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In the midst of confinement, Saudis are heading into the desert

With all international flights interrupted, and entertainment venues in the kingdom closed, residents and locals look to the wide open spaces of the desert as an escape from the sadness of a city at a standstill. The "Edge of the world" is drawing particular interest.

As of now, Saudi Arabia has officially recorded 118 cases of coronavirus, with no deaths. In response to the looming epidemic, the country has suspended inbound and outbound international flights, cancelled the Umrah (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca), confined the eastern Qatif region, home to many cases, and closed its entertainment and sports venues, and even restricted wedding ceremonies.

 

 

An escape from the city

This leaves room, as everywhere else in the world, for emptied out urban landscapes, and a palpable boredom within city dwellers. In all circumstances, the Saudi population seeks entertainment, this time by returning quite naturally to the “basics”: excursions in the desert.

End-of-the-world landscapes

Saudi tour guides are reporting a boom in demands for nature outings in the nation’s great outdoors. The “Edge of the World” draws particular interest, with its breathtaking views roughly two hours northwest of Riyadh.

Accessible by car, the 300 meters high gullies really give the impression of standing at the edge of the world (if it were flat). The excursion allows for ideal hiking and the discovery of an extraordinary landscape. Above all, it provides an escape from human proximity in times of enforced social distancing.