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Al Janadriyah Festival is the major Heritage & Culture Festival held in the Kingdom. It is an annual event that takes place in outskirts of Riyadh. The event is being held every year since 1985. Normally the festival is scheduled in February every year but this time around it is shifted to December. The festival will run for 3 weeks and will conclude on 9th January 2019.

Host

Each year a country is invited to be the guest of honor at the Al Janadriyah Festival. This year the guest of honor is Indonesia. They have set up a stage and promote Indonesian culture. For details watch the following video.

Ticket

There is no entry fee. The event is completely free to attend.

Timing

Al Janadriyah Festival timing is from 11 AM to 11 PM daily, except Friday. For Friday, the timing is from 2 PM to 12 AM.

Parking

There is a lot of parking space available. If you reach by 4 PM, there will be ample parking available. However after 6 PM finding parking can be very difficult. We reached there around 6 PM on Saturday and had to search for parking for half an hour. It was so crowded and once you inside, you will get to know why. It is such a festive event at large scale that people from all over the kingdom come to attend this.

However, be sure that you park in the designated parking area. The management is very vigilant and any wrongly parked car is towed and placed somewhere else. You will also have to pay a fine if the car is towed.

Transportation

You can either go by your car or you can take a bus from designated locations. We know 2 of the locations. One is IKEA parking, Exit 17 and the other one is Granada Mall parking, Exit 9.

Activities

The event is full of fun activities & information about the culture of different parts of Saudi Arabia and many neighboring countries. Few of the main attractions are follow:

Defense Department Exhibition

Defence Department has set up a huge gallery. Ranging from helicopters to armored vehicles, from shooting range to different activities for kids. There is also a zip line and crossing on ropes between different towers for kids.

Shooting Range

A very cool shooting range has been set up. You can get in line and get to target practice with real gun (and off course fake bullets). The lines was pretty long so it may take up to an hour depending on rush for you to have your turn. But it is open for both men and women.

Food

Most of the restaurants have set up their stalls. There is a large variety of food available. We had Rice and stir fried chicken from an Indian Restaurant, Spice. But it is better to explore before settling for a particular food. There are burgers, shawarmas, cuisines from many countries, crepes, homemade food and much more.

Arts & Handicrafts

All major cities in Kingdom and some neighbouring countries have their designated space. They show the craftsmanship by the local people. You can visit and buy stuff also. Some of the people are building stuff at the festival too, like the bike in the gallery.

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Today first phase for Hajj 2018 booking in Saudi Arabia has started. Unlike past years, the Hajj booking process has been divided into two phases. This is a new and improved process that will facilitate greatly in booking of Hajj packages from Saudi Arabia.

This time around, in first phase till 13 July, 2018 people can shortlist different Hajj packages as per their needs. They will also be able to add all the details related to them and the dependents travelling with them for Hajj. The first phase is only for comparing and shortlisting the Hajj operators. The payments for the Hajj package will only be done in second phase, that will start from 14 or 15 July, 2018.

For phase 1, go to Hajj 2018 Portal and select city & package type to continue. It will display all the operators available.

You can view all the details of the operators and can also shortlist Hajj operators depending on your needs. The search can be narrowed by price range, Hajj operator, camp category, means to transport (bus or train), female pilgrim without Mahram & for accessibility for disabilities.

If you like any Hajj package, click on the “Add to wish list” button. It will ask for Iqama number & date of birth. This information will be used in future to see the selected packages by clicking “My Wishlist” in the menu bar.

Once information is entered, press Submit. After it will ask for the mobile number. Enter the mobile number and you are done.

If you are travelling with any dependent you can also update their information. You can add multiple packages and compare them. Just remember as this is the first phase, you will only be able to shortlist the operators. This does not guarantee the booking at this time, that will be done in the phase two.

You can compare different packages in the following image.

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It’s been almost four years since we came to Kingdom and have been trying to taste different Arabic food. Lately we searched online and Assaraya Turkish Restaurant caught our eyes, so we decided to taste their food. Accept Doner Kabab, we have not eaten any Turkish Cuisine before so we were very excited.

We reached Assaraya just before Isha prayer. The outside building was lit with beautiful lights, giving the restaurant a very elegant look. The inside area is big enough to cater many families at one time. As we were two people, the waiter took us to a relatively small cabin with four chairs. To be honest, for four people, this cabin seems extra small. As we were only two so we settled pretty well. All cabins have curtains so if you like privacy, use them. We were told that order will be taken after Isha Prayer. Right after prayer, we placed order and within ten minutes, it was on the table.

