24 July 2024

We arrived early afternoon in the city of Abha. Instead of staying in an hotel, we are staying in an aparthotel type of a place. It consists of dozens of self-contained apartments, with 1 double and 1 twin room. Christine and Graham, a Tasmanian couple are in the double while myself and Mark have our separate beds in the twin room. There’s even a lounge with sofas so we don’t have to sit on our beds to read.

This is the first city I’ve been in that feels authentically Arabic. It has no skyscrapers, at least I could see none, and lots of blocky almost art deco buildings in various shades of scruffiness.

I went out in the afternoon for a mooch around but everything is closed. It’s Saturday today; the Muslim Sunday. I did find an amazing coffeeshop with amazing blue tiles and had a latte and a croissant there. I was looking for an artistic quarter and museum but everything seems to be closed for renovation or not open until after after Asr, the call to prayer at 3.15pm.

By the way, the times of prayer in Saudi varies by date and location by about 30mins. Here are the names and dates of current Abha times:

FAJR – 5:15 AM
DHUHR – 12:06 PM
ASR – 3:15 PM
ISHA – 7:07 PM

Here’s some Wikipedia blurb about the place:

Abha (Arabic: أَبْهَا, ʾAbhā) is the capital of ‘Asir Region in Saudi Arabia, with a population of 1,093,705 as of 2021. It is situated 2,270 metres (7,450 feet) above sea level in the fertile Asir Mountains of south-western Saudi Arabia, near Asir National Park. Abha’s mild climate makes it a popular tourist destination for Saudis. Saudis also call the city the Bride of Mountain due to its position above the sea.

The city of Abha is composed of four quarters, the largest of which contains a fortress. Hilltop fortresses are a characteristic feature of the city. Shadda Palace, built in 1927, is now a museum displaying local handicrafts and household items. Other notable buildings in Abha include the Abha Great Mosque, the Al-Tahy restaurant, the Abha Palace Hotel, and the funpark next to Lake Sadd. The New Abha five-star hotel is a recent construction on the lake, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) southwest of the town. The head office and the main printing presses of Al Watan, a major Saudi daily, are in Abha.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abha?wprov=sfla1

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