Saudi camping: exploring the untamed beauty surrounding Riyadh

The rainy season in Riyadh announces with it winter and the start of the camping season. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)
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The rainy season in Riyadh announces with it winter and the start of the camping season. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)
Saudi camping: exploring the untamed beauty surrounding Riyadh
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The kingdom’s diverse landscapes and warm hospitality, the country welcomes all visitors to connect with nature. (Haifa Alshammari)
Saudi camping: exploring the untamed beauty surrounding Riyadh
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Reef Shaqra provides camping supplies such as food and spices organized and ready to be used. (Haifa Alshammari)
Saudi camping: exploring the untamed beauty surrounding Riyadh
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The kingdom’s diverse landscapes and warm hospitality, the country welcomes all visitors to connect with nature. (Shutterstock)
Saudi camping: exploring the untamed beauty surrounding Riyadh
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Reef Shaqra provides camping supplies such as food and spices organized and ready to be used. (Haifa ALshammari)
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Updated 05 December 2023
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Saudi camping: exploring the untamed beauty surrounding Riyadh

The rainy season in Riyadh announces with it winter and the start of the camping season. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)
  • Adventurers and nature lovers should not miss these spots during winter

RIYADH: Camping in Saudi Arabia provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of the vast wilderness. The desert, with its mesmerizing dunes stretching as far as the eye can see, offers a serene setting for those seeking solace away from the bustle of city life.

Camping offers an unforgettable experience for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. With the Kingdom’s diverse landscapes and warm hospitality, the country welcomes visitors to connect with nature and forge lasting memories in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.




The rainy season in Riyadh announces with it winter and the start of the camping season. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)

From late October to early February, the rainy season in Riyadh announces with it winter and the start of the camping season.

During this time of the year, people flock to the desert, spending time with family, friends and loved ones, enjoying the beautiful warm weather away from city life and hectic schedules.

For those interested in camping, it is recommended to start with a visit to Reef Shaqra.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Reef Shaqra and Al-Rimaya are local store for camping supplies.

• Rawdat Khuraim is a popular spot about 110 km from Riyadh.

• King Salman Park, great for family picnics, is 40 km to the northeast.

Reef Shaqra is one of the local stores providing camping supplies — from food to spices to grilling tools, all organized perfectly and ready to be used.

Al-Rimaya is another excellent store to visit prior to a camping trip. The store, opened 25 years ago, specializes in camping and outdoor equipment such as tents, portable fire pits and camping fridges.

They also offer a service where they prepare the vehicle with all the necessary equipment for enthusiasts who spend days in the desert.




The rainy season in Riyadh announces with it winter and the start of the camping season. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)

“Recently, we have been seeing women customers more than men, not only buying camping equipment but also requesting car preparations,” said Sultan Abdulaziz, one of the store workers.

“There are many accessories we offer, like attaching tents to the car. The tent will be set perfectly to your car where you won’t need to prepare it by yourself every time you go on a trip.”

Rawdat Khuraim is 110 km from the capital and one of the well-known camping sites in the region.

Recently, we have been seeing women customers more than men, not only buying camping equipment but also requesting car preparations.

Sultan Abdulaziz, Al-Rimaya staff

The beautiful landscape has been transformed into a reserve to preserve its innate beauty. The area is not completely a desert but more of a green landscape due to the rains during the season.

Another popular destination close to the city is King Salman Park, 40 km to the northeast. It is a family picnic area, with facilities provided to create a safe and comfortable camping experience.

For those who have more of an adventurous spirit and love to spend a camping trip in complete isolation, the locations can be endless. Since the country, generally speaking, is known for being mostly desert, visitors can find camping spots almost everywhere.




Al-Rimaya sells supplies and also prepares the vehicle with equipment necessary for a trip to the desert. (AN photo by Haifa Alshammari)

There is nothing better than gathering around the campfire for a delicious meal. Dishes include mandi, kabssa and jamriyah, with kunafah among the recently trending meals.