Click to view slideshow.

Food:
First we were served with this minced meat bread. It was for 7 SAR. The minced meat tasted good but it was a little overwhelmed by the tomatoes they cooked with the meat. As I am not a fan of tomatoes, it seemed to overpower meat flavor. Yes, when you order meat bread, you want to taste meat. But, overall it tastes fine. Bread was soft and meat was cooked nicely.

Mined meat bread, 7 SAR

We really loved this chicken cooked in sauce, dish. The chicken was first barbequed and then put into tomato and onion sauce. The clay pot made it extra hot and enhanced all the flavors. Although I said earlier, I am not a fan of tomatoes but this dish cooked with tomatoes tasted so delicious that it surprised me. My mind was telling it is not going to taste good but the taste was amazing. The grilled chicken was tender and juicy and although sauce was a bit runny but tasted so gooood!!! This curry was priced at 27 SAR.

If you like spicy food as we do, always tell them to make it extra spicy. The gravy with extra added special green chilies boosted the flavors because we know Arabic food is not very spicy itself so extra chilies work best for us Asians .

Oh and how can I forget this long bread? This Turkish bread is their specialty and I think everyone must order it. It was almost 2 foot long. The sesame seeds and Nigella Seeds (known as Kalonji) heightened the taste of this soft chewy bread. We had it mostly with gravy but this bread is also good on its own and only for 2 SAR.

We could not even eat full, so we got it packed and enjoyed next day at home.

Menu of Assaraya restaurant is huge. You can order plenty of seafood, meat and chicken dishes. We have plans to try out their Shawarma platter which sounded delicious and obviously some dessert, next time.

Have a look on their detailed menu in pics!

Click to view slideshow.

Drinks:
They don’t have much to offer on drinks side, only some juices and sodas and just one Arabic drink. Although we wanted to try some Turkish drinks as we were having Turkish food, but unfortunately, not many options. So, we ordered Pomegranate Juice. The larger size was for 8 SAR. The quantity was so good as compared to other juice houses at this price. It was freshly made, nice and cold and no added sugars.

Pomegranate Juice

Service:
The service was quick! Food was delicious and I find rates very reasonable. All in all, nice experience!

Parking:
The parking is available at front of the restaurant but that depends on the time you are visiting.

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Hey guys! Today I am up with a food review of IHOP! A place where you can enjoy all day breakfast! Actually IHOP is not only about breakfast but yes, they are mainly about breakfast. Last week we decided to try their breakfast menu so, on weekend we went to IHOP branch in Rubeen Plaza. If many of you don’t know about Rubeen Plaza, check its location here.

IHOP – Table for 2

This place is quite busy most of the times. You would see so many people enjoying outside as there are many cafes and restaurants. Outdoor sitting area is spacious and at one place, you get so many options for food. But ladies, no shopping options! Sorry!!!

Click to view slideshow.

The ambiance at IHOP was great. Very nice, comfy and vibrant environment! Service was quick and very efficient staff. We ordered a lunch deal which included cheesy beef burger with fries and choices of soft drink/iced tea. You can also choose one side from Caesar salad or garlic bread. It was for 35 SAR.

Lunch Deal – Burgers & Fries Lunch Deal – Garlic Bread

We also ordered breakfast platter which also includes a stack of French toasts (you can choose between Oreo, Strawberry and Apple Toffee French toasts). It was for 49 SAR.

Breakfast Platter – Apple Toffee French Toast

The Lunch deal was pretty nice. The buns looked specially made in bakery. They were not very soft but had a nice texture that keeps you full. Beef petty was thick and juicy. Fries were crunchy but needed a little bit of seasoning. The garlic bread was crispy and so flavorful. Just the right amount of garlic! Really loved it.

Syrup for Pan Cakes & French Toast

The ice tea was of classic flavor and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had a strong punch of flavor with lots of ice, I really liked it. Good for these summary days.

Classic Ice Tea

The breakfast platter was just fine, not something you would like to order next time! The potato hash brown was good though and I loved it. The sausages were nice and juicy. But bacon was not crispy as it should be and platter was a little oilier than expected.

Breakfast Platter

Loved the apple toffee French toast! The bread slices were very nice and thick, not so soft, not too dry. The little bits of toffee with caramelized sour apples and whipped cream definitely made our day.

French Toast Menu

But if you want to save sweet for the end like we do, while ordering do tell them to bring French toast or pan cakes at end because they were brining the order one by one and as we forgot to mention that so melting cream on top of delicious hot French toasts made us eat them first, even though we wanted to save them for last.
Overall nice place to have breakfast once in a while.

