Saudi woman Sondos Jaan set to climb the highest peak in the Arab world

Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls reading about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)
Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls reading about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 22 June 2024
Follow

Saudi woman Sondos Jaan set to climb the highest peak in the Arab world

Saudi woman Sondos Jaan set to climb the highest peak in the Arab world
  • Adventurer tackles Mount Toubkal in Morocco

DHAHRAN: Sondos Jaan embarked on the journey to the highest peak in the Arab world on June 20.

It is the latest episode in Jaan’s love for mountain adventures, but to understand the fascination it is important to take a look back at her childhood.

She told Arab News: “I am from Madinah. I was born in a city where I could see a mountain from my bedroom window, and as I walked the streets I would see mountains.”




A picture of Sondos Jaan aged about 5 on the top of a mountain with her father. (Supplied)

Those peaks were an important part of her early childhood. There are pictures of Jaan aged about 5 on the top of mountains. She said: “I call these pictures ‘Sondos between two mountains,’ the real mountain carved in nature, and my father.”

During family camping trips, she would sneak away the moment her family was not paying attention in order to climb a mountain.

HIGHLIGHTS

• For her latest adventure, Sondos Jaan is climbing Morocco’s Mount Toubkal, which is a height of 4,167 meters.

• The climb has two routes: The first takes three days of climbing, and the second takes two days but is more challenging.

She added: “I would hear my father calling me, telling me to stay put and to wait for him. My dear father would come to me and we would then climb together, step by step, him telling me where to place my feet until we reached the summit, and then we would descend together, just the two of us.”




Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls reading about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)

Her father was the first adventurer she knew. He was always prepared, she says, and “his car was always ready for a trip.”

She said: “He would tell me stories when he returned from hunting trips, whether on land or at sea. I would imagine the stories as if he were the hero in one of the animated films I watched. Sometimes he would take me with him, and I felt like I was part of the story.”




Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls reading about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)

Her love for adventure was instilled in her by her father from a very early age. And it seems mountain climbing is in her DNA.

Jaan said: “My father is my primary mountain-climbing coach, and I certainly inherited the spirit of adventure and love for travel, experiences, and camping from him.




Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls reading about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)

“He taught me swimming, horse riding, hunting, fishing, and the basics of camping.”

For her latest adventure, Jaan and a friend are climbing Morocco’s Mount Toubkal, which is a height of 4,167 meters. The climb has two routes: the first takes three days of climbing, and the second takes two days but is more challenging.




A file photo of Sondos Jaan when she was about five years old. (Supplied)

They started the climb early, continuing for about nine to 11 hours, followed by an overnight stay at an elevation of 3,200 meters above sea level.

She believes that elements of nature are instilled within each of us and it is our duty — and a privilege — to find and channel those elements.

She said that climbing to Everest Base Camp was the hardest trek she has yet attempted. It was a two-week journey and she added that she was not able to sleep, eat well or breathe properly due to oxygen deficiency in the two days leading up to arrival at the base camp. However, those were not the main factors behind it being her most difficult climb.

She said: “The (main) reason was simply managing expectations. I was emotional after walking all that time and reaching what was supposed to be the summit for that trip, only to realize it wasn’t even the summit.

“It was the main camp where climbers camp for two months every year before attempting to reach the Everest summit, allowing their bodies to acclimatize to the oxygen deficiency, training, and waiting for the right time to climb the summit.”

The experience taught her a valuable lesson, and she added: “I remember descending and as soon as we settled in one of the tea houses, I cried.

“They asked me why. I said I wanted pizza, crying real tears. The owners of the house tried hard to make pizza for me. I ate one slice and gave the rest to their dog. I reflected on my feelings and asked myself, ‘Why did I act that way?’ And the simple answer was, we didn’t reach the summit, we just saw it up close.”

She considers the thrill of the journey, and not only the destination, to be one worth embracing. She now believes that the feeling of almost giving up happens during every climb; she sees it as a healthy sign.

She added: “It is a reminder that I am human. It is also a reminder that I am capable of doing things that might seem impossible, not because I have superhuman strength, but because I am a human capable of overcoming challenges. This gives me the motivation to complete the climb.”

She believes her latest adventure also serves a greater purpose. Seeing Saudi women participate in various fields, especially sports, helps encourage her to keep striving for the highest heights.

