JEDDAH: Tour guides have shared their experiences of hosting visitors in the Kingdom during an exhibition in Jeddah.
The 11th Jeddah Travel and Tourism Exhibition, which was held from Feb. 19 to 21, hosted local and international tourism agencies that promoted their countries.
Abdulaziz Bakhsh, the chairman of the board of the Association of Tour Guides Union, told Arab News that members were “local ambassadors of their countries.”
Bakhsh, who has worked as a tour guide for 13 years, said it was “a job of a lover.”
“If you love a city very deeply, you will try to show others the details you are fondly in love with and tell them the stories that lie behind them,” he said.
Bakhsh said one of his biggest challenges is when tour group leaders are “misinformed about our history and insist on telling stories of the Kingdom or speak about locations or historical events that never existed.”
Eylaf Baqais, 27, from Mabet Alhijaz, said: “We once dealt with a tourist who kept on getting himself lost despite marking him with a vibrant colored scarf, that even his wife decided to move on with the planned schedule without him.”
Mabet Alhijaz is an agency that runs trips in the north-western region of Saudi Arabia.
Heba Fageeh, a supervisor at the agency, said that it sets out to make visitors welcome as soon as they arrive. “Our agency holds a welcoming ceremony, where we offer Saudi coffee and dessert, or give presents if it is an individual.”
Alhijaz hopes to attract more foreign couples to the country.
Ramadan meet, greet initiative launched for Makkah pilgrims, umrah visitors
Greeting points will be set up at the Haramain train station and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah
Nada Al-Malki: The pilgrims are warmly welcomed at the designated train station, and a set of gifts are presented to help them perform their rituals with ease
Updated 14 sec ago
RIYADH: The Grand Mosque in Makkah has launched a welcome initiative for pilgrims and umrah visitors arriving in Saudi Arabia.
The scheme has been initiated by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques represented by its media affairs, public relations, and women’s exhibitions agency.
Greeting points will be set up at the Haramain train station and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
Agency official Nada Al-Malki said: “The pilgrims are warmly welcomed at the designated train station, and a set of gifts are presented to help them perform their rituals with ease.”
The initiative was started last year at the railway station with senior management greeting pilgrims and distributing information on digital services, and gift packages including a prayer rug, umbrella, and Zamzam water.
On Sunday, the presidency, represented by the agency responsible for libraries and cultural affairs, launched its Ramadan program in the Grand Mosque library which will include scientific and cultural meetings and seminars.
The first evening session looked at various aspects of the life of the Prophet Muhammad.
Saudi, Iranian foreign ministers to meet during Ramadan
Updated 27 March 2023
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, have agreed to meet during the month of Ramadan, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Monday.
The diplomats also discussed in a phone call a number of issues amid the trilateral agreement signed in China.
The Kingdom and Iran agreed on March 10 to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months following years of tensions.
Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes
Bustling with tourists and residents, souqs are the beating heart of Saudi cities
Updated 27 March 2023
RIYADH: Souqs are the best place to buy Ramadan essentials — food, decoration or fashion — and to experience the hustle and bustle of the holy month.
Souq, meaning market in Arabic, is a modern shopping destination but with an old-world charm.
May AlSheikh, reservoir geoscientist at Aramco, spoke with Arab News to explain the importance of souqs in the Middle Eastern culture.
“Souqs are historical shopping and trading scenes that have been around for thousands of years. I strongly believe they remain an essential component for preserving culture and identity in Saudi Arabia, on the local scale, and the Middle East region as a whole,” Alsheikh said.
Alsheikh believes the souq is a place where tourists can indulge in culture and get a taste of tradition.
“I work in a company that is a cultural melting pot with people coming from all walks of life, and I always recommend my expatriate colleagues to visit souqs — they love it! It’s a great tourist attraction and a pleasant activity, where they enjoy the traditional ambiance while purchasing traditional goods and foods,” she said.
AlKhobar’s Al-Swekit Souq
One of the oldest souqs in the Eastern Province, Al-Swekit Souq, is a hub for affordable gold jewelry and abayas.
AlSheikh visits the Al-Swekit Souq during the month of Ramadan to buy all sorts of things for herself and the family.
