For the first days of Ramadan this year, the avid storyteller and entertaining content creator Khalid Al Ameri , with his lovely wife Salama Mohamed visited some interesting destinations in Wonderful Indonesia from their home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE ). They were invited by the Indonesian Embassy of Abu Dhabi and supported by the local governments along with local communities, to enjoy some of the best places in the archipelago.
Image by Khalidalameri & Salamamohamed
Khalid & Salama in traditional tenun inspired outfit
After visiting the scenic Lombok Island in West Nusa Tenggara - one of the super priority destinations, home to the recent MotoGP race in Mandalika International Circuit - the couple headed to the nation’s capital, Jakarta. Come find interesting details about their version of top things to do in Jakarta on this page!
Khalid and Salama explored Jakarta only to find many unique surprises and memorable experiences during the holy month of Ramadan. Join below, as we ask a few questions about must-see attractions, fun activities, and amazing facts about Jakarta !
Image by Salamamohamed
So, tell us about your visit to Istiqlal!
“The first day of Ramadan we wanted to spend in Jakarta, the city, the land, MashAllah, Indonesia with the most Muslim in the world. We wanted to show people different representations of what they see in mainstream media of the Muslim culture. And it was absolutely beautiful, MashAllah. To be able to go to the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia, the biggest mosque in Jakarta, and learn about the history of the mosque. We learned that it was designed by a Christian and it’s built right beside a church.
Communities come together to show these tolerance and togetherness, it was just so wholesome for me to see on the first day of Ramadan. And to pray there, to meet the Grand Imam, to see all families coming together to enjoy iftar i think it’s one of the most beautiful ways to start Ramadan. I think Masjid Istiqlal is a must visit, for a lot of people to learn about Islam and to learn about the different communities that come together, even if they’re from different religions, MashAllah. The diversity it’s just there and if you were to lead with one sentence : I was in the biggest mosque, that was designed by a Christian, that was next to a cathedral, that brings communities together. During Christmas a lot of the worshippers, if they can’t fit into the church, they come to the mosque. At Eid, if they can’t fit into the mosque they go to the church. These are the stories that people need to hear, that’s the true representation of who we are.
For iftar we had a mix, for the family and I, we had a very light iftar, some dates, fruits, water, that’s how we break back home and we want to continue this. And then for dinner we went to an Indonesian restaurant, where we had beef rendang! Then some fried chicken, some curry, it was all delicious and lots of rice to fill up a bit. There’s a lot of rice flavors here, and different colors too, again a lot of diversity there, MashAllah”.
Please share a few words about Jakarta’s Abang & None greetings you received earlier!
“Oh! Assalamu’alaikum ( Khalid doing the gesture, hands up to eye level, palms open, elbow straight, back upright, then torso turning right and left while saying the salaam ). Alfa ( Abang Jakarta ) taught me, from the very first day here, and the sister here she bows ( None Jakarta ).
It’s just really wholesome, it’s really beautiful. Because now greetings are very personal, one to one. Where in Indonesia they have a greeting on how to greet many people. When you are a country where many people come to visit you want a greeting to greet everyone. I think they’re greeting is a representation of who they are as people. They greet many people at the same time, they want to welcome many people, MashAllah. So from the minute I got here, it just felt like home, Alhamdulillah”.
Did you also enjoy visiting Setu Babakan?
“Oh this, MashAllah! Wow, I think I learned more about the culture in like 10 minutes. I learned about the history, the martial arts, I learned about the dancing, ‘cause they were teaching me dancing as well. I learned about the food, and you know you learn a lot about the history and the culture through the experience.
I did martial arts, I danced with the team here, and I learned to cook ( kerak telor and prepared selendang mayang desert ). For me that’s a beautiful thing. I think what’s really cool about Indonesia and this village is, you don’t come to just look, you come to try it, experience it, do it. When you experience it, that’s when it sits in your head and you learn. I learned a lot about the history of Indonesia. I learned a lot about the spirit of Indonesian people, when they were teaching me about the martial arts. How even when the colonizers came here, they had weapons, they had all these things, whereas people of Indonesia had their hands, they had bamboo, their hearts, their spirits, and their courage. And you learn a lot about the people through that. And you see how they are sharing it through different generations to remember how strong they were and how strong they still are, MashAllah”.
Did you already get some unique local crafts for Khalifa and Abdullah yet?
“Yes ( pointing to the red batik shirt he was wearing )! We went to Batik Chic and bought this with some souvenirs for our kids from there. Again, we learned how to make it, so we didn’t just buy and walk away. We went, sat down and learned how to make it, how long it takes, and the details.
Image by batik chic.gallery
We learned that it’s colored with wax, I didn't know that. They use a lot of natural ingredients to make it. We learned about the historical significance and the influences that all came together through this culture”.
How would you describe the city vibes, here in Jakarta?
