Saudi Arabia is perhaps one of the most misunderstood countries in the world. It is extremely popular among Muslims from all over the world as it is like heaven for the Islamic world. The country serves as the host of millions of Muslim visitors each year that come for the well-known Pilgrimage, also called Hajj or Umrah, to Mecca. The pilgrimage is considered to be mandatory for all Muslims and it must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by those who are physically and financially capable to do it.
Yet, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has only recently opened up to visitors who are non-Muslims. The recent decision of issuing tourist visas has created the opportunity for this Middle Eastern country to be explored and discovered entirely. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a hidden treasure of our world that it is still not fully discovered and appreciated at its true value. It was well-known that Saudi Arabia was extremely opened to individuals who came with business or work purposes. However, the new initiative is also encouraging tourism. The sudden change of approach regarding issuing tourist visas more easily is well-embraced by Middle Eastern lovers who wanted to visit Saudi Arabia for a long time. The most interesting aspect of the new initiative of Saudi Arabia regarding tourism is that apart from boosting international tourists to come to Saudi Arabia, but also for the Saudi population to have the opportunity to explore more of their country.
Now that visiting Saudi Arabia is easier than it has ever been, read below the treasures that can be found there that make the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a top travel destination.
The Spiritual Heaven for Muslims
Although it is no surprise in the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is perceived like Heaven for Muslims, it is certainly an aspect worth mentioning. Mecca and Al Medina represent the most Islamic holy sites. Mecca is known as the city where the Prophet Muhammad was born. It is the home of the largest mosque in the world, Al-Haram Mosque, built to accommodate a large number of Muslims who participate in the pilgrimage. The second holiest Muslim city is Al Medina. It is the city where the Prophet has received refugee after being exiled from Mecca. Also, Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad has received some of his final revelations from Allah in Al Medina before he was finally laid to rest. The city is also the home of the mosque of the Prophet which contains the burial place of him. Although the two cities are off-limits to non-Muslims, the spirituality, the history, and the valuable traditions of their culture can be overwhelmingly emotional.
Endless Beaches on the Red Sea
Little is known about the fact that Saudi Arabia has endless beaches on the Red Sea. From cities such as Jeddah, Yanbu, and Al-lith, tourists can access stunning beach sites which offer top diving experiences and warm temperatures. Saudi Arabia is a diverse environmentally country both in fauna and flora. Tourists who love diving will have a spectacular experience as they can encounter rays, turtles, colorful reef fish, and dolphins. Saudi Arabia has created an ambitious tourism project called Red Sea Project. This initiative aims to help its visitors discover the hidden natural treasures and rich cultural heritage of the country’s Red Sea Coast.
Spectacular Mixture Between Old and New
The capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is a spectacular mixture between the old and the new. The futuristic-looking buildings combined with well-preserved historical buildings make Riyadh a surprising location. It is one of the wealthiest cities in the world as numerous large companies of the world have their corporate headquarters there. There are numerous 5 star hotels in Riyadh and some of the finest restaurants in the country which offer top-class services to their visitors. The city offers a fusion of tradition, culture, and modernity resulting in a liberal atmosphere that has never been felt before. The name of the city can be literally translated as „garden” which is highly representative of what it offers to its visitors. Numerous flower beds, parks, and so both old and new buildings dive in greenery which creates the impression of an enormous garden.
Five UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Among the most worth-visiting hidden treasures of Saudi Arabia are the sites which have been added in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Five of the UNESCO world heritage sites can be found in Saudi Arabia, all of which are cultural.
Al-hijr Archaeological Site has become a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. It is an ancient archeological site that originates back from the pre-Islamic times and has a critical cultural significance.
At-turaif District of ad-Dir’iyah was the first capital of the country. The district has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 as it is the host of remains of urban ensemble and palaces that were built along the oasis edge of ad-Dir’iyah.
The Historic Jeddah was recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia in 2014. Located along the eastern shore of the Red Sea, it has served as an essential port for trade routes.
The Rock Art of the Hail Region was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2015. The site plays an important cultural role as it consists of petroglyphs rock art which were carved using stone hammers. The inscriptions have as main subjects humans and animal figures.
Al-Ahsa Oasis was recently recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia in 2018. It is a unique geo-cultural landscape which comprises gardens, canals, historical buildings, and archaeological sites.
Saudi Arabia is certainly one of the top travel destinations worth-visiting at least once in a lifetime. There are various treasures to uncover of this one of the Middle East’s finest settlements and numerous glimpses of Saudi Arabian life to explore.