This year, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan has been in full force. One of the kingdom’s biggest moves was opening up its borders to international tourists.
The nation, whose visitors were once restricted to Muslims performing hajj or businessmen, has become a fully-fledged tourist destination overnight.
The best part of tourism in Saudi Arabia? With the nation having been secluded for so many years, its biggest landmarks have remained relatively untouched, making it one of the very few places in the world with land that has barely been walked on in the 21st century. And now, understandably, Saudi Tourism is booming.
But it’s only a matter of time before it gets overcrowded, so you might want to book your next holiday soon. To help you out with your planning process, we’ve rounded up some of the best landmarks in Saudi Arabia.
Petra might be the Nabatean’s best-known city, but Madain Saleh is its monumental, and best-preserved long-lost cousin. The ancient city, situated near the oasis town of Al Ula, was the first site to be recognized by UNESCO in the country, and is one of the Saudi Arabia’s best landmarks.
Al Ula Tantura
The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Al Ula, of course. The archaeological gem has been hidden in plain sight, having remained relatively unknown until recently. Spanning almost 14,000 square kilometres, the desert land is home to Madain Saleh, an oasis, as well as hundreds of other rock monuments.
Jeddah ghair, they say. The historic city of Al Balad is one of the reasons Jeddah is so different from the rest of the Kingdom. Having been founded in the 7th century, Al Balad was once the centre point of Jeddah, and is its oldest neighbourhood. It’s classified as a World Heritage Site, and once you take a walk through its maze-like streets and torn-up (but stunning) buildings, you’ll understand why.
King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture
Despite having opened only two years ago, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is essentially a landmark of its own in Saudi Arabia. No holiday to the kingdom is complete without a visit to the creative hub. After all, the centre has already been listed in Time magazine as one the world’s top places to visit.
Situated on the outskirts of the more-conservative Saudi Capital, Riyadh, Diriyah is a breath of fresh air. The town, which was the original home of the Saudi royal family, has transformed in recent years. It’s now also home to the Saudi Museum of Modern Art, which is located right in the midst of palm plantations and is made of traditional mud-brick architecture.
Comprised of 84 coral islands in the Red Sea, the remote archipelago is one of the region’s best diving destinations. Bath-water-warm all year round, these pristine waters are home to rays, dolphins, turtles, giant whale sharks and a myriad of fishes. It is the ultimate year-round gateway.
Abha, Aseer National Park
If you’re into sustainable wildlife and breathtaking, unforgettable landscapes; head to Aseer National Park. This evergreen region is home to some of the most rocky and rugged scenery in Saudi and showcases nature at its most incredible.