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SAUDI ARABIA

From red-hued mountains to azure desert lakes, all the way to ancient sites that trace the history of mankind, Saudi Arabia is a destination like no other.

Saudi eVisa

Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to the world through its new tourist visa. Through their fast and easy-to-use online portal, international visitors from eligible countries can apply for an eVisa and discover the warm hospitality of Saudi people: their rich heritage, vibrant culture, and diverse and breathtaking landscapes, from the mountains of Abha to the beaches of the Red Sea to the shifting sands of the Empty Quarter.

The eVisa will be a one-year, multiple entry visa, allowing tourists to spend up to 90 days in the country.

https://visa.visitsaudi.com/

About Saudi Arabia

www.visitsaudi.com/en/understand.html

Visiting Riyadh

www.visitsaudi.com/en/riyadh.html

RIYADH

Welcome to Riyadh, the birthplace of modern Saudi Arabia, where old-world charm meets 21st-century vision.

Riyadh Province – also known as Al-Wosta – is home to the country’s capital: a modern metropolis with a thriving financial and business centre, and a growing cultural scene. It’s a city rich in history, boasting myriad forts, palaces and museums, and some of the country’s most colourful souks.

The wider region also offers a wealth of attractions: Ad Diriyah, northwest of the city and the original capital of the first Saudi state is a must-see. Its Al Turaif quarter, a carefully restored mud-brick district that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, offers a glimpse into the country’s extraordinary heritage, while the Al Bujairy district is perfect for families, with its twisting lanes, restaurants and cafés.

Those in search of tranquillity can head north of the city to the Edge of the World, where the sprawling Tuwaiq escarpment offers heart-stopping views over the arid plains below.

Set aside a day to explore centuries of Arabian prehistory, history, culture and art at the Kingdom’s biggest and most entertaining museum. Housed within striking modernist architecture and flower-wreathed gardens, the National Museum exhibits everything from Neolithic rock art, to replicas of the buildings of old Jeddah, as well as transporting visitors on a magically interactive tour of the ages.

Come on weekdays for a less crowded experience, and take your time exploring the museum’s eight halls. While a regular rotation of activities, guest exhibitions and programmes keeps the content fresh, here’s a sample of the permanent collections on offer to delve into.

For further information please click the link below:

Riyadh

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SAUDI ARABIA

Journey through the history of Arabia.

Set aside a day to explore centuries of Arabian prehistory, history, culture and art at the Kingdom’s biggest and most entertaining museum. Housed within striking modernist architecture and flower-wreathed gardens, the National Museum exhibits everything from Neolithic rock art, to replicas of the buildings of old Jeddah, as well as transporting visitors on a magically interactive tour of the ages.

Come on weekdays for a less crowded experience, and take your time exploring the museum’s eight halls. While a regular rotation of activities, guest exhibitions and programmes keeps the content fresh, here’s a sample of the permanent collections on offer to delve into.

The first hall, Man and the Universe, is a sprawling 1,500 mspace dedicated to the earth’s history. Catch a glimpse of the type of animals that once roamed the Arabian Peninsula, including the prehistoric mastodon. Marvel at meteorites and explore a reconstruction of the dazzling Tuwaiq mountain range. Don’t miss the riveting display of rock carvings, which feature an ancient human handprint, discovered carved into a rock in the southern city of Najran.

For further information please click the link below:

The National Museum of Saudi Arabia

AL MASMAK FORTRESS

Delve into Riyadh’s captivating history.

Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh is a modern-day metropolis, complete with towering skyscrapers and a 99-floor sky bridge. But intertwined within this city is a deep-rooted sense of tradition and history just waiting to be explored.

Located in the heart of Riyadh in the city’s old quarter, is the 150-year-old Al Masmak Fortress. A vast clay and mud-brick citadel that witnessed the rise of a kingdom, Al Masmak serves as a proud reminder of Saudi Arabia’s storied history. Its capture by King Abdul Aziz in 1902 marked the first step towards the consolidation of the Kingdom under the Saud name and the founding of the Saudi nation as we know it today.

Built in 1865, the fortress has served many purposes. While originally used to house the garrisons that protected the city, it later served as an ammunition warehouse following the raid by King Abdul Aziz and, later still, as a prison.

Today the restored building is a museum, open to visitors wanting to step back in time and explore Saudi Arabia’s roots. Fascinating exhibitions on display show maps and photographs of Saudi Arabia dating from 1912 to 1937, alongside a range of historical artefacts, artworks and audiovisual attractions. A short documentary also re-enacts the capture of the fortress by King Abdul Aziz, whose spearhead you can still see embedded in its wooden gate. Venture outside the fortress to explore the spacious courtyard too. Located just alongside the fortress is the Souq Al Zal. Selling traditional handicrafts, jewellery, spices and cashmere scarves, the market is the perfect place to pick up a memento of your day spent exploring the Kingdom’s rich past.

For further information please click the link below:

Al Masmak Fortress

HISTORICAL DIR’IYAH

See the future through Saudi Arabia’s past.

