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FOTO/ Jeta në Arabinë Saudite. Nga puthjet me hundë te stolisjet e meshkujve me lule

Arkiva, Planet

Të vizitosh Arabinë Saudite është e vështirë, pasi vizat është e vështirë të merren dhe çiftet e pamartuara nuk lejohen të udhëtojnë.

Por fotografi francez Eric Lafforgue arriti me vështirësi të hyjë në Arabinë Saudite dhe të qendrojë 15 ditë.

Ai ka kryer një fotoreportazh duke sjellë disa prej zakoneve vendase, tejet të çuditshme.

Nga takimet hunë më hundë, te meshkujt që zbukurohen duke vendosur lule në kokë.

Shihni disa prej pamjeve tërheqëse dhe të çuditshme nga jeta në Arabinë Saudite/tema/


Facing the facts: Nose-kissing is how men greet each other in Saudi Arabia

This modern exterior at in a mall in Jeddah - the largest city in Makkah Province, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia - represents a different style, Mr Lafforgue said. Jeddah is considered the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia'Forget mingling with women in Saudi Arabia,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'The only ones you can chat with are the Somali girls like the one pictured. You won’t see them driving though as they are not allowed to'

Winging it: 'Falconry has been known in Arabia for thousands of years,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'Different abilities for hunting are traded in the region these days''This is a traditional adobe and brick house in Najran called a midmakh building.' explained Mr Lafforgue. 'They reflect the Yemeni influence in the province. The buildings are made up of several floors. The lowest level is for livestock. The next level is for human habitation, complete with small windows to keep out intruders and heat. As you go higher up the building, the windows get larger to let in more light and air. Some of these buildings are estimated to be several hundred years old. Fortunately, there seems to be considerable interest by some Najran residents to preserve their traditional homes - often modernizing them for current lifestyles.'

'If you find a door open, you can enter, have a seat and drink coffee or tea and eat dates,' Mr Lafforgue said. 'There is always someone, most of the time an Indian guy, there to welcome you. Of course, this hospitality rule does not work in the big cities, but in the little villages.' Lafforgue said that he drank litres of tea and coffee and ate kilos of dates

'It's a great experience to be in the Saudi desert during sunset,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'The temperature of the sand plummets a few seconds after the sun disappears. The tourism organizations do not want tourists to sleep in tents in the desert as it gets too cold' 

The mosque of Omar Ibn al-Khattab (pictured) is located in the town of Dawmat al-Jandal, a major intersection of ancient trade routes linking Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula, explained Mr Lafforgue. The mosque was built between 634 and 644 in stone. The Saud family is believed to have rebuilt the prayer hall in 1793. In 1975, buildings surrounding the minaret from the south and the west were demolished and the minaret and the mosque restored yet again

'The archaeological site of Al-Hijr (Madain Salih) was formerly known as Hegra,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'It is the largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans, south of Petra, in Jordan'

Mr Lafforgue said: 'Madain Saleh [pictured] features well-preserved monumental tombs with decorated facades dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. With its 111 monumental tombs, 94 of which are decorated, and water wells, the site is an outstanding example of the Nabataeans' culture that you can visit without any tourists'

'The An Nafud desert covers about 55,000 square kilometers (21,000 square miles) at an elevation of about 1,000 metres (3,280 feet),' said Mr Lafforgue. 'Longitudinal dunes, scores of kilometers in length and as much as 90 metres (295 feet) high and separated by valleys as much as 16kilometers (10 miles) wide characterize the An Nafud. Iron oxide gives the sand a red tint, particularly when the sun is low. Within the area are several watering places and winter rains bring up short-lived but succulent grasses that permit nomadic herding during the winter and spring'


Mr Lafforgue revealed: 'Many Saudis keep their old houses to visit on Friday or at festive times. They are happy to  welcome foreigners to show their cultural heritage'


'No, you’re not in a swiss chalet but under a tent in the desert,' explained Mr Lafforgue. 'Urban families love to stay a few days in the desert and welcome the foreigners'


'Every bedouin will offer you a taste of fresh camel milk,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'I must say that I did not want to drink it as I recalled the French president Mitterrand drinking some in Mauritania and having his face turn green. I hear it's delicious'


'Rijal Alma village is made almost entirely of stone,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'The whole village has been turned into a tourist attraction, with 50,000 visiting every year. Most of the people have left the old houses for easier access to water. Rijal Alma is located in the Tihama part of the Aseer (or Asir) Province. It is 45km (27 miles) west of the tourist city of Abha. It was the capital of the principality of Hala during the reign of Mossa al Kenani. The village is famous for the Assouda cable car that descends from the heights of Assouda Mountains to an area near the village'


