Saving Strays in Jeddah

After helping thousands of cats, Gus’ Hope plans to open cat sanctuary. 

Um Asma has swaddled and bottle-fed thousands of abandoned tiny kittens small enough to fit in the palm of her hand.Since starting Gus’ Hope in 2012, she’s not only rescued feral cats, but has encouraged others to do the same.

Since starting Gus’ Hope in 2012, she’s not only rescued feral cats, but has encouraged others to do the same.

“We still have a long way to go, but people are more educated now about animal welfare. People are more likely to keep their cats and take them to their home country if they leave, instead of leaving them on the streets,” said Um Asma.

Starting the non-profit organization was a natural step for Um Asma, as she had been taking strays into her home to save their lives. She started encouraging others to do the same, and quickly became the “go to” person in Jeddah for anyone wanting to help animals on the street.

“All day long, my phone never stops. People are always calling and messaging me. It’s either ‘take this cat,’ or ‘I want to adopt a cat.’”img_8479

Choosing to Adopt

One important message that Um Asma has been spreading is the importance of adopting instead of buying from pet stores to help control the feral cat population.

“You can find a beautiful cat from the street that’s even more healthy than in the pet store. Just because a cat is on the street doesn’t mean it’s dirty or will make you sick,” said Um Asma.

She encourages people who want a pet to adopt a cat that’s been rescued from the streets, and adds that children benefit from growing up with a pet. Her daughter, Asma, takes on a big role with helping the animals.

Many cats that end up in her home have been hurt while living on the streets. One lost both of its eyes, but has made a lovely pet for Um Asma. Another she recently rescued was found with a severely broken leg that had to be amputated. She expects it was once a house cat that was left on the street by the previous owner. Since the operation, the cat is recovering and is now up for adoption.

Gus’ Hope partners with local veterinaries who volunteer their time and offer discounted spay and neuter services.img_8494

Future Plans

Although Um Asma has already helped thousands of cats, she wants to help even more. Her end goal is to open a cat sanctuary and veterinary school for women in Saudi Arabia. She envisions an educational facility that will also serve as an open sanctuary where people can visit and adopt the animals.Facebook:

Facebook: gushopee
Twitter: umasma2011

Other groups in Jeddah offering help:

img_0519-gatsbyMeet Gatsby the Cat

Um Asma rescued Gatsby, who now has a happy fur-ever home and even has her own Instagram account with photos from her new life.

Instagram: gatsbysaysmeow


Saudi Meets Swiss in their Top Notch Hospitality Program

Why it’s the perfect time for Saudis to study hospitality.

Abdul Latif Jameel’s alarm clock wakes him up before 7 a.m. in his dorm room in a castle overlooking Lake Geneva. He gets up, puts on a suit and inspects his appearance before heading to class. With his outfit choice and million-dollar view, Jameel’s experience as a first year college student isn’t a typical one.

The former palace hotel Jameel is living and studying in first opened in 1902, and resembles a castle from a Harry Potter scene. The grand building is now home to the Swiss Education Group’s (SEG) Hotel Management School, where Jameel is studying hospitality and management, a field that he says not everyone understands.

Abdul Latif Jameel is a first year student at the Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS).

Abdul Latif Jameel is a first year student at the Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS).

“This stereotype exists that hospitality is just serving people or cleaning bedrooms in a hotel, but that’s not true at all. It’s a huge industry with lots of potential around the world,” said Jameel, after just finishing up lunch in the school’s cafeteria.

The stillness and crisp air in the tiny Swiss village of Caux is much different than the busy streets Jameel is used to in Jeddah.

Theatre at SHMS, Caux campus.

Theatre at SHMS, Caux campus.

Less than a year into the program, Jameel has not only learned a tremendous amount about the industry, but also about himself.

“Aside from hospitality, the school teaches you to be a way better human being because of the personal development classes. I’ve seen so many people change from the first week – they’re more strong, confident, courageous, curious, and have a much broader view of the world,” said Jameel.

Ballroom at SHMS, Caux campus.

Ballroom at SHMS, Caux campus.

