Debate: Modern Day Petroglyphs??

Petroglyphs are rock carvings made by incising directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammerstone, majority of the petroglyphs were carved from about 1300 through the late 1680s. We have found petroglyphs all around the world from Oceania to Africa, from Asia to North and Central America. They are a source for getting an insight into the lives of the ancient civilizations. This is how they used to write and communicate. With the advent of modern technology, we are going back in time and have started communicating in the same way. The emojis and emoticons are taking the place of words. We like to send messages in emojis and with every update of the software new emojis are being introduced.

Do you think we will lose our words and there will a time when the future civilizations will be doing research on our emojis, emoticons, and their meanings?

 

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A Unique experience

We got a chance to visit the historical city of Al Ula located to the North East of Saudi Arabia. It’s the house of UNESCO’s world heritage site “Medain Saleh”. We booked a tent hotel and I was very nervous about staying in the tent hotel for two nights. I had vague memories of my childhood and staying in the tents. It was a remote city of Pakistan where my dad who was a civil engineer and was seconded to the field and had to stay in the tents for a period of three months. My brave mom accompanied him with four kids. The tents were aesthetically placed in a way that there was a sitting area tent, a bedroom tent, and a bathroom tent and then there was an open play area for the kids. The tent opened to a beautiful and serene mountain, and this beauty brought its challenges with it. I remember the jitters we used to get in the early morning with the cows strangled to the ropes of the tents. I distinctly remember waking up to a fallen tent and being suffocated with the tent on top of us. The sudden halt of the car brought me back to real life and with all my doubts we got off the car. Wow! to my surprise it was a luxurious tent site amidst the tall sandstone structures of Al Ula.

Magical, truly magical they were five-star tents fitted with electricity, air conditioning, an attached bath, TV with satellite reception and the comfiest bed you can imagine. Decorated in the typical Arabian style. The doors and windows opened to the massive sandstone structures. A huge socializing tent and a big dining area. The tents were lined in an organized pattern with paths leading to the communal and the dining area. This setup was in the heart of tall mountains, it cuts you off from the outer world and you enter a mysterious land where the mountains are talking to you, where the mountains are the buildings around you, where the mountains are your friends during the day and they turn into humungous monsters during the night. It felt so intimidating that you are like small pebbles and stones in front of them so tiny and worthless.

Let’s take a photo journey to enjoy it more!!

Petroglyphs – Al Ula

Al Hijr or Madain Saleh is located 22 kilometers to the north-east of Al Ula municipality of the province Al Madina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at latitude 4726 north and longitude 5337 east, and it was called Al Hijr since the ancient times. It occupies a strategic position on the ancient trade route that links the southern Arabia, Mesopotamia, Levant, and Egypt.

Madain Saleh is an ancient pre-Islamic archeological site in Saudi Arabia. It was the land of Thamud in the Wadi Al Qura, “Valley of Villages”, lying between Madina and Tabuk. The site was mentioned in Torah (the old statement) of the Holy Bible, and the Holy Quran with reference to Prophet Saleh (PBUH).

In 2008, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed on Madain Saleh site to join the World Heritage List.

Nabataeans were the first inhabitants who settled in Madain Saleh, were the original builders of it. They had originated from the Arabian Peninsula. Historian Dedor Al Saqali states that, the Nabataeans were a nomadic shepherd tribe, who did not know the art of Agriculture and that their land was mostly rocky and rugged, unfit for a sedentary life.

 

We were all very excited to witness this historical place and got up early packed our stuff and set off for Madain Saleh archeological site. What a bummer!! There was a big bill board smiling at us:

“CLOSED FOR RENOVATION” hmmm! Better luck next time

Disappointed and angry, we set off to our next destination the site of petroglyphs, wow this might cheer everyone up. Saudi Arabia’s dazzling desert is brimming with records created by ancient artists on the sandstone cliffs. We went to three sites and all were replete with the remains of the mastery of that era’s artists. How amazing! It made me think that with the advent of modern day technology are we going back to that period of time??

The emoji’s and emoticons are the petroglyphs of the modern world.

