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Everything posted by mhfares

  1. http://www.arabnews....26/saudi-arabia The news announced few days ago show the location of the proposed "entertainment city" to be north of Al qidiya and covers an area of 334 sq. km. Preliminary sketches I looked at suggest that many of the camel trails will be within the proposed city along with Faisal point except for camel trail 1 (the proposed location is to the right of Makkah highway going down the escarpment when heading west ) .. I don't share the enthusiasms of many over such mega project because of potential adverse effects on the landscape and beauty of this place.
  2. Absolutely .. Geocaching in Saudi would have been in hibernation if it wasn't for me N u. mhfares
  3. M&Ms, Thank you. You certainly know what interests me BTW, I have just logged my 22nd find here in the UK (mainly in the beautiful Yorkshire Moors) .. quite a contrast from the Tuwaiq mountain range. mhfares
  4. It's been almost three years now since I looked at the "statistical" behavior of geocaching activity in Saudi (see here). The number of caches has not increased by much since then (only 26 caches up from last time) but in neighboring UAE there is a surge of caches taking place especially in the last few months alone. Now that the number of caches is close to the number we had in Saudi three years ago (123) I will try here to compare the geocaching behavior of UAE versus those in Saudi. Pic1: Occurrence over time The spikes in the above picture show the caches hidden in the UAE over time. The activity was almost in hibernation up until 2007 when suddenly an influx of caches started to appear. Why is that ? Pic2: shows the total number of caches hidden versus total score (Difficulty + Terrain) for both UAE (left, blue) and Saudi (right, purple) Both curves can probably be fitted with a normal (Gaussian) distribution function. While Saudi shows two well defined peaks at 4 & 4.5 where a large number of caches are hidden (41 caches or 33.3%), the UAE on the other hand is more spread out and less concentrated. In particular there are many caches on the lower side of the scale (48caches or 40% of caches in UAE at ratings of 3.5 or less compared to only 26 caches or 21% for Saudi). Also note the extreme caches at 8.5 and above for the UAE (3 caches or 2.5%; these are the desert challenge series). Now If we look at the two ratings individually we get the following pics: Pic3: The above picture shows the Difficulty rating for UAE (diamond) versus Saudi (square). The two curves are strikingly similar indicating that we tend to rate our caches very similarly on the difficulty scale. Both scales peak at 2 and decrease as expected as we go down the scale. Like I observed before, the difficulty rating of 2 stands out and looks to be a special number that we like to associate with when judging difficulty of caches hidden in both UAE & Saudi. It constitutes 41% of all caches hidden in UAE & Saudi (with Saudi more prominent). So if you run into a cache in either Saudi or UAE then there is a very good chance that the difficulty will be two stars. Pic4: The above picture shows the Terrain rating for UAE (diamond) versus Saudi (square). Unlike Difficulty which is more concentrated at one value, Terrain on the other hand is more spread out indicating that we like to try all types of topography. UAE however shows more caches hidden in the lower end of the scale – easier land - (42 caches or 35% of all caches for UAE are rated 1.5 and lower for terrain compared to only 22 caches or 18% for Saudi). This is because many of the caches in UAE are hidden in-city while in Saudi most caches are off town. Are UAE geocachers more lazy compared to those in Saudi, or is the general atmosphere in Dubai more friendly & welcoming than its counterpart in Riyadh for example? One can make all sorts of speculations … Pic5: Cross plot Like before, I will fill the above table with data for the two main attributes hoping to see a correlation at the 45 degree line. In an ideal world, I would associate high rating of terrain with lower rating of difficulty (hard to reach area with easy to find treasure) or low rating of terrain with high rating of difficulty (easy to reach area but hard to find treasure). This would correspond to quadrants 2 & 3 on the picture above. Quadrant 1 would correspond to beginner's caches while quadrant 4 is for the extreme caches. Pic6: The world however, is not that perfect, and so we have the scatter shown above. First plot is for Saudi and the second is for UAE. The numbers are scattered along the vertical line of Difficulty 2. This is the magical number that we observed earlier. UAE data look more sparse compared to Saudi. Quadrants 1 & 3 seem more packed for Saudi compared to UAE (beginners to mediocre) with some pairs in the 4th harsh quadrant. Quadrant 2 seems less crowded in Saudi compared to UAE. This is because of the more of the low terrain ratings but hard to find caches (e.g., nanos and alike) falling here due to in-city caches of the UAE. Final notes: The geocaching activities for the two places reflect the characteristics of the setters and their surroundings. There are more in-city caches in UAE (with the abundance of small size containers) and it shows up with the large number of caches on the lower end of the terrain spectrum. Most of the cache sites in Saudi are concentrated around Riyadh area reflecting the whereabouts of the setters while in UAE the caches are more spread out. UAE geocaching is becoming more organized and focused and the players are probably more aware of each other compared to Saudi where about 74% of the caches are hidden by only 3 setters. Like I pointed before, we may be looking at the hiding characteristics of those three individuals for Saudi rather than a large aggregate of teams like in UAE. This may explain the sparse data points on the cross plot for the UAE data as it tries to fill more area on the table compared to the less sparse Saudi data. A sign of the increase activities by UAE cachers is the special caching events that are taking place there. More diverse TB/Geocoins are moving around between caches and out of the country (deserves another look). I expect to see this increase in number of UAE caches continuing till it surpasses that of Saudi. Happy geocaching.
