Things to do in Saudi Arabia

Saudi is opening up its doors to tourists, and here are some things you can see and do there.

Mada’in Saleh

What: Archaeological site

Cool Factor: Saudi Arabia’s first World Heritage Site

Mada’in Saleh is popular among tourists as it evokes comparison with Petra, in Jordan. Apparently, the civilization that created Petra (Nabatean), also created Mada’in Saleh. Steeped in myths and legends, this site is even mentioned in the Quran.

Wadi Hanifa

What: A valley (or wadi) and nature preserve

Cool Factor: Great place for a hike and/or barbecue

The Wadi Hanifa is a spectacularly beautiful place with water springs and green trees. Good for a hike and/or a day out with family, there are also places where you can have a barbecue. This valley was completely rehabilitated by the Saudi government and won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010.

Al Tayibat City Museum for International Civilization

What: Privately owned museum

Cool Factor: Known as Jeddah’s Louvre

Inside this miniature castle, you will find an astonishing collection that ranges from pre-Islamic artefacts, exquisite Islamic manuscripts, old coins and weaponry, to stunning furniture, pottery, and traditional Saudi dress.

Najran Fort

What: Historic fort

Cool Factor: Self-sustaining military base

The Najran Fort in the town of Najran, features local architecture up to and including the white trim on the forts. Inside the fort is a 60-room complex, a mosque, a restored well, and a two-story princes’ palace in the center. Najran was a focal point of the historical Incense Route.

Al Balad

What: Historic center of Jeddah

Cool Factor: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Al Balad is the second largest city of Saudi Arabia. Balad can literally be translated as “The Town”, being the historic center it has lots of well-preserved old houses, mosques, and souks (most famous of which is the Souk Al-Alawi) which you can explore and photograph to your heart’s content.

Royal Saudi Air Force Museum

What: Museum containing Saudi Air Force artifacts

Cool Factor: Special display on Prince Salman (the first Saudi in space)

The museum also houses aircraft engines and weaponry, uniforms, insignia, and decorations and a special display on Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the first Saudi in space.

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