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If you are planning a trip to Jubail and looking for one of the best hotels in Jubail, I would highly recommend Lavona Inn, if you are on a budget. A couple of weeks before, we enjoyed our stay there and it was a great experience. We made our bookings through Booking.com after seeing good reviews online. The rating of this hotel is 9.2, sound pretty nice!!! The cost was  212 SAR per day inclusive of all taxes and breakfast.

The entrance and lounge is welcoming and spacious. The reception was available 24/7 and helpful staff made trip nicer.

Our room was very neat and clean. Bedding was white and room gave a luxurious vibe. We felt pretty comfortable there. Furniture looked new and cozy and AC was working great.

The washroom was also spacious and clean. Toiletries and other essentials were provided.

They also provided us with complimentary water, coffee and tea, even if complimentary things are small; they put a smile on your face. Don’t they? :P.

Buffet breakfast is what that is making me book again for our next trip. After spending late hours on beach, you don’t want to get up and search places to have breakfast, at least we don’t. So, we had already taken the deal with breakfast buffet and it turned out great. They served juices, different cheeses, fruits, breads, muffins, cakes, cereals, coffee, tea, Arabic gravies, eggs and some other stuff. Their serving area is big enough to cater 8-10 families and it was very neat. Greatly enjoyed breakfast!!!

The only negative is they don’t have underground parking. The only where you can park is in front of the hotel which is a place for 8-10 cars. The staff is very cooperative so when we were not able to park at front first, as soon as the place got available, we were informed and we parked in front of the hotel.

It just took us 25 minutes to go to Fanateer Beach from the hotel. Seems far but we don’t mind driving this much to reach beach as we had a good deal with hotel but if you do, you can always book hotels near beach.

Using this referral link, if you create an account , and make a booking and complete your stay, you will get a $15 cash back in your account and so do we. This..

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Hey ladies, Yesterday I got a chance to attend Women Skills Bureau event in California Resort, Riyadh. Women Skills Bureau, known as WSB is a platform that provides opportunities to inspire and empower women coming of all nationalities in Riyadh. WSB provides career guidance, tools and skills to empower women so that they can excel in their respective career choices.

This is my first time that I attended this event as it is once a year event, organized under the logo of ‘Found and Be Found’. I got information about this event online as I wanted to engage myself in some fruitful activities. So, I signed up for this event a week before and got an online confirmation to attend. The ticket to the event was 50 SR with free food and beverages. The payment of the ticket was done at the event. If you are also interested in winning prizes, you can also buy tickets at raffle station. I bought 5 tickets for 25 SR but unfortunately could not win. The raffle draw happened at the end of the event.

The aim of WSB is actually Found and Be Found. So it offers opportunities to different entrepreneurs who want to advertise themselves by the word of mouth and aim to bring their products and services to the attention of the people living in Riyadh. In addition to it, if you are looking for some jobs or volunteer work, you can find plenty of opportunities here at WSB. The exhibitor tables were available for 150 SR only. Bring the brochures, business cards, your artistic work, and your products at the exhibitor table and tell people about it all by yourself. It is a great opportunity to get good clientele for your business.

As I did not have any product or service to offer myself so I went there as an attendee to see what type of opportunities are available for women in this event. As it was my first time, so I had no idea how WSB works so it ended up becoming a great learning experience.

I talked to the German School exhibitors. The German School representative told me that if people want to admit kids to the German School, they can as seats are available and they welcome all kids as they necessarily don’t have to speak German. They teach them German and then kids study German Curriculum at the school.

As an expat, I asked American School representatives that how expat women can access jobs in the schools and what their criteria was. The lady explained it very well that how the system works and how English Language Courses are important for resume if you are not a native speaker and especially work experience matters a lot.

GlowCard is an amazing find for me at WSB. You can get your card online valid up to a year, here at https://www.glowcard.net. If you get the card you can get discounts from 10% to 50% on different brands like Sephora, Gymboree, Escada, Paris Hilton, hotels and restaurants, fitness centers, salons, cafes and medical centers. If you subscribe, they will call you and you can ask for information as much as you want.

Haya Tours and Horizon Tours were also present at the event to showcase their travel portfolios. Both companies offer tours to different historical and archeological places in Hail, Riyadh and other cities including activities like hiking and camping.

You could also get a chance to find your perfect homes at WSB as representatives of Arizona Golf Resort and Darraq were also there. You can find a perfect home in these resorts. Darraq portfolio is pretty amazing and you can check this link for more information.

