Postcards from Berlin: Saudi cultural consultant Ghada AlMuhanna shows us her favourite spots

Postcards from Berlin: Saudi cultural consultant Ghada AlMuhanna shows us her favourite spots

From her favourite cafe to where is the nicest place for a walk in the city, Ghada AlMuhanna share's her Berlin recommendations
18 April 24
Ghada AlMuhanna's Berlin Hot Spots

"Berlin is a city that builds you up - it takes you and does some sort of sumo move and then offers you
a warm hug,” explains cultural and media advisor, Ghada AlMuhanna. “It’s quite maddening, but it’s what makes the place special and unique.”

After growing up in Riyadh, AlMuhanna studied in Ann Arbor in Michigan, USA, before heading to Geneva to work in counter-terrorism and then onto Berlin, where she’s lived since 2018.

Despite the occasional “sumo wrestling” it may surprise her with, she now considers the city to be her home. “The diversity of the people here, the history all around you, the way things are – I don’t think many places are like this,” she says.

When asked about her happiest moment here so far, she can’t pick just one. “What I will mention is that Berlin is really great at presenting art,” she says. “The museums and collectives here really go all out whenever they have exhibitions or shows to offer, and I guess that’s what makes it beautiful. There are no limits, everything is possible.”

Here AlMuhanna runs us through her favourite things to do and places to be in her own insider’s guide.

The Best Brunch

First things first: where should we go for brunch when visiting Berlin?

“Mattea is a cute place that’s very cosy and has, in my opinion, pretty great coffee,” shares AlMuhanna. “It’s in Schöneberg, the neighbourhood that I live in, so I often go there to either work or just have a nice meal. My favourite dish is the Super Bowl – basically a poached egg with some veggies and salads. It also has an amazing granola bowl with homemade muesli, and a great shakshuka dish, too. But what really makes this place so nice is how friendly everyone is.”


Homes from Home

Whenever she’s in need of a bit of Saudi nostalgia, AlMuhanna dives into books.

“I go to a library or an antique shop and try to find things that relate to Saudi,” she says. “My favourite spot whenever I’m feeling like that is the America Memorial Library. It has a nice collection.” Then there is Sonnenallee, also known as “the Arab street,” which AlMuhanna says is pretty fascinating. “Once you get to that area, almost everyone is speaking Arabic. The street has a lot of history to it, and so I’d really recommend striking up conversations with people here, who moved into the city years ago. They’ve witnessed all the changes that Berlin went through, and that insight is so interesting.”

A Unique Staycation

AlMuhanna’s first choice of local hotels may be a little unexpected.

“It used to be a former courthouse and a women’s prison and has been transformed, extended, and reprogrammed by Grüntuch Ernst Architects,” she explains. “It’s now the beautiful Wilmina Hotel. The fact they kept a lot of the original elements is intriguing, and when you remind yourself that it used to be a prison – it makes you take a step back and just ponder the place you’re standing in. I highly recommend staying there.”


Working Out and Working In

Germany’s capital has no less than 2,500 public parks and recreational areas, from the famous Tempelhofer Feld to the vast and popular Tiergarten. “You can’t go wrong with any of them,” says AlMuhanna. “But my favourites are Botanic Garden (with its Botanical Museum), Gärten der Welt (or Gardens of the World), the forested area of Grunewald, and Lietzenseepark.”

If it’s raining (and there’s a fair chance it will be – it’s said to rain approximately 163 days a year on average – more frequently than in London) and you’re looking for somewhere to exercise, AlMuhanna recommends CrossFit MINS and FitX Fitnessstudio, or downloading an app called Urban Sports Club. “You sign up for a package and it opens up so many gyms and experiences for you,” she says.

@botanicgardenberlin @crossfitmins @fitx

The Ultimate Itinerary

While AlMuhanna always tailors plans to her guests’ interests, she says everyone who visits loves a walking tour. “I talk about the buildings and how they’re an indication of Berlin’s history – because after the second world war, it was practically destroyed, and then split into four districts, with each victor country taking one part and rebuilding it somehow. So, you see UK- US-French and Soviet Union influences throughout.”

They’ll then head undercover for more history. “I also love taking people to museums,” she says. “There’s this place called Museumsinsel that translates to Museum Island – most of the city’s museums are there, and it’s a pretty nice area to walk through and spend the whole day.” One of the most unique experiences she would suggest is a tour of the underground tunnels and bunkers. “It’s pretty intense, but very eye-opening to certain parts of history.”

Images of Ghada AlMuhanna by Exhoax
Make Up and Hair by Apjar Black