  5. Happy Holidays to all. We will come cincol .. set the caches and we will come.
  6. The two cards I dropped in GeoPost Bahrain last Thursday are now in Hong Kong en route to their destinations; Virginia and Montreal .. will see how long it takes getting there.
  7. We now have one GPO in Bahrain; probably the first in the Middle East. Check it out here.
  8. Size doesn’t matter .. or does it ? I remember hiding the first physical cache in Qatar (Qatar-1) .. good to see it’s no longer alone. On another note, I was reading this line by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho in his book The Zahir and it sounded as if he was referring to us, geocachers: “The taste of things recovered is the sweetest honey we will ever know” .. think about it.
  9. I’m interested too, GeoCRAT. Why not give it a Gulfy character.. this way it’ll be appealing to more cachers in the whole gulf countries rather than to UAE only. I may order 5 or 6 considering the design but if it’s more Gulfy type, I may order 10 or more, depending on design..
  10. M&Ms .. what a nice surprise. (Miss your hides and those were really good ones in very special places). Drive through caches .. that term should be added to the glossary of GC site. We don’t have any of those here in Saudi (except may be for The Garage and Trog SAH-1 and AlKhobar Cornish - if it still exists- ). I too find an important part of the game is the cache surroundings and the joy I get while there at the site experiencing the geography and history of the place .. sometimes even spending the whole day/night at the place. For some and with new comers to the game I think it’s only imperative that we’ll see more hides close to or within city limit. We have to be prepared for those .. though they may not be our best. Well said .. but take a note: What I’m advocating here is more cache hides, not necessarily more drive through caches.
  11. Probably so. While the small number we have now makes the geocaching experience perhaps more personal and close encounter, I still like to see more caches than there are now – especially outside city limits. Couldn’t agree any more. It’s almost like doing it again – so that will multiply the number of caches then
  12. I am surprised, though, that Saudi has more caches than the UAE. Geocaching started early in Saudi before any of the other gulf states. The first cache in Saudi that is still active today was placed in April 2001 … only few months after the launch of Geocaching website (Sept. 2000). In the Emirates, the first cache that is still active today was placed more than a year later (in Nov. 2002). 26 caches have been placed in Saudi during that first year alone which gave it a head start in the game not to mention the enthusiasm of early geocachers. Four years later (April. 2006) there were only 11 caches in the UAE while there were 116 caches in Saudi. Then things picked up quickly for the UAE and the curve for cache hides has gone steeper since then while it stayed steady for Saudi. Since April 2006, there were 52 more new cache hides in UAE while only 25 in Saudi. Active caches, as of today: Saudi 141 UAE 63 Oman 25 (some are common with UAE) Qatar 25 Kuwait 17 Bahrain 6 That is a total of 277 caches spread across an area of more than 2.4 million square km. By comparison, a 100 miles search radius around the city of Los Angeles reveals 15049 caches .. long way to go.
