Saudi Arabia is one of the largest populated countries of the Arabian Peninsula hosting around 27 million people on its approximately 830,000 square miles of land. No surprise that it has a large number of neighboring states including Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, as well as has access to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The state is not only known to be rich in its natural resources, more precisely, oil, but it also has a long-lasting history and a lot to tell to its visitors. The country is largely known for having two of the Holy cities for Islam believers, that is Mecca and Medina. Overall Saudi Arabia is full of interesting sights, including the Al Musmak Castle, numerous religious and cultural museums.
The only issue faced by the tourists is the fact that Saudi Arabia doesn’t issue visas for the representatives of the Western culture, especially those who are not Muslim. To be applicable for a visit one needs to either have family/business in Saudi Arabia, or prove to be a Muslim wishing to go for a holy pilgrimage.
The start of the trip should be organized in the capital, Riyadh, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The city is a great combination of religious traditions and modern approaches. The place is clean, has developed transportation infrastructure, including railways. The most appealing part of it is the Musmak Castle built in the XIV century. As for the modern infrastructure, the first stop is the sky high Al Faisaliah, which is the first skyscraper built in Saudi Arabia. It opens up a wonderful view of the city from the top. There’s a luxury restaurant on top with a breathtaking view. The nightlife and any kind of night bars and clubs are strictly prohibited here.
Mecca is another option for those wishing to get back to the spiritual center of Islam, just like it is visiting Jerusalem. It is located on the slopes of the mountain range of Al Sarawat on the central western coast. It was here where Islam Prophet Mohammed was born. Though the place is closed for the visitors of other religions, the true Muslim believers will find a way to visit this spiritual place, as coming here at least once in their lives is a sacred duty for every Muslim.
Medina or Madina, or Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah (“the radiant city”) is the second holy city of Islam. The city center hosts the huge complex of al-Masjid an-Nabawi (Prophet’s Mosque), built on the site of a similar structure, which was built by Muhammad directly at the walls of his house. The site is very popular for housing a list of sacred places, including the graves of the Prophet, his daughter, the first caliph and the father of one of the wives of the Prophet and the second caliph.
Jeddah might not have any sacred places, but instead it’s the most important commercial, industrial and political center of the western region of Saudi Arabia. Located on the board with the Red Sea the city is rather cosmopolitan and has a mixed population from different parts of the world. The “Old Town” of city is called Al-Balad (founded in the V century BC.). This is an amazing complex of carefully restored buildings of all styles open to tourists. The old quarter is fully protected with the local law, thus one should be careful not to destroy anything there. Anyway the access for the tourist is a rather pleasant factor. The place is mostly inhabited with unique three- and five-storey buildings built from traditional local materials, including coral limestone blocks. This is why their appearance and color is just amazing. The “Old Town” is fully surrounded with the modern atmosphere including ultra-modern office and shopping complexes. But not to spoil the appearance of the old part all of the new buildings were built in accordance of the same architectural style as the ones in Al-Balad.
And finally another appeal of Saudi Arabia is commerce. The shopping culture is highly developed there due to the large number of simple shopping centers and informal markets, as well as the premium boutiques that attract thousands of shopaholics every year. The most common goods here are jewelry, perfumes and cosmetics. Typical to other Eastern countries, here the tourists will be able to bargain lowering the prices. The souvenirs are best to be bought not at the shopping centers but rather at large open-air markets, which are open until midnight.