Recently, I visited Hail for work-related reasons. It was an accidental trip I may say as my position does not entail going on business trips. It took me a 45-minute plane ride from Riyadh and another hour and a half drive from the airport to get to the plant in the wee hours of the morning on 03 December 2019.
I spent the first day acclimatizing and helping our colleagues in the venue and activity preparations for the event the following day, 04 December 2019. Hail has a more freezing temperature than Riyadh during winter. I somehow understood why desert blooms and verdure are more vibrant here gleaning from the few photos I have snapped while roaming around during leisure times.
Thank heavens for this visit; it paved the way for me to see the stunning flora during this time of the year.
This is something I forgot to include in the winter-inspired blog post “Ten Things About Winter in Riyadh” that I have written a year ago, while on hiatus from sports activities.
It was a privilege to have helped in the realization of an important event across the company’s multiple plants, which was a success! The revelation and quite a fulfilling experience to me though is witnessing how one we are with our counterparts in bringing out a quality service to stakeholders and customers.
Later that day and before my flight back to Riyadh, I was invited by colleagues/friends (Sir Ariel, Melvin, and Dante) for a jaunt around Al Shinan. Giving into it put me on cloud nine, without guilt.
Al Shinan is the most accessible, civilized town nearby. The plant is nesting in a remote area of Hail City. Hail is a desert-based city and the very name is also the capital of Hail Region. The modern dossier says it has a population of more than a million and is dependent on agriculture particularly wheat production. No wonder, there are many irrigated gardens visible on the roads.
Locals here are known for their generosity because of Hatim al-Tai’s influence. Hatim was a famous Arab poet and he hailed from Hail. He is one of the characters in “The Arabian Nights”—a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. Stories about his generosity made him an icon to Arabs during that period. This is where the proverbial phrase “more generous than Hatim” came from.
It took almost an hour drive from the plant to get to Al Shinan—the closest governorate of Hail Region that offers some of the decent tourist spots in town.
The first stop was at the Arc. It is a convenient spot because it is located right on the road’s shoulder. A photo-op that time was opportune. The sunset was on its last glow but its value will never be eclipsed by modern conveniences at hand. I somehow felt like I was in Greece, with the Parthenon behind me.
Apparently, I was the only one who was in the mood for picture taking. I was grateful for they gladly obliged amid the long day we had. Filipino hospitality is absolutely in line with the local’s generosity. This prompted me to be mindful of the ticking clock. I spent just a couple of minutes snapping the grandeur of the sunset and selfies then we headed straight to Al Shinan’s most sought after destination: The White Craters. Sadly, darkness has taken over by the time we arrived at the entrance.
I was aware that we could not make it on time for said purpose despite the fast driving. Sir Ariel’s effort was greatly appreciated, of course, and I still attempted to frame some glimpses of the craters nonetheless. I was receptive to the idea that my two-day stay in Hail is already an experience to blog about even without photos. There is always beauty in the mundane as I always say. Catching this structure called “Asma-ul-Husna Roundabout” on our way back to the plant’s Rest House was a reward.
The uniqueness of the structure makes it look aesthetically valuable. It is a reminiscent of that platform where the final scene of the movie “The Fifth Element” took place. It also has four beams crisscrossed and at the center is where the quintessence lies. I totally understand why the crescent moon is also at the center.
There is so much mystery behind it I must say and that probably explains why it got my attention.
We concluded the jaunt with a kabsa pig-out at the most frequented shawaya house in the area. That was a merriful and gastronomic treat.
My visit to Hail proved that KSA still has a plethora of unexplored places that crave wanderers’ attention across the globe as we speak. I am fervently hoping that their tourism initiatives tackle this part of the Kingdom because it has so much good things and IG-worthy places to offer.
Another shout-out to Sir Ariel, Meldwine, Dante, Ysmael, and, of course, The Mentor, for facilitating the visit. I look forward to revisiting the White Craters in broad daylight 🙂 and seeing more blog posts or articles about Hail’s scenic sights on the web.
Saudi Arabia tourism: So what is there to see? (bbc.com)
7 Amazing Things You’ve Definitely Got to See in Hail (lovinsaudi.com)
5 Things to See and Do in Saudi Arabia (wanderlust.co.uk)
Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia (unesco.org)
Visit Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO (theculturetrip.com)
Tourist Visa for Saudi Arabia (riyadh-tours.com)
SAUDI TOURISM AND ECONOMY (blueabaya.com)