 

 

4000Kms across Arabia, Day 1

 

Saudi Arabia is our home for the last 9 years. We love this country and the lovely and hospitable people of this enchanting Arabian land, but we have never explored this mystical land full of unique surprises. It has the Empty Quarter on one side and the beautiful beaches of the Red Sea and Arabian sea on the other side, it is full of explored and unexplored historical treasures and artifacts.

Whether it’s summer, spring or winter break we shoot out of Saudi as soon as the vacation starts. This year the spring break was different because we decided to explore the Arabian Penninsula. This country is rich in its diversity with vast deserts, lush valleys, massive sandstone mountain structures, enormous volcanic craters, hundreds of kilometers of volcanic rocks, never-ending lava tubes, volcanoes, and beautiful serene beaches.

The day of journey arrived and we set off to the first and the longest leg of our adventure. Dhahran to Buraydah is about 758 Kilometers. We stuffed our 4×4 and started our journey around 9:30 am. Stopped over for lunch in Riyadh ate at Nando’s, not knowing that this will be our last delicious and complete meal for the next 6 days. We reached Buraydah around 9:00 pm checked into the hotel and had a good night’s sleep with nightmares of being lost in the vast sandy deserts. I have to admit that this trip was the most pleasant trip I had ever taken to the desert. It was meticulously planned, each day unfolded into a unique landform, each day had it’s rest hours and meal times, which made it a memorable trip, and there was still a lot more to explore and I would love to go and do the same 4000km road trip again or a new adventure.

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This was the most exciting trip so far. Although I was really skeptical about taking the trip or not, my hubby had planned it with a group of his friends and whenever I talked about changing a day or even an hour he would yell and become angry.

It was a seven day and 4000 km long roller coaster ride.

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Look what we got as we set off to our journey. “Shamaal”, Yes it’s the sandstorm that is very common in Saudi. It was 02:30 pm in the afternoon and the visibility was very poor, and the storm was accompanying us until we reached Buraydah. Fortunately, it didn’t decide to be with us any longer.

First stop was the Historical Al Fayed City,

The Historical City of Fayd – A major pilgrimage road from Baghdad to Makkah, located halfway between Kufa and Makkah and close to the crossroads between one road going to Madina and another one leading to Makkah, the oasis of Fayd was at the most strategic location of the Darb Zubaydah(Pilgrim road from Kufa; Iraq to Makkah).

In 1327 CE (727 AH) the renowned Arab explorer Ibn Battuta visited Fayd, and in his words:

“We are in the fortified town of Fayd, a large fortress in a simple land. It is surrounded by a wall and the Arabs live there along with the pilgrim’s thanks to the trade. The pilgrims leave some of their belongings there when they arrive from Iraq on their way to Makkah when they come back they collect them. Fayd is half way from to Baghdad, and from there to Kufa, it is a twelve-day march on a good road and they are thankful for the water in the cisterns”.

There is a beautiful modern building in close proximity to the ruins of Fayed city and it provides a contrasting view of the past and present architecture. By the time we came out of the ruins, our tummy’s were rumbling. Thanks to our team leader who is very fond of eating in the middle of nowhere, we found a shade of two trees right in the middle of the desert, luckily we had some pre-prepared food ready for eating. By now I had known that this is what is going to happen every day during lunch. When I was packing for this trip my hubby very conveniently said that don’t pack any food item we will buy food from there. I can definitely eat some sand kebabs and sand bread here or the other option is to have breakfast and then dinner and keep listening to the roaring of the hungry lion within you. The marvels of the modern world, fueling stations are equipped with life-saving baqqalas (food mart), they sell everything from clothes to pots to canned food, fresh fruit and, vegetables.

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Found some shade for lunch, we brought some packed lunch and it was the most delicious meal with miles and miles of wilderness.

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We got some visitors, a smiling camel as if it wanted to say that I have plenty of food here, this melon looking fruit is rich in water and provides energy and essential nutrients for the camels. They have to go long distances in the desert without food and water.

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Off to Hutaimah Crater!

