We received the email from Waad Arif of MBC 1 on a Saturday. She was asking if she can feature us on a television report and can we send her our contact number. WHAT?!? I blinked a million times before re-reading the email. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. You see, a couple of months ago, we received a feedback that someone has been questioning our feature in one of the online articles that we were on. Why is The Pink Tarha featured?! Apparently, this someone thought it shouldn’t have been us. Uhuhhh. Why not?! I mean, we’re not into listing our achievements but seriously, why think that way against us? We are promoting positive vibes but someone was sending negative vibes to us. Wow! Haha! Despite knowing this, Reina and I shrugged off the issue, never commented back (until now that we mention it lol), left everything to God, and resumed our Pink Tarha ways. We were also kidding around that maybe we needed more features of us! Should we begin calling newspapers? Television channels? Magazines? Hahaha! Of course, we were just joking around. We didn’t know that the “television” part will really happen! It just goes to show that patience and faith work wonders! Something unexpected is always waiting around the bend of life.
We received Waad’s email on a Saturday, she called Sunday, we shot Monday, and the segment aired Friday. Easy breezy done just like that! We didn’t know it was that fast to shoot a television segment! Haha! We asked Waad why she chose The Pink Tarha and she said she’s known about the blog for a while now but it was her friends who are readers too who suggested the topic. (Thank you so much Waad’s friends!)
When Waad called us that Sunday, she asked us if we know of any adventures that we can do so that we’ll have a setting to shoot in. She suggested bowling and horseback riding but we weren’t that prepared for those kinds of adventures especially the horseback riding. The last time I went on an animal-back riding, it was in 2011 in the Philippines going up the trail to Taal Volcano’s crater on a donkey! Lol. Okay, on a small horse. And I didn’t know what I was doing. So I’d rather go bowling than have a video of me going all awkward on top of a horse. But even bowling is a bit awkward with me. Any sport actually. Reina is more game on these kinds of activities. Sooo… we were stumped. My heart applauded when Waad asked, “Do you know of Masmak Fort?” WHY YESSS! Hahaha!
Masmak Fort (Qasr Al Masmak) is one of the “tourist spots” of Riyadh. If you Google interesting, note-worthy places in Riyadh, this is probably one of the answers on top. But then again, it’s also one of the most underrated places in the city. We admit that even us, your supposed to be “guide” to the city of Riyadh, haven’t gone to the Masmak Fort. We just saw it every time we go to Dirah souk and would point at it, “oh that’s Masmak Fort” but never really went there and explored it. We found the interview with MBC 1 a good opportunity to brush up on the history of the place and learn more about it before the actual video shoot. Its history is pretty fascinating! (And yes, we memorized some of the details in case Waad asks us, haha!)
Al Masmak Fort is the most important piece of the history of Riyadh. This is as they say, “the birthplace of modern Saudi Arabia,” because this clay and mud-brick fort played a major role in the recapture of Riyadh on January 14, 1902. The fort was built by the prince of Riyadh, Abdulrahaman ibn Sulaiman ibn Dabaan in 1865 under the rule of Mohammed ibn Abdullah ibn Rasheed. It was recaptured by Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, in 1902 in an epic raid that is fit for an action movie! The fight for Riyadh in this fort was legendary! They said that King Abdulaziz engaged in hand-to-hand combat and his 40 men companions including his brother Muhammad bin Abdul-Rahman and his cousins Abdulaziz bin Musa-id bin Jiluwi and Abdallah bin Jiluwi also fought bravely alongside the then amir. The battle was so intense that we can still see remnants of it in the fort including an arrowhead lodged in the doorway that was left of a spear that was hurled at the fort’s main entrance door. This is the stuff of legends! After King Abdulaziz recaptured Riyadh, he used the Masmak Fort as the center of his government until 1938 when he moved to Murabba Palace.
The surrounding area of the citadel is undergoing renovations but the inside of the fort has been turned into a museum in 1995 by King Salman who was then the governor of Riyadh. Entrance is free. The walls and hallways are filled with art work, photographs and information panels that tell the history of the place. There are exhibits and galleries that carry photographs of Saudi Arabia dating from 1912 to 1937. There is also an audio-visual room showing a short movie of the storming of the fortress and the reunification of Saudi Arabia; almost like the film in the National Museum which is just nearby. There are artifacts from guns and other old weapons to lamps to coins encased in glass displays and cabinets. There are colorful maps and wooden windows with artwork. At the open courtyard is a well and a canon. There’s also a mosque inside. Reina and I tried our hands on pouring tea from a vintage pot and cup and grinding seeds on a vintage mortar and pestle in the museum’s diwan (living room). The museum’s administrator even showed us the proper way of doing it.
The Masmak Fort is also surrounded by interesting sights including the Grand Mosque, the Dirah Souk, and uh, the Chop-Chop Square (which is by no means interesting to be at if you know what we mean). The building of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is also just beside the fortress (and we’re not saying you should visit the muttawa’s building; it’s just there). Meters away is the Al-Thumairi Gate, one of the nine gates that once served as the entrance to the city.
The Masmak Castle is not just an ordinary tourist spot; it’s one of the kingdom’s most important historical landmark. The Masmak Fort evokes a palpable sense of the olden times of Saudi Arabia; we can feel the clashes and shouts of triumph in the air and the murmur of times gone by. It feels surreal and enlightening at the same time. This is a piece of preserved history and we are in it. You are not a Riyadhizen if you haven’t visited the Masmak Fort.
We shot some scenes inside the museum. We are grateful for this opportunity to show you how we do things in The Pink Tarha because honestly, this is it. We go to a place, learn more about it, take pictures, and show and share them to you. That’s what we do best. And this trip to the Masmak Fort captured what we do and what we are as your guide to Riyadh. This interview is one of the rare times that we actually wear a pink tarha (a pink veil) in public and why not? Literally, we are The Pink Tarha. Waad asked us why call it “The Pink Tarha” and you’ll find the answer on the video but in addition, the term “pink tarha” is not just a symbol for the veil but also for the feeling we leave and the lessons we impart to our readers. In the midst of black, dare to wear pink. In the midst of problems, struggles, and obstacles in our lives, we should continue to breathe and live positivity, to share positive vibes, and to not forget how far we have gone by remembering what others have done for us. Kindness and happiness are contagious! Share them!
At first, the Masmak Fort might be boring to some because it’s just a museum; it’s not the adventure that others might be looking for. But it turned out to be suitable for this interview because The Pink Tarha began in Riyadh, the same way that everything in Riyadh began at the Masmak Fort. Here is the segment aired in MBC In A Week on November 11, 2016. Reina and I weren’t able to catch it in the television because I was out on an event during that time and Reina just arrived home but turned out her cable didn’t carry MBC 1! Lol. Nagmadali pa man din syang umuwi! Waad sent us the video and we uploaded it in our Youtube (which contains most of the videos we did and the videos we are featured in).
Our hearts are filled with gratitude. Thank you very much to Waad Arif, reporter extra-ordinare, Ahmed the videographer and Yahya the all-around guy. You guys are amazing! Thank you to MBC In A Week for giving us this opportunity and chance to show others what The Pink Tarha is all about. Thank you to our families and friends for their never-ending support. And of course, thank you to you for reading The Pink Tarha. Wear your own version of the pink tarha and share positivity always. We love you.