She hopes that young girls reading about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up sports and hobbies they are passionate about, and that her experiences will help to push them to their limits to break stereotypes and barriers along the way.

She is to continue her climb, whether it be a mountain to conquer, or toward the goals of her gender.

For those starting out, she advised: “(You must) start with small, achievable goals and gradually increase the difficulty level. Ensure you have the right gear and training: it’s important to be physically and mentally prepared.

“Join a community or group of climbers for support and motivation. Most importantly, believe in yourself and enjoy the journey.”

 


Strawberry picking in Taif serves up a sweet summer escape

Strawberry picking in Taif serves up a sweet summer escape
Updated 20 July 2024
Follow

Strawberry picking in Taif serves up a sweet summer escape

Strawberry picking in Taif serves up a sweet summer escape
  • Locations help create jobs during the summer season

TAIF: A strawberry farm in the rugged mountains of Al-Hada in Taif has emerged as a popular spot for visitors looking to escape the summer heat and appreciate the beauty of nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Arab News recently visited the Al-Hada strawberry farm to see how it captures the essence of the region’s natural beauty and vibrant culture.

At Al-Hada farm in Taif, visitors can pick ripe strawberries and feed wildlife such as ducks, geese and parrots to the soothing sound of a nearby waterfall. (Supplied)

Located high in Al-Hada’s tourist area, the strawberry farm welcomes visitors all year round. The experience allows visitors to pick fresh berries and feed wildlife such as ducks, geese and parrots to the soothing sound of a nearby waterfall.

Along with a modest garden for birds and a lake for ducks and turtles, the space includes stalls selling ice cream, hot drinks and strawberry juice, among other refreshments. It also features seating areas and a cottage.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Turki Al-Ahmadi, Al-Hada farm’s founder, told Arab News that he had designed the farm in a way that draws visitors beyond harvest season from April to June.

• Entry to the farm in Al-Hada costs SR35 ($9).

Turki Al-Ahmadi, the farm’s founder, told Arab News that he had designed the farm in a way that draws visitors beyond harvest season from April to June. Various facilities to provide fun and relaxation in nature have been installed to this end.

At Al-Hada farm in Taif, visitors can pick ripe strawberries and feed wildlife such as ducks, geese and parrots to the soothing sound of a nearby waterfall. (Supplied)

His son, Bandar Al-Ahmadi, said that beside picking strawberries and enjoying the fresh fruit, the family are keen to make the farm a space where adults and children can learn about various types of trees.

The farm showcases models of trees including pomegranate, fig, tangerine, quince, apple and mulberry, with information about their habitat, method of irrigation, places of cultivation, and other key details about their lifespan.

We were told by many relatives who visited the strawberry farm in Al-Hada that their trip to Taif governorate would not be complete if they did not (go for) a strawberry-picking activity.

Hamid Al-Subhi, Visitor

“We were told by many relatives who visited the strawberry farm in Al-Hada that their trip to Taif governorate would not be complete if they did not (go for) a strawberry-picking activity,” Hamid Al- Subhi told Arab News during his visit recently.

At Al-Hada farm in Taif, visitors can pick ripe strawberries and feed wildlife such as ducks, geese and parrots to the soothing sound of a nearby waterfall. (Supplied)

Al-Subhi, who drove from Makkah with his family, was fascinated by the farm’s facilities: “Picking your own strawberries at the farm is really something … my kids really enjoyed it and being on the top of the mountain with such a cool weather really makes our visit more enjoyable.”

Abdul Mohsin Al-Qadi, a visitor from Jeddah, said that the strawberry-picking experience was hugely rewarding for him and his family.

“It is a must-visit destination and a breathtaking view,” he said. “This is our first time visiting this farm and we really enjoyed all activities, from handpicking our strawberries to other family-friendly activities at the small garden for birds and the lake of ducks and turtles,” he said. “It is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the area while also learning about local culture and heritage.”

Entry to the farm in Al-Hada costs SR35 ($9). Strawberry farms can also be found in Abha, Hail and Qatif.

