Egypt’s ancient city of Madi gives visitors a glimpse into the past

Egypt’s ancient city of Madi gives visitors a glimpse into the past
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Madi has attracted high interest from multinational foreign delegations and visitors interested in Ancient Egypt. (Supplied)
Egypt’s ancient city of Madi gives visitors a glimpse into the past
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Madi has attracted high interest from multinational foreign delegations and visitors interested in Ancient Egypt. (Supplied)
Egypt’s ancient city of Madi gives visitors a glimpse into the past
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Madi has attracted high interest from multinational foreign delegations and visitors interested in Ancient Egypt. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 November 2023
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Egypt’s ancient city of Madi gives visitors a glimpse into the past

Egypt’s ancient city of Madi gives visitors a glimpse into the past
  • Items and buildings on display narrate the history and civilization of past eras, distinguished by their unique architectural details

CAIRO: The archaeological city of Madi in Egypt, which contains the largest Middle Kingdom temple ever found, is giving visitors a glimpse into the past.

Located in Fayoum Governorate, about 100 km from Cairo, Madi is home to an array of ancient sites.

Items and buildings on display narrate the history and civilization of past eras, distinguished by their unique architectural details.

Madi has attracted high interest from multinational foreign delegations and visitors interested in Ancient Egypt.

It also boasts the longest archaeological road from Ancient Egypt and contains distinctive artifacts, such as sphynx statues.

Dr. Ahmed Refaat, a professor of archaeology, said that the ancient city of Medinet Madi is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Fayoum.

It has put Fayoum on the map of governorates with important antiquities visited by researchers and tourists from around the world.

Refaat added that Rams Road — designed during the reign of King Amenemhat III in the Twelfth Dynasty and completed by his son, Amenemhat IV — is located within the city.

Dr. Nermin Atef, director of the Department of Archaeological Awareness in the Fayoum Antiquities Area, said that a mission from the University of Milan discovered the Madi temple in 1937.

She said the religious site comprises a single pillar supporting a roof with two columns and postal capitals, each representing a mail bundle.

The front of the building was decorated with an Egyptian cornice.

The entrance leads to a hall that runs perpendicular to the main entrance. The hall has three compartments, with the largest being in the middle. Inside the middle compartment, there is a one-piece statue of Renenutet, the goddess of the harvest.

Nermin added: “It is evident from the scenes and texts in this temple that some of them correspond to the stages of the temple’s founding rituals, such as the rope-pulling ritual.

“Some suggest that the first hall was called the Hall of Transfiguration, while the transverse hall was named the Hall of Offerings, featuring depictions of sacrifices made to the temple deities.”

The Italian mission uncovered the Way of the Rams, featuring lion statues, altars for sacrifices, several shrines and paintings.

The Rams’ Way is adorned with plaques honoring its creator, his wife and children. The shrine was recently opened to visitors.


Baha’s historic architecture echoes its heritage

Baha’s historic architecture echoes its heritage
Updated 25 February 2024
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Baha’s historic architecture echoes its heritage

Baha’s historic architecture echoes its heritage
  • Tourists and visitors are captivated by the architectural brilliance of Saudi forefathers in constructing these palaces and fortresses, admiring their skill in crafting stone edifices

RIYADH: The historical castles and fortresses that dot the landscape of Baha in southwest Saudi Arabia serve as bright reminders of the country’s great founding story.

From quaint villages to bustling settlements, each corner of the region has its own piece of history in the form of majestic castles and fortresses.

These architectural marvels serve as proud caretakers of tradition, telling stories from bygone ages and adding to the rich tapestry of Saudi civilization.

Baha’s architectural marvels serve as proud caretakers of tradition, telling stories from bygone ages and adding to the rich tapestry of Saudi civilization. (SPA)

Tourists and visitors are captivated by the architectural brilliance of Saudi forefathers in constructing these palaces and fortresses, admiring their skill in crafting stone edifices.

Among the notable landmarks is Bin Raqoush Palace, now a hub of cultural and historical significance, drawing dignitaries and visitors from far and wide.

FASTFACTS

● Among Baha’s notable landmarks is Bin Raqoush Palace, now a hub of cultural and historical significance, drawing dignitaries and visitors from far and wide.

