Travel Trends

11 Reasons Why Georgia is Fast Becoming Saudi Travelers’ Favorite Destination

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Located at the crossroads between Asia and Europe, Georgia has seen a surge of tourists in the recent past from Saudi Arabia. So much so that it is almost like most people in Saudi Arabia know someone who has visited this small country up in the Caucus region. But why the sudden surge from Saudi tourists? Let’s take a look.


Georgia’s tourism department is going on an aggressive advertising campaign to draw in Arab tourists. I mean just look at how the place looks in the adverts. Would you resist?

1. Nationals of GCC member countries can travel to it visa-free. Even many categories of GCC residents with valid residence permits can get an on-arrival visa.
What’s more is that on-arrival visas to Georgia are valid for one whole year.

2. It’s like Europe, but at lesser prices.
Talk about going on a longer vacation this time around.

3. The International Crime Index Georgia has ranked Georgia as the 6th safest country in the world. This means that the country is safe to travel with the entire family.

4. Almost 40% of Georgia is covered by forests.
An escape from the desert for those living in Arabia.

5. Oh and have we mentioned the food?
They are a bit hard to pronounce but they surely aren’t hard to eat. So much variety in the cuisine!

6. And plus, you will find some halal food options as well.
Considering that the country has a Muslim population of over 10%.

7. Have you seen the beach resorts?
Some of them are high up in the mountains.

8. Being home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world, Georgia is replete with history.
It has had deep connections with Islamic empires. Some small kingdoms in Georgia were even vassal states to the Muslim empires.

9. Many of its cities have a fascinating mix of Asian and European architecture.
So it’s not only for nature lovers, architecture admirers will find the country like an open air museum.

10. Just look at some of its popular tourist destinations. And you’ll understand why suddenly everyone is going gaga over it.

11. Most of all, the flight tickets to it are cheap as well.
With return tickets costing as low as 1500 SR from Saudi Arabia.

Need any more reasons to visit this wonderland called Georgia?

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Explore KSA, Spirituality, Travel Around Saudi

This City Of Ukhdood Mentioned In The Quran Is Found In Saudi Arabia

Photo Credit: saudi-archaeology.com

Deep in the Najran province, close to the Yemeni border lies one of Arabia’s oldest surviving historical sites.


The site of the former mystical town of Ukhdood stands in existence from 7th century BC, that makes it well over 2500 years old – a must visit for history aficionados.

This great urban city, a contemporary of Egypt and Mesopotamia, had grandiose palaces, rich residents and was a major trading hub that sat in the midst of a labyrinth of valleys and hills. This town is shrouded in mystery as very little is known about its social and cultural aspects even today. The city of Ukdhood is one of Saudi Arabia’s best kept secrets!

Photo Credit: michaelcreasy.com

Photo Credit: michaelcreasy.com

Ukhdood literally translates into ‘trench’ or ‘ditch’ in English and is believed to be the place that is referred to in the Noble Quran in Surah Al Burooj (chapter no. 85). In the Quran the residents of the place were cursed as they were bystanders to a massacre that took place, when the true believers were being thrown into a fiery trench.

The road from Yemen to the Mediterranean was the great trade route, passing through harsh deserts, verdant forests, terrifying bandits and exotic oases. The route served as a channel for trading of goods such as South Arabian frankincense and myrrh; Indian spices, precious stones, pearls, ebony, silk and fine textiles, feathers, animal skins, and gold.

Photo Credit: saudi-archaeology.com

Photo Credit: saudi-archaeology.com

This route passed through the town of Ukhdood. Strategically located on a major caravan route it was able to levy taxes on merchants and through this the city became rich. At its peak, Ukhdood was one of the most important trading cities in Southern Arabia. The city’s downfall eventually happened when newer trade routes were developed and demand for frankincense decreased.

With much thrill and excitement we headed to the city of Najran some 900 kms south of Jeddah. Once in Najran we asked locals for directions and went straight to Ukhdood that lies close to the older part of Najran. After registering our names with the onsite SCTA staff member we were allowed in the fenced area which encircles the city of Ukhdood.

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Initially we had to walk through a sandy portion that was scattered with rocks which seemed to go on for miles on both sides. We were looking curiously at these rocks as we walked past them for ancient inscriptions but couldn’t find any.

We then came upon a modern pathway that was under construction and as soon as we crossed the pathway we saw massive fortification walls rising against the dry landscape. Within these walls was the carefully designed city.