Jameel isn’t entirely sure where his studies will take him, but he plans on gaining experience in Europe and then eventually working in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. Acknowledging Vision 2030, Jameel sees huge potential in hospitality in Saudi Arabia.

Each year, SEG holds two International Recruitment Forums (IRF) in the town of Montreux, on the shore of Lake Geneva. Recruiters from high-end names like Four Seasons, Disney, Hyatt and hundreds of others come to interview students for internships and jobs.

Meet the SEG Students from the GCC


dsc05567Third Year Student
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

“There’s a huge gap in the hospitality industry in Saudi, but the government plans to make this industry bigger. We can help because we’ve learned a lot here and we can bring back our knowledge to fill in that gap.”


dsc05809Second Year Student
Doha, Qatar

“When the oil is finished, we will rely on tourism in Qatar, so I plan to be part of the industry. Qatar is growing so much, especially for the World Cup that’s coming, so it’s an exciting time.”


dsc05585First Year Student
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

“My family has a catering business in Jeddah, so I will learn more about culinary arts in Switzerland and then go back. I also plan to start a French cuisine restaurant in Jeddah.”


faw_1139Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Alumni, SEG Ambassador for GCC

“A big part of Vision 2030 relies on hospitality and tourism. Not to mention the huge number of religious tourism that’s already in place and is looking to improve. It’s really the time for us to be processionals in this field, to lead it and make a change.”


Switzerland is well known as the birthplace of hospitality. It’s that reputable title, plus the breathtaking scenery and diverse culture that lures students to the country.

  1. César Ritz Colleges

cesar-ritz-colleges-brig-school-2Gaining inspiration from César Ritz, the pioneer of luxury hotels, this school is spread across three campuses and focuses on hospitality, tourism, business and entrepreneurial spirit.

  1. Culinary Arts Academy

cooking-schoolWith two separate campuses in both the French-speaking and German-speaking part of Switzerland, students focus on French and Italian dishes and can specialize in Swiss pastry or the art of chocolate.

  1. Hotel Institute Montreux

3Students learn Swiss hospitality, along with American business management, and can specialize in finance, marketing, human recourses or luxury business management.

  1. International Hotel and Tourism Training Institute

4This boutique style hospitality school offers a focus on design. On campus, students spend time in the design studio, and off campus visit various design companies.

  1. Swiss Hotel Management School

5Students live and study in a former palace-hotel and learn all aspects of hotel management.


What Kind of Traveler Are You?

Dream destinations for every type of traveler.

The Thrill Seeker

Destinations for adventure junkies who love nature.

Ice Climbing in New Zealand
For icy thrills, New Zealand offers ice climbing on Fox Glacier, one of the few glaciers in the world connected to a rainforest. This exhilarating ice sport requires ice picks but no previous experience in necessary.yha-franz-josef-scenic-fox-glacier-johan-lolos-2015

Whitewater Rafting in India
India’s Brahmaputra River offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. The river features rapids all the way from level one to more dangerous level five rapids.9686145_orig

Extreme Sports in Australia
From cave diving to bungee jumping to zip lining in lush rainforests, the land down under has it all.

Dangerous Animals in South Africa
South Africa offers cage diving with sharks… and crocodiles! For those who would rather meet animals above water, you can take a good old-fashioned elephant safari or ostrich ride.

Looking for something a little less dangerous?

Ride a Hot Air Balloon in Turkey
The ancient region of Cappadocia in central Turkey has some of the most fantastic landscapes in the world, and while they’re great from the ground, they’re even better from above! The hour-long ride will leave you in awe, and the bright blue sky dotted with colorful balloons makes for great photos!shutterstock_228976384

Need for speed?
The Autobahn is the fastest road in the world. Half of it doesn’t even have a speed limit!

The Music Lover

2017 music festivals worth traveling for.

