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JEDDAH: The northwestern Saudi town of Jubbah has the country’s most famous rock art inscription site and is the fourth place in the Kingdom to be inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
This ancient place, with its dramatic dunes and sandy landscape, is offered to adventurous travelers as a gateway to the desert.
King Salman’s Royal Nature Reserve, which is the largest in the country and the fourth largest wildlife reserve in the world, offers people inside and outside Saudi Arabia an immersive experience in the desert amid of an area of 130,700 square kilometres.
Rakayb Jubbah, which started on February 24 and runs until March 19, allows visitors aged 18 and over to experience an authentic Bedouin lifestyle.
The program consists of four trips, each trip lasting three days.
The reserve tweeted earlier this month: “The desert adventure that people have had for so long to survive and search for water resources has now become a journey leading to leisure time in the desert.”
Ebtisam Azzam, a Saudi radio and television presenter, was one of 20 people on the first trip.
“Rakayb Jubbah is an adventure, a unique and strange journey,” she told Arab News. “It’s a mixture of fun and harmony inside the King Salman Reserve in the Nafud Desert. In the past, people used to take long camel rides to search for water resources, trek commerce and travel.Now we experience the same journey but for recreation, a place where one finds seclusion and some mental clarity.
The adventure includes a 20 kilometer camel trek in six hours, a simulation of camel caravans from the past, which means participants should be of average fitness level.
“Camels are another story. It is one of the greatest creatures and the tangible relationship between the camel and its owner, and the way the camel understands a sound or sign made by its owner, is quite spectacular,” Azzam said. “Just looking at the camel can make you understand something about yourself. It takes time to familiarize the camel with a new person and I think I’m on the right track.
Safaris and adventures require travelers to be well equipped and dressed in appropriate attire for the nature and atmosphere of the location they are traveling to.
But Rakayb Jubbah was held four days after Founding Day, and Azzam still celebrated the new Saudi National Day by wearing regional attire on the camel ride to represent the southern region of Asir.
“I brought the southern dress (style of) with me, especially the black Asiri dress, the scarf, the yellow tie and some silver accessories. I took a lot of beautiful photos on the camel to document the moment and the beauty of the place.”
The trip aims to present activities that will help visitors better understand the natural and tourist elements of the reserve.
He wants to activate ecotourism, because people will discover hail songs, folk dances and other aspects of the region’s heritage.
Visitors will also be exposed to ways of coexisting with desert environments and learn about rare plants in the reserve such as talha, ghada and arfaj, in addition to dealing with camels.
The area has a history that spans thousands of years and is replete with relics of the past, including over 4,000 Thamudic drawings and inscriptions.
Abdulaziz Al-Damkh, a Saudi traveler who has visited more than 45 countries, was also on the trip. “The trip exceeded my expectations in terms of organization, side events, security measures and incredible team spirit,” he told Arab News.
Al-Damkh said that although he was a great adventurer, this was his first time on a six-hour camel ride.
“I’m Saudi and I was born in Saudi Arabia and camels are part of my culture, but this was the very first time I experienced what a long journey is like. Trips like this should have happened a long time ago. .
“The first two hours of the journey were very tiring, because some participants did not have such experiences, but it went well in the end.”
Participants in the first trip included visitors from Spain, the United States and Tunisia, and the trip was organized by Pangea, a Saudi company offering outdoor activities.
The Kingdom has embraced leisure tourism in recent years to attract visitors from around the world.
“Events like this give you an authentic desert experience. It helps promote our Saudi culture and highlights Vision 2030 and its goals of diversifying tourism in the Kingdom,” Al-Damkh added.
Each trip has 20 participants and costs SR2,000 ($533) per person. The trip includes camping, stargazing, and traditional Saudi cuisine.
The reserve aims to resettle natural life, develop vegetation, and preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the area, which is part of Saudi Arabia’s environmental identity.