With fine food and the allure of the stars in a dark sky, the music of oud sets the perfect atmosphere. Among activities young people enjoy are oud playing around the fire. Some musicians even offer services for music sessions during the camping trip.

As the popularity of camping in Saudi Arabia continues to grow, tour operators, officials and local communities are actively promoting responsible and sustainable practices.

 


How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State

How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State
Updated 11 sec ago
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How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State

How Imam Mohammed achieved tribal unity to create the First Saudi State
  • Saudi Arabia took the first steps on the road to nationhood in 1727 when Imam Mohammed became ruler of Diriyah
  • By the time of his death in 1765, he had laid the foundations for the greatest political entity central Arabia had ever seen

LONDON: The House of Saud took the first steps on the long road to nationhood in 1727, when Imam Mohammed bin Saud succeeded his cousin, Zaid bin Markhan, as ruler of the city state of Diriyah.

It is this pivotal moment, recognized as the date when the First Saudi State came into being, that is celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year as Founding Day.

Imam Mohammed had learned the art of politics at his father’s side. He played a significant role in supporting him throughout his reign and proved his mettle as a leader when Diriyah was attacked in 1721 by the Banu Khalid tribe of Al-Ahsa.

Imam Mohammed led his father’s forces to victory, strengthening Diriyah’s regional standing in the process.

After the death of his father in 1725, Imam Mohammed pledged his support to Markhan of the Watban clan of the tribe Zaid, and after he emerged victorious served him loyally until the prince’s short reign was ended by an assassin the following year.

From the outset, unity was Imam Mohammed’s dream, as the official history published by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority attests.

Contemporary Arab chroniclers recorded that “the people of Diriyah were fully confident in his abilities and (that) his leadership qualities (would) free the region of division and conflict.”

Imam Mohammed was already known for “his many personal characteristics, such as his devotion, goodness, bravery, and ability to influence others,” and the passing of power to him was “a transformative moment, not only in the history of Diriyah, but in the history of Najd and the Arabian Peninsula.”

Already renowned as a man of action, Imam Mohammed would also prove himself to be a wise leader.

Imam Mohammed set about the daunting task of achieving political unity among the tribes, with the ultimate aim of establishing a greater Arabian state. (Sotheby’s)

Imam Mohammed set about the daunting task of achieving political unity among the tribes, beginning with the neighboring towns of Najd, with the ultimate aim of establishing a greater Arabian state.

As the official history published by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority attests, “it wasn’t an easy task,” but by the time of his death in 1765, Imam Mohammed bin Saud had laid the foundations for the greatest political entity central Arabia had ever seen.

From the day of his ascension, “he began planning to change the prevailing status quo of that day and time, laying down a new path in the region’s history toward unity, education, the spread of culture, enhanced communication between members of society, and perpetual security.”

Over the next nine decades, the power and influence of Diriyah grew, as the great task of unity was handed on to Mohammed’s three successors — his son Abdulaziz, who would found the royal district of At-Turaif, Abdulaziz’s son Saud the Great, under whose direction the authority of the First Saudi State reached its peak, extending over most of the Arabian Peninsula and, upon his death in 1814, his son Abdullah, who was known to be great warrior.

But challenging the vast and aggressive Ottoman empire for control of Makkah and Madinah would prove to be Diriyah’s undoing. Imam Abdullah inherited the wrath of Istanbul, which dispatched a vast force to end the threat Diriyah posed to Ottoman authority in Arabia.

It took far longer than the Sultan could have imagined. Fighting a series of fierce battles over several years against impossible odds, the Arabs were slowly driven back from the Red Sea coast to their last stand before the walls of Diriyah.

After a six-month siege, Diriyah fell. Imam Abdullah was taken as a prisoner to Istanbul, where he was executed.

