Author: saudibackpacker

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Something New a Day

It's not often you get told "You're a Two" without feeling offended. Luckily, in this case, it wasn't a scale based on my looks... I love learning new things or even re-trying things I've done before. During my 6-month trip through Asia last year, I made it my mission to say yes to most things and try something new every day, otherwise, I might regret not doing it. This was a pretty easy task since I was in a new country ever few weeks and there was so much new to me! I was in my element. I qualified as a PADI Advanced Scuba Diver, rode a scooter through mountains, zip-lined over steep drops, learnt new languages... the list goes on. Since being back in England, I've spent my time focusing on work — setting up my freelance graphic design business as well as launching this travel blog. I've had my head down with the plan to save enough money to get my to my next big adventure. I've pretty much put my life on hold (in the big scheme of things) and it's taken a lot longer than I expected. I keep telling myself "It's ok, it's an important time for me to figure out what I want in life". What I didn't realise is that I hadn't actually been enjoying life as much as I should be. I hadn't done anything for my personal wellbeing or pushed myself to learn something new. So when I recently heard about a personality test called the Enneagram Test (free to take), I thought it'd be good to try out. After all, I love learning, especially when it means I can use what I've learnt to grow as a person and improve my life. It turned out that I'm a Type 2; the Helper. I've spent my whole life helping people, trying to please people — detrimental to my own happiness without me realising. One quote I read was: "Spiritual growth will come to you when you can acknowledge your own needs" — Enneagram Explorations So I've decided to give myself a challenge: to try something new every day for a month. Ranging from big to small. #TrySomethingNew Rock climbing / bouldering Visit Stone Henge Create my own jewellery in Hackspace Try out a Zumba class Join in with a water aerobics class Learn how to Salsa dance Get my makeup done by a professional Hire a stylist Hike around Peak District Wakeboard in Holme Pierpont Get my nose pierced Carve a candle into something interesting Participate in a First Aid course Experiment with calligraphy Join in on a gallery tour/talk Make one item of clothing using a sewing machine Hire a scooter for the day in the UK Road trip through Europe Learn to dance to house Volunteer to help the homeless What's on your list? I'd love to hear suggestions so I can potentially add to my list! Comment below, Tweet me or email me.

My Top Instagram Accounts: Life in Arabia

Curious what life is like in Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Egypt? Here are a few of my favorite Instagram accounts that capture beautiful photos of people, landscapes and culture in the Middle East. I'll admit, the one area of the world my Instagram feed is lacking, is where I'm actually from, the Middle East. Having been brought up in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, it's no wonder that I rush off to somewhere new on the other side of the world when I get the chance to travel. For many people, it's not really an area on their bucket list. It may be because it's more of a lesser known area, less tourist-friendly or more dangerous (at least as portrayed by the media) than other countries. It's a shame because the Middle East has so much history, culture, art to offer tourists — and not to forget the delicious food and sweets! How could you resist? I've heard so many people say that they've been to Dubai so they don't need to go to any of the neighbouring countries. It's a great place to visit (for an expensive holiday), there's plenty of things to do and they do have cultural tours to cater for the culture vultures. But when only 16.5% of its population are local Emiratis, how can it be a true insight into the Middle East's beautiful culture? It's like going to Vegas and saying you don't need to visit the rest of the USA; both cities are tourism empires on steroids with a high concentration of five-star hotels. So if you want to see what real Arabia looks like, check out these accounts... Ahmad Mofeed Living in Amman, Jordan, Ahmad documents everyday life focusing on close-ups of people going about their day. For lovers of animals and street art from a Jordanian's point of view, this is a great account to follow. Maria's Photo Clicks Maria's photographs are absolutely stunning. She captures beautiful scenes of locals in their traditional wear along in great settings in Doha, Qatar. My favourite images are the dreamy desert photos featuring men and women in Arabian traditional wear. It's hard not to fall in love with a bit of sand and sky! Sayyed Fadel The Middle East isn't all desert and sand. Sayyed's feed shows him exploring the local markets (souqs) filled with sweets, fruit and seafood! Catch a glimpse of his home for some authentic Bahraini life shots. Asmaa Gamal Asmaa is a photojournalist who captures intimate moments in everyday Egyptian life. It's easy to get lost in her feed and you soon start to feel like you're on a private tour with her. Hopefully, once it gets safer there, this will be more of a possibility for tourists. Abdullah Wayil Saudi Arabia's plans for tourism are progressing slowly but unless you know someone who lives there, it's unlikely you'll be visiting anytime soon. Abdullah's account takes us through many scenes that only men are allowed access to, such as the mosque, so this is definitely one to follow. Amera Amera's gallery shows us another side of Saudi Arabia. She mainly photographs wildlife and landscape and here she shows us how the country is not true to the desert stereotype — who knew there were waterfalls and green mountains? Do you have any recommendations? I'm always looking for interesting accounts that show different sides of culture. Send me your suggestions to hello@saudibackpacker.com

What’s Behind My Name?

Why Saudi Backpacker? So, to give you a bit of background and a HUGE clue as to why I've called my blog Saudi Backpacker; well I'm half British and yes, you guessed it, half Saudi Arabian. I'm lucky enough to be from two extremely different cultures and as a result have always had an interest in understanding cultures. Whilst travelling in South East Asia earlier this year, I sadly noticed the lack of Arab backpackers. You'll be surprised at how many people said that myself and my friend were the first Saudis they had ever met. It shocked me at how little people knew of my culture so it became a pretty hot topic along my travels. Backpacking is quite an unusual activity within the Arab culture which is probably why most Arabs usually save up all year so they can go on a luxury holiday. I'm incredibly lucky enough to have a Saudi father who is very liberal and encourages me to travel; a sense of freedom a lot of Saudi women would only ever dream of. I hope my stories will encourage women (and men) to pack a bag and set off to explore the world. It's a lot less scary than you think! What about the Camel? Not only is the single-humped camel a beautiful symbol of Arabia, but camels are also the essence of long-distance travel as they can endure days in scorching hot deserts while carrying heavy cargo. They represent strength, endurance and protection and serve as a reminder to pace ourselves, and be mindful of our own energy levels. To me, a camel sums up the backpacking experience so poetically.