If you’re struggling to stay active during Ramadan, follow in the footsteps of MCC member and walking enthusiast Khalid Salman who has put together three easy-to-follow routes for our members to enjoy while they rediscover Riyadh
Finding ways to keep the family active during Ramadan can be a challenge. Yet it’s easy to overlook one of the best exercises available for your body, that’s free, always available and doesn’t require expensive equipment – walking. The Saudi government recommends 30 minutes a day as a minimum, starting with 10 minutes and increasing gradually.
Clearly temperatures outside can be a problem – no one wants heatstroke – but many walking groups organize strolls early in the morning or after 8pm to combat this issue, and the cooler temperatures we’re enjoying during Holy Month make exploring on two feet a great way to stay active with the whole family.
Riyadh resident and MCC member Khalid Salman, 26, is a keen walker who records his routes and favorite photos on his instagram page for others to follow, and is enthusiastic about the benefits.
“I discovered my passion for walking during lockdown when it was one of the only outings we could have,” he says. “Before then, I hadn’t realized how good walking was for my well being and how much I enjoyed it. It is one of the positive things I have taken with me from the lockdown period.”
Khalid says he tries to take a walk every day because it makes him feel so much better and can also be a social outing. “You can have good conversations with friends and family on a walk,” he says. “It can also be a good way to spend some time alone to self reflect, refresh your mind after a long day of work, or even listen to an interesting podcast. All this while getting some exercise at the same time.”
Riyadh has been designed with cars in mind, as Khalid points out, so finding suitable sidewalks can sometimes be difficult, but all is not lost. “This hasn’t stopped people as you always see them walking in neighborhood parks, open-air commercial centers, and shopping malls,” he says. “However, due to the metro system currently being developed in Riyadh, pedestrianized sidewalks have been on the rise in many parts of the city. This has resulted in the availability of longer and more interesting walking routes.
“The extreme heat in the summer is also a challenge, but Riyadh is a city that comes alive at night and most walking routes are very well lit.”
Khalid recommends buying good walking shoes and always carrying a bottle of water. “Keep your phone ready to get your bearings, pinpoint nice places you would like to return to, and take nice pictures,” he adds.
So what kind of sights are worth seeing on a walk – particularly in the city? “I regularly discover many places such as nice restaurants, shops, cafes and parks,” says Khalid. “I also pass by really interesting places and things which I normally wouldn’t notice in a car. For example buildings and artifacts with great architecture or historical significance. In a way, this makes me more familiar with my city.”
We asked Khalid to recommend three different walking routes: in the city, in nature and with historic interest. The routes here are from point-to-point – so you can choose to arrange a pick-up at the end, or turn around and retrace your steps for a longer walk. For more suggestions, go to his instagram page.
CITY SIGHTS WALK
Start point: Midtown (Prince Abbdulaziz Ibn Musaid Ibn Jalawi St). Walk via Tahlia street then Olaya road.
Finish point: King Fahad National Library.
Approximate time to complete: 40 minutes one way.
Difficulty: Easy. For a longer walk continue on Tahlia street to Takhassusi street then Prince Sultan street to end at King Fahad National Library.
- Shababik restaurant
- Roka restaurant
- Pattern concept store
- Sociale café
- Cafe Bateel café
- Centria Mall
- Mode Mall
- Harvey Nichols
- La Petite Maison restaurant
- Meraki restaurant
- Yauatcha restaurant
- Al Faisaliah hotel
- Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters
- Boss.co roasters
- King Fahad National Library
BACK TO NATURE WALK
Start point: Wadi Hanifa park
Finish point: Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz street overpass
Approximate time to complete: 45 minutes one way
Difficulty: The terrain is easy but it is mainly rocks and pebbles which have been smoothed out to create walking paths, so good walking shoes are a must. The route may be challenging for small children as there are some water canals with slight drops on either side, but older kids would really enjoy it. Watch out for stray dogs which appear sometimes, it is best to stay away from them.
- Desert trees of the Wadi such as the Vachellia Seyal which has a bright red bark and yellow flowers.
- The Wadi Hanifa Dam which is one of the oldest Dams of modern Saudi Arabia
- The Wadi Hanifa Dam Park Lake in which you often see different breeds of migrating birds stopping by
- Hedgehogs and harmless bats appear at night
FOOTSTEPS OF THE PAST – HISTORICAL WALK
Start point: King Abdulaziz Historical Center
Finish point: Al Masmak Palace via King Saud Road, then King Fahad Road
Approximate time to complete: 40 mins one way
Difficulty: An easy walk. The start and finish points have large squares that are mainly pedestrianized whilst the route that connects both points are sidewalks of busy roads with sufficient walking space.
- The National Museum of Saudi Arabia
- The National Museum Park
- Al Murabba Historical Palace
- Riyadh Water Tower
- Al Bakhira textile market (the old ‘ship’ building)
- Al Masmak Palace
- Souq al Thumairi
- Elixir Bunn Coffee Roasters
- Sweigah Market
- Souq Al Zel
- Antique Auction (Souq Al Zel) which operates in the late afternoon/early evening
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