I was in the middle of my sweet dream when my alarm woke me up at 4:30 in the morning, although I still wanted to lie down a little bit and ignore my alarm clock. Then I realized today is the day that I would be visiting one of the most popular tourist’s places to see in Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia, the Al-Qarah Mountain.
For months, I’ve been inviting my friend and colleague to go with me to Al-Hasa to personally see some of its spectacular wonders, but failed. After several tries, I have finally convinced my friend and colleague from South Africa to go with me. Just like me, he likes to travel and explore new places.
Early in the morning on Saturday, my friend fetches me up in my home in Dhahran and began our journey, Al-Qarah mountain is located in Al-Hasa City, about 144 kilometers away from Dhahran or 1 and half hours drive by car.
We’re both excited to visit the place since it’s our first time to be there. Packed all our gadgets and filming equipment and we’re ready to go. Along the way, we had a quick stopped over on a road restaurant to buy something to eat. As a wanderer myself, road trip really fascinates me as it provides a new experience and places to see.
As we move on, I couldn’t help myself but mesmerized with the alluring beauty of the sprawling desert lands of Saudi Arabia. And wonder, how did this land was formed? How the ancient people survived in this arid land? Imagine living here before when there was still no technology. Saudis would have been very strong to withstand and live here back then.
Almost a century ago, Saudi Arabia was an impoverished country mainly relying on pilgrimage and livestock. Until oil was discovered in the 30s. Since then, Saudi Arabia transformed into one of the richest countries in the middle east and one of the biggest economies in the world. For almost a century, Saudi Arabia had been the major supplier of petroleum and oil products.
Meanwhile, as we’re approaching near to our destination, I began to see hilly and rocky mountains from afar and passed-by several towns and villages along the highway. We both don’t know the location, after a couple of turns left-and-right, and sneaking through narrow passages. Alas! we’ve finally reached our destination – the Al-Qarah Mountain.
But before getting into the actual site, the entrance is well-developed with a two storey building in front. The building serves as the reception. Inside, you would see children’s books/toys store, souvenir shop, café and offices of the Saudi Tourism Board. There is also a mosque nearby.
Prior to entering to Al-Qarah Mountain, a fifty SAR (50) entrance fee must be paid to the receptionist. Proceed to the second floor and have your ticket stamped by the security. It was too early when we got there and there was nobody was around yet. As we have planned it that way in order to take great footage and photos of the mountain.
The pathway is properly paved for better access, every few meters there are sound systems installed along the walls of the walkway. There are also comfy tables and chairs to sit down. Al-Qarah Mountain is completely unique to my sight, it is made out of sturdy rock formations common in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom.
While it’s popularly known as a mountain, Al-Qarah has passages and cave-like formations inside. The passages are big enough to accommodate a number of people at a time. As I went inside the cave, I was dumbfounded how solemn and tranquil experience it was. The passages are well lit with incandescent bulb every few meters, crevices on the top also make way for the natural sunlight’s peek through the small opening.
There are also nocturnal birds living in the comfort of the cave, as we explored further inside. The air and temperature are getting cooler as if I’m on a freezer. After several photo shoots and video footage taken, we’ve decided to get out and went back to the reception area.
While sitting on the chair, a gentleman from Saudi Friendship Board invited us to a small room to drink some Arabic coffee and try the best dates in the world. We’ve also watched a promotional video on why you should visit Al-Hasa City, the crown jewel of the Eastern Province.
Luckily, we’ve been introduced to the director of Saudi Friendship Board in Al-Hasah, a friendly, well-cultured man Mr. Hesham Al-Khateeb along with his young volunteers. Mr. Hesham promised us to be invited to come back to experience local cultures and visit some more tourist places in Al-Hasa City.
So, if you’re in Saudi Arabia especially living nearby the Eastern Province like me. And have been planning for a weekend getaway, then a visit to Al-Qarah Mountain perhaps is something that you should consider now. Seeing this majestic mountain is a unique experience. My friend and I are planning to go there again to have a full visit to other popular sites in Al-Hasa.
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The author is currently based in Saudi Arabia, the holiest land of Islam. He’s a full-time employee of the largest energy company in the world. He’s a graduate of Communication Management, loves to write and travel.