Most Picturesque Places in Saudi Arabia

Time: 21 July 2017

Most Picturesque Places in Saudi Arabia

If you’re a fan of the outdoors, the Kingdom has some of the most breathtaking places that will leave you in awe. We’ve put together a list of our favourite spots for you. Make sure to have your cameras handy as these are bound to be picture-worthy!

Madain Saleh

The ruined city of Madain Saleh is truly one of Saudi Arabia’s best treasures. It was declared to be the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. Full of history, this destination will have you exploring the tombs of the ancient Nabatean people, the Hejaz railway built by the Ottomans, an oasis, museums, a mud village, and the ruins and tombs of Khuraibah.

Farasan Islands

If you’re interested in diving, this is definitely the place to be. There is an abundant marine life here, which makes diving spectacular in shallow waters. You’ll also find coastal mangroves, endangered dugongs and a herd of Arabian gazelles. You can also admire some of the traditional houses in the town built from coral with carved doorways or enjoy a swim in the private beaches. To access the island, you’ll need to go to the mainland town of Jizan and then catch a free ferry ride either at 7am or 3pm. It’s best to reserve a spot with the Seaport Authority beforehand.

SEE ALSO: 8 things you won’t find in Saudi Arabia

Al Soudah

This area, which includes the Asir National Park, has everything from trekking and camping sites to cable cars and fascinating architecture. With cliffs, deep valleys and mountains so high they disappear amongst the clouds, it is a picturesque spot, especially when you’re enjoying the view from one of the cable cars. It’s located near Saudi Arabia’s highest peak, Jebel Soudah and about 22km west of Abha.

Wahba Crater

About 700km from Riyadh, this volcanic crater has spectacular scenery, with lava fields, salt pans and an oasis. If you enjoy camping, this would be a perfect spot. Covering 2 km in diameter and cliffs reaching down 250 meters with a thick layer of white sodium phosphate crystals, this crater is the largest in the Middle East. Due to its resemblance to the Barringer Crater, many thought it was formed by a meteorite, but it has been concluded that it was by volcanic activity from an underground explosion of steam.

Saudi Arabia Madain Saleh

Edge of the World

This is one of the most popular desert treks in Riyadh. It’s a part of the 800km long Jebel Tuwaiq Escarpment and it has long edges reaching outwards from the plateau. What makes it so special is that it looks endless since there’s only a flat plain as far as you can see across the horizon. It’s definitely a must-visit place if you are in the Kingdom.

Taif

A great escape for nature lovers! This mountain city is known for its roses, grapes, figs and honey, all of which blossom on its green slopes. Called the “Summer Capital” by many, it boasts mild summers and scenic views. It’s also a popular spot for trekking and mountain climbing. If you’re a history buff, this place won’t disappoint. The city was occupied by the Turkish up until 1916.

Old Al Ula

Situated in the biblical city of Dedan, this is a mud-brick abandoned town made up of around 800 structures. With foundations dating back to the 13th century, all the town buildings have been rebuilt over and over throughout the years. After the new town center was established in the 20th century, the old town officially became a ghost town when the last family left in 1983.

Diriyah

Diriyah is located about 11 km from city center and it’s divided into different quarters. The Turaif district was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 and the Ghusaiba district was the first Saudi capital up to 1683. Diriyah was also the original home of the Saudi Royal Family. Through the new Al Bujairy center, you can enjoy beautiful views of the palace, city ruins and the waterfalls. You will also find many shops, restaurants and cafés.

 

 

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Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Time: June 27, 2017

Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia offers both natural and historical wonders, from the mountain resorts of Taif and the majesty of ancient Nabatean tombs to the multicolored coral reefs of the Red Sea.

While Saudi Arabia has been a travel destination for centuries, with millions of people visiting the Kingdom each year from around the world, most visitors have historically been Muslims undertaking pilgrimages.
Today there is a new emphasis on tourism in Saudi Arabia, and in 2000, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) was established to promote tourism in the Kingdom.

Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh, is the geographic and cultural hub of the country and its largest city. Once surrounded by mud-brick walls, modern Riyadh – whose name comes from the Arabic word for garden (rowdhah) – is a contemporary city with an ever-expanding network of modern roads, high rises, residential suburbs and industrial parks.

Despite being a modern city, Riyadh also retains much of its traditional appeal. The city’s historic Qasr Al-Hokm district has been carefully preserved and renovated to make it the city’s cultural, commercial and social center.

One of the highlights of Qasr Al-Hokm is the historic Masmak fortress, which King Abdulaziz recaptured the fortress in 1902 – setting the stage for the foundation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Another highlight is the Murabba’ Palace, a former home of King Abdulaziz that has been renovated as part of the King Abdulaziz Historical Center in Riyadh.

Twenty miles outside Riyadh lies the walled city of Diriyah, the ancestral home of the Al-Saud family and the first capital of the Saudi state.