'Old Jeddah is considered a cultural landmark,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'This is partly due to its unique architectural heritage that reflects the original identity of the Kingdom. Surrounded by walls, the old area had grown vertically through the ages. This area is also close to the sea and many terraces were built on building fronts to take advantage of the water views'


'Saudi Arabia has more than just desert,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'The Al Faifa mountains (pictured) are 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) high. They have become a place where many Saudi people from the coast come for fresh air'


'Al Hamra Open Air Museum is the largest open-air art gallery in the world,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'During the oil boom in the late 1970s and 80s, there was a focused civic effort at bringing art to Jeddah's public areas. As a result, Jeddah contains an unusually large number of modern open air sculptures and works of art. Sculptures include works by Arp, Cesar, Calder, Henry Moore, Joan Miró and Victor Vasarely. Subject matter is often elements of traditional Saudi culture. Islamic tradition prohibits the depiction of living creatures including humans'


Mr Lafforgue said: 'The Hijaz Railway, conceived as a convenient route to the holy cities of Medina and Makkah for Muslim pilgrims from the Turkish Ottoman Empire, had a short but eventful existence in the early years of the 20th century. The railway was built In May 1900, work began on the single track line almost 1,100 miles long from Damascus to Medina. Its strategic importance was recognized by the British in the First World War and a sabotage campaign was launched by Lawrence of Arabia and his Arab guerrillas. So successful were these raids on the railway that when the war ended in 1918 the Hijaz Railway was effectively destroyed, just 10 years after it opened. This picture was taken in Al Ula'


'The flower men live in Yemen and Saudi Arabia,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'This one has put some fragrant flowers and dried herbs on his head, and a cotton ribbon tied around to hold it all together. They still live in a very tribal way and do not like to meet foreigners. Meeting them in the souq of Al Farsha is a special time as you need a police escort and a lot of diplomacy to go in the area'


This is a house in Khamis Mushayt, Aseer area. 'Many of the modern houses are still brightly painted inside,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'This work is made by women and has become an art'


'The houses in Khamis Mushayt are made of mud,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'To protect it from the rain, people put some stones to let the water drain properly. The huge walls are the best way to keep the cool temperature in summer time. At the top, there is a terrace'


This picture shows Muslim shop owners from Indonesia in Abha Souk. Mr Lafforgue said: 'The city of Abha lies in the southwestern part of the Arabian peninsula. The region abounds in mountains, valleys and fertile plains. It has a generally moderate climate, heavy rainfall, green pasture and agricultural plateaus. Abha is engulfed by clouds and is surrounded by dense forests. To ancient Egyptians, this region was known as the land of spices and incense'


Mr Lafforgue said: 'The only way to reach Farasan Island is to ride on a boat for about one to two hours. The island is known thanks to the Ottoman architecture and the white sandy beaches where nobody swims. Locals just walk around. To be allowed to go to the island, I had to go through a security checkpoint like at FK airport. Papers to fill, passports to show, checking bags and clothes… I had to do the same when I left the island. I do not know what nefarious activity I might have gotten into on this coral island'


The old souk of Jeddah is the best place to see local traditions, like the making of the chicha for smokers, according to Mr Lafforgue


'Historic Jeddah presents a unique example of a comprehensive urban fabric reflecting the characteristics of the Red Sea Coast,' said Mr Lafforgue. 'It is similar to what you can find in Massawa, Eritrea or Suakin, Sudan - multiple floors and architectural detailing on its many storeys. The wooden screening and “Mashrabiyah” are the most characteristic. Nowadays, most of the buildings house Somali refugees, Yemenis and Pakistanis and are regularly flooded by the rains'


Mr Lafforgue described how in the Tihama Area near Yemen you still can see camels making sesame oil 'like in centuries past'. This is Far from the wealth from Riyad, he said


This image was taken during shopping time in the Najran souk, Mr Lafforgue said. He continued: 'In many parts of Saudi Arabia, it is believed that a woman's place is in the home, caring for her husband and the children. By contrast, in places like Jeddah, a town on the red sea, you can see a real difference. Women can share a table with men in the restaurant and even have a smoke'


In the Abha Souq, you can see what the women wear under their black dresses, said Mr Lafforgue

Camels are coveted in Saudi Arabia. Mr Lafforgue took this picture at a site in Abar Hima