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Photo Credit: saaih.com

We made our way through an ostentatious entrance whose steps led us to a higher platform from where we were able to get a view of the entire ancient city. Though in ruins, it was still breathtaking. The massive size of the place, the sophisticated grid like pathways and the excellence in plotting that was done in the residential quarters left us awe-inspired.

After following what was the largest pathway at the site, we reached the acropolis and came upon the remains of the foundations of the King’s castle. Its wall was the most impressive structure in the entire premises. The wall had numerous petroglyphs and inscriptions on it, depicting stylized horses, two-headed snakes, cattle and even ancient South Arabian script.

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Photo Credit: saaih.com

We heard about the existence of the ancient ditch which is mentioned in the Quran from other travelers but were unable to spot it ourselves. There are very few descriptions on site for tourists; there was hardly any information available about notable structures in the city and more importantly the purpose of each structure.

We continued to stroll around the ruins and spotted the occasional inscriptions. The most impressive of which was a tablet that had a large amount of ancient script engraved on it. The refinement of buildings, street remains and inscriptions speak volumes about the technological sophistication of the residents of the town.

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Close by were the residential quarters that were in a depleting condition, some were reduced to the ground and only scrambled rocks remained whilst others were standing firm yet roofless. There was also vegetation growing on the depleting structures making their condition worse. As we walked through the residential quarters we were trying to contemplate on life during the city’s heydays, it was actually quite a fun experience.

There is an onsite museum that is located close to the entrance but is currently closed as expansion works are being carried in it. There is also an ancient cemetery south of the external wall but time didn’t permit us to visit it.

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Photo Credit: saaih.com

Shrouded in mystery the ancient city continues to intrigue visitors even after close to 3000 years of existence. It may be a bit horrific to see the site in a deteriorating condition but with restoration works having begun already one can expect things to improve for Ukhdood. Though in ruins, the ancient city is perhaps the oldest and most impressive archaeological site that we’ve visited.

So make your way through the crumbling stone walls whilst searching for the occasional inscriptions and experience ancient Arabia for yourself!

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Business

8 Great Ways To Land A Job In Saudi Arabia

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The Saudi job market is unique and special in a way. Despite online job applications ruling the roost, the traditional forms of applying for jobs still works, even in corporates.


As the Saudi job market is getting more and more saturated and many companies putting a cap on external hiring, getting a job right now is not the easiest of things. However, as the growth outlook for the overall economy improving especially in the non-oil sectors, many opportunities are bound to rise.

So for whatever reason you may be looking for a job right now here are a few tips to help you land a job in Saudi Arabia.

1. Classifieds

By classifieds I don’t mean newspaper classifieds, I mean dedicated web classifieds like expatriates.com, olx.sa.com etc. They have so many jobs being posted on a regular basis, most of them, however, are for entry to mid-level career jobs.

2. LinkedIn

There are so many headhunters on LinkedIn and all you’ve got to do is what everybody does on LinkedIn – connect with the right people. You can’t just have an account on LinkedIn and expect yourself to start getting offers. Being connected to people who post jobs regularly helps, but what helps, even more, is being active on the social network website.

3. Wasta (reference)

This is one of the most effective methods. Look for friends/family who sit at upper managerial posts, tell them that you’re looking for a job and hopefully they’ll handle the rest if a vacancy arises in their company.

4. Online Job Portals

Bayt.com is not the only one, so remember to upload your CV and regularly look for jobs on other websites like Naukrigulf.com, Monstergulf.com and the likes. There are dedicated job portals as well that are limited to particular industries like oil & gas or hospitality. So looking at international job portals of your target industry can also help.

5. Cold Calling

You’ll be surprised but in some rare cases, cold calling has helped job seekers land jobs. It doesn’t mean that you have to call the customer care team; just call the head office and ask to be directed to the HR department and they’ll let you know if they have any vacancies or not. So just open the telephone directory of your city and start dialing.

6. Newspaper Ads

While you may be applying on tons of jobs, from personal experience I can say that the companies that are often interested in hiring on an immediate basis are the ones that advertise in newspapers. A useful website in case you don’t want to buy newspapers is gulfjobsbank.com, which accumulates newspaper ads from all around the Gulf. You just have to click the date and the newspaper and it will list out the newspaper ads posted on that very day.