 

 


Heritage meets urban arts at Asir’s Al-Asabila Palaces

The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)
The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)
Updated 21 July 2024
Follow

Heritage meets urban arts at Asir’s Al-Asabila Palaces

The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)
  • Locations help create jobs during the summer season

RIYADH: The famous heritage palaces in the Asir region have become tourist destinations, offering a rich blend of history and culture.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that these sites also boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season.

The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)

The Al-Asabila Palaces, which are situated in Al-Namas Governorate some 150 km south of Abha, have become a major attraction. Situated in the heart of Al-Namas, these palaces now draw hundreds of visitors daily, both tourists and locals, according to the SPA. Their popularity has surged following their inauguration by Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, chairman of the Asir Development Authority.

Visitors begin their tour of the palaces by shopping in areas dedicated to traditional fashions, antiques, and gifts that showcase the heritage and arts of the Asir region.

The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)

They can then relax with coffee and hot drinks before exploring the Abs Palace, which has been restored to welcome guests.

Tourist guide Saleh Al-Shehri told the SPA: “At the beginning of the Saudi era the palaces served as the headquarters for various government agencies, including the court, and as venues for national events.”

FASTFACTS

• Al-Asabila Palaces are situated in Al-Namas governorate some 150 km south of Abha.

• These palaces now draw hundreds of visitors daily, both tourists and locals, Saudi Press Agency reports.

• The initiative to restore the palaces was taken by their owners and helped transform them into a tourist and cultural attraction, says tour guide.

He added that the initiative to restore the palaces was taken by their owners and helped transform them into a tourist and cultural attraction. This effort aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to revitalize the area and boost domestic tourism.

The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)

Historian Amr bin Gharamah Al-Amrawi says that Al-Namas was established in 1363-1364. However, it only received the name Al-Namas about 150 years ago, being previously known as Al-Waad village.

It was later named after the trees in the surrounding areas and the adjacent valley, while the presence of a well called Al-Namasa also contributed to the village being renamed Al-Namas.

The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)

The heritage site features several palaces, including Abs, Mishref, Turban, and Kharif. These structures, which range from two to three floors in height, are examples of the traditional construction style of the Asir region.

The palaces contain 60 rooms and span a total area of about 5,000 sq. meters. The exteriors are of white limestone, extracted from white quartz stone, while the roofs feature wood, leaves, and juniper. The interiors are finished with plaster mixed with clay.

The heritage palaces in Asir boost economic activity by creating job opportunities during the summer season. (SPA)

According to the SPA, the area is home to numerous archaeological sites from various periods, the most famous location being Al-Jahwah village, mentioned by the traveler Al-Hamdani, which is located east of the present-day Al-Namas Governorate.

Al-Amrawi added that the governorate contains Islamic inscriptions in mountains known as Al-Sijin, Al-Gharamah, Dhul-Ain, Ajama, and Qarn Al-Ghala.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Beit Hail festival attracts over 68,000 visitors

Festival highlights include a Hijazi village exhibit, alongside live demonstrations of traditional crafts. (SPA)
Festival highlights include a Hijazi village exhibit, alongside live demonstrations of traditional crafts. (SPA)
Updated 20 July 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia’s Beit Hail festival attracts over 68,000 visitors

Festival highlights include a Hijazi village exhibit, alongside live demonstrations of traditional crafts. (SPA)
  • The festival includes folk art performances from the Hail and Yanbu regions, a “Made in Hail” pavilion, and an array of traditional foods prepared using heritage methods

RIYADH: The third Beit Hail heritage festival, themed “Your Home Away From Home,” has attracted more than 68,000 visitors since its opening at Aja Park earlier this month, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The 30-day event has drawn visitors of all ages from the region and beyond, offering a showcase of local culture and traditions.

Festival highlights include a Hijazi village exhibit, alongside live demonstrations of traditional crafts. (SPA)

Festival highlights include a Hijazi village exhibit featuring Yanbu’s heritage, alongside live demonstrations of traditional crafts.

Visitors can also observe artisans creating prayer beads, practicing Sadu weaving, crafting leather water bottles, and demonstrating embroidery techniques.

HIGHLIGHT

The 30-day event has drawn visitors of all ages from the region and beyond, offering a showcase of local culture and traditions.

Other showcased skills include hand-woven carpet production, crochet, and the crafting of traditional wooden doors with intricate plaster engravings typical of old Hail residences.

