(MENAFN - Arab News) Onaizah City has its own array of tourist attractions, be it a festival, private meeting at a family ranch, a variety of museums or a number of parks.
"Yet one place in the Awzizia area in Onaizah has drawn legions of visitors from various parts of the Kingdom, and that is 'Salt Valley'," said Abdulraham Al-Salloum, a Saudi manufacturing specialist at a local drug manufacturing company in Buraidah.
Al-Salloum, 34, comes from Onaiza and his mother lives in Awzizia where he grew up and did his schooling.
The place is called "Salt Valley" because when it rains, water accumulates at the bottom of the valley, turning it into a small lake.
Gradually, he said, "The rainwater dries up, leaving the bottom of the valley covered with white salt."
During summer, sand, as opposed to salt, is found at the bottom of the valley, he said.
Al-Salloum added that as a young boy, he and his family used to visit the area.
"Until now, my wife, our two kids and I still visit the place," he said, his eyes staring into the distance.
Dionisio P. Tabuco, an engineer in Buraidah, said that the place is one of the favorite hangouts of Filipinos working and living in Onaizah and its adjoining cities, adding that he takes Filipino compatriots from Hail to the "Salt Valley" whenever they drop in on him on their way to Riyadh.
"There's not much to see as far as scenery is concerned. But the sheer sight of immense space in the area, as well as the rustic ambiance are relaxing, making you forget the fatigue of a whole day's work," Tabuco said.
He added that there is a fishpond in the area where they buy fish that they grill.
Filipinos describe the place as 'Asinan,' a Tagalog term which literally means 'where salt is manufactured.'
Faisal Al-Ajmi, a Saudi production engineer in a local firm, said that both Saudis and foreigners visit the "Salt Valley."
"On weekdays, when the weather is fine, the place draws both Saudi nationals and foreigners in the afternoon just before sunset," Al-Ajmi said.
Standing in the valley, Al-Ajmi said, "It's a wonderful experience to watch the sun setting in the west, making the skies crimson, which sets off a variety of ineffable emotions."
"The place particularly appealing for people who love nature," he added.
Al-Ajmi said he had visited the place several times in the past with his wife and three daughters "to find out what makes people gravitate toward it."
"That was before sprawling supermarkets and malls started popping up like mushrooms in Onaizah, Buraidah and Al-Rass," he said.
Onaizah is located in the Qassim Province, some 500 kilometers north of Riyadh. It is the second largest city in Qassim which has an estimated population of 163, 729 as of 2010.
Historically, Onaizah was an important stopping point for Muslim pilgrims coming from Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Persia (now Iran) on their way to Makkah.