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Hihome travel site aims to provide tourists with the authentic Saudi cultural experience
MAKKAH: What better way for tourists to experience the real authentic culture of the country they are visiting than by spending time with the locals, ideally in their homes, and participating in their daily traditional activities.
Hihome, an online platform created in 2019, aims to make this possible for visitors to Saudi Arabia, bridging the gap between tourists and locals. In addition to providing accommodation, hosts can also provide traditional activities for guests to experience and learn about local culture and heritage first hand.
These can include brewing traditional Saudi coffee, making one of the host’s special family recipes, crafting lessons, picking fruit from a farm or just spending time together listening to the stories. of a host on life in the Kingdom.
Noura Al-Saadoun, founder and managing director of Hihome, told Arab News that the philosophy of the service is based on the principle of investing in the Saudi people and their homes, as they provide an excellent entry point for visitors to learn more about the culture of the country and the wider region, and engage with its people.
She said the idea came to her after visiting several foreign countries that have similar platforms and seeing that the experiences they offer make a good impression on travelers. So when the Kingdom announced in 2019 that it was offering tourist visas for the first time, Al-Saadoun realized it was the perfect opportunity to launch a service that could introduce visitors to the beauty and diversity of the Kingdom by offering them an authentic Saudi experience. in the home of a local family.
She said there are currently more than 500 registered guests and hosts on the platform, and more than 80 registered experiences that have generated “wonderful feedback” from guests.
“What confirms this are the messages they send to us, which contain their photos and their opinions on the experience, and we are proud to publish these comments on our website to show how happy we are to provide them. welcome to one of our Hihome experiences,” says Al-Saadoun.
In his review, Stefaniic, a German tourist, said: “I thought I had been around the world, and I’ve been everywhere, but I haven’t been to Saudi Arabia. This is the first family home I have visited in this country, and I tell you what… I love it. People are so friendly, so kind. They are so generous. You must come here.
Another Hihome user, Mia from China, described her experience as “memorable days that cannot be forgotten”. She added that it was very interesting to visit a house in Riyadh, see all its decorations, designs and open spaces, and talk to the nice people there.
“The most beautiful thing is that communications between guests and hosts do not end with the experience…on the contrary, friendships are formed between them, through which an exchange of knowledge about different cultures takes place between the two parts,” she added.
The registration process is simple, Al-Saadoun said; hosts simply create a listing on the Hihome website that includes a description and photos of the experience and space, as well as the price.
The site team reviews all the listings and suggests any changes that might be needed, then it goes live. The site also offers hosting providers support and advice to help them develop and market their experiences.
“We were honored to welcome people from several countries, such as Germany, Japan, America, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, India, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Scotland, Singapore and Brazil, among others,” said Al-dit Saadoun.