We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Ecstatic ‘breathing festival’ for families in Al-Khawar orchards in the following article
Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - By Hassan Cheruppa
JEDDAH — It was an incredible and most enthralling trip to the picturesque Markaz Al-Khawar and Marwani Wadi Dam, around 100 km north east of Jeddah city, at the weekend. It was a real breathing out for families, especially women and children, during the current summer vacation and after the three-month long coronavirus lockdown. It indeed was an escape from the high temperature and hurly burly of city life in pursuit of the inner soul of nature in a fertile valley full of vegetation and springs, apart from the dam that stood out majestically. The trip was an epitome of the title of the current Saudi Summer Season Festival “Tanaffus” or breathe as they enjoyed fresh air and fresh water, with a virtual venting out of all the worries of the pandemic.
Though Al-Khawar means bellowing of cows, sheep and antelopes, the natives claim the name originates from Kharair, which means gurgle or purl of water that abounds in the fertile valley. Al-Khawar seems representing the rural agricultural nature of Hejaz, thriving with natural water resources, including a number of springs and Marwani, the Kingdom’s fifth largest dam, in addition to large orchards and abundant agricultural crops. Al-Khawar, considered one of the vital agricultural centers of Makkah region, is known for its greenery, nature’s beauty, abundant water springs, small waterfalls, plenty of palm and lemon farms, and black mountains.
Al-Khawar was famous for its large orchards and farms with wide variety of fruit catering to the needs of Khulais governorate and its adjacent regions. Saudi Gazette saw many Saudis and expatriates visiting these orchards and farms, especially that of Saeed Hashim Al-Sharif. They expressed joy and excitement in reaching out to this oasis of fruit and vegetables, saying that they gave them a big morale boost and fresh breathing that tend them to forget the bitter lockdown experiences.
A retired senior Civil Defense official Maj. Gen. Talal Hussain Al-Ghanemi said that he used to frequent orchards and farms in Al-Khawar thanks to the variety of fruit and vegetables. “Even though I own a farm in Osfan, I prefer to visit this wonderful place,” he said. Al-Ghanemi took his brother-in-law Muhammad Al-Mehmadi Al-Harbi, a secondary school teacher and his sons, Abdullah Talal and Muhammad Talal, during their latest trip from Jeddah. “This is a very beautiful place. We love nature and agriculture and used to spend weekend mainly in farms of Al-Khawar.”
Abdullah, a student of agriculture at King Abdulaziz University (KAU), told Saudi Gazette that it was an enthralling experience to have a direct exposure to the serene beauty of nature and its rich vegetation when visiting the farm of Al-Sharif. “My love of nature and fondness of agriculture gave me an inexplicable experience when I preferred to pursue university studies in agriculture. I feel that agriculture is in my blood,” he said.
Dr. Ismail Maritheri of KAU said that the trip to Al-Khawar farms was a fabulous experience as it gave a direct exposure to nature, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. “It was a real tanaffus for families, especially children, who are trapped within their concrete jungles with their outing to Al-Khawar, which means gurgle of water, during the unusual pandemic lockdown and gave fresh energy and enthusiasm as an invaluable takeaway from the weekend trip,” he said congratulating the Saudi authorities for organizing wide variety of programs to boost domestic tourism in the post-pandemic period.
Nasira Sulfiker, an Indian housewife, said that the trip to Al-Khawar, which is situated within the Sarawat Mountain ranges, was an awesome experience that helped relieve from the worries due to the inability to enjoy the current summer vacation in the beautiful Kerala village of Pothukallu, which is located in the valley of India’s Western Ghats, which has many features of Sarawat that runs parallel to the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula. “We had the same ecstatic feeling of being in our native village and the only difference is the lack of rain,” she said recalling the experience of being inundated in the devastating flood that struck their region during the summer vacation of 2019. Travel is a passion for the couple of Sulfiker and Nasira, who traveled many countries in the world, and ended their last whirlwind road trip covering the entire border regions of Saudi Arabia just before the lockdown.
Mustafa Peruvallur, who coordinated the trip, said many children were seen dancing with joy when they got an opportunity to have a direct exposure to a picturesque place outside their apartments. “Many families were overjoyed because of getting an opportunity to enjoy natural scenes, and had the nostalgic experience as if they were in a beautiful place in their homeland even in the midst of the Arabian desert,” said Abdullakutty Chettippadi, who joined the trip after coming from Jazan.
Saeed Hashim Al-Sharif’s typical farm gives visitors an enchanting experience of being in the midst of orchards with wide variety of fruit and vegetables grown thickly with uninterrupted supply of water from a well in the farm. It is a luxurious source of many fruit and vegetable including lemons, mangoes, citrus fruits, jack fruits, bananas, papayas, figs, lady’s finger, legumes, foliage, date palm trees, grass and leaves for livestock, apart from a goat farm. A round square with seating space has been erected under the shade of huge mango tree for picnickers for chatting and recreation.
Muhammad Ayesh Abdullah, a Yemeni caretaker of the farm for the last seven years, said that a large number of people, mainly families, are visiting the farm during the weekend immediately after lifting of the lockdown. Abdullah, who hails from Hudaidah, was seen enjoying feeding visitors with ripe jackfruit, a rarity of the farm.
Located 110 kilometers north of Makkah and 25 km from Al-Khulais city, Markaz Al-Khawar is one of the nine towns in the governorate of Khulais in the Makkah region. Spreading over 900 sq. km, Al-Khawar consists of more than 12 villages, including Al-Shaaba, Talah, Al-Ayidah, Reema, Melh, Al-Khaif, Al-Qadeemah, and Harrat Salman.
Al-Khawar, with a population of over 2,000, is distinguished by its location within the Sarawat Mountains which contain many minerals, including rocks with a high percentage of iron oxide reserve. It hosts several monuments and landmarks, including Marwani Dam, a mountaintop stone village, Bir Al-Sharif, Khulais National Park and three major springs — Ain Al-Khawar, Ain Mahjouba and Ain Abu Ajab. Marwani is the largest dam in the Makkah region. The dam was opened in 2010 at a cost of SR262 million after its construction work started in 2004. The dam has a height of 101 meters and width of 580 meters, with water storage capacity of 184 million cubic meters.
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