A country that’s full of surprises is on every adventurous traveller’s wishlist. And several young and expressive Saudi influencers have been instrumental in ramping up interest in the Kingdom after it joined the global travel marketplace.
Hessah Alajaji, who runs her own travel agency that takes domestic and international visitors on expeditions all over Saudi Arabia, is one of these explorers helping travellers discover Saudi gems. She has been inspiring locals and tourists with her jaw-dropping pictures of the country that remained a mystery to many for so long. The Riyadh-born and raised “adventurer and traveller across Saudi,” as she describes herself to her 60,000 plus followers on Instagram, showcases the numerous natural marvels in the Kingdom on her page.
Sea lovers will love Alajaji’s postcard-pretty images of the different Red Sea ocean fronted regions around the country, like Umluj in Tabuk. The small coastal town is in an area frequently referred to as the Maldives of Saudi Arabia as it’s close to over 100 small picturesque islands. As well as palm-covered spots with aquarium-like waters and white sands, including those around Jeddah, Yanbu and NEOM’s Sindalah Island, the King Saud University graduate helps others discover other natural wonders, like Hail’s magnificent mountains and Hutayma Volcanic Field and Jizan’s Faifa mountains. And, of course, magnificent sand dunes and desert adventures are a top feature, including Al Zulfi’s Al Mansaf Oasis.
Alajaji also delights culture vultures with the various hotspots they can add to their must-visit list. Whether it’s At-Turaif Historical District, one of the Kingdom’s oldest heritage sites located in Al Dir’iyah, or all the ancient ruins in AlUla, including Madain Saleh and Jabal Ithlib, she shows there are countless options. And as the voyager documents, a lot of these places have exciting new additions like AlUla’s Maraya Theatre, RV Canyon Park and hot air balloon festival.
All the amazing architecture found in the Kingdom also adds appeal to Alajaji’s page. From ancient colourful doorways in Khobar and Jeddah to houses in the port city’s historical Al Balad district, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the page is chock-full of charms. Plus, obviously, there are Mecca’s stunning mosques as well as its Clock Tower Museum. Riyadh, with its mud houses and abandoned Pigeon Towers, and Jizan’s Farasan are also home to some spectacular designs.
Growing up with parents who always focused on history, culture and heritage, it isn’t surprising the 34-year-old also loves to put the spotlight on Saudi arts and crafts, such as Al Sadu, an ancient Bedouin weaving craft in Saudi Arabia. Alajaji, who also zooms in on Saudi’s long tradition of hospitality, is associated with the Turquoise Mountain Trust. The organisation aims to sustain the handcraft heritage in Saudi Arabia, develop and conserve existing crafts and help craftspeople become entrepreneurs.
Alajaji’s Instagram story started while she explored her surroundings when she was studying for her master’s degree in Fine Arts at California’s Claremont Graduate University. Once back in Saudi Arabia, she felt like discovering her homeland, and after visiting Hail, she made the decision to regularly get to know different cities or areas and felt it was her duty to start sharing it all. The entrepreneur, who notes whatever services she experiences during her trips, has now become one of the most prominent figures in the Saudi travel and tourism industry.