● Efforts to revitalize have gained traction, particularly during national celebrations like Saudi Founding Day.

Similarly, the Bakhrush bin Alas Fortress in Qura governorate; the ancestral castles of Al-Osaidhan family; and the charming village of Shabraqah, north of Baha city, hold their own historical charm.

Baha’s architectural marvels serve as proud caretakers of tradition, telling stories from bygone ages and adding to the rich tapestry of Saudi civilization. (SPA)

The imposing Al-Akhawayn Fortress overlooks Al-Malad village, a monument to history amid ancient heritage homes. Meanwhile, Al-Ayed Heritage Guesthouse in Bani Kabir village and the Mishref Palace in Baljurashi add to the region’s allure, commanding views of the historic Saturday Market.

Despite the passage of time and exposure to diverse elements, these ancient fortifications stand tall, a testament to the craftsmanship of builders and their resilience.

With their distinctive conical shapes and towering heights of 20-25 meters, these structures boast intricate designs and are adorned with white marble stones, exuding a captivating aura.

Baha’s architectural marvels serve as proud caretakers of tradition, telling stories from bygone ages and adding to the rich tapestry of Saudi civilization. (SPA)

Originally built for surveillance during times of conflict, these strongholds now serve as poignant reminders of the region’s history, tucked within village courtyards or towering atop hillsides, offering a glimpse into a bygone era.

Efforts to revitalize have gained traction, particularly during national celebrations like Saudi Founding Day.

By organizing heritage events and artistic showcases, authorities aim to preserve Saudi cultural identity, encourage awareness for the country’s rich history, safeguard cultural heritage and societal norms, spotlight local talents, and improve tourist experiences at heritage sites.

With locals taking pride in their heritage and taking on their restoration as well, these sites have become magnets for visitors, photographers, and enthusiasts alike, offering opportunities to document and explore diverse aspects of Saudi heritage.

Their eagerness to capture the essence of these historical sites has led to a flurry of activity, with documentaries being produced in various fields including architecture, fashion, jewelry, culinary arts, agriculture, and weaponry.

 


Al-Arousa — AlUla’s rocky marvel attracts visitors

Al-Arousa rock formation is commonly thought to resemble a woman  standing tall, wearing a dress. (SPA)
Al-Arousa rock formation is commonly thought to resemble a woman standing tall, wearing a dress. (SPA)
Updated 17 February 2024
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Al-Arousa — AlUla’s rocky marvel attracts visitors

Al-Arousa rock formation is commonly thought to resemble a woman  standing tall, wearing a dress. (SPA)
  • Al-Arousa, which is about 100 meters high, was formed thousands of years ago and has kept its current shape due to natural conditions

MAKKAH: The captivating Al-Arousa rock formation, located 100 km north of AlUla, is one of the region’s most prominent attractions.

It sits amid a collection of distinctive rock formations, and according to Dr. Salma Hawsawi, a professor of ancient history, the archaeological evidence found in the area is proof of the civilizations that once lived there.

AlUla is located in the middle of Wadi Al-Qura, surrounded by mountains from the east and west.

FASTFACTS

• Al-Arousa, which is about 100 meters high, was formed thousands of years ago and has kept its current shape due to natural conditions.

• The rock formations in the AlUla region are considered natural wonders of the world because they were created without any human intervention.

High temperatures, strong solar radiation and dry continental winds are a feature of this desert area in summer. The temperatures decrease in the mountainous highlands, and in the spring and autumn the weather is characterized by moderate coolness and warmth during the day.

Hawsawi said: “Climatic and geographical conditions have led to the formation of rocks in the area in human and animal shapes.”

Al-Arousa, which is about 100 meters high, was formed thousands of years ago and has kept its current shape due to natural conditions. The formation is commonly thought to resemble a woman standing tall, wearing a beautiful dress.

Behind the figure is another rock formation that could be considered an extension of the dress, especially as it appears the figure is holding onto the hem of the garment. It could also be imagined as a seat with inscriptions on it. The figure has been interpreted by some to resemble an aristocratic woman or a queen due to the shape of the dress, which in local culture and customs would fit a grand occasion.