Grant Park, Chicago
Aug. 3 – 6

Featuring Chance the Rapper, Wiz Khalifa, Lorde and more. Get your flower crown ready for the outdoor music festival’s 26th year of rock, metal, punk, hip hop and EDM bands.lollapalooza

Montreal, Canada
Aug. 4 – 6

Featuring The Weeknd, Lorde, Major Lazer, Alabama Shakes, Solange and more. As if there weren’t enough reasons to visit Montreal, this indie music festival takes place on six different stages with various audience sizes.007-misc-osheaga-2012-day-2-photo-susan-moss21

Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux, Switzerland
June 30 – July 15

Featuring Lukas Graham, Usher, Tom Jones, The Lumineers and more. The second largest jazz festival in the world, held on the picturesque Lake Geneva shoreline, isn’t only about pure jazz – there’s blues, soul, and rock music too.4af394b6e47260fcc575becdb95701dde6916a9c_2000

Boom, Belgium
July 21 – 23 and July 28 – 30

Featuring David Guetta, Paul van Dyke, Martin Garrix and more. The biggest electronic dance music festival on the planet has expanded this season, and will now open for a second weekend.



Rabat, Morocco
May 12 – 20

Featuring Nick Jonas, Ellie Goulding, Wiz Khalifa and many more. Bringing together top-notch names in the Arab, African and international music scene, you’ll be surprised by the diversity of the performers.



The Culture Geek

Top museums, galleries and libraries around the world.

Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.

Le Louvre
Paris, France

Le Louvre, Paris, France.

Le Louvre, Paris, France.

The Acropolis Museum
Athens, Greece

The British Museum
London, England

Shakespeare and Co.
Paris, France

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
Toronto, Canada

Strahov Library
Prague, Czech Republicbiblioteca-strahov-prague-3

The Do-Good Traveler

Traveling for a cause is something we should all do at least once. From volunteering at refugee camps to helping countries re-build after natural disaster, here’s where to look for opportunities.

Helping Refugees in Greece

WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms)

Turtle Teams, Worldwide

Sudan Volunteer Program 

Peace Corps, Worldwide

United Nations Volunteers, Worldwide

Conservation Volunteers, Australia and New Zealand

The Foodie

Must-try foods from around the globe.

Canada: Poutine
Poutine is French fries drenched in brown gravy and cheese curds. It’s better than it sounds.poutine

India: Tandoori Chicken
The dish gets its name from both the tandoori masala it’s spiced with and the tandoor, the type of clay oven it’s cooked it. Not a fan of spice? Order it with mild spice.

England: Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding
Even if doughy bread is not your thing, you have to try this dish that’s considered the national dish of England.dsc_7706

Austria: Wiener Schnitzel
One of the national dishes of Austria, this dish is thinly slices veal that’s been breaded and pan fried or deep fried.traditional-austrian-schnitzel

Egypt: Molokhia
Molokhia leaves are stripped from the stems, then finely minced and cooked with coriander, garlic and stock. The bitter vegetable is usually served with chicken, lamb, fish or even rabbit.molokhiya

Switzerland: Chocolate
You can take a chocolate train, tour the Lindt factory, and even get a chocolate spa treatment.

Thailand: Pad Thai
Think you’ve had great pad thai outside of Thailand? Think again. We can’t promise you won’t eat it every day of your vacation.chicken-pad-thai-94082-1


Climbing Walls in the Kingdom

First Saudi certified instructor teaches climbing in Jeddah.

When Yasmin Gahtani first climbed up the side of a rock face, she stopped in the middle, with her feet dangling in midair, under the Saudi Arabian sun. Frozen from her fear of heights, she was too nervous to go down and too terrified to keep going up. After nearly an hour, Gahtani was mentally and physically exhausted, but made the decision to finish the climb. When her two feet landed on the ground, she knew her life would be changed forever.

“I felt the rush and the excitement. After that, I knew I’d become a climber. I was hooked,” said Gahtani, sitting comfortably on a pile of mats on the floor of the gym at Waad Academy School in Jeddah.

Gahtani, a single mother of twins, spends a lot of time these days at Waad Acaedmy, where she’s teaching her new found passion of climbing to others.cut

“Climbing Changed Me”

Eager to explain that a person can never be too old to fall in love with a new sport, Gahtani uses her own story to encourage others. As a new mom in her early thirties, she started looking for adventure. First, she tried scuba diving, and then snowboarding, kite surfing and even taught herself how to ride a bicycle. Then, at 34 years old, she found rock climbing.