Welcome to Ad Diriyah, birthplace of the first Saudi state, historical crossroads of pilgrims and traders, and home to one of the Kingdom’s most ambitious heritage developments.

Curved along the outskirts of Riyadh, and formed on the oasis that spilt from the banks of Wadi Hanifa, Ad Diriyah’s mud-brick walls once housed a thriving desert city that was a powerhouse of culture and commerce. Its Al Turaif district, the area’s citadel-marked primary quarter, was the original seat of power for the Kingdom’s Al Saud family. In 1745, the city was named the country’s capital, laying the foundations for what would later become a unified Saudi Arabia.

Ad Diriyah fell in late 1818 at the end of the Wahhabi war and was succeeded as the nation’s capital by the nearby settlement of Riyadh. The ruins of Al Turaif were designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2010 and the area has since been the subject of a painstaking restoration plan aimed at bringing its historical legacy back to life. While work at Ad Diriyah is still under way, there are ample heritage-rich sites that are open to the public.

The Ad Diriyah’s Al Bujairy district is already welcoming visitors. Once home to religious scholar Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab, its maze of twisting streets lead to low-lying mud huts that have been transformed into sparkling heritage sites, including Diriyah Museum, a former palace with exhibits on Saudi history and the restored Al Zawiha Mosque.

Look for the colourful geometric patterns that decorate the walls and heavy wooden doors of the district’s buildings, and enjoy streetside demonstrations of traditional crafts, such as weaving and calligraphy. Numerous cafés and restaurants are dotted around, offering authentic local fare, alongside trinket-rich gift shops that are ideal for browsing.

The carefully renovated Saad bin Saud Palace, built in the traditional Najd style, and Burj Faysal wall tower are a snapshot of the city’s storied past, as is the Diriyah Wall, once its last line of defence.

Work is ongoing in the Al Turaif quarter, which connects to Al Bujairy via bridge, and is set to be transformed into a vast open-air museum, housing a series of themed collections alongside mosques, galleries, and a traditional market selling authentic crafts and souvenirs. Visitors will also be able to pass through the district’s streets and see first-hand where key moments in Saudi Arabia’s history occurred.

Parts of the district are slated to open in late 2019, and through into early 2020, as the wider cultural site – including luxury hotels, curated retail destinations, and other attractions – moves to launch. For now, Ad Diriyah continues to offer a mesmerizing glimpse into traditional life in Saudi Arabia, and the stories that are shaping its future.

For further information please click the link below:

Ad Diriyah

AL MURABBA PALACE

Home of Saudi Arabia’s founding King.

Close to Riyadh’s National Museum you’ll find the beautiful Murabba Palace, the former home and court of King Abdul Aziz, founder of modern Saudi Arabia, and a monument to the city’s captivating past.

Constructed outside the walls of the old city of Riyadh, on what had previously been used as farmland during the winter months, Murabba Palace marked the first major expansion of the city as the country teetered on the brink of a new era of prosperity. The palace, where the King lived from its completion in 1938 until his death in 1953, was built in the traditional Najdean style, with vast palm frond layered walls and ceilings and rooms arranged around a breezy central courtyard.

Plan your visit in spring or winter, and you can wander the palace’s rolling green gardens, which spread over several hectares. But the real treasures are inside, where you’ll find plenty of memorabilia in the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center, including personal belongings of King Abdulaziz – right down to his spectacles – as well as photographs of meetings he conducted with statesman all over the world. Tear yourself away from the multimedia displays, and you can also see a Rolls-Royce that was presented to the King by Winston Churchill in 1946.

As you tour the two-storey building, look out for the King’s personal lift – the first in the country when it was installed in 1948 due to his arthritis, which had made it impossible for him to use the stairs. History aficionados will revel in the palace’s archives, which, thanks to its role as the hub of the country’s administrative decisions at the time, include a trove of historical documents relating to a pivotal point in Saudi Arabia’s history, as well as recordings of the King’s speeches.

For further information please click the link below:

Al Murabba Palace

USHAIGER HERITAGE VILLAGE

Ancient village casts a quiet spell.

Hidden in the heart of the Najd, an oasis-dotted region 200 km northwest of Riyadh, Ushaiger Heritage Village provides a glimpse of a slow-paced Saudi society of old.

Bedouins first settled here 1,500 years ago and Ushaiger quickly became a popular stopping point for pilgrims crossing to Makkah, thanks to its springs and low-brimmed olive and palm groves. But far from being a dusty, deserted museum piece, Ushaiger – which, in a naming quirk, means ‘little blonde’ to reflect the nearby red mountain that looms over the yellow mud houses – still has a small community of residents, making use of its schools, shops and mosques. To walk its narrow lanes is to enter a living museum, draped with traces of an ancient way of life.

Encased in thick walls, Ushaiger is a labyrinth of winding alleyways, shaded pathways and timber-framed walkways, crossing between hundreds of mud houses. The village is divided into districts and bisected by groves of palm trees, and includes a cluster of beautifully renovated houses. These offer a stunning example of Najdi architecture, with its distinctive triangular windows and roofs, and ornately carved wooden doors. Some still bear the names of the families who lived there.