All the rock formations in the area are considered natural wonders of the world because they were created without any human intervention. Other distinctive rock formations in the area include Ship Mountain, Elephant Mountain and Arch Mountain.

Hawsawi said that AlUla has a rich historical and cultural depth with visitors feeling like they are traveling through different civilizations in time.

The diverse landscape of AlUla and its rich history and heritage continues to attract visitors. From researchers interested in studying historical sites to tourists wanting to explore the Kingdom’s landmarks and engage in recreational and adventurous activities, AlUla’s grand beauty and allure makes it one of the most prominent regions.

 


Baha’s ‘cave resort,’ a new type of rural tourism

Jabal Shada Al-Asfal, where abandoned caves have been transformed, offers unique accommodation in a geological wonderland. (SPA)
Jabal Shada Al-Asfal, where abandoned caves have been transformed, offers unique accommodation in a geological wonderland. (SPA)
Updated 16 February 2024
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Baha’s ‘cave resort,’ a new type of rural tourism

Jabal Shada Al-Asfal, where abandoned caves have been transformed, offers unique accommodation in a geological wonderland. (SPA)
  • Jabal Shada Al-Asfal, where abandoned caves have been transformed, offers unique accommodation in a geological wonderland

RIYADH: The wide range of landscapes in Saudi Arabia are proving increasingly popular with tourists from both inside and outside of the Kingdom, but the southwestern region of Baha is offering a new and unusual attraction with the “cave resort” of Jabal Shada Al-Asfal in Al-Makhwah Governorate.

There, the local people have transformed 10 abandoned mountain caves once inhabited by their ancestors into modern, fully-equipped accommodation with all modern amenities.

Jabal Shada Al-Asfal, where abandoned caves have been transformed, offers unique accommodation in a geological wonderland. (SPA)

The caves are located on Shada Al-Asfal, a mountain rising around 1,700 meters above sea level, and renowned for its agriculture, as well as its caves, and for its Shadawi coffee farms and the annual Shadawi Coffee Festival. The mountain is also an important site for scientific research.

Abdulrahman Nasser Al-Shadawi, owner of one of the revamped caves, said their designs were inspired by the surrounding landscape.

Jabal Shada Al-Asfal, where abandoned caves have been transformed, offers unique accommodation in a geological wonderland. (SPA)

Another owner, Mohammed Saleh Al-Shadawi, explained that each cave includes a living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and spectacular views over the governorate.

Visitors and tourists also have the opportunity to explore untouched ancient caves that were home to indigenous people thousands of years ago, as well as the ancient local geological formations.

Jabal Shada Al-Asfal, where abandoned caves have been transformed, offers unique accommodation in a geological wonderland. (SPA)

Nasser Al-Shadawi, a local historian, said that, according to a geological study, the area has some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, at around 763 million years, creating otherworldly shapes throughout the landscape — another tourist draw.

There is also plenty of opportunity for outdoor exercise, including cycling and climbing.

 


Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 

Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 
Updated 19 February 2024
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Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 

Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 
  • The Thai capital is becoming an increasingly popular destination for those seeking both traditional and preventive medical treatment 

BANGKOK: Thailand has long been a favorite destination for travelers from across the world, thanks to its beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, vibrant cultural heritage, and always-on-the-go cities. But another facet of Thailand is now attracting numerous visitors to the Southeast Asian nation every year: it’s cutting-edge healthcare. 

An increasing number of visitors are drawn to Bangkok not just for the Thai capital’s ancient temples and bustling markets, but by the promise of world-class medical treatment. 

 

Khalaf Al-Otaibi traveled from Riyadh to Bangkok for medical treatment this month. (AN photo)

Thailand has emerged as a global hub for healthcare seekers, offering a unique blend of traditional hospitality and state-of-the-art medical expertise — the pursuit of health is interwoven with the rich tapestry of Thai culture. 

 

Rajeev Rajan, the chief business development officer at Bumrungrad International Hospital, told Arab News that quality of care and winning the trust of patients are the staff’s main concerns. 

