6 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Saudi Arabia
Take a look at the nation of Saudi Arabia through the people who live there. For them, there's little in life that's routine. Saudi men and women, nearly always in close-fitting attire, are mainly preoccupied with religious matters and moral questions. They differ from the Western world in that their major concern is to define right from wrong, creating laws that are moral and just. The nation's largest industry is banking and finance. There's also a sharp divide between the traditional and the modern, especially in Riyadh, where lavish homes are compared with simple cinder block buildings.
Though few travelers head to Saudi Arabia for its culture, many people head to the country for its religious significance. The Great Mosque at Mecca is the holiest site in Islam. The city of Medina is the burial place of the Prophet Mohammed. Fourteen hundred miles west of Mecca is the country's capital, Riyadh. Make sure you have your passport, visa, and flight ticket handy before you go.
Plan your trip to Saudi Arabia with our list of the best attractions in Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah is a peaceful city of some 4 million residents, home to over 100 mosques, and situated right on the shores of the Red Sea. It's the centre of commerce and transportation in the easternmost part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and a major stop on the pilgrimage route to Mecca. Housed within the vast Masjid al-Muasheid (Grand Mosque), a building that dates back to the 11th century, the Wahhabi King Abdulaziz Al Saud reportedly "bought" the grounds in order to build the mosque, and its vast open spaces have provided a much-needed refuge for the city's inhabitants since its inception. The mosque also holds the tomb of the Prophet's granddaughter, and several small shrines that attract some 20,000 worshippers each week. The Grand Mosque is a site of great historical interest and attracts visitors from all over the world, including those who are on the Hajj pilgrimage. What to do in Jeddah is determined by where you're staying. If you are staying in the city proper, take a visit to the Souq ash-Sharif, which dates back to the 18th century, or the old Old Corniche which is the site of some of the city's finest souq shopping. For the most part, however, Jeddah's true attraction lies out of town, as the city's clear open spaces afford the opportunity to truly enjoy the scenery and serenity of this little-visited city in the sun.
Hajar Mountains are home to more than 30 rock and natural wonders, and are the source of the rare, quartz veins that produce the dazzling gold of south-central Saudi Arabia. Several of the towns that rise up from the barren plateau have eroded into the desert floor, and two or three, such as Surakh, Jebel Hafir and Qasr Saad, offer intriguing sights and are great for those seeking a spot of adventure. The air is clean and pure, the sun is hot and the sand and sandstone rocks scorch.
Dammam is the largest city in Saudi Arabia. It is located at the crossroads of the kingdom's main highways. The city's center is home to the King Abdullah Mosque, the second-largest mosque in the world after the Grand Mosque of Mecca. It also has important attractions like the gold souk. The large shopping center offers a variety of shops including jewelry, carpets, clothing and electronic items. There are also gardens, restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the area. The old town of Dammam is a historical area located about two kilometers north of the central bus station. The main streets of the city are Sadaf Street, Shaikh Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Street and al Manama Street. The old town has many old and historic houses that once belonged to the wealthy traders. Dammam has several international schools. The IES, ISA, KSA, British International Schools of Riyadh, and Australian International Schools all are located in Dammam.
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The magnificent sand dunes of Najran, in the south-western corner of Saudi Arabia, stretch as far as the eye can see and form the largest mass of loose sand in the world. They are an imposing sight with their vast, rippling sand seas, yet they're also a haven for the locally endangered Nilgiri takin. Set in a dry desert landscape, the village of Al-Ramadi is located in the middle of this gigantic sandy sea, while the Medina of Mecca is nestled in the distance. The Makkah-Bukhari area is also home to a number of sites including the mausoleums of Abdullah Ibn Abbas and Al-Hadher, the Serai al-Baqi and the Al-Waleed bin Talal mosque. The majority of the sites in Najran are accessible on foot, but a number of them can be seen using the new camel-back trail. From Al-Ramadi, visitors can visit the breathtaking Al-Qadisiyah and Al-Muwasibah dunes, where these camel trails lead. It is also possible to visit these sites in luxury, at the Desert Resort on the sands of Al-Ramadi.
Riyadh is the seat of power for the Hashemite Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was not only the political capital but is also the cultural capital of Saudi Arabia. It is a completely modern city that is home to about 8.2 million of the population of some 27 million Saudis. It was also built from a very poor area and many of the current buildings were restored to make it a modern city. It is located on the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula, just outside the mountains in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is the center of international trade in Saudi Arabia. This city is considered to be the richest and the largest commercial city of the Middle East. During the 20th century the city of Riyadh saw an extreme increase in population, and to accommodate this growth the area around Riyadh had small, slow-developing towns with little or no amenities. By the turn of the century the Saudis were experiencing a shortage of electricity, and Riyadh was home to one of the first power companies in the Middle East. However, due to the explosive growth of the city, the government felt that the older style architecture that defined the city needed to be expanded and modernized.
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Asir is the land of diverse cultures, ancient Bedouin traditions, and the traditions of the new urban middle class. With a coast protected from the fury of the Red Sea by the barrier islands of Jubail and Jazan, it is known for its royal families, desert land, and oases. The year-round moderate climate and landscape provide the ideal stage for a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking and exploring the many wildflowers in the annual desert botanical gardens. Asir was ruled for centuries by Al Saud, the forebears of the House of Saud. Some of the greatest architectural treasures of the region include the al-Hair Fort, in the city of Jubail; and the fortresses of Shabwa and Jawf, the latter known for its extensive gold mines. In addition, it has a rich history of Islamic architecture, with significant mosques including the Musta’rib, the oldest still in use in the world, and the Bait Abdullah, which lies at the center of the al-Sheikha Mahalleh. Asir offers a fascinating cultural experience, featuring a wide variety of festivals and events year round. The traditional and unique Eid celebrations of July, when thousands of animals are slaughtered and celebrated, can be witnessed in all its glory. During summer, desert safaris and camel rides are popular activities, and in October, Asir celebrates its yearly Jubail Festival, one of the most colorful and creative festivals in the Gulf region, featuring traditional and modern crafts, music, and dance.