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