7. Personal Visits

The good old way of carrying your resume and knocking on doors of companies does help. Visit the HR department, hand them over your resume and they’ll let you know if there are any vacancies. Try meeting department managers who have positions to be filled in their departments.

8. Consultancies  

Many recruitment agents and consultancies based in Saudi Arabia hire employees for their clients mostly on a yearly contract basis. Though they do take a good chunk of the salary on a monthly basis, they have a decent amount of jobs to offer. There are some international ones as well, mostly based out of Dubai that have many clients in Saudi Arabia to which job seekers can apply for online.

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News, Offbeat, Things To Do

Saudi Arabia To Make An Entertainment City That Will Be Bigger Than The Maldives

pexels-photo-66143

So many things are happening in the Kingdom that it’s hard to keep up.


Spread over an area of 334 sq. km, the entertainment and cultural city will be bigger than the Maldives.

It will be built in an area called Al Qidiya that lies in the southwest of Riyadh. The foundation stones are expected to be laid in as early as 2018 and the opening of the first phase is scheduled for 2022.

The announcement was made by the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. In a statement, he said, “This city will become, by God’s will, a prominent cultural landmark and an important center for meeting the future generation’s recreational, cultural and social needs in the kingdom.”

Photo Credit: alarabiya.net

Photo Credit: alarabiya.net

The entertainment city is in line with Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030 that seeks to diversify the Saudi economy and create more employment opportunities for its citizens. The main investor of the project will be the Public Investment Fund, which has already made headlines for making some high-profile investments worldwide.  The project will also have a number of other local and international investors.

Major attractions in the new city will include a safari and a theme park by American giant Six Flags.  The CEO of Six Flags, Jim Reid-Anderson, had announced last year that his company aimed to build three parks in Saudi Arabia, with each costing between $300 million and $500 million.

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Explore KSA, Online Magazine, Travel Around Saudi

8 Things to Experience in Abha

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The 2017 Arab Capital of Tourism.


1. See the Landscape from the Tallest Peak of the Country

Reaching a whopping height of 9,843 feet, Jabal Souda is widely believed to be the tallest peak in the Kingdom. Once atop this peak, you’ll forget for a moment that you’re in Saudi Arabia. Rugged yet beautiful mountains pervade the backdrop, misty clouds  comb the hills and snaking roads pass through the precarious mountainscape.baboon-2111784_960_720

2. Feed the Hamadryas Baboon

These baboons are native to the region. They dwell in the mountain ranges and can be found in hordes on the outskirts of Abha. Feeding these baboons is a popular pastime for tourists. These mammals eat almost all types of food that is given to them. You can even give them a closed water bottle and see how they open it and drink it or watch how they open a packet of biscuits and enjoy its sugary coating.understand-asiri-architecture

3. Understand Asiri Architecture

In and around Abha, every now and then one will come across pockets of age-old houses, some of which are over 300 years old. These houses used indigenous construction techniques as per the raw materials available at their disposal. Today, some of these houses have been renovated to allow for modern amenities like air conditioning systems and electrical cables to be installed, which makes for an interesting sight of how the past is integrated with the present.understand-asiri-architecture-3

4. Eat Fresh Produce From the Farms

Abha’s farms are unique. While much of Saudi Arabia is known for its drip irrigated farms, in Abha crops are grown on terraced farms. As Abha receives a decent amount of rainfall, the farmers capitalized on this particular farming technique that allows them to fight surface runoffs and retain water at the same time. The farms, however, end up looking like a series of steps. Eating the fresh local produce from them should definitely be on a bucket list for all visiting Abha.fresh-produce

5. Dine by the Clouds at the Green Mountain

It’s more like a hill rather than a mountain that sits right in the core of the city. There is a restaurant on top of the hill that offers breathtaking views and is at times surrounded by fog. It is one of those places where the location presides over the food. At night, the hill is lit by a green light, hence the name ‘Green Mountain’.back1kr-net-sa

6. Plunge Down to the Hanging Village of Habalah

Clinging to a cliff face, this village is found in one of the last places where one would expect to find habitation. It is commonly believed that a location like this was used to settle so as hide from the invading armies of the Ottomans. Hide it did and
did it well, remaining a mystery for a long time. Today, the only means to access the isolated abode is via a cable car that plunges 300 meters downwards to the base of the village.habalah-2