  13. Who knows … Actually, the 142nd cache is by my dear friend flydad who came all the way from Virginia to cache in Saudi. Here is a brief look at his trip: http://saudicacher.blogspot.com/2007/05/th...ears-later.html
  14. He’s more than welcome. I like his Ghutra (head cover). A dhub should probably show him the way on those nicely colored dunes. Well done.
  15. Here is mine: http://saudicacher.blogspot.com/
  16. There are two main roads from Riyadh to The Summan desert. One starts on Riyadh-Dammam hwy going east and turns north to Rumah passing by Shaw’yah before reaching Rafi’ah. The other road goes north passing by AlToqi and Hafr Alatch. Both are roughly of the same length and you can travel on one and come back using the other to close the loop (~600-650km). If you are traveling on one of the above routes and don’t want to go inside the Summan, you can take the short cut through the Dahna dunes. It’s a dirt road parallel to the newly constructed power line and will save you around 100km. You can drive at 85km/h on this dirt road. It intersects the Shaw’yah road on the east at N 26 27.265 E 47 12.255 and the Tenhat road on the west at: N 26 13.202 E 46 36.717 Here is a sketch illustrating the above: http://image59.webshots.com/759/6/57/82/27...78qsFZZG_ph.jpg I learned about this short cut from meskhat site and traveled it myself.
  17. Did you know you could use Google earth to monitor your track in real time while hitting the trail, even if you are not actually connected to the net. I read this in a post in mekshat, here is how: Connect your GPSr to your laptop, start GPS TrackMaker and click on Garmin interface and then click on PVT data for real time navigation. Start google earth from the new window that will pop up. A red circle will appear in google earth that shows your location as you move around. This will prove to be particularly useful for those who do not have maps on their GPS units but even those with maps will find it interesting as well. Say you want to visit edge of the world. Before hitting the trail, bring up Google earth on your laptop and zoom in on the area you plan to visit, say Acacia valley. This way you don’t need any internet connection later when traveling on the trail. Take your laptop with you and go caching. When you arrive at the start of your wadi, connect your GPS to your laptop and do the above. I use GPS TrackMaker but there are other programs that do the interfacing with google earth. Thanks to the folks (Majellan and Mostekshef) at Mekshat for their insightful posts. Here is their post with pics.
  18. http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/download.php?Number=669946 Above is a KML file of a track I used in my last visit to the place. I thought it might help those who are new to the area. The track starts about 2.5km from the main road that goes to Sadus. The track is about 27km from the beginning to the edge of the escarpment. Off course you could navigate the acacia wadi easily to get there but for those who want to follow their GPS, here is one way of getting there. Once you open the file, it will show you, in google earth, the track I followed recently to get there. You can download the file, read it in one of the mapping software like TrackMaker and output it in any format you prefer for your GPS unit. Enjoy.
  19. I’m sure all of you have your own stories to tell about geocaching trips & experiences. I started my blog . I will be happy to see your comments there at: http://saudicacher.blogspot.com/
  20. Here is my best Arabic translation in the same order. The only shortcoming might be the translation of Travel Bug .. The literal translation for bug might not be fitting here so I used "tag" or attached ticket instead. سلسلة بطاقة السفر لشعوب العالم – العراق هذه البطاقة المرافقة هنا هي جزء من سلسلة، الغرض منها جمع معلومات تاريخية عن سكان المناطق التي تزورها. أرغب بمشاركة إبني هذه المعلومات ونحن نكتشف العالم معا هذه البطاقة تود زيارة المدن التالية واستكشاف أماكن أخرى في البلد بغداد مخيم النصر الموصل البصرة بابل ----------------------------------- سلسلة بطاقة السفر لشعوب العالم – الكويت هذه البطاقة المرافقة هنا هي جزء من سلسلة، الغرض منها جمع معلومات تاريخية عن سكان المناطق التي تزورها. أرغب بمشاركة إبني هذه المعلومات ونحن نكتشف العالم معا هذه البطاقة تود زيارة المدن التالية واستكشاف أماكن أخرى في البلد مدينة الكويت ------------------------------------- سلسلة بطاقة السفر لشعوب العالم – قطر هذه البطاقة المرافقة هنا هي جزء من سلسلة، الغرض منها جمع معلومات تاريخية عن سكان المناطق التي تزورها. أرغب بمشاركة إبني هذه المعلومات ونحن نكتشف العالم معا هذه البطاقة تود زيارة المدن التالية واستكشاف أماكن أخرى في البلد الدوحة You can copy and paste the text.