She traveled to Europe and climbed indoors and outdoors, and quickly noticed changes in her physical and mental self. “Climbing has turned into a form mediation for me. When I’m on the wall, I focus on myself and zone out the whole world,” said Gahtani.

Gahtani on the summit of Mont Blanc.

Gahtani on the summit of Mont Blanc.

From Student to Teacher

When she started posting photos of her adventures on social media, she realized there was a huge interest in the sport in Saudi Arabia.

“People messaged me, asking me to teach them. But because I wasn’t trained at that time, I told them to go learn themselves, and after that, we could climb together outside… but then, I would never hear from them, because there was nowhere they could learn here in Saudi,” said Gahtani.

After encouragement from her mother, she did the training and became the first Saudi certified wall instructor by the American Mountain Guide Association.

Gahtani ice climbing in Chamonix.

Gahtani ice climbing in Chamonix.

Classes in Saudi Arabia

Gahtani is member of the newly formed Saudi Climbing Association, the group making climbing classes available. Gahtani will be teaching children and women how to become certified climbers.

“I really want Saudi women to challenge themselves and try it. I know women here like to feel independent, powerful and strong and climbing is the best sport to do that. It gives you self-esteem and teaches you self-discipline,” said Gahtani.

“It’s great for kids too. Kids naturally climb everything from trees to furniture, so this sport comes natural to them.”

On the summit of kilimanjaro in 2016.

On the summit of kilimanjaro in 2016.

Reaching New Heights

While Gahtani is now teaching indoor climbing, she’s also learning a new type of climbing herself: mountaineering.

She’s already climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc, which is the highest mountain in the Alps, and she plans to keep exploring and mastering the sport.

START CLIMBING TODAY! Sign up for classes at the Waad Wall at Waad Academy.

Instagram: yasrockaddict / saudiclimbingassociation
If you want to register for classes, contact Yasmin.
Mob: +966-545494287


Captain Hanadi Prepares for Takeoff

First Saudi female pilot fights for job with Saudi airline.

Captain Hanadi Al Hindi has had many job offers from airlines around the world, but she’s turned them all down. The only country she wants to work in is Saudi Arabia, but with current restrictions, she hasn’t been able to secure a job as a commercial pilot. She’s hoping that will soon change.

Making History and Headlines

In 2005, Al Hindi became the first Saudi female pilot after finishing studies at the Middle East Academy for Commercial Aviation in Amman, Jordan. It was after her first solo flight that Al Hindi truly fell in love with flying, and decided that despite the challenges she would face, she would become a commercial pilot.

To her surprise, it was also after that first flight that she was bombarded with media attention, something she quickly learned came along with the title of being Saudi’s first female pilot.

“Every journalist was coming to do interviews, like BBC, Reuters, CNN. Everyone was calling me, from Mexico, Canada, India, everywhere!”img_0470

Fulfilling A Father’s Dream

Before it was Al Hindi’s dream, being a pilot was her father’s dream. Due to a variety of reasons, her father wasn’t able to attend flight school. But throughout his life, he prayed that one of his children would pursue it as a career.

“I remember at the Jeddah Corniche when I was younger, my father saw an airplane and he said, ‘would you like to be pilot?’ but I didn’t take him seriously. Then he told me if I want it, he will send me anywhere to get the license,” said Al Hindi.

Despite that conversation, Al Hindi didn’t actually believe she would become a pilot, even though she was fascinated with flying.

“I loved being on a plane since I was young. I was curious about who is in the cockpit… but I thought it would be impossible for me to do it as a female.”

Al Hindi proved to herself – and many others – that it was indeed possible. It was her father’s constant support, along with her own dedication and ability to never back down to a challenge that pushed her through.img_0475_cced

The Final Step

After getting her private license from Jordan, she did some training in the United States and in 2013, received a commercial pilot license from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). She had a private contract as a pilot with the Kingdom Holding Company, owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

With the GACA license, Al Hindi is fully qualified to get a job as a commercial pilot in Saudi Arabia. Current restrictions have stood in the way of her getting a job, but she’s confident that with government support, this will soon change.

“I’m patient. I know 100 percent, it will happen very soon.  Inshallah. I know it’s going to happen,” said Al Hindi.