Undeterred, the Second Saudi State sprang up from the rubble of the first, this time in Riyadh — the ancient capital of the Hajer Al-Yamamah region, where it thrived from 1824 to 1891.

This, too, would fall.

But among the members of the family ousted from Riyadh in 1891 by the rival House of Rashid was the 16-year-old son of the last Imam of the Second Saudi State, a young man destined to take the last great step on the path upon which his predecessor Imam Mohammed had embarked generations before.

Above, warriors of Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud on camel back in Nejd, on their way to recapture Riyadh, c. 1910. (Alamy)

The story of how Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud and a small band of warriors recaptured Riyadh in 1902, restoring the House of Saud to its rightful home in the Nejd, is well known to every schoolchild in Saudi Arabia.

But Abdulaziz’s most remarkable achievement — the bringing together of the many tribes of Arabia to make possible the foundation in 1932 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — would require decades of unwavering dedication to his ancestor’s vision of unity.

Today, familial attachment to one or other of the tribes rooted deep in the history of the Arabian Peninsula remains a source of great pride for many Saudis and their families, and part of the fabric of the country’s diverse but unifying heritage.

This was, however, not always the case, as John Duke Anthony, founding president and chief executive of the Washington-based National Council on US-Arab Relations, noted in 1982.

“For much of Arabian history, most of these tribes existed as independent political entities in microcosm,” he wrote in an essay “Saudi Arabia: From tribal state to nation-state.”

“As such, they were capable of uniting for common action. At the same time, however, they more often than not acted as divisive forces in any larger societal context.

“It was this latter characteristic as much as any other attribute that prompted the late King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, to seek a number of means by which he could integrate the various tribes into the new national political structure of the Kingdom.”

It was, added Anthony, “the religious content of Abdulaziz’s message as he set about knitting Arabia into a single state (that) proved to be his greatest source of strength.

Above, Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud in Kuwait, circa 1910. (Alamy)

“He was able to direct and control a strict adherence to Islamic doctrines and, in this manner, affect a significant modification of the tribal distinctions which formerly had divided the realm.”

In 2022, Hasan Massloom, a member of the Shoura Council of Saudi Arabia, wrote that in the modern Saudi Arabia tribalism complemented rather than contradicted the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 ambitions, which were unveiled to Saudi citizens and the world by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016.

“No discussion of social change is conceivable without acknowledging the tribal background of the society of Saudi Arabia,” Massloom wrote in an op-ed piece for Arab News.

“Tribalism in Arabia has existed for thousands of years, predating Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It was an independent, cohesive system for survival in the desert that provided social status, economic advantage and physical protection for its members.

“People of one tribe shared a common ancestry, a collective dignity and a coalesced reputation. Harsh life in the arid desert decreed a firm and binding moral bond among tribes to defend their progeny and possessions. Tribal history prided itself on social hierarchy, an obligation for vengeance and a deep commitment to territory, pasture and water wells.”

King Abdulaziz, he continued, had “tactfully pivoted the Arabian tribal scene toward his dream of a national kingdom when he persuaded hostile and fighting tribes to cast their conflicts aside and unite under his leadership to build a modern state.”

Indeed, Abdulaziz, the man known to the wider world simply as Ibn Saud, had completed the journey begun by the founding of the First Saudi State by Imam Mohammad in 1727.

On Jan. 27, 2022, Founding Day was established by a Royal Order of King Salman in recognition of this pivotal moment in the nation’s history, and to honor the wisdom of a leader who “provided unity and security in the Arabian Peninsula following centuries of fragmentation, dissension and instability.”


Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts

Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts
Updated 43 min 21 sec ago
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Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts

Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts
  • The Kingdom celebrates Founding Day on Feb. 22 each year to mark its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE

RIYADH: A host of celebrations will take place across Saudi Arabia on Thursday to commemorate the founding of the country.

The Kingdom celebrates Founding Day on Feb. 22 each year to mark its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE.