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Hutaimah is a huge crater that encompasses an area of 2780 square kilometers in the northeastern Najd region (Brown, 1960). Peridotite nodules can be found around this crater. I had a mission, the moment I got off the car my eyes were glued to the ground in search of peridot. I had to look up a couple of times when hubby insisted to smile for a picture. But all of the peridots are taken already other explorer’s wives are laden with peridot necklaces and bracelets and I have no peridot to wear, a pretty sad ending of an exciting day.

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We had an Arabian food feast at one of the Fueling stations, the food was good or we were really hungry after roaming in the craters and ruins.IMG_6818

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story continued …….. Day 2

 

Being a part of the change!

Summer 2018 brought a few changes around my world

A big change in the lives of Saudi women. The Saudi gals had been denied this basic right since the 70’s. There were a lot of women activists who were working day and night to get this right for all the women.

“A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everybody else.”

They were allowed to drive in Saudi after almost four decades. It brought a new hope and happiness in their lives. We as expat women were happy for them as well as for ourselves. It’s been almost a decade that I have thought of taking the wheel and driving around the streets. It happened a number of times and everytime out of sheer frustration when I was trying to reach somewhere and had to wait for either the cab or the driver. It was a big moment and the days of waiting and waiting were over.

Summer 2018,  brought another breath of fresh air for the land of sand, it was the opening of cinemas in the Kingdom. Cinema is an integral part of a society for shaping the cultures and traditions of a nation by being aware of the softer side of the other cultures. There were cinemas in the country three decades ago so there is a whole generation that didn’t see the face of cinema. Riyadh, the capital of the kingdom, got the glory of screening the movies. Getting a movie ticket during the first few months was like entering into a war zone and emerging out with a victory. Forget the online booking. We went to Riyadh to see “Avengers:Infinity wars”. All shows were full so we ended up watching Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom”. After spending 9 years in the kingdom and taking a lot of trips to Bahrain to watch a movie or two, it was going to be a new experience it felt strange as if something is not right.

IMG_0282IMG_0277 We were going to be a part of another big change the Election 2018 in Pakistan. This election held a special place in the hearts and minds of my country men. This was about to bring a little ray of hope after four decades of darkness. The corrupt politicians have made the life of comman man really miserable. If you take a closer look at our society there are only two groups there is a ruling elite and a swarm of poverty stricken masses nothing in the middle no bourgeois. This created disparity the biggest nutrient to feed and grow the flower of corruption with an attitude make hay while the sun shines, so everyone became a benefeciary of this system and this corrupt system flourished and reached its peak. Stars only appear when it’s dark and it was about time for the stars of hope to shine brightly. Everyone was excited and I could see this as a big event bigger than any other celebration. This had never happend before, just a couple of mad people were known to go and cast their votes. This year young adults were overjoyed that they are eligibe to vote, the old were gathering all their energies to be able to vote and the little ones were playing merrily with chants and slogans of change. This was the biggest change and I was witnessing it around.IMG_1010

I drove and watched cinema in Saudi and then voted for the social, political and economic change in Pakistan. I hope these changing times bring positivity in the attitudes of people and betterment in their social and economic condition. Being a part of the change made me think that whatever you dont have becomes your biggest happiness. For some happiness is the necessecities of life like getting a morsel of bread and for others it’s the luxuries of life. This is how human lives and communities are divided. I hope some change can bridge this gap and bring harmony in this world.

I’d Rather Be …

I’d Rather Be…

I’d rather be walking this bridge and heading to the mountains and be lost in nature get acquainted with the winding paths and the gigantic mountains. It’s the vastness and expanse of nature that engulfs you in it’s myterious attraction. These rickety bridges are a regular feature throughout the Northern areas of Pakistan. These are the only means of crossing the speeding rivers and streams coming from the melt glaciers. It’s a beautiful experience when you are one with the nature.

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Face in the crowd

Community events are the best places to spot a face in the crowd, everyone is busy doing their stuff and then there is one person daydreaming or is indulged with his own self. I love the fact that there is a doll face in front and back both.

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I had a chance to go to this art show and some people are so involved with the paintings that they are transported into the painting and are unaware of their surroundings.

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