“I’m optimistic of the Vision 2030 because it’s improving the percentage of women in society.”rt

‘Paving the Way’

When Al Hindi gained the title of being Saudi’s first pilot, she instantly became an inspiration and voice for Saudi women. It’s a role she didn’t ask for, but is dedicated to.

“For Saudi female pilots… I’m responsible for paving the way. That’s one of the reasons I won’t accept an offer from outside the country. As the first female pilot, If I leave, who is going to fight? Who is going to open the door for others?”

Her Inspiration

Al Hindi gets emotional when talking about her father, who passed away last year.

“After he passed away, I thought I would give up flying… But then I decided if I give up on flying, I give up on him. He wouldn’t be happy if I gave up on these efforts we did together,” she said.

Every Friday, she visits the cemetery where her father is buried, hoping to tell him that she has finally been hired by a Saudi airline. She’s confident that she will have good news to bring to him soon.

 “What I learned from my dad is that you will get what you want, but not by force. You’ll get it by being patient and by being a good believer in God,” said Al Hindi.

Instagram: capthanadi


Modesty Goes Mainstream

Designers from Saudi Arabia showcase at London Modesty Fashion Week.

It’s not common that models walk down runways in England wearing hijabs and burkinis. But that’s exactly what happened at the first ever London Modest Fashion Week (LMFW) in February, which showcased more than 40 designers.

The event, drawing more than 3,000 people, is proof there’s a modest fashion revolution underway that’s not only taking the Middle East by storm, but the western world too.

It’s no surprise that women in Saudi Arabia are helping lead this fashion movement. Two labels based in Saudi Arabia – Foulard and the Art of Heritage – showcased their work at LMFW.


As models dressed in Sara Rayess’ designs stepped onto the runway, her heart raced from a mix of excitement and nervousness. But at the end of the show, when she emerged from backstage to walk down the runway herself, feelings of pride took over.

“We’ve wanted to enter the market in western countries and this is the first step to going globally,” said Rayess.

Veil Validation

As a teenager, Rayess strolled through malls and browsed online to find fashionable scarves to match her outfits. She wasn’t happy with the options available and started to design her own scarves.p69a7894-1

In 2011, Rayess, who is Syrian-German and was born and raised in Jeddah, founded and established Foulard (which means “scarf” in French).

Her scarf collection represents more than fashion and beauty. She weaves in her identity and religion into each piece of fabric.

“Representing my religion in a good way has always been my aim. I’ve always wanted to encourage girls to get into hijab and dress in a good way to represent their religion,” said Rayess.jd9a6771

Noting that ‘modest fashion’ is less about style and more about a lifestyle, Rayess balances fashion with religion.

“I want to redefine the meaning of ‘veiled women’ because some think that a veiled woman has to dress ugly, not stylish, so I want to change this idea. Even if you wear a scarf, you can be very trendy and even go crazy with your fashion!”

Midnight Collection

At LMFW, Foulard showcased its haute couture scarves. Inspired by the texture and movement of flies, the high-end scarves are for special occasions like weddings.jd9a6657

Foulard’s collection is available online and is also in a retail store in Chelsea, England. With many existing customers in the United Kingdom, Rayess’ plan is to eventually expand to North America. While scarves have been her main passion, she plans to branch out and start designing and selling her own clothes.

Instagram: Foulard_f

Art of Heritage

At the Art of Heritage fashion show at LMFW, Somaya Badr’s job was to double check the model’s outfits before they walked down the catwalk and showed off Saudi Arabia’s traditional clothes to a London audience for the first time.img_6792

“We have some pieces that are difficult to be worn. The jackets and pants are easy but some of the dresses are difficult, so I was backstage making sure the dresses and accessories were perfect on the models,” said Badr, the general manager of Art of Heritage.

Based in Riyadh, Art of Heritage was established in 1990 to preserve the craft and textiles of Saudi Arabia. Another mission is to empower Saudi women, by showing them traditional techniques and giving them the skills to create handicrafts.img_6795

Showing off Saudi Traditions

In its efforts to preserve traditions, the group is also eager to introduce those traditions to the western world. Badr explains that some are surprised to find out the bright colors and rich embroidery are from Saudi Arabia, noting many people think the traditional fashion may be black abayas.

