My parents and I had a fantastic day full of surprises with Mr Ahmed's team in Hail. We were taken around the city of Hail by Majed in the morning and the city of Jubbah by Mammdoh in the afternoon. Both of them did a fantastic job.
At 9am we were picked up at our hotel. As with most tourist attractions in Saudi Arabia, the two historical moments, Arrif and Qishlah castles were closed to the public. But fortunately with Majed who works for the castles, we were able to enter. Majed speaks very good English. We learned about the history of the city and how it is protected by mountains on three sides and the two castle on the forth side. Next, we visited a market where people sell pigeons and rabbits for dinner and a coffee kettle workshop, for which Hail is famous. The last stop in the city was the Shammar Mountains, an important Islamic monument, where we enjoyed a panoramic view of the city.
Next, we were off to the city of Jubbah about an hour away with Mammdoh. Along the way we stopped by a small camel farm and had some fun riding them. My parents and I had never done that and it was a great experience. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visited the Naif Palace Museum. We were warmly welcomed as I guess Chinese visitors are indeed very rare there. Before we left we gifted a ¥10 Chinese banknote to their money collection.
After the museum, we came to the most important part of the tour: the Jubbah Rock Art. At the site, we saw various animals, humans, carriages and early Arabic writings. They were made by a number of civilisations on top of each other, the oldest of which as old as 12,000 years. Without a tour guide, it would be almost impossible to find the carvings. Mammdoh's English is not as good as Majed's but luckily we came across an English speaking family. While Mammdoh explained in Arabic, they interpreted for us. Before we headed back to Hail, we had a quick snack and drink stop, kindly paid for by Mammdoh.
The tour was supposed to finish at 5pm. But to our surprise a special cultural festival was on in the evening. Majed came back and offered to take us around. 'Hail Season' is an annual festival in its first year initiated by the government to attract visitors to the region. We listened to local music, tasted local food and browsed colourful handicrafts, all made by local Hail people. Majed bought us a potato dish known as 'timmon' and a straw hat as gift. We returned to the hotel at pm.
Both guides were extremely profesional, friendly and generous. I hight recommend.