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Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Tourism

Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and traditions have been shaped by its position as a historic trade hub and the birthplace of Islam. In recent years, the Kingdom has undergone a significant cultural transformation, evolving century-old customs to fit the contemporary world we live in today, and one of the sectors that were significantly changed is tourism in Saudi Arabia.Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country that occupies most of the Arabian peninsula and has coastlines on the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea. It is bordered by  Jordan to the northwest, Iraq and Kuwait to the northeast, Bahrain and Qatar to the east, United Arab Emirates to the southeast, and Oman and Yemen to the south. The Kingdom is home to the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina, to which all physically and financially able Muslims are required to make "Hajj" at least once if possible.The main types of tourism in Saudi Arabia include leisure tourism and religious pilgrimage tourism. However, Saudi Arabia entered the travel and tourism sector by opening its heart and borders to the world to come discover the kingdom with the historic launch of tourist e-visa in 2019. The best time to visit Saudi Arabia is during winter between the months of late October and early March. However, Asir Mountains, located in the south-western part of Saudi Arabia, are impregnable in winters due to excessive fog and should be visited either before November or after February. Winters in Saudi Arabia are calm and pleasant, with the maximum temperature not going beyond 30°C, and there is slight rainfall as well. Summers are very hot, with temperatures often crossing 40°C. Being a hot desert where temperatures go as high as 50°C and relatively less rainfall, Saudi Arabia’s climate is one of the driest in the world.Tourist destinations in Saudi ArabiaNow that tourist travel is allowed to Saudi Arabia it's time to start planning your trip. Here's a list of the kingdom's most stunning destinations and tourist attractions:Jeddah: The Bride of the Red sea, it is a large city with an outstandingly beautiful old town and an amazing waterfront. Jeddah is known as a relatively liberal and laid back city.Riyadh: The bustling national capital and most populous city of the Kingdom, which is also home to the Kingdom's main airport. Kingdom Centre Tower is such an iconic symbol of Saudi Arabia's capital. In Riyadh, you can enjoy shopping, entertainment, and eating in its thousands of restaurants.Mecca & Medina: Mecca is the highest-profile holy place in Saudi Arabia and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, but if you read Islamic history, you'll realize that Medina is also quite important—the Prophet Muhammad taught there for a number of years after he came of age in Mecca, and before he returned to the city in his later life. Empty Quarter: The Empty Quarter, which has no borders—just sand, is far from boring. Whether you come on a camel safari, to drive 4x4s through the dunes, or to visit with the nomadic tribes who call this place home, this is probably a destination for which you'll want to have a guide.Mada'in Saleh: It is a city that's similar in design and origin to the Lost City of Petra (which is no longer "lost" at all) in Jordan. Mada'in Saleh dates back to the Nabatean Kingdom of the 1st century. In 2008, UNESCO proclaimed Mada'in Salih as a site of patrimony, becoming Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site.Red Sea: It's tempting to think of Saudi Arabia as a land of nothing but desert, but the country has incredibly long coastlines on both the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world.Tourism in Saudi Arabia: Frequently asked questionsDo women need to cover themselves when in Saudi?For tourists, the only requirement is to dress modestly. This means avoiding tight-fitting clothes and showing legs or chest. It is not necessary for foreign women to cover their hair. Controversial messages or pictures on shirts are also to be avoided.Can you drink alcohol in Saudi Arabia?No, it is not possible to bring alcohol in Saudi Arabia and the consumption of alcohol or drugs anywhere in the country, for anyone, is illegal.How easy is it to get around in Saudi Arabia?Without a doubt, the best way to get around is by car. There are no buses in the cities, which means public transportation is non-existent. There is the option for UBER and Careem, but the distances are very far in the cities, so the price will be quite expensive.Do places really close 5 times a day for prayer?Yes, mostly everything closes in the city (except airports, hospitals, etc) 5 times a day during prayer time, lasting about 25-45 minutes each time.

Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and traditions have been shaped by its position as a historic trade hub and the birthplace of Islam. In recent years, the Kingdom has undergone a significant cultural transformation, evolving century-old customs to fit the contemporary world we live in today, and one of the sectors that were significantly changed is tourism in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country that occupies most of the Arabian peninsula and has coastlines on the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea. It is bordered by  Jordan to the northwest, Iraq and Kuwait to the northeast, Bahrain and Qatar to the east, United Arab Emirates to the southeast, and Oman and Yemen to the south. The Kingdom is home to the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina, to which all physically and financially able Muslims are required to make "Hajj" at least once if possible.

The main types of tourism in Saudi Arabia include leisure tourism and religious pilgrimage tourism. However, Saudi Arabia entered the travel and tourism sector by opening its heart and borders to the world to come discover the kingdom with the historic launch of tourist e-visa in 2019. 

The best time to visit Saudi Arabia is during winter between the months of late October and early March. However, Asir Mountains, located in the south-western part of Saudi Arabia, are impregnable in winters due to excessive fog and should be visited either before November or after February. Winters in Saudi Arabia are calm and pleasant, with the maximum temperature not going beyond 30°C, and there is slight rainfall as well. Summers are very hot, with temperatures often crossing 40°C. Being a hot desert where temperatures go as high as 50°C and relatively less rainfall, Saudi Arabia’s climate is one of the driest in the world.

Tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia

Now that tourist travel is allowed to Saudi Arabia it's time to start planning your trip. Here's a list of the kingdom's most stunning destinations and tourist attractions:

Jeddah: The Bride of the Red sea, it is a large city with an outstandingly beautiful old town and an amazing waterfront. Jeddah is known as a relatively liberal and laid back city.

Riyadh: The bustling national capital and most populous city of the Kingdom, which is also home to the Kingdom's main airport. Kingdom Centre Tower is such an iconic symbol of Saudi Arabia's capital. In Riyadh, you can enjoy shopping, entertainment, and eating in its thousands of restaurants.

Mecca & Medina: Mecca is the highest-profile holy place in Saudi Arabia and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, but if you read Islamic history, you'll realize that Medina is also quite important—the Prophet Muhammad taught there for a number of years after he came of age in Mecca, and before he returned to the city in his later life. 

Empty Quarter: The Empty Quarter, which has no borders—just sand, is far from boring. Whether you come on a camel safari, to drive 4x4s through the dunes, or to visit with the nomadic tribes who call this place home, this is probably a destination for which you'll want to have a guide.

Mada'in Saleh: It is a city that's similar in design and origin to the Lost City of Petra (which is no longer "lost" at all) in Jordan. Mada'in Saleh dates back to the Nabatean Kingdom of the 1st century. In 2008, UNESCO proclaimed Mada'in Salih as a site of patrimony, becoming Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site.

Red Sea: It's tempting to think of Saudi Arabia as a land of nothing but desert, but the country has incredibly long coastlines on both the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world.

Tourism in Saudi Arabia: Frequently asked questions

Do women need to cover themselves when in Saudi?

For tourists, the only requirement is to dress modestly. This means avoiding tight-fitting clothes and showing legs or chest. It is not necessary for foreign women to cover their hair. Controversial messages or pictures on shirts are also to be avoided.

Can you drink alcohol in Saudi Arabia?

No, it is not possible to bring alcohol in Saudi Arabia and the consumption of alcohol or drugs anywhere in the country, for anyone, is illegal.

How easy is it to get around in Saudi Arabia?

Without a doubt, the best way to get around is by car. There are no buses in the cities, which means public transportation is non-existent. There is the option for UBER and Careem, but the distances are very far in the cities, so the price will be quite expensive.

Do places really close 5 times a day for prayer?

Yes, mostly everything closes in the city (except airports, hospitals, etc) 5 times a day during prayer time, lasting about 25-45 minutes each time.

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