Jeddah

Tourism in Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom’s second largest city, Jeddah is a sparkling, modern commercial center that is considered one of Saudi Arabia’s most vibrant cities. It is alive with more than 300 gardens, and is home to one of the world’s tallest fountains.

One of Jeddah’s loveliest features is the Corniche, promenades that extend miles along the Red Sea, interspersed with parks, fountains, lakes and kiosks. Its coastal location near the spectacular Red Sea coral reefs makes it a popular spot for water sports.

The city also has a number of beautifully restored historical buildings, including the Naseef House (Bayt Naseef), with more than 100 rooms and a broad staircase to allow camels access to the first floor for unloading.
Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s main Red Sea port. For centuries, its large harbor has handled ships carrying cargo to ports throughout the world, as well as vessels bringing pilgrims to the Hajj.

Eastern Province

The capital of the Eastern Province, Dammam – along with nearby Dhahran and Khobar – is an important hub for shipping, oil, commerce and industry, and the home of the national oil company, Saudi Aramco. It was in Dhahran in 1936 that the famous Dammam No. 7 oil well was discovered, proving beyond doubt that the Kingdom was sitting on vast oil fields.

Dammam is linked to Bahrain via the King Fahd Causeway, an engineering masterpiece that stretches 15.5 miles across the sea and reclaimed land.

Asir Province

Located in the southwestern part of the Kingdom, Asir Province is an extensive region of steep mountains, lush greenery and cool breezes.

The picturesque regional capital, Abha, is noted for its brightly colored mud houses, built in the traditional style. Residents paint their homes each year, usually in preparation for the Eids, the religious holidays that follow Ramadan or the Hajj.

The Asir National Park, which covers 1.1 million acres, is a paradise for botanists, zoologists and ornithologists who come to study indigenous plants and wildlife. New varieties and species are still being discovered there.

Taif

The mountain resort city of Taif is located 5,600 feet above sea level in the southwest region of Saudi Arabia. Its pleasant climate, lush parks, sunny skies and exotic wildlife have long drawn Saudi families to this resort town each summer.

Its largest and most famous public garden is the King Fahd Park, which includes a lake, playgrounds, walking paths, and a mosque. Visitors can also take in the Shubra Palace, the former summer residence of King Abdulaziz and the most famous historical building in the city. Shoppers in Taif can browse its traditional souq for handcrafts, gold, silver, spices, perfumes and other trinkets.

Makkah and Madinah

Tourism in Saudi Arabia

The holy city of Makkah is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Millions of pilgrims from around the world visit Makkah each year to perform the Hajj, the pilgrimage that is the religious high point of a Muslim’s life. The Holy Mosque in Makkah houses Islam’s most sacred shrine, the Ka’abah, to which Muslims around the world turn in prayer five times a day.

Muslims are drawn to Madinah not as a religious duty as with Makkah, but out of love and respect for God’s last Prophet, who established the first Islamic community there. Madinah is also where the Prophet Muhammad spent the last years of his life, and where he and many of his companions are buried. The city is home to the Prophet’s Mosque. Both Makkah and Madinah are open only to Muslim visitors.

Najran

In the ancient trading center of Najran, the capital of Najran Province, old and new buildings stand side by side, giving the oasis city a special charm.

Visitors to Najran can enjoy several museums, including the ruins of the Al-Ukhdood settlement, a former commercial center that thrived from 500 BC through the 10th century. The Al-An Palace, a former governor’s residence, is a remarkable example of local architecture with its circular towers with white ramparts. Najran’s souq is well known for its traditional crafts such as colorful baskets, leather products and old Bedouin silver jewelry.

Also of interest is the Al-Madik Dam in Najran Province, the second largest dam in Saudi Arabia. The dam has become a tourist attraction with parks at each end and wide variety of palms, flowering shrubs and citrus trees.

Hail

Tourism in Saudi Arabia

The historic oasis of Hail, with its expansive boulevards, parks, playgrounds and refreshing climate, regularly draws large numbers of Saudi families.

In ancient times, Hail was a stopping point along the famous Darb Zubaydah caravan route stretching from Mesopotamia, Persia and Central Asia to Makkah and Madinah. Built 12 centuries ago and named after the wife of the Abbasid Caliph Harun Al-Rashid (763-809), the caravan route included hundreds of wells and cisterns. Remnants of these can still be seen in Hail today.

Al-Jouf

Located in the northern part of Saudi Arabia, Al-Jouf is famous for its ancient ruins, which show evidence of the presence of Assyrians and Nabateans in the region. The region was an important crossroads for traders heading into the Arabian Peninsula from Iraq and Syria.

Al-Jouf also has a special significance in Islamic history. Following its conquest by Muslims in the third year of the Hijra (the migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah in 622 AD), Al-Jouf became a staging post for Muslim armies setting out to spread the message of Islam.

This article was first published in Expatwoman.com

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