Saudis’ Haj vacation spent on shopping
JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR
Spending Haj vacation abroad has been an annual habit for many Saudi families for years now. Saudi travel agencies have recently issued a release saying the number of Saudis leaving traveling for Haj vacation is increasing. Saudis are not only flying to reach their destination, but are also using land transportation to reach there.
Dubai is the most attractive to Saudi travels thanks to their special offers and events provided to suit Saudi families.
“Us Saudis love shopping, and Dubai has issued lately that shopping centers are open for 24 hours a day, this is perfect for the whole family,” said Maram Abdoun, 21-year-old college student in Jeddah. “I can spend a whole day in Dubai mall for instance. It offers a lot other than shopping, there is the movie theater, great restaurants, the aquarium and other activities suitable for children,” she added.
Sultan Saleh, 47-year-old banker from Jeddah, owns an apartment in Cairo and is willing to spend his vacation there.
“Arab Spring had an impact on me visiting Egypt the last couple of years, now I think everything is settled and I am getting ready to fly my whole family to spend a week in the Egyptian street,” he said. “I am looking forward to Eid here as it reminds me of the old days when my father used to gather all of us to celebrate Eid away from Jeddah crowded streets,” he added.
Turkish soap operas had a great impact on stay-at-home mother Seba Abdulkader, who convinced her husband to take her and her children for this short vacation.
“I have been watching these TV series for years now, but we couldn’t afford to go so I told my husband that I am willing to give up my vacations until we can collect the money for it,” she said. “Now that we can, I am very excited to see the places I saw on TV in real life and have the real Turkish experience,” she added.
Amro Wajeed, 32-year-old banker, says it’s cheaper to travel than to rent a beach house or a res house in Jeddah.
“I decided to take my wife and children to Dubai after I tried calculating how much I will be spending this vacation on a rented beach house that goes up to SR 4,000 a night,” he said. “A room at a four-star or a three-star hotel in Dubai only cost me SR 700 a night, so I decided to go there and have a variety of things to do other than swimming at the beach,” he added.
According to Usama Rafie, a 38-year-old dentist, everything is expensive these days, even staying at home.
“I have been spending my whole salary on the first week on each month because first came Summer vacation then Ramadan and Eid then School then Rent and now this vacation, I don’t think I can handle giving my family anything now,” he said. “Even spending a day at the beach is expensive I think this year we’ll just enjoy family gatherings and stay at home,” he added.
Domestic traveling is an option for Abdullah Al-Mutairi, 29-year-old schoolteacher who is taking his family to Madain Saleh.
“I have always wondered about this location and I want to experience it with my family, so I’m taking my wife, son, parents and sisters to visit it,” he said. “I do these activities where I try to learn more about my country every once in a while, I sometimes recommend this to the school management to take the kids to experience the real Saudi Arabia and I think it is enriching and beneficial,” he added.
According to Nas Airlines, domestic fights in the two-week vacation goes up to 54 percent due to family gatherings. Flights to the UAE are up 0.73 percent, Egypt 8.99 percent, Beirut 5.4 percent, Sudan 7.165 percent and to Amman is 6.55 percent.