Sunday, 04 October 2015  -  20 Dhul-Hijjah 1436 H
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SCTA to launch free Taif-Souq Okaz trips

RIYADH – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in cooperation with Saudi Public Transport Company (Saptco) will launch free trips for tourists from Taif to the historic site of Souq Okaz starting July 14.
After the tremendous success of free sightseeing trips to Riyadh City’s landmarks in the recent past, the SCTA has announced the launch of similar trips but this time in Taif.
The free trips will be a prelude to the Souq Okaz Festival to be launched during the forthcoming tourism season, said an official speaking from SCTA’s Provincial Tourism Office in Taif.
As a prelude to the Souq Okaz Festival, the SCTA announced the launch of free tours from Taif City to the historic site of Souq Okaz, located some 40 km from Taif city.
The free trips, which will operate between 4.30 P.M. and 12 midnight daily for two weeks, will be organized by Taif Provincial Tourism Organization in coordination with Saptco, he said. The 50-seater bus service will take the tourists, both families and others, to different sites in Souq Okaz including the traditional bazaar, food court and a number of shops showcasing handicrafts.
“The festival will also showcase hundreds of old and new pictures of the traditional bazaar called Souq Okaz,” he added.
The shuttle service will start from Al-Aziziya station, located in Taif’s city center, and enable the residents and tourists to visit and enjoy the festival’s various events during the two-week long activities, he said.
A Saptco bus will leave the Al-Aziziya Bus Station at one-hour intervals and take the passengers to Souq Okaz, which is packed with a number of festival events. The travel time between the Taif City and Souq Okaz will be around 45 minutes. 
Dr. Mohammad Al-Saeed, Executive Director, Taif PTO, said the free tours are intended to help tourists travel to Souq Okaz conveniently.
The program is being organized under the directives of Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, SCTA President, who stressed the importance of providing all the necessary means to enable tourists to reach Souq Okaz. The free transport will also help to reduce traffic on the roads leading to the festival site, he said. “We anticipate that Souq Okaz will attract a large number of tourists this year,” he said.
Efforts have been underway to develop the historic Souq Okaz near Taif into a major Arab cultural center, similar to Carthage in Tunisia and Jarash in Jordan. – SG
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