A westerner’s journey through Saudi Arabia

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Time: 26 August, 2020

Alex Woodman embarked on a two-year expedition to experience Saudi Arabia, and his new book and accompanying documentary, “The Land of Adat,” marks his trek. (Screenshots)
  • Alex Woodman embarked on a two-year expedition to experience Saudi Arabia
  • His new book and accompanying documentary “The Land of Adat” marks his trek

LOS ANGELES: A university professor with a long-standing interest in the culture or “adat” of Saudi Arabia has produced a book chronicling his journey through the Kingdom.

Alex Woodman embarked on a two-year expedition to experience Saudi Arabia, and his new book and accompanying documentary, “The Land of Adat,” marks his trek.

“I don’t believe in sitting in another country and writing about another country is the way to do it,” Woodman said. “You know, you have to go there. You have to live with the people. You have to live the tradition to understand them.”

Inspired by the tawaf Hajj ritual, Woodman traveled counterclockwise around Saudi Arabia, beginning in the south, then traveling to eastern, central, and northwestern areas, and ending his journey in Madinah. At each stop, he was taken aback by the diversity of natural and manmade splendor.

“Each city, each village has its own beauty. I would highly recommend people to visit the Kingdom and see the hidden beauty.”

The main focus of his journey was to be immersed, to learn from the people he met, and introduce and educate the West about the importance of Saudi Arabia’s adat, which means tradition.

“Keeping adat in our human texture is very important because yes, we’re moving on, there’s a lot of technology, a lot of progress. But if we don’t learn from the past, then we cannot move to the future.”

And Saudi Arabia is moving into the future with its Vision 2030 reform plan, which is granting travelers like Woodman unprecedented access. Now, either through accounts like “Land of Adat” or by traveling in person, the world is seeing the country in a new way.

“I’m sure the world will see what Saudi Arabia can do,” Woodman added. “I want to quote one of the ambassadors that I recently met with. He said: ‘The world needs to learn from Saudi Arabia, not Saudi Arabia from the world.’”

This article was first published in Arab News

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