Festival highlights include a Hijazi village exhibit, alongside live demonstrations of traditional crafts. (SPA)

The festival also includes folk art performances from the Hail and Yanbu regions, a “Made in Hail” pavilion, and an array of traditional foods prepared using heritage methods.

Nayef Al-Salhoub, head of the organizing committee, told SPA: “Our goal is to connect younger generations with Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural legacy.”

The event runs daily from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., featuring a diverse program of folk activities.

Visitors to the festival value the opportunity to explore Saudi Arabia’s ancestral traditions with their children, learning about historical lifestyles and the ingenious use of natural materials in daily life, SPA added.

 


19,817 residency and labor violators arrested across KSA

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s labor law. (SPA)
Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s labor law. (SPA)
Updated 20 July 2024
Follow

19,817 residency and labor violators arrested across KSA

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s labor law. (SPA)
  • A total of 1,389 individuals were caught attempting to enter the Kingdom, of whom 45 percent were Yemeni, 53 percent were Ethiopian and 2 percent were of other nationalities

RIYADH: In joint field campaigns across the Kingdom from July 11 to July 17, 19,817 people were arrested for violating residency, labor and border security laws.

This number included 12,436 violators of residency laws, 4,881 violators of border-security regulations and 2,500 violators of labor laws.

A total of 1,389 individuals were caught attempting to enter the Kingdom, of whom 45 percent were Yemeni, 53 percent were Ethiopian and 2 percent were of other nationalities. Additionally, 48 individuals were caught attempting to exit the Kingdom illegally.

Nine individuals were apprehended for involvement in transporting, harboring and employing violators and covering up for them.

A total of 17,067 violators — 15,394 men and 1,673 women — are currently being processed by the relevant authorities.

 

 


Who’s Who: Noel Gomes, CEO of ASCES, Al-Halloul, Al-Badila

Noel Cunha de Ornelas Gomes, Chief Executive Officer of ASCES - Al Halloul, Al-Badila
Noel Cunha de Ornelas Gomes, Chief Executive Officer of ASCES - Al Halloul, Al-Badila
Updated 20 July 2024
Follow

Who’s Who: Noel Gomes, CEO of ASCES, Al-Halloul, Al-Badila

Noel Cunha de Ornelas Gomes, Chief Executive Officer of ASCES - Al Halloul, Al-Badila

Noel Gomes was appointed CEO of ASCES, Al-Halloul, Al-Badila (Alternative Solutions Company for Environmental Services) in July 2024.

He is an entrepreneur and executive with a career in the financial sector spanning more than 25 years.

The Saudi private company focuses on global management of waste and disposal solutions.

As CEO, Gomes seeks to promote a circular economy, using advanced technologies to improve operational efficiency and minimize environmental impact. Under his leadership, the company is transforming waste management into a resource-efficient and environmentally friendly process.

Gomes’ career began at PwC in Portugal, where he refined his accounting and financial management skills. This was followed by significant roles in various multinational corporations, including Asea Brown Boveri, where he became chief of the accounting and treasury department, responsible for international financial reporting and strategic financial management.

Later, he was the group finance director at Novagest, and managed financial departments across Portugal and Angola, focusing on budgeting, reporting, and strategic advisory.

Gomes was a financial director at Lyon, an Angolan project development and construction company, where he oversaw accounting, treasury, and human resources, contributing to the company’s growth in Portugal and Angola.

Later, he became CEO of the LLeon Group, where he led the group’s management strategy, represented international groups in Portugal, and played a key role in the international expansion of Ajman government projects in the UAE.

In 2022, Gomes was a business consultant at the private office of Sheikh Ahmed bin Faisal Al-Qassimi in the UAE, where he expanded the office’s international relations and partnerships, particularly in Portugal.

From October 2022 to January 2023, he was chief international officer at Heights and Jewels, managing international relations and business modeling for projects associated with the private company of a member of the Saudi royal family.

Since 2018, Gomes has also been a prominent figure in the football sector, advising investors, and helping clubs, agents, and players to expand their networks and secure the best deals.

He holds a degree in financial audit from the Lisbon Accounting and Business School and a bachelor’s degree in accounting and administration from Instituto Militar dos Pupilos do Exercito in Portugal.