  21. replied to your email ..
  22. Here are the phone numbers you asked for TYT523: in Riyadh: 01 4020088 in Khobar: 03 8678054 http://www.darmoja.com I found them very poor when it comes to customer service or any service for that matter .. you could hardly get any useful information from them on the phone or in person. Before visiting store, I suggest you check your background info/review on the internet .. I do this for any product I want to buy here. The person I talked to said they sell the City Navigator Middle East maps (ver.3) at SR.1000 including the memory card. As far as their own “desert maps”, they sell at SR.550 (which comes with a 16MB memory) .. I asked him if I can do with their desert maps without the City Navigator and he said their maps miss on the Gulf States. In addition, he tells me theirs do not implement the auto routing which is an important feature if you’re into city driving. Now all of this talk needs to be confirmed by a visit to their store . So I guess this partially answers my question which I asked camoguy to remind of before. There are many shops in Riyadh that sell GPS units .. some in Saleheyiah building on King Fahad road. Others are in the famous Morsalat Communication center (here is a coordinate for the shop I visisted few weeks ago: N 24 44.876 E 46 41.125
  23. Camoguy: I will try to answer your question in another post so that it does not get mixed up with the topic of this post, see here: http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=140908
  24. camoguy Asks: Welcome camoguy & wish you a pleasant stay .. I’m not an expert on the subject but I’ll tell what I know about local maps.. The new GPS I bought comes with its own maps: City Navigator Middle East v3 (http://www.garmin.com/cartography/mapSource/citynavMideast.jsp) .. The title may be misleading since the maps are only for GCC countries. They can be very useful and I already found use for them during my last trip to Bahrain. The coverage seems to be more detailed for Bahrain and Kuwait but is not bad either for selected cities in Saudi. Jubail has no coverage as you can see below: Here is a piece of Dammam showing some Points Of Interest: I don’t know about the cost but I think you should consider having it specially that you will be staying here for some time (driving your own car) and chances are that you will be visiting many of the big cities around. If interested in doing some off road driving (most caches hidden here are out of city limits) then there are two maps that are popular among Saudi campers. One is made by the Garmin agent Darmoja while the other, named desert maps, are made by a group of Saudi desert enthusiasts. They are both frequently updated and there is some competition between the two which is good for the end user. I mentioned them here : post They seem to be a must for any serious outdoor geocacher but I managed to do without them since my post over a year ago. But then I managed to do without any maps for that matter. Now that I have my new GPS unit with mapping capabilities, I will buy one. One of them is in English (desert maps, I believe) and it costs SR400 including the 32MB memory. If they include city details (which they probably do), then you may forget about City Navigator and have the desert maps. I will let you know once I buy mine (remind me of that). Here is a small sample of the desert map: If you are only interested in paper maps to check some places then take a look at these http://www.athagafy.com/maps/Fig-06.jpg (For eastern province including Jubail) The ones with scale 1:500,000 are both Arabic/English like this one: http://www.athagafy.com/maps/al%20riyadh.jpg for Riyadh The above is very detailed and should be of interest to all of our fellow geocachers especially in the Riyadh area. Other maps of the same detail are available from the same page at: http://www.athagafy.com/maps/ Look at the scale 1:500,000 in blue somewhere in the middle of the page. Below it, is a list of maps .. click on a region you like. On the same page, if you check the right column, you will find links to numerous maps that I didn’t have time to check out myself. Hope the above is of some value. Looking forward to see some caches hidden by you around Jubail. By the way, there are some interesting areas around Jubail to the north and west you can visit and explore. You can buy the booklet Desert Treks from AlKhobar ( available at Jarir Bookstore). It shows nice places (some of archeological significance) not far from Jubail. If you want to try the City Navigator maps mentioned above, I can lend you my GPS unit ( If you are driving to Bahrain, I'm on your way and you can take it with you and see for yourself).
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