Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vote for the 2012 MENA Travel Awards

One of my favorite restaurants here in Jeddah, the fabulous Il Villaggio Restaurant, has been nominated for a prestigious 2012 MENA Travel Award in the Best Fine Dining Restaurant category.

I wrote about the wonderful evening my husband and I spent at Il Villaggio earlier this year in this post.

To cast your vote for Il Villaggio Restaurant, simply click here, cast your vote and fill out a simple form. You can only vote once in this competition, but I urge you to please cast your vote for Il Villaggio!

You can get further information about the competition on the MENA website. Here is an excerpt:
The MENA Travel Awards 2012 “ Champions of Service Quality “ Award will be presented to, once again, recognize top industry organizations who have shown the extra mile of success in the Middle East & North Africa's growing travel industry. This is no self-congratulatory exercise, or ‘best advertiser' award. It is a real opportunity to receive meaningful recognition from the Region’s travelers, guests, and customers while being highly recognized by both regional and international travel, and the hospitality industries.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Living in Saudi Arabia, I quickly learned that the scented oils everyone uses here are called “oud” (rhymes with “food”). But that’s not the kind of oud this post is about. Oud is also the name for a beautiful stringed instrument that is used in Middle Eastern and North African music.

We were out walking one evening when I spied this shop that sells oud stringed instruments. The shopkeeper told us that the cost of an oud starts at about SR200 (about $50 US) and goes up to about SR1000 (about $250 US).

The oud is a very distinctive looking instrument. The main body of the oud is made of wood, hollow and pear-shaped with a rounded back side. There are usually three sound holes which can be outlined with a painted design or mother of pearl. On a more expensive oud, the sound holes are often adorned with intricately carved bone or cut-out wood rosettes.

It also has no frets and a much shorter neck than a guitar. The neck of the oud has a big crick or bend in it as well. If you are familiar with what a lute looks like, the oud is its cousin.

Both the lute and the oud have been around for thousands of years. Because of its lack of frets like most other stringed instruments have, the oud is played with lots of sliding and lots of vibrato on its strings. Most oud instruments have eleven stings.

The oud also comes in an electrical format which does not have the rounded hollow pear shaped body. This is what the electrical oud looks like.

This short video features Oud Music by Ali Hassan:

To listen to a longer song of oud music, watch this YouTube video featuring Abdel Wahab on the oud:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Saudi Weddings

I know you will enjoy reading these three posts by fellow bloggers Qusay, Nidal M, and Layla, who explain in detail about weddings in Saudi Arabia. Men and women in Saudi Arabia generally have gender segregated weddings, with separate events for men and women. Unfortunately you will never see what the woman's side of the wedding ever looks like. While Saudi women dress to the nines when they attend weddings, cameras are generally not allowed because the women inside are not properly covered. But trust me, the Saudi women go all out with expensive sexy ballgowns, heavy makeup, and glittering shoes and jewelry.

Qusay's post, called "Saudi Arabia Jeddah Weddings," talks about the wedding process and traditions, and also has a link to a wonderful wedding video (men only, of course) which features the music, the dancing, the joy, and a very handsome groom.

Nidal M's post, "Weddings in Saudi Arabia," has fabulous photos along with his charming commentary from various weddings he has photographed. You will be delighted when you view his photos. You'll gain an insight into a world that very few outsiders ever get the chance to see.

Layla of Blue Abaya recently wrote a very engaging, entertaining, and endearing minute-by-minute post about her first huge Saudi Wedding Extravaganza. I found myself laughing out loud at some of her descriptions of the evening's events.

I wrote a post quite a while ago describing "My 1st Saudi Wedding" I ever attended here. Of course, no two weddings are ever the same. Each one has its own uniqueness that the bride wishes to include in her special day.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Stroll Through Historical Jeddah

This is a lovely short video showing the oldest and historical part of Jeddah, called Al Balad. I'm sorry I wasn't able to participate in yesterday's tour this time because each time I go to Al Balad, there is always something new to learn and see.

I've posted previously about a similar "Tour of Al Balad" a couple of years ago that I was fortunate enough to take.

I also wrote this more detailed post called "Old Jeddah and the Al Balad District."