Souqs are historical shopping and trading scenes that have been around for thousands of years ... they remain an essential component for preserving culture and identity in Saudi Arabia, on the local scale, and the Middle East region as a whole.
May AlSheikh, Reservoir geoscientist at Aramco
“Shopping in Swekit market is fun, especially around this time of the year with the holy month of Ramadhan fast-approaching. The shops in Swekit usually sell a variety of traditional merchandise and local produce. I personally love buying abayas, spices and customary festive attire for myself and the kids,” she said.
Jeddah’s Al-Balad Souqs
Al-Balad is Jeddah’s oldest neighborhood, founded in 7th century AD, and is home to a plethora of some of the oldest traditional markets: Souq Al-Badu, Souq Qabil, Souq Alawi, Souq Nada, Souq Al-Khaskeya, Souq Bab Makkah and Souq Bab Shareef.
The souqs have a variety of shops to explore, selling gold, textiles, honey, spices and much more. Some of these markets have been around for decades and hold a special place in the hearts of locals.
“It is a lively, enjoyable, and unpretentious social activity where you see people from different backgrounds and economic classes shop and interact together. And, quite frankly, that’s the beauty of it! It breaks social norms, shrinks the social and economic classes’ gap, and promotes a healthy, inclusive society. In addition to that, souqs give thrive to small-scale businesses which feed into the overall economic growth,” AlSheikh said.
Just make sure to put your bargaining hats on to show off some negotiation skills.
AlUla’s Old Town Souq
Julian Ryall, Japan correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, visited The Old Town Souq in AlUla, where community locals set up clothing shops, fruit stands, pottery and crafts, and cafes amid a beautiful view of the mountains.
“Any foreign visitor who comes to Saudi Arabia is going to want to visit a souq. It has to be one of the most important elements of a trip, as important as drinking tea on a trip to England,” Ryall said.
He added: “I loved the hustle and bustle of market, of the stall-holders calling out to passers-by, of being encouraged to haggle on prices and just the items that were available,” Ryall said.
“The local gold shop was the perfect place. I was embarrassingly bad at haggling so the owner took pity on me and gave me a discount anyway. I think I’ll tell my wife I did haggle the price down when I give her the earrings.”
Riyadh’s Almaigliah Souq
Established in 1986, Almaigliah Souq is the first wholesales traditional market in Riyadh located next to Al-Masmak Fort.
The complex consists of four buildings, each specializing in a genre of shopping: gold, women’s clothing, men’s apparel, and perfume.
Almaigliah is best known for their great deals on the best Arabian ouds perfume, spices and women’s abayas.
For almost three decades, this souq has attracted tourists from all over the world and continues to be a retail destination for locals.
Who’s Who: Abdulrahman K Justaniah, first Saudi partner at global strategy consulting firm Kearney
Updated 27 March 2023
Abdulrahman K Justaniah is the first Saudi to become a partner at the elite global strategy consulting firm Kearney.
Justaniah joined in January 2022 while being part of the strategic operations practice and supporting the firm’s growth in the region. He has been part of many of the transformational projects in the Kingdom supporting clients as a trusted adviser.
Previously he had several public and private sector leadership roles. The most recent was vice-president of strategy and excellence at the Expenditure and Project Efficiency Authority in 2021.
The authority was established in 2017 to support Saudi Arabia’s efficiency, project execution, operations and maintenance for all spending through the public budget.
He joined the authority as the fifth employee during the startup and served in multiple leadership roles.
Before his vice-presidency role, he held the same position for strategy and shared services from 2020 to 2021, and was executive director of strategy and organizational excellence from 2019 to 2020.
He also worked as executive director of the strategic procurement unit from 2017-2019 and led the establishment of the strategic procurement unit to increase government efficiency, and led the organizational design, developed processes, and set up governance with more than 450 government entities across the Kingdom.
Before that Justaniah worked with Procter & Gamble as manufacturing director in Dammam from 2015 to 2017 and led part of Dammam’s manufacturing operations.
He has also worked with P&G as regional supply chain director/IMEA demand planning leader in Cairo, transition and startup director, market planning senior manager, project manager and supply planning manager.
Justaniah obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran. He also completed leadership courses, pathways to leadership process, GROW Coaching, situational leadership and emerging leaders.