Having already shown off the fashion in New York, and now London, the group plans to continue having their work on runways around the globe.img_6798

“This is the first step. Next, we want to introduce out things in Paris, Milan and other places with an interest in fashion.”

Art of Heritage showcased designs from the new spring collection at LMFW, which included traditional thobes and kaftans with a modern interpretation. Because styles are vastly different from each region in Saudi, different regions are represented in the colors and embroideries.

Instagram: artofheritage

Facebook: Art of Heritage


Bringing Back Souq Al Jumaa

Find traditional arts and crafts, tasty food and unique gifts.

Ahmed Hasanian strolls through the market alleyway, with its castle-like walls and strings of bright twinkling white lights overhead. He’s well known here. As he passes vendors, he greets them and usually extends his hand for a handshake.

“We focus on making the whole experience of the market perfect. From the parking lot, to the washrooms, cleanliness and look and feel of the place,” said Hasanian, the business development manager for Benchmark Events.

The Friday Market – which has a long history in the Gulf – is regaining popularity in Jeddah, thanks to a partnership between Benchmark Events and the Municipality of Jeddah.

“Back in the day, there used to be souqs after Jumaa prayers. That’s part of our inspiration to bring it back to the current days.”

On his walk towards the outdoor food court, Hasanian steps over a Snapchat logo spray-painted on the pavement, a reminder that this is a modern market.

Vendors sell a variety of things including locally made arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing and food. There’s a well-lit outdoor food court with lots of seating, a large activity area for children and an entertainment venue called “Lights On” that hosts a wide range of entertainment.

Meet The Vendors

Mohamed Habib

Instagram: mohammed.habib1

06-dj-april-2017-80-92-3Seated on a rug in the artist’s corner of the market, Mohamed Habib bends thin wires and wedges them into a three-dimensional wire sculpture.

His collection of beautifully twisted wire sculptures – including an eagle, violin, and scorpion – are displayed in front of him.

“The Friday Market is good for me because it gives me a lot of attention. Tourists come here from inside and outside of the Kingdom,” said Habib.

His passion started when, at eight years old, he twisted wire hangers into birdcages.

Surrounded by other artists who use the rented space as a studio, Habib has not only found exposure but inspiration.

Sarah Baeshen

Instagram: sanoobaeshen

06-dj-april-2017-80-92-4With only a few people inside, Sarah Baeshen’s booth at the market crowds easily. Her homemade crafts with Hijazi inspiration line the shelves.

“I am Hijazi myself so it’s important for me to show my heritage in the things I make,” said Baeshen.

Setting up at the Friday Market has allowed Baeshen to build a reputation and gain more customers. “The idea of the Friday Market is as old as you can imagine in the Gulf area, and it’s great for people like myself with small businesses.”

Fadiah Shikoon

06-dj-april-2017-80-92-6For two nights a week since the market started less than a year ago, Fadiah Shikoon has been selling traditional Hijazi food. Her menu options like grilled chicken and liver gained popularity quickly. After realizing the potential, she’s decided to open up a restaurant of her own.

“It’s been amazing for my business. I started very small and I’ve grown quickly in a couple months. I wouldn’t have been able to know the market to start my own business without Souq Al Jumaa,” said Shikoon.

Booth space can be rented on a weekly or monthly basis, and is open to anyone who has a service to offer or a product to sell.

Location: Al Balad, Historical Old Jeddah, next to Al Juffali Mosque
Hours: Thursday and Friday nights, 5 p.m. to midnight
Instagram: Souqaljumaa
Snapchat: Souqaljumaa
Twitter: Souqaljumaa


The Region’s Runway

Saudi designers showcase at Fashion Forward Dubai.

Four fashion designers from Saudi Arabia showcased their apparel collections at Fashion Forward Dubai (FFWD) in March.

The event, which is in its eighth season, provides development, exposure and a progressive direction for those in the regional fashion industry. The Saudi designers were among 30 other new designers chosen to take part.

Launched in 2013, FFWD was established as a resource for emerging talent in the regional and features runway shows and mentorship opportunities.

