I want to create a directory of different places and services around the Kingdom to guide explorers through the crevices of Saudi Arabia.
Born and raised in Riyadh, both of my parents were always interested in history, culture and heritage. From a very young age, my family would travel somewhere new during summer breaks, usually to a culturally and historically rich area where we’d soak into discovery, instilling in us a curiosity to see more of the world.
Initially, I wanted to get into interior design, but I ended up graduating from King Saud University with a bachelor’s in art education. After that, my family encouraged me to pursue my education abroad. I received my master’s degree in fine arts from Claremont Graduate University in California.
When I lived in California, I enjoyed taking long drives on the weekends to explore cities, villages and museums, searching for things that stood out of the ordinary in every nook and cranny.
Coming back to Saudi Arabia made me feel a little trapped at the time, and while working one day, a light bulb went on inside my head, leading me toward discovering the land in which I was born.
I decided that every month I was going to explore at least one new city or area, and it has led me to grow attached to my country. I hoped my journey could help those who visit it in the future. I began to travel, build relationships, discover new spots or forgotten places, and began sharing this information.
My journey on Instagram (@hessahalajaji) began back in the US. Some of my friends suggested sharing the places I’m visiting publicly.
Now, whatever services I experience during my trips, whether it’s a boat ride or a tour guide, I share information with my followers so that it can promote business.
My goal is to create a behavioral impact and get people to invest and explore these different cultures in the Kingdom.
I live by an overused quote: “Enjoy the journey, not the destination.” Even if things don’t go to plan, such as not covering certain areas, it gives me more incentive to return.
Every culture is important and worth keeping alive. I currently work with Turquoise Mountain Trust where we try to preserve the handcraft heritage in Saudi Arabia. The foundation also helps craftspeople to pursue their trade as entrepreneurs.