Traveling for the young Saudi travel enthusiast Youssef Al-Sudais is a school from which he learns something new every day. Moreover, he shares his beautiful experiences with his followers on social media platforms where he is keen to engage on a daily basis.
Interviewer: Hala AlJurayed
Translated by: Ahmed Emarah
We met with Youssef Al-Sudais to tell us more about tourism in general, and tourism in Saudi Arabia in particular, and about his favorite experiences and the kind of advice he'd give to a tourist visiting the Kingdom for the first time.
Tell us about yourself?
I am from the region of Riyadh and see myself as someone dedicated to travel and tourism. Fortunately, due to my passion for travel I became a successful social media influencer. Eventually, I found my niche with this job and it turned out to be a profitable one.
How did it begin?
I love traveling since childhood. I like to study maps, andto know about the cultures of different countries. But my dream did not come true until I grew up and started traveling with my friends, accompanied by my camera of course, which stood witness to the places I did explore and share with my friends upon my return. After conquering the world of social media, these digital platforms gave me the chance to share my tourism experiences with a broader audience.
What's your first principle of travel?
In travel, we gain knowledge every day and with time we realize that being well-prepared is essential, as drastic situations arise and one endures missing flights, hotel bookings cancellations, or taxi unavailability, though travel arrangements have become nowadays much easier than before, thanks to smartphones. Also, there is no need to worry if one missed a flight, another is available just a click away, as well as hotels and cabs too.
Any tips for a tourist visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time?
On their first visit, many of my foreign friends asked for advice on the perfect Saudi Arabia itinerary for one week. My answer was: Impossible! For Saudi Arabia is a very large country, different and diverse in both geography and culture. To get an optimum experience, my one advice for all times would be to decide first on a well-chosen destination based on personal travel interests for a start. I mean that if you prefer nature, for example, I recommend visiting the southern region during the summer, whereas if you favor urban entertainment, restaurants, attractions and shopping malls, then my choice for you would be the city of Riyadh or Jeddah and such alike. And then follows arrangements regarding the order of the visit and the number of days.
With such great geographical diversity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which natural landscape is dearest to your heart?
This is a very difficult question, since Saudi Arabia is diverse, and every terrain has its own characteristic nature and exceptional beauty. The exquisite thing about Saudi Arabia is that each region varies in regard to food, dialect, clothes, customs, as well as nature, which is an added extra to this magnificent country. Plus, each is also blessed with a different trend of climate. For instance, you can travel by plane on an hour and a half flight from Riyadh to Abha, which is more like from 47 degrees to 15 degrees in high summer and get to enjoy an experience rarely found elsewhere in the world.
Are there any hidden gems in Saudi Arabia that you have unearthed personally?
I can't say I discovered specific areas, though I can claim placing them on the radar and calling attention to them, like when I toured the Tabuk region's many alluring places such as The valley of Ad-Disah (Locally known as Wadi Ad-Disah) and the Az-Zeita mountains as well as the caves carved in the mountains and Ras Ash-Sheikh Hameed, not to mention the beach, which is one of the most beautiful places I have visited, with its soft sands and crystal blue water.
What is your favorite digital platform?
I have accounts on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. I do interact on all of them on a daily basis. I tend to deal with each platform according to its orientation, for each has an audience and so I interrelate with every platform in a befitting way specific to its viewers. Snapchat, is a snap diary journalizing, and Instagram highlights the role of visual photo sharing, while Twitter is the official platform where information and content are available for the benefit of the tourist.
On your personal page on Instagram, your bio reads “a globetrotter, to travel is to live, I count my age by the days of my travels.” How would you describe your motto?
I have not changed my own motto since I first indulged in social media. It does represent the real me. The word “globetrotter” is related to my wanderlust self and reflects the role I play, being a tourist myself. As for the phrase “I count my age by the days of my travels,” I think that travel is the epitome of experiential learning, and every time I travel, I learn something new. For I meet people, absorb diverse cultures, acknowledge a different way of thinking as well as different perspectives, and learn the true power of acceptance. It is basically a never-ending learning experience. For me, traveling is my life and it's filled with valuable lessons that you can't learn by just sitting at home.
Tell us about your best tourist experiences in Saudi Arabia?
Well, the city of Ta'if (Locally known as At-Ta'if) is very beautiful, and I can say that my experience there was amazing, especially when I returned later to it 15 years after my first visit. I was stunned by the phenomenal change in the city, the diversity in places and the many activities that can be done in such a wonderful mountain area, for there is a flea market, rose factories and many others.
What is your favorite food from the different regions of Saudi Arabia?
Every region in the Kingdom has its renowned dishes, and I cannot choose just one particular dish. But what is making a hit nowadays in some Saudi restaurants is them presenting a dish that combines all delicious regional cuisines. That’s a very nice idea indeed. It lets foreign tourists sample various traditional Saudi dishes.
Have you thought about documenting your wanderlust journey in the world of travel through a book?
Every person has one talent or another, and for my part, mine is in expressionist photography and videography rather than in writing. These days, most people enjoy admiring images much more than reading. And what better way to evoke splendid scenic beauty than in posting amazing lively photos on social media!
-Travel is a school, and I learn something new every time.
-After conquering the world of social media, these digital platforms gave me the chance to share my tourism experiences with a broader audience.
-I recommend visiting the southern region during the summer, whereas if you favor urban entertainment, restaurants, attractions and shopping malls, then my choice for you would be the city of Riyadh or Jeddah and such alike