1. By Sadeem

screen-shot-1438-06-22-at-2-30-28-pmThis prêt-a-couture fashion brand is by Saudi designer Sadeem Al Shehail. The versatile attire includes collectible high-end pieces for confident, elegant and sophisticated women. An advocate of sustainable design, Al Shehail embraces ethical practices, collaborating with companies that share the same principles. Al Shehail’s fabrics are non-toxic and are sourced from companies that employ sustainable practices.

2. Royaled by RH

rhFeaturing all year round pieces that are timeless, the collection from Royaled is crafted for the modern day woman.

Royaled founder, Renad Hefni, is from Jeddah and as her brand essence “crown your confidence” suggests, she’s committed to empowering women.

3. Arwa Al Banawi

arwa-al-banawi-ss17-look-23For social media followers in Jeddah, you probably remember Arwa Al Banawi as a fashion and lifestyle blog. After realizing her true passion in design, she launched her ready-to-wear suits and shirts in 2015.

Growing up in Jeddah and also spending much of her time in Switzerland, she’s often inspired by her travels. She’s created contemporary women’s ready-to-wear label tailored for “The Suitable Woman.”

4. Ghudfah

ghudfah-lookbook-s-16-4Sarah Albaz is the designer behind this luxurious abaya and ready-to-wear line. Albaz was born and raised in Riyadh, but lived in many western and southern countries, which gave her a wide cultural background and inspiration. The line is known for its intricacy of details, selection of luxurious fabrics, and its high-end finishing.


Stunning landSri Lanka

Discover unspoiled beaches, lush forests and timeless ruins.

Northern Sri Lanka is on the brink of a tourism boom, with locals eager to finally show off the island’s magnificent beauty.

Surrounded by the idyllic Indian Ocean, the island of Sri Lanka is a secret piece of Paradise offering endless opportunities and diverse experiences.dsc05502

After years of conflict and natural disaster, Northern Sri Lanka has started to reveal its vibrant colours, unspoiled beaches and intense hospitality. Realizing the potential, luxury hotels and resorts have started popping up in the northern part of the country.

Sun Aqua Pasikudah

In order to truly experience the history and culture Sri Lanka has to offer, it’s best to hunker down in a hotel that sits the heart of everything. Sun Aqua Pasikudah, a luxury boutique property offering five-star suites, is the perfect place to stay while visiting the island. Perched on the mysterious, calm shallow waters of Pasikudah beach, the serene atmosphere allows for total relaxation.markus-mit-k-96243

Along with the golden sands, the resort features an outdoor pool, fitness center with a tennis court and a spa. Guests experience gourmet dining at the in house restaurant, which offers authentic Sri Lankan food and international dishes.sunaquapasikudah_1024

After landing in Colombo airport, visitors can either drive or fly to Sun Aqua Pasikudah. The scenic drive takes you through multiple charming villages, bursting with color and local life. Wildlife runs free, so during the drive you’re bound to see peacocks, and elephants wandering around.dsc05417

Those who opt for the one-hour sea-plane flight will witness beautiful aerial views of luscious forest and abundant nature.

Go off the Beaten Path

While guests at Sun Aqua Pasikudah will find plenty to do on the resort grounds, they’re encouraged to take forest treks, and make visits to local monuments, markets and villages. Guests can also enjoy the marine life rich with colorful corals and shipwrecks. The welcoming and helpful staff are ready to help plan unique private excursions through jungles, mountains and underwater terrains.oceanlife42615

Sri Lanka’s lush jungles are full of wildlife, including elephants, peacocks, monkeys, leopards, sloth bears and more. While the island is a true haven for nature and wildlife lovers, jungle safaris are easily the highlight of anyone’s visit.golden-temple-dambulla-most-popular-tourist-attractions-in-sri-lanka

Cultural travelers will also find lots to explore in Sri Lanka. There are diverse spiritual attractions and bustling markets selling fish, produce and clothing.

The most visited attraction in the country is the Sigiriya rock fortress. The ruined royal palace sits on top of a giant rock in the middle of hill country. After climbing to the top, visitors are rewarded with spectacular views of the countryside, and a look at an impress fortress.