“A patient wanting to travel to Bumrungrad can (simply) send us an email with a medical report. We take that report, and we give them an expert opinion with the cost of everything in advance,” he said. “Once the patient receives the appointment confirmation, they provide us with their flight details. When the patient lands, he or she is received from the gate of the plane, and escorted through our fast-track immigration office. We also have a complimentary shuttle service every 15 minutes from the airport to the hospital or to a nearby guesthouse.” 

Typically, the patient will enter the hospital the next day, where Rajan said there is a support team of more than 170 people who speak Arabic. A member of the team will accompany the patient throughout their treatment. Several of the doctors also speak Arabic.  

The hospital also offers prayer areas and Halal food choices for Muslim guests, and Rajan explained that the hospital also remains in close contact with relevant embassies, offers visa extension services, and provides dedicated offices for medical liaisons from diplomatic missions. 

Chulalongkorn University, home to Thailand's oldest medical school. (Shutterstock)

Of the 1.2 million patients Bumrungrad receives each year, Rajan estimated that 50 percent are from overseas, and of those around a quarter are from the Gulf region. 

Rajan said the hospital will soon open a coordination office in Riyadh and noted that the ministries of health in both Thailand and Saudi Arabia are in discussions about technical collaboration opportunities. 

Rajan said that Thailand received 50,000 visitors from Saudi Arabia in the last four months of 2022, and that he expected the total figure for 2023 to be around 250,000 to 300,000. 

“If you look at anywhere in Europe (or elsewhere in the West), you know, it’s expensive (to visit from the Gulf),” Rajan said. “Thailand is very close. Flights are affordable, and the destination itself is very affordable. This might be one of the only destinations where you have 100 percent security, and you have the halal foods, mosques, beaches... So, it is a culturally favorable ecosystem.” 

At Bumrungrad, Arab News also interviewed Khalaf Al-Otaibi, a 55-year-old from Riyadh, who had come to the hospital for treatment. 

“Once I arrived here, it took less than 10 minutes to see my doctor. Their services are great. They respect their patients. They explain everything in detail, and doctors (really listen) to what you say,” Al-Otaibi said. 

One of the rooms at Bumrungrad Hospital. (Shutterstock)

Jiruth Sriratanaban, associate dean for planning and development at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of medicine told Arab News that his university is the oldest medical school in Thailand. 

“We work closely with the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, which belongs to the Thai Red Cross Society,” he said, adding the hospital is the only site in Thailand that provides proton therapy for cancer patients. 

Tanupol Virunhagarun, CEO of BDMS Wellness Clinic, part of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, said that health and wellness was an increasingly important factor in people’s travel plans. 

“Our patients come twice a year, usually, to check their body fat and blood. Those from the Arab countries are mostly interested in advice about longevity, anti-aging, weight loss, and sexual health,” he said. 

“At our clinic, we pay attention to physical, mental, and even spiritual health, because we believe that to have a healthy body, you should have a healthy mind. That is how our clinic is different from a hospital; we do a lot of preventive medicine here,” he added. “We want people to check their health before they get sick.” 


Saudi Arabia’s NEOM announces new beach club in collaboration with MDLBEAST

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM announces new beach club in collaboration with MDLBEAST
Updated 16 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM announces new beach club in collaboration with MDLBEAST

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM announces new beach club in collaboration with MDLBEAST

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s NEOM will open a new ultra-modern beach club on its luxury island Sindalah in a partnership with music entertainment company MDLBEAST.

MDLBEAST will handle the end-to-end operations at The Sindalah Beach Club, starting from the preparations during the venue pre-launch to the management of the destination.

“Sindalah is bringing a new model for luxury travel and living powered by innovation and sustainability. MDLBEAST will reimagine the typical beach club experience into a tech-enhanced journey, leveraging the value of Sindalah as an iconic luxury island destination,” Chief Urban Planning and Islands Officer at NEOM said.

The music scene at Sindalah will feature renowned musicians, artists, and DJs, alongside modern audio and visual installations to create a dynamic environment.

Sindalah Beach Club is also committed to responsible luxury and aligns with NEOM’s vision for sustainable tourism.

The club will aim to prioritise environmental preservation by blending architecture with its natural surroundings, to ensure a minimal ecological footprint.