If you are looking for volunteer work, at WSB you have a chance. ‘Feed The Need’ is a great opportunity where you can sponsor fridge, donate food or make financial contributions as individual, business or supermarket. For more info, go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/feedtheneedksa

KONGA Fitness routine performed by Move Fitness centre was nice and also saw few fitness training centers showcasing at the event.

Get goodies bags!!

You also get a chance to receive free products from different brands like I got this beautiful gift bag from Avalon Pharma.

Negatives:

All in all a great experience but it could be more organized as when Sally Kennedy (WSB founder) was giving speech, could not hear her properly as microphones were not working well.

Positives:

If you are an entrepreneur and want to get your work recognize from people locally, prepare yourself for the next year WSB and if you are looking for some volunteer work or jobs, it is also a place for you. If you are not interested in both, it is still a good event once a year to meet people and get to know kingdom better than before. Having information is always a powerful tool.

  • The atmosphere at WSB was great. People were very interactive and open. You can easily ask questions about joining WSB as volunteer or any other queries you have.
  • You get to meet new people and have a chance to make friends in such events.
  • Mostly the products are offered here are made locally so you get a chance to see the local touch of the kingdom.
  • You can join WSB for volunteer work or get a sneak peek in the upcoming events, register at their website and be notified. The WSB website is https://www.wsbksa.com
  • It was an open event where Abayas inside the resort were not mandatory.
  • The tour of the California resort was also offered at the end of the event but I had to go so did not get the chance to see the resort which also had a condo and golf course.

I must say it is a great event and offers good socializing opportunities for women in Riyadh!!

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This time for our stay in Makkah we chose Makaram umul Qura hotel in Makkah as we went there for Umrah. It was recommended by a friend. It is located on Ajyad street. We booked this hotel from Booking.com. It has 7.5 rating on Booking.com and after watching pictures online, it looked pretty nice. When you enter the hotel, it has this spacious feel to it. It looks very neat and tidy.

The hotel was 280 SAR for two nights for a twin room. I think it was 350 SAR but reduced down to 280 SAR after getting some Genius discount at Booking.com as we usually make our bookings there.

Room:

The rooms are pretty nice in size and furniture looks almost new. The beds were well made and very clean. The cotton sheets were white and stain free. The blankets were thick and cozy. Air conditioner was working fine. The overall décor of the room showed a good taste.

All the lights in the room were yellow which I am not a fan of and lighting seemed a little less than I want because it gave the room a nightly effect even in the day.

There was also kettle and cups and tea/coffee packs if you want to have some. The cupboard was very spacious. The hotel also provided iron with a stand placed in the cupboard.

Bathroom kind of kills the mood of the room!!!

The bathroom was not the best feature of the hotel. It did not have any smell and it was completely clean but the floors look worn off. The room looks new but in comparison washroom looked old and discolored.

The Bus Service is amazing:

The bus service is amazing and one of the best features of this hotel. It is free of cost. This could probably be the main reason why people would want to choose it again. The reception told us that bus service to Haram will be available 24 hours and it actually did. Every time when we came down from our rooms to go to Haram, the bus was always there.

The same thing happened with the pickup point when we returned from Haram. We never had to hurry to catch bus for returning back to hotel. Whenever we go to the pickup point, it was there. The pickup and drop off point is on almost 5-6 minutes’ walk from Haram near Saptco Station.

Lobby:

The hotel lobby is spacious. The décor is beautiful and calming. There are two snack shops and one craft shop inside hotel lobby if you want to buy something. I had a glass of fresh orange juice from a shop in hotel for 3 SAR. After a busy day, coming back to hotel, while sitting in peaceful lobby with a cold glass of juice was very refreshing.

Beautiful lobby decor’

All in all, it was a good hotel but definitely bathrooms should be improved.

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If you are looking for buying plants and thinking about decorating your garden or patio, Sultan Gardens is a beautiful place to pay a visit. By road side you must have seen so many nurseries that sell different types of indoor and outdoor plants which are pretty nice but Sultan Gardens is a place that offers much more. You can find outdoor decorating furniture, indoor and outdoor plants, big flowing fountains, huge vases, pots and so much cool stuff that can help you decorate your gardens, lounges and hallways.

Outdoor Plants and Flowers area:

As you enter the property, you are encountered with huge pots and vases for planting and decorating your gardens. I have not seen such big pots anywhere in Riyadh yet. The quality looks great but a bit pricey but still worth it.

