We’re pretty isolated over here in KAUST and it’s not easy to go anywhere. The good thing is that there are lots of groups organizing trips around Saudi and anyone who’s interested may join. There’s Graduate Affairs, the Photography Club, and others that do this several times a year.
A few weeks ago I joined a trip to Jeddah. It was very nice and educational. By the end of it though I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home. We got back at around 11:30pm and it was my first day of work the next day. Talk about tired!
Al Taybet Museum
Apparently it used to be a private museum and when the owner passed away his family opened it up to the public. It has everything regarding Saudi Arabian culture in it–from intricate wood designs to traditional costumes to 500 million year old fossils! The sign on the fossils said they were genuine but…who knows! This place is HUGE and I suggest spending at least an entire morning or afternoon there.
You need to make an appointment with them in order to visit though. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0506369004.
Safeya Binzagr Art Gallery
This art gallery is dedicated to Saudi Arabian culture, with 99% of the artworks done by Ms. Sefeya. She was telling us that she was one of the first painters/artists in the Kingdom and that she spent a lot of time looking for a piece of land on which to build her gallery.
I was wondering how she could afford to build her own art gallery since in my mind, most artists are not that wealthy, especially since she told us that she stopped selling her paintings very early on because she wanted to preserve the “whole story” all her paintings depicted. Well later on I found out that she is Safeya Binzagr of the Binzagr Unilever group. That answered my question.
I bought a print of one of her paintings and got her to sign it. I still need to find a frame for it to hang it up.
Check out: http://www.daratsb.com
Movenpick Resort Al Nawras
Because we started late, we had lunch very late–around 2:30 pm. It was a good thing that it was a buffet because all of us were starving! We got to sit outdoors overlooking the Red Sea. It was very, very nice! I thought about asking Jose to drive us back here but when I asked the waiter how much it would cost if we came back by ourselves, he said it was SAR 220 ($60). I think I’ll just cook at home haha. Just so you know, our whole trip cost SAR 225 so obviously the organizers got a really good group rate for us.
This was one of the old houses that we saw. It was built in the 1800s. Don’t remember much about it anymore.
The Matbouli House
Another really old house. We were delighted that Mr. Matbouli, the grandson of the original owner, was there so he could give us an introduction. He took us into the living room that had two levels. The older and more respected ones on the top level and the younger ones on the lower level. The women were not allowed to join but they could look down from the balcony above the living room. It reminded me of one of those Victorian theaters.
Apparently Mr. Matbouli is another wildly rich Saudi we met that day. There were whispers of their family owning Samsung in Saudi, construction, water, etc.
Jeddah Heritage Festival
People were in costume reenacting and depicting various aspects of Saudi heritage. It was interesting to see. There were lots of people there and at one point I panicked because I thought I had lost my group. Thank God I found them. Being lost in Saudi is not like being lost anywhere else. There are no buses, trains and hardly any taxis.