7. Go Souvenir Shopping at Abha’s Traditional Souks

Traditional markets are still a crucial part of daily life in Abha. Be prepared for some interesting finds in these souks. From culturally inspired paraphernalia to Asir’s prized honey, the souk alleys hold many secrets. For tourists, the favored souk is the Tuesday Market or Souk Al Thulatha as it’s referred to locally. Every Tuesday, traders gather here and sell most things that Abha is famous for.souvenir-shopping

8. Explore the Stone Village of Rijal Alma on Foot

If the Kingdom were to have its own 7 wonders list, this village will definitely be on it. Nestled deep in the Asir Mountains some 57 kilometers from Abha, Rijal Alma evokes the feel of it being stuck in time as a good portion of the heritage village is in much the same condition as it once was. Walking around Rijal Alma feels like going back in time, with only small details like cars that remind you of the time. The village is accessible from the cable car that extends from the Souda National Park complex or one can take the snaking road down the cliff side from Jabal Souda.

Coordinates: 18.2465° N, 42.5117° E

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Explore Your City, Travel Trends

What! A Double Decker Sightseeing Bus Now In Jeddah

Photo Credit: facebook I BusAlhokair

We couldn’t believe it ourselves.


For those Jeddawis who have always wanted to go on a Jeddah tour for a long time, here’s the best news for you.

Jeddah now has a double-decker city tour bus. The service was officially launched on the 28th of March.

The bus passes through major tourist sites in the city and the overall tour lasts for around 2 hours. Ticket prices have also been modestly priced, with SR 60 for adults and SR 35 for children.

There are two lines that the bus tour operates on, one green and the other red. The different lines follow different routes and visit slightly different sites. Such buses are common in many cities in the West; London is where probably the most famous double-decker city bus service runs.

All in all, the bus makes 30 stops and comes with an audio tour guide feature in several languages including English, Arabic, Urdu, Chinese, German and Spanish.

This bus service is definitely a good addition to the ‘things to do’ list of Jeddah. And, like you, we can’t wait to ride it as well.

Reference: Saudi Gazette

Photo Credit: facebook I BusAlhokair

Photo Credit: facebook I BusAlhokair

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Explore KSA, Historic Saudi, Online Magazine

Mapping Arabia!

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Mapping a land riddled with mysteries.


Arabia has always been considered one of the toughest places to map, housing some of the most uninhabitable terrains and river-less lands. Barren desert and blistering heat weren’t only obstacles to cartographers and explorers – even colonizers were daunted by them.

From housing lakes in the middle of vast deserts to widely exaggerated sizes especially of the southern regions, Arabia has been mapped considerably differently by cartographers. One of the earliest most notable maps is of Ptolemy, who came up with a fairly sound depiction of Arabia in his map of the known world.

His works were long forgotten and were only picked up during the Golden Age of the Muslim civilization. During the same time frame, many Arab scholars started making maps as well. The most famous of which was Al Idrisi’s map that was considered one of the most accurate maps of its time.

However, after the Muslim Golden Age, Arab scholarly achievements in the field became negligible and cartography was considered to be a European fixation. Even the most well documented of maps made by the Europeans would chart the coastal areas with a decent amount of accuracy, but miss out on inland villages of the peninsula, relying only on hearsay reports to depict them.

Charles Montagu Doughty

Charles Montagu Doughty

With time the accuracy of the maps produced by the Europeans increased. Charles Doughty was one of the first to cover the peninsula’s inland area with much accuracy as he recorded many of Arabia’s topographical features and gained knowledge of the region directly from the Bedouins, which was unknown to most Europeans before him._%d8%ac%d9%85%d8%a7%d8%b9%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d9%84%d8%b2%d9%8a%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%a9-%d9%85%d9%83%d8%aa%d8%a8%d8%a9-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d9%84%d9%83-%d8%b9%d8%a8%d8%af%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b9%d8%b2%d9%8a%d8%b2

Today, most historic maps made of Arabia by the Arabs and Europeans alike are found in King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh.

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Explore KSA, Travel Around Saudi, Travel Trends

This Is The Best Airport In Saudi Arabia

Photo Credit: الوئام

If you’ve recently visited Madinah via air, then you probably know what we are talking about.


Inaugurated by King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, the airport surpasses other airports in the country by a healthy margin in many criteria, allowing it to claim its title as the best in the country.