Various events organized by the Ministry of Culture, such as Founding Nights, Symphony of the Beginning, Path of History and Founding Village, will be held around the country until Feb. 26. Other festivities will include fireworks, traditional dancing, drone displays, live shows and military performances.

A ministry statement said the events would underscore the “deep-rooted pride in national heritage, the solid bond between the citizenry and leadership, and the enduring legacy of progress and prosperity.” 

Those seeking Founding Day bargains are also in luck, as many businesses — including airlines, hotels, restaurants, cafes and more — are offering promotions and discounts of up to 85 percent to mark the occasion.

The Ministry of Commerce is allowing commercial establishments to issue discount licenses through a special online platform, sales.mc.gov.sa, until Feb. 28. Consumers can verify the discounts by scanning the relevant barcode.

Riyadh resident Nadine Khaled said: “As a woman, I believe it’s a great opportunity for shopping. I honestly look forward to it every year to purchase all my favorite products, from perfumes to makeup and cosmetics, and even spa packages.”

Faisal Mohammed, a tech enthusiast who also lives in Riyadh, added: “The Founding Day sale on tech gadgets is the perfect opportunity to enhance my collection.”


King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president

King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president
Updated 44 min 23 sec ago
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King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president

King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president
  • Message addressed ways to bolster bilateral relations in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received a written message on Wednesday from Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The message addressed ways to bolster bilateral relations in various fields.
It was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji during his meeting with Akram Karimi, the ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh.
During the meeting, the officials discussed ties between their two countries as well as other issues of mutual interest.


Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day
Updated 13 min 53 sec ago
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Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

RIYADH: Brazilian football star Neymar caught everyone’s attention when he appeared wearing traditional Saudi clothes during preparations for the Kingdom’s Founding Day celebrations.

His club, Al-Hilal, shared photographs of the player wearing the thobe, shemagh and headband famously associated with the late King Abdulaziz, showcasing the general atmosphere ahead of the day.

Neymar was accompanied by Esteve Calzada, the CEO of Al-Hilal, and Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, along with other teammates, and trended on social media platform X dancing the Ardah, Saudi’s national dance.

The widely adopted white thobe in the Kingdom, favored for its comfort in the hot climate and desert setting, is complemented by other traditional attire for special occasions. This includes Oughal Almorudan, worn over the thobe, distinguished by its long arms and commonly donned during Ardah performances.

The 32-year-old recently returned to Riyadh to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery for a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee. He sustained the injury during Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers last October.

Founding Day is celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year to commemorate its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE.

The Saudi Ministry of Sports recently announced the 21st round of the Roshan Professional League tournament would be named the Founding Round to symbolize the day’s significance.

Neymar is not the only player to celebrate Founding Day with his Saudi fans. Last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was shown wearing traditional attire along with his Al-Nassr teammates.


Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony

Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony
Updated 21 February 2024
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Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony

Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony
  • MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met with Edi Rama and Bajram Begaj
  • MWL chief also engaged in a round-table discussion and dinner with Albania’s religious leaders

JEDDAH: Muslim World League Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met on Wednesday Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in the capital Tirana.

The prime minister invited the MWL to organize an international conference in Tirana to foster understanding and cooperation among societies with the aim of enhancing global awareness of religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity, drawing on Albania’s experience.

During the meeting, the two parties discussed several topics of mutual interest, and Rama commended the MWL’s global efforts in promoting harmony among diverse societies.

President Bajram Begaj of Albania also met the MWL chief and granted him the highest honor of Albania, the State Order for World-Renowned Spiritual Figures.

During the meeting, they discussed topics of common interest, and the president praised the influential global role of the MWL.

The MWL chief also engaged in a round-table discussion and dinner with Albania’s religious leaders, marking an unprecedented occasion that brought together such influential figures for the first time in Albania’s history.

This landmark event was attended by high-ranking Albanian ministers and members of the diplomatic corps.