Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Along the Road from Jeddah to Yanbu

During our recent road trip from Jeddah to Yanbu for the annual Yanbu Flowers and Gardens Festival (CLICK HERE to see photos of the amazing event), we were treated to some very typical Saudi visual sights along the way.  The drive from Jeddah to Yanbu should take about three and a half hours, but sometimes it takes us as long as eight hours because we like to stop at the interesting sights along the way!

On this trip, desert vendors were out selling their wares in full force - and as it was the height of watermelon season, we saw many watermelon vendors setting up shop on the sides of the highway.

Some of the desert vendors have some pretty sweet set ups for their time out in the heat. Some had erected nearby tents for respite from the sun or to take a nap - some tents are even equipped with air conditioners!  A few had a grill where they could heat up water for tea or even barbecue their lunch if they were so inclined.  Almost all desert vendors are sure to bring along their carpets so they are more comfortable all those hours on the desert floor.  CLICK HERE to see more photos of the watermelon season in Saudi Arabia.

We also saw lots of sheep grazing in the rain fed patches of green, being tended to by shepherds.  Sheep are raised in Saudi Arabia to provide lamb, the most preferred meat for Muslim holidays.

Other desert vendors sold pottery or other items.  My husband likes to haggle with them about their asking prices - a talent he acquired growing up in Jeddah at a time when haggling was commonplace.

Then we started seeing the camel crossing signs.  I have to tell you, in all our drives along this road, this time we saw more camels along the freeway than any other time before.  I was in camel heaven!

We even saw a large herd of the more rare white camels.  It was pretty exciting to see so many white camels all at once like that.  And the baby camels were so cute!


I've heard some people say that the drive between Jeddah and Yanbu is boring and there's nothing to see.  I totally disagree!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Yanbu Flower Festival 2018

The 12th annual Yanbu Flowers and Gardens Festival is a spectacular event going on now through March 25th.  It is open daily from 4-11pm.  It's also open in the mornings to just walk around the gardens and pools, but the vendors are not there during the day.  Over the past three consecutive years that I have gone, it has just gotten bigger and better with each year.  The event is extremely well organized, managed and run, so I take my hat off to the Royal Commission for Yanbu for a job well done. 

This post has more photos than I usually post, but I had a hard time deciding between more than 1200 photos I took during our visit to Yanbu the weekend the festival opened.

There are two main entrances (like in the above photo) which are easy to spot.  Just follow the crowds!  I love the geometric grass designs in the abundant paved areas - and I love the lights at the top of the many palm trees all over the festival.

The mix of colors and variety of plantings, the hills and mounds of thousands of colorful flowers - it is all so visually stunning that it's clear to see all the time, effort, and expense put into this event.

The addition of water features the past couple of years has made a huge visual impact.  There are beautiful large pools of water, fountains, and streams over a large portion of the festival.

Children's activities and enjoyment hasn't been forgotten either.  A huge entertainment area is a welcome addition for lots of family fun.

There is also a lovely Garden Center where a large variety of flowering desert plants and shrubs can be purchased and learned about. 

This year the Recycling Exhibit featured huge fish made of plastic bottles, which were really cute and designed nicely.

All over the Flower Festival are various structures covered in flowers, like archways, buildings, columns, gazebos, and many other shapes.  There are walking paths everywhere, as well as beautiful water features like fountains, pools, and streams throughout the huge festival area.

A new added twist was the section where more than two dozen artists painted lovely colorful works of art, live in front of admiring festival goers.  The artists' paintings will be entered in a competition related to the participation of the Saudi team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. I hope this art competition will continue in years to come, as they were quite talented and their works were spectacular.

Even though the weekends at the event are quite crowded, the venue is very spacious and doesn't feel overcrowded.  There is also plenty of free parking for attendees.  Oh - and did I mention that the event itself extends free admission to all as well? Yup, it's free!

I love the palm trees everywhere as the backdrop for the colorful mounds of flowers.

This is one of the main entrances illuminated after dark - such a grand entrance.

There were many more vendors this year with many different items for sales - ranging from fresh flowers and stuffed animals to rose water and key chains.  There was even a lawn furniture area and gardening designs.

Plenty of spaces to sit and relax are available where one can enjoy the beautiful surroundings or people watching, plus a large area with picnic tables and an on sight mosque.  There are also plenty of nice new restrooms conveniently located throughout the festival as well.

The Food Court area is near the east entrance and pool area.  Walking on the bridges over the pools is a very popular choice for families to do together.

If you live in Saudi Arabia and have not yet attended the Yanbu Flowers and Gardens Festival, I highly recommend it.  It's one of the best festivals in the country.

"Hello!" from me, Susie of Arabia, at the Yanbu Flower Festival. Don't miss it!  Running now through March 25th.