Photo Credit: الوئام

Photo Credit: الوئام

Known as the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, it has been in operation since the 1950s but it recently went through a major renovation and expansion project and officially re-opened to the public in 2015. Here are a few facts about it:

1. The airport has been ranked the second best airport in the Middle East for the second quarter of 2016 by the Airports Council International (ACI). The ACI represents almost 85 percent of total airports worldwide.

Photo Credit: الوئام

Photo Credit: الوئام

2. It is the first airport in the country to be constructed and operated entirely by the private sector. Lead by a consortium of Al Rajhi Holding Group, Saudi Oger and TAV Airports Holding.

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3. Built on a Build-Transfer-Operate (BTO) basis, the concession is granted for 25 years to the consortium. However, GACA will continue to act as regulator and will be responsible for the air traffic control operations.

Photo Credit: الوئام

Photo Credit: الوئام

4. The project cost a whopping $1.2 billion to build. And, with future investments and expansions, it can rise up to $1.5 billion.

5. Its total capacity currently stands 8 million passengers on annual basis. The figure is expected to rise with the launch of subsequent phases, rising up till 40 million in the final phase.

6. The airport has a beautifully designed mosque. The minaret that it comes with is spectacular and redefines modern minaret architecture.

Photo Credit: الوئام

Photo Credit: الوئام

7. The airport is named after the former Crown Prince of the country, Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz. He was also the former emir of Madinah.

Photo Credit: الوئام

Photo Credit: الوئام

8. The airport terminal has been awarded LEED Gold certification, which is the industry standard that defines and measures ‘green’ and sustainable construction. It was the first terminal in the MENA region to receive the prestigious certification.

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Community, Explore KSA

In Photos: Sandstorm Madar From All Around Saudi Arabia

Photo Credit: i.ytimg.com

It is over and we have survived it. We just went through three days of what was one of the biggest sandstorms in the recent Saudi Arabian history.


From flight cancellations to school closures, it definitely had an impact. What many living in the major cities of the country have not seen is the magnanimity of the sandstorm. From places that were the worst affected, we’re hearing stories of how the sandstorm came in rising from the deserts.

The sandstorm, named Madar, started off in Libya and passed through Egypt before arriving in Saudi Arabia. In some places, it came in apocalyptic sizes.

Here are some photos of the sandstorm that will definitely not be forgotten anytime soon.

 

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Offbeat, Sports

The Saudi Connection Of The Nike Pro Hijab

Photo Credit: dezeen.com

With more and more Muslim women embracing sports, Nike has planned to launch a line of headgear that caters to the market. It is expected to be officially launched by the spring of 2018.


Twitter has since gone berserk as the first batch of photos of the product came in. The Nike Pro Hijab has been almost over a year in the making, in fact, the first seeds are believed to have been planted way back. And, it all somehow has its connections to Saudi Arabia.

London 2012

In 2012’s London Olympics Saudi Arabia for the first time ever fielded female athletes to the Olympics. Runner, Sarah Al Attar, took to the field sporting a Hijab. She received an ovation upon completing her run and her photos splashed on many international newspapers.

Photo Credit: execreview.com

Photo Credit: execreview.com/Sarah Al Attar

Nike has even officially announced that they were inspired by Sarah Al Attar and Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad.

Photo Credit: nisaanetwork.net/

Photo Credit: nisaanetwork.net/Amna Al Haddad

Rio 2016

Sarah again participated in the Olympics in Rio. This time around she was accompanied by a fellow hijab-clad runner, Kariman Abuljadayel, who took part in the women’s 100 meters event who was wearing a full black body suit.

Photo Credit: dailymail.co.uk/Kariman Abuljadayel

Photo Credit: dailymail.co.uk/Kariman Abuljadayel

It was not only like these 2 were wearing Hijab, there were athletes from other countries that donned the Hijab, but not many, barring America’s Ibtihaj Muhammad managed to gain enough limelight.

Photo Credit: themuslimvibe.com/Ibtihaj Muhammad

Photo Credit: themuslimvibe.com/Ibtihaj Muhammad

With the stage all set it was only a short wait before brands started showing interest to the needs of this growing market. It just so happens that the biggest sporting brand, Nike, which itself wields a great deal of influence in the sporting world has developed this product at a time when not all sports allow women to compete in hijabs.

Perhaps, it will be products like these and broader acceptance of cultural and religious norms that will pave way for more Saudi women to take on sports professionally.

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