Sigiriya rock fortress.

Sigiriya rock fortress.

No true Sri Lankan experience is complete without sampling the authentic cuisine which boasts fiery curry and rice dishes, coconut, fresh seafood and native fruits and vegetables.


flagCapital: Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Currency: Sri Lankan rupee O cial Languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English


• All major airlines y from Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Prices start from approximately
SR 1,500.


• Visas are required to travel from Saudi Arabia to Sri Lanka, for any non-Sri Lankan traveller.
• Good pair of
walking shoes.
• Electricity is 230. 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. Bring a stabilizer if you’re travelling with a laptop.


• Don’t drink tap water.
• Explore the wilderness.
• Locals are really friendly so don’t hesitate to start a conversation.
• If you’re planning to rent a car, you’ll need an International Driving Permit in addition to your home country driving license.


The Evolution of Saudi Entertainment

Saudi Arabia is about to get a lot more fun!

With big productions like Cirque du Soleil and the Lion King set to take place in Saudi Arabia in the coming months, the entertainment industry is going through major changes.

Since the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) was created in May 2016, it’s held multiple successful events, but it has an even more ambitious plan for 2017.

Meet the CEO of the GEA

Most days, Amr Al Madani, the CEO of the Authority, arrives at his office in Riyadh before 8 a.m. and doesn’t leave until after 8 p.m. That is, on the days he’s not traveling to every corner of the country in search of event planners and performers.

Al Madani is a busy man; he oversees day-to-day operations and hears reports from every department within the GEA. He explains that his goal isn’t only to plan events, but to put smiles on faces.

Selfies in Saudi Arabia

When asked his favorite part of his job, he gives an unexpected and thoughtful answer. Pictures – in particular selfies – and family photo albums are what fuels his passion.

“A picture is worth a thousand words and it really makes for a great return on all our investment when we see a happy family taking a selfie, laughing and leaving with great memories,” said Al Madani.

“It gives us hope that our ambition of having more pictures in our photo albums from Saudi Arabia than from elsewhere in the world is a possibility.”

Photo albums are filled with scenes of vacations outside the country because in the past, families were forced to cross the border in search of fun. But with the GEA busy planning comedy shows, festivals and concerts in more than 20 cities in the Kingdom, the hope is residents will stay put to be entertained.

Proud of what’s been achieved in such a short time, Al Madani explains that more than 150,000 people attended GEA events in just the last few months.p91a6138

Diversifying the Economy

The GEA’s events don’t only generate fun, but also generate money. Under Vision 2030, a clear target has been set to double household spending on recreational opportunities, bumping it up to 6 percent by 2030. For Al Madani, the math is simple.

“If they are spending money at home on entertainment, rather than abroad, then that will boost our economy.”

As Al Madani points out, if the GEA continues to attract interest and investment from international companies, it’ll boost Saudi’s economy and improve its business image globally. Expanding the industry will also translate to more jobs.

Past Events

ar-150329791One of the GEA’s most recent successful events was Saudi Arabia’s first Comic Con. The event, which featured top international celebrities from popular shows like Game of Thrones and Hannibal, was very well attended.

Other events include the iLuminate show, an Arab’s Got Talent show, music concerts, and a show featuring Fluffy the comedian.

ct-rosenthal-sesame-street-hbo-0117-biz-20160115Future Events

Although not all events for 2017 have been announced, those that have been are impressive, including a production of Tom & Jerry, the Lion King, and Sesame Street.p91a9905

Other events like unique markets, Monster Truck shows, gamer’s events and poetry nights are all on the calendar too.

When asked about the possibility of a movie theater and a big amusement park in the near future, Al Madani wasn’t able to answer directly. He did confirm that protecting and respecting Saudi’s cultural heritage is very important to his team.

Vision 2030: The General Entertainment Authority is closely linked to one of Vision 2030’s key goals: “To provide cultural and entertainment opportunities to the public, to support local talent and develop projects that will generate job opportunities and grow our economy.”202a6152

Follow @Roznamah_sa on Twitter to see the calendar of events and daily announcements from the General Authority of Entertainment.

What fun do you want to see in Saudi Arabia?

Here are some answers we got from residents.