The outdoor area is pretty big and you find a good quantity of outdoor plants and flowers. The area has been decorated very well to welcome the customers.

Look at these big pots and vases!!! Aren’t they beautiful?

The big trees look so eye catching!!

They have huge variety of these flower beds for outdoor setting.

Hanging flower baskets! Pretty nice!!
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Many of you might not be aware that there is an excellent taxi service working in KSA which is not only budget friendly but also a very convenient service to travel in city and it is called UBER. It is an application that you can download for Android & Apple smart phones. From the app one can order a ride sitting at home with convince & ease.

Uber is working in Saudi Arabia for quite some time but as these taxis are like private cars and don’t have any logos so you may not have known about them.

Why Uber is much better than local taxis?

Actually for quite some time, I was trying to give this ride service app a try in Kingdom, as I have heard many good reviews about it. So, when I had to travel to King Khalid International Airport Riyadh, I placed order on my app for Uber car. Within 4 minutes exactly, the car was at our door and the driver called us immediately to inform that he is here. When we settled our luggage in, we hop in and the driver started the ride. The best thing is the Uber driver starts the ride when you sit in the car.

Uber Taxi Service

Uber is much cheaper than normal taxi!!

Previously we had to pay 50 SAR for a ride on a local taxi from Exit 6 to King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh but with Uber we paid only 30 SAR. For returning back home from airport (as you may know, you always pay more from airport to back home, do not know the exact reason though) anyways, we used to pay 70 to 75 SAR, but with Uber we paid only 52 SAR last night, which is pretty amazing for us.

3 Different options for choosing cars for travel with Uber:

Uber App gives you 3 different options for choosing cars to pick you up according to number of people and luxury and a certain rate window is mentioned right away for each car option. Following screen shots are self explanatory.

Professional Drivers:

The Drivers are well behaved and professional. But if you don’t like how they behaved or drive you can always rate them accordingly.

The good things about Uber are:

  1. You do not have to negotiate for a price, before booking you already know what you are paying for.
  2. Rates are extremely affordable.
  3. You can order a ride sitting at your couch like ordering a pizza.
  4. You get more professional service.
  5. You feel like you are travelling in your own car.

High end customer service:

The customer service at Uber is great. With our last ride, this little thing happened. Our driver drove well but mid way; he started using his cell phone and watched video while driving. This seemed very unprofessional to us so when the ride finished, we rated the driver and commented on his profile that he was using cell phone. The Uber Customer Service looked into the issue immediately and within an hour; they refund us with credit in our Uber App as compensation which we can use with our next ride.

Our refunded cash in our account by Uber

Although we complained Uber just to ensure a better experience for others as it is everybody’s responsibility to give an honest rating and we were also not looking for reimbursement of payment but we highly appreciate the Uber Customer Service for their prompt response with full refund.

Where else you get such quick customer service…!!!

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In pursuit of Vision 2030, Saudi Arab has launched some reforms effective from 1st January, 2018. One of them include decreasing subsidy on Electricity, thus increasing the price substantially.

Earlier the electricity tariff was divided into 5 slabs for all consumers (residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, government)

  1. For 1 to 2000 units, per unit cost was 5 halalas
  2. For 2001 to 4000 units, per unit cost was 10 halalas
  3. For 4001 to 6000 units, per unit cost was 20 halalas
  4. For 6001 to 8000 units, per unit cost was 30 halalas
Old Electricity Tariff

In the new tariff, that is being applicable from 1st January 2018, there are now only 2 slabs

New Electricity Tariff for Residential & Commercial Consumers
  1. From 1 to 6000 units, per unit cost will be 18 halalas for residential consumers
  2. For more than 6000 units, per unit cost will be 30 halalas for residential consumers

With the increase in electricity tariff, the total electricity bill for the residential consumers will be very high. Earlier if you used 1000 units, it would have cost only 50 SR plus the meter reading charges (usually 15 SR). So the total bill would have been around 65 SR. With the new tariff in effect from 1st January 2018, 1000 units of electricity will now cost 180 SR plus 15 SR for meter reading charges. The grand total with the new tariff will be 195 SR. An effective increase of 200% in the electricity bill.

New Tariff – Bill Calculation

The more units someone consumes, will have a bit less but still very significant, effect on their monthly electricity bill. But the most effected consumers will be the ones who consume less than 2000 units, as for them, there will be an increase of 260% in the electricity tariff.

The meter reading charges have not been changed and will remain the same as it were earlier.

Electricity – Breaker Capacity Meter Reading Charges
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