T R AV E L T R E N D S
SAUDI NOMAD Backpackers on a Mission
Ibrahim Al Shaya
Creating a new breed of Saudi globetrotters By Jou Pabalate
Enter Saudi Nomad, a social enterprise on a mission to strengthen and promote the culture of backpacking among the Saudi youth. It was first conceived by Saif Al Qarawi and Ibrahim Al Shaya, who were later joined by a participant turned guide, Ibrahim Matsah. These young men recently graduated from KFUPM in Sharqiya, with bachelor degrees in software engineering.
40 DESTINATION JEDDAH JUNE 2018
"We started backpacking as students; on average, the uni provides around SR 800 as a stipend. We'd save some of it till we had enough for a trip. To make that budget work, you'll need to plan right â€“ prioritize your needs over your wants," said Al Shaya. Having a shared passion for backpacking, they decided to start Saudi Nomad to encourage people to look at traveling in a different light. They saw it as an opportunity for their peers to broaden their horizons and understanding of other cultures, while in a way re-introducing Saudis to the global community. "You learn so much about yourself when you get out of your comfort zone. You don't have to spend a fortune to go on an adventure," said Al Qarawi. There's a difference between having a passion and actually running a sustainable business based on it, though. The demarcation is not lost on these socialpreneurs.
STAFF PHOTO/ABDULRAHMAN AL BINALI
In the past, travel was considered a luxury reserved for the deep-pocketed. The thought of taking a trip to multiple destinations on a shoestring budget seemed like a far-fetched dream. Saudi travelers in particular have been stereotyped as opulent vacationers, often preferring the comfort of 5-star hotels and shopping adventures on Oxford Street or Champs Elysses. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the finer things in life, nowadays, adventurers can discover the world without breaking their bank accounts.
DJ Issue 113 - June 2018