“Wow, what’s amazing is you got a bit of everything when you come here. So, I didn’t know that Jakarta was the city that had the most malls in the world! We’re driving to the hotel and we saw all these malls. But, what was important for me is to come and see the cultural sites, to come and experience how people live in Jakarta. So, that’s why we wanted to go to Istiqlal Mosque, to go to the Benhil market to buy our iftar from there, which was so much fun to see the actual food there. We were also in the MRT. So, we experienced all those things. I think what you get when you come here is that you get the past, the present and the future all side by side.
You can experience anything that you choose to. If you wanna come here and relax, go shopping in beautiful malls, get good transportation to go there, eat whatever you want, that’s good. If you want to come and go to a very big cultural experience and embed yourself in the culture of Indonesia, you can do that. There’s something for everyone!”
What’s your favorite food that you’ve tasted here?
“I've never seen anyone who loves Indomie the way Salama loves it, so we came here to the land of Indomie. We went to a local restaurant, Abang Ade and tried the beef rendang Indomie with 2 chillies. And then tried the 20 chillies, I was strong, and then I cried!
But in all honesty for me, I think my favorite was the beef rendang, I love it! It’s one of my favorite dishes. There’s a restaurant in Dubai, Dapur Kita, that’s where i first tried beef rendang and fell in love. So, the beef rendang was definitely my favorite and it lives up to its position as the number one food in the world, MashAllah”.
Any other things we haven’t mentioned that you are interested in, here in Jakarta?
“Something that’s important to say is that Salama and I wanted to come here on the first day of Ramadan and obviously we are not from Indonesia. But wherever we went, people were looking at us and just smiling. Wherever we want to go and learn something, they want to teach you, they welcome you. When we were with our camera and filming, everyone was happy and “Come, film, show, tell our stories, come and experience it!”. For me, I get very emotional when I see these things, because imagine, you don’t see many stories in the media about the country with the most Muslims. They take a small minority and they show that’s what Islam is. They don’t show a country that's beautiful like here, where there’s so much wholesomeness, so much love, smiling, joy, and “Come and learn from us!”. We’ve got lots of videos that are going to be shared, where we don’t say anything, we show you. For me, this was the most beautiful way to start Ramadan. I’m absolutely honored, I just loved the warm welcome that I got from the Indonesian community here. The love and support that they’ve shown us on social media for coming here. I’ll be forever grateful, I’m honored and I can’t wait to share the stories!”.
Can you mention the difference you feel between Ramadan in Indonesia and back in the UAE?
“To be honest I see more similarities than I see differences, MashAllah. I love my home, I love Dubai, I love Jakarta, I’ve just fallen in love with this beautiful city, this country Indonesia. For me i think it’s two things. The number one is showing the stories of tolerance here. Showing the Cathedral next to the biggest mosque, and you see that we are a country that's of many religions, to show that diversity and people coming together and love for each other. The second thing that I see a lot in Dubai and Jakarta is you can experience what you want to experience. You see a lot of our past in Dubai, and you see a lot of our future, on where we want to be. In Jakarta, we saw a lot of the past, the beautiful history of Jakarta and a lot of where you want to be. So for me, I think there’s incredible similarities between our two countries. It feels like home and I’m absolutely in love with it!”
Which destinations would you like to visit next in Wonderful Indonesia?
“The Pink Beach, in Labuan Bajo! By the way, for anyone who's coming to Jakarta, it’s not a place you can see in two days, Jakarta is huge! So, you need time to see all the beauty that’s here. It’s not just about seeing Bali and Lombok. It’s about coming to the city and experiencing the culture here, MasyAllah. All the beautiful beaches, all the natural history, all the modern things that they have here. There’s a lot to experience, there’a a lot to see. So, to be honest, I want to see it all! We’ll be back here with our kids, InshAllah''.
On the last day of their visit to Wonderful Indonesia, Khalid and Salama spent time with the Minister himself at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy office in Jakarta. There the couple was greeted with more insightful information about plenty of other beautiful destinations, cultural richness, and unique local crafts showcased in the Ministry.
Minister Sandiaga Uno also asked them about their most memorable moments during their trip. “This is your first trip to Lombok, how do you feel about Lombok?”, he first asked Salama. “It’s so serene, the beaches are very vibrant and feels like it’s from a magazine. And the people there are very welcoming!”, said Salama.
“You had an iftar meal at the local people’s house in Jakarta, how was that?”, he moved to ask Khalid. “If you want to learn about Ramadan in a country, you go to the home of a family, and you learn from them. You see how they eat, and for me, I got to cook, make bakwan and make lontong! For me, when you meet a family in Ramadan, you meet them when they're at their closest, ‘cause the family always comes together during Ramadan. So, it was just very wholesome, and my heart is filled with love”, Khalid passionately explained.
A trip would not be complete without a few super fun pop quizzes from the Minister! He asked 5 questions with various themes to recall the couple’s experiences during their visit. They managed to answer 4 of these questions!
As a token of appreciation, the Minister gave them some beautiful local crafts: a handmade bag from East Nusa Tenggara for Salama and a batik jacket for Khalid. Both were very excited to receive these unique presents.
The Minister also gave some tips on telling stories. “Be authentic, be relevant, share talkable stories (education and entertainment)”, before he bid farewell to the both of them, who were on their way for a journey back to Dubai.
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