

For Rafeef and Abdulrahman, quiet time alone is “a luxury.” Both say their busy lives are fulfilling, but as parents to a teenage girl and twin boys, it can get busy. The couple have been married for 22 years and own two private businesses. Special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, allow them to rush off to the nearby desert and disconnect, they say.

“Living in Jeddah has its perks,” Rafeef told Arab News. “We have the beach, sun and sand, but it’s usually spent with the kids and extended family on weekends. Our occasional dinners are great, but Abdulrahman and I have agreed to spend at least one day a month together. Whether we’re traveling for a quick weekend trip to Dubai, a week in London, or a weekend at Moon Valley, we do it for us.”

Abdulrahman said: “This year we chose Valentine’s Day because my wife is weak for roses, so we planned a breakfast for two with the kids cooking, and then we’re off for weekend where she’ll be cooking up breakfast and I’ll arrange a bonfire before we go stargazing.

“Our bonds grow stronger, and we have time to have meaningful and fun conversations, just like we used to 22 years ago.”

While some head to the desert east of the city, others turn west to spend the day on a boat, enjoying a romantic dinner for two. Several boat tour agencies will cater to couples or groups on the special day.

For a tranquil couple’s break, book a boat trip. (Shutterstock)

“It might sound a bit of a cliche to have a sunset stroll, but with the beautiful weather the city is enjoying these days, a cool breeze and beautiful Jeddah sunset could be what we need to disconnect a little from our busy lives,” said Khaled A., a banker who is surprising his wife this Valentine’s Day. “Cliche or not, nothing is more romantic than sunsets.”

For some, camping out in the desert is the perfect escape and a means to disconnect, literally and figuratively. Saudi Arabia’s vast unspoiled terrain offers numerous secluded camping sites, such as Acacia Valley, 90 km outside Riyadh; the winter hiking destination Jabal Al-Lawz in the Kingdom’s northwest; and Wadi Disah, a valley between towering red sandstone escarpments in the southwest Tabuk province.

If food says “love,” many delivery apps offer camping meals and special meals that are ideal for day trips. Don’t forget the chocolates.

No destination? No problem. All you need for a fun Valentine’s Day activity is a sense of adventure and a full tank of gas, says Mashael A.A., who has made it a habit to drive out of Dammam with her husband every few weeks, exploring new terrain around the Eastern Province.

“We connected over long drives when we were engaged as he would drive home from his work, a trip that took over an hour-and-a-half on normal days and up to two on busy days,” she told Arab News.

“Something about preparing a fun or relaxing playlist and our warm cups of coffee in tow allows us to spend quality time together and relax. They might not be drives full of animated conversation; sometimes being quiet is all we need.”

For many couples, there is no telling what they might stumble across, as some choose to feel the love this Valentine’s Day in more interesting and quirky ways.

“We chose sledgehammers this year,” said 34-year-old business owner Meme A. “My husband and I go to the movies and dinners all the time, but we designate a day every year for a fun activity. Last year it was driving Ferraris at Ferarri World Yas Island, the year before that we had a paintball battle and this year, we’re smashing computers and gadgets with sledgehammers, bats and more,” she told Arab news.

“It’s the adrenaline for us, and we get to really make memories because of how fun our activities are. My advice for couples is to always think outside the box, feel the rush and laugh.”