Don’t miss the Al Salem museum, which the village residents established themselves, with its vast collection of artefacts including elaborately embroidered clothing, jewellery and ceramics, as well as weapons and cooking utensils. Speak up if you have questions: friendly residents will happily explain their provenance and regale you with stories about Ushaiger and its history.

Afterwards, wander through the narrow streets and covered lanes to admire feats of engineering that remain exactly as they have been for hundreds of years. You can even enter some of the empty houses and climb the stairs to look out over the surrounding oasis and farmlands. When the hunger pangs kick in, there’s a small restaurant (open on Fridays) that serves simple, but delicious food. They charge by weight, so go easy on the meat.

No visit to Ushaiger is complete without a drive up the nearby mountain road to take in the golden sunset and gaze down at the sprawling village spread beneath you.

For further information please click the link below:

Ushaiger Heritage Village

KING ABDULAZIZ CENTER FOR WORLD CULTURE

Dive into Saudi Arabia’s cultural hub.

When the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as ‘Ithra’ (‘enrichment’ in Arabic), opened in 2017, it became an instant icon; not only because of its jaw-dropping design, which represents a throng of oil-bearing rocks smoothed by desert winds, all wrapped in a 350-km-long steel pipe; but also its ambitious vision as Saudi Arabia’s first all-cultural destination. Quite simply, it’s a structure that must be seen to be believed.

Inside, you will find a staggering 85,000 m2 of space, housing a museum, theatre, library, cinema, exhibition galleries, ideas lab and knowledge tower. Such is the scale of its halls, and spectacular architecture that it may take you a full day to appreciate Ithra’s wonders.

To really immerse yourself in Ithra, it’s worth taking the Ithra Journey Tour: a 30-minute guided visit through all parts of the centre, as well as some of the art installations. Your guide will give you an overview of the building while relaying the story of its creation. It’s a great way to get your bearings and to help you decide which parts of Ithra you would like to delve into further.

For further information please click the link below:

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture

AL AHSA OASIS

A natural wonder waiting to be explored.

A desert oasis of shady palm groves and crystal clear springs, Al Ahsa Oasis stands as a dazzling haven against the harsh and untamed plains of the Rub’ Al Khali (Empty Quarter). For millennia, this region’s fertile land made it a hub for traders and caravans crossing the region’s ancient trade routes, forging links across the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, and providing a stopping place for early pilgrims en route to Makkah.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a nod to the city’s many archaeological landmarks, which show traces of human settlement all the way back to the Neolithic period – Al Ahsa Oasis is rapidly gaining appeal as one of Saudi Arabia’s most captivating tourist destinations.

A visit to Al Ahsa Oasis offers entry to a picturesque world of sweeping greenery, sand-toned hamlets, vibrant markets, and evocative historical sites. Tour its network of artesian springs, wells and canals, which bubble water into the surrounding farmland, and take a dip in the refreshing waters.

In Al Hofuf, the city’s commercial hub, visit the country’s first royal school and the Eastern Province’s first masjid, Jawatha Mosque. Browse the hive of handicraft stalls and locally produced art, and sample the homegrown dates the region is famed for – both the Al Khalasah and Barhi varieties are farmed here. Other local delicacies to try, include the red-grained Hesawi rice the region is known for, and dishes such as Thareed (a breaded soup), Marqooq (a lamb-infused stew), and the saffron-tinged rice dish Majboos.

A trip out to Al Ahsa’s undulating sands offers a chance to climb the popular Al Qarah Mountain and explore the rock-hewn caves that weave through it, or just to gaze over the oasis from its summit. If you feel daring, hire an SUV and join the locals in ‘drifting’ down the looming dunes. As evening falls, Al Ahsa’s bustling Souq Al Qaisariy comes alive, ringing with street hawkers and the timeless sounds of this historic port city.

For further information please click the link below:

Al Ahsa Oasis

JEDDAH WATERFRONT

Sun, sea and sports at the city’s newly developed coastline.

With its long stretches of sandy beaches and cool walkways, Jeddah Corniche has always been one of the city’s main draws. Following a major revamp in 2017, which added three new swimming bays, a winding pier and lush parklands, the area is now a must-see destination, blending seamlessly with Jeddah’s cosmopolitan appeal.

Families will love the wideopen spaces, where children can burn off steam in the designated playparks or splash about in the fountains. Adults can sign up for a selection of watersports on the beach, hire bikes and cycle along the 4.2 km corniche, or stroll down the pier to take in the sunset and beautiful Red Sea views.

The waterfront development is also host to an array of eateries, ranging from street stalls and restaurants to coffee houses and fast-food chains.

Did you know that in the 1970s Jeddah was known for its outdoor sculptures? Part of the waterfront refurbishment plan involved gathering up some of the best examples, including works by masters such as Henry Moore and Joan Miró, restoring their faded grandeur and presenting them together in a stunning open-air museum, spanning 7 km of parkland. It’s a photographer’s dream. And the best: the waterfront’s free phone charging points and Wi-Fi mean you won’t miss a shot.

For further information please click the link below:

Jeddah Waterfront

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