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Saudi Modern explorers

Saudi Modern explorers

Saudi Modern explorers

Magical Japan, photos taken by Saudi traveler and adventurer Fatema Abdulla.

By Nora Al-Taha
November 20th, 2020
Who lives sees much, but who travels sees more
Arabian Proverb

History has seen plenty of explorers travel to every corner in the world. Travel was once difficult, riddled with danger and unknowns. But today’s travelers can plan ahead, can share their adventures with a quick snap and post on social media. Here in this special spotlight, we meet a few of Saudi Arabia’s own collection of modern explorers…

Magical Japan, photos taken by Saudi traveler and adventurer Fatema Abdulla.
The Empty Quarter and the spirited Azza Al-Rashidi

The world is a vast place and snuggled between Africa and West Asia is the Empty Quarter, an expansive desert that stretches across Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Known in Arabic as Al-Rub‘ Al-Khali, the spacious lands are home to local tribes and visited by the brave who can muster enough courage to trek across it. 

Bucket lists usually go unfinished, forgotten about and probably filled with more wishful thinking than planning and doing. One specific bucket list did not go to waste—Saudi explorer, Azza Al-Rashidi, completed her journey across the Empty Quarter in 26 days.

Saudi Modern explorers
Saudi climber Raha Moharrak.

She was a curious child and became courageous as an adult. Her desire for adventure pushed her to join a team of explorers to learn about the Empty Quarter. An initiative by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, the Rakayib Caravan was assembled to explore the desert. Being the only female, Azza made her way to the cryptic sandy expanse equipped with training, a camel and a bag of anticipation. In 2019, the Rakayib Caravan set out from Ubar and ended their adventure at Yabreen.

Azza is nothing short of bold. She received a certificate of honor, a medal and a Rakayib Caravan medal. Her story revives our faith in difficult yet inspiring adventures. On opposite climates, cold mountains and a desert-born came face-to-face. In 2013, Saudi climber Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi woman to climb and reach the peak of Mount Everest, Earth’s highest mountain. Using her own words, she is “living curiously,” continuously radiating strength and inspiration to dreamers who believe in the impossible.

Explorers of the world

A Saudi wanderer who fell in love with Japanese culture and language, Fatema Abdulla is an inspiring adventurist who shares her love letter about magical Japan to the world. 

You can hear the birds chirping, the calm breeze rippling through your clothes. The sweet scent of cherry blossoms fills your senses and the sights of ancient beauty caresse your soul. 

However, you are not in Japan. You are scrolling through Fatema’s Instagram page. Every photo offers a breath of fresh air and an escape to majestic Tokyo—you are tagging along with her adventures throughout the city.

Magical Japan, photos taken by Saudi traveler and adventurer Fatema Abdulla.

Fatema is a modern-day explorer who set out to Japan in 2012 to discover the land where rich heritage and modern advancements come together. A fish out of the water, she resided in Japan for seven years and fully immersed herself in the culture. She soon excelled in the Japanese language and began helping tourists find their way and gained social media presence with her fantastic photography.

She studied in Japan before graduating from university, and her educational career did not stop there. She pursued learning Japanese in a Tokyo language school and then completed a master’s degree in Biotechnology Engineering. Being the go-getter she is, she became the first Saudi female to own a certified company in Tokyo. She established her own Hikari Store, a Japanese specialty store.

Fatema continued her career in project management in the animation industry, and progressed as a photographer and content creator at her leisure. Her love to share and create art and unique stories has grabbed the attention of the world. 

A curious explorer who is driven to meet to new people and try different food. Even though she prefers to wander on her own, she mentions, “I manage traveling groups in Japan 

and I found it super exciting to introduce new visitors to a place I’m very familiar with.” Her Instagram captions offer trilingual descriptions: Arabic and English, with a sprinkle of Japanese mixed in. She has realized the difference in interactions when she speaks the local's native language. 

Her Instagram captions offer trilingual descriptions: Arabic and English, with a sprinkle of Japanese mixed in. She has realized the difference in interactions when she speaks the local's native 

language. "People tend to be shy when they can’t speak English. Once you speak their language, they open up to get to know you and show you around. You will not be limited to city people—you get to meet older people in small towns who introduce you to the real [non-touristic] land and culture, offering a realistic understanding with locals who can change your perception about travel," she told Ithraeyat.

Magical Japan, photos taken by Saudi traveler and adventurerFatema Abdulla.
Magical Japan, photos taken by Saudi traveler and adventurerFatema Abdulla.

Throughout her globetrotting, she picked up a handful of tips and tricks. “Budgeting,” she shares, “Understand your financial limits with the place you are visiting. A quick search for the entrance fee, hotels and restaurants would be beneficial. Flexibility to change is needed, we may make mistakes and it’s important to correct them as soon as possible.” 

Her spirit shines when speaking about fellow female travelers who wish to travel solo but are too scared. “Nothing is scary nowadays—except for COVID-19—but otherwise, we live in a privileged world with access to the Internet, knowledge, and tourism services are everywhere and Saudi 

embassies are in almost any country you wish to visit. My advice is to do your research about the country, check for the safest districts and do the financial math. Travel light and visit bigger cities until you are confident in traveling more minute destinations.” 

Besides Japan, her travels across the world are documented through the unique photos she snaps and shares. Bahrain, Madrid, Paris, Istanbul, Fuji…countless locations inspire viewers to discover the place themselves. Fatema and many other curious explorers, who bridge cultures and understanding allow us to see the beauty in the world for what it really is—it is our diverse home.

Here are some other Saudi adventurers
Aziz Walks

When life gives you lemons, the saying goes, and in Aziz's case, he will make enough juice to quench the thirst of an entire village. His home is in the mountains—a zealous traveler who explores the outdoors and welcomes spontaneous journeys to new places. Aziz shares his adventures through photographs and captivating captions. He willingly quit his job to hike mountains around the Arabian Peninsula and see the world. His words will move you, his passion for keeping Mother Nature cared for is influential, and the knowledge of unique locations will inspire you. He has a zest for life and an audacious thrill for adventure.

Esraa Rayes

Esraa Rayes, a minimalist dreamer who indulges in life to the fullest. A Jeddah native, she quit her job and chased her dreams. Her destination was nowhere specific, but everywhere as well. She traveled to over 50 cities and villages around Saudi Arabia. She explores every corner in Saudi. Her Instagram feed is filled with green gems hidden around the desert and blue waters you’d love to dive into—from Tanomah to Ar Riyas and many other locations.

Abdullah Al-Jumah

Who better to explore and share the world than Saudi Arabia’s leading travel influencer Abdullah Al-Jumah. A traveler, writer and influencer, Abdullah has mastered the art of travel and continues to inspire others to try out the roads less traveled.

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