Saudi Arabia has just opened to tourism! And it is great news because it is an extraordinary country to be discovered. Indeed, Saudi Arabia retains an immense heritage. Authentic natural paradises, archaeological sites and unique history in the world. It was in fact here that Muhammad was born, and consequently Islam.
Saudi Arabia, Why Visit It
Saudi Arabia will be one of the new destinations of the future. Indeed, thanks to its considerable extension, its natural sceneries, its millennial history and its ancient traditions, this country really has a lot to offer.
Surely, the list of what to see in Saudi Arabia cannot miss its immense desert, but also its futuristic metropolises rich in history. Finally, you can take advantage of the beautiful beaches on the Red Sea, in the Hijaz region and the wonderful mountain scenery of the south.
Plan your trip
Saudi Arabia does not grant tourist visas, although a body has recently been created with the aim of encouraging archaeological and cultural tourism. The only foreigners allowed to enter the country are businessmen and Muslims on pilgrimage to Mecca. You can get Saudia Booking online.
Visiting visas can be obtained through an on-site sponsor who carries out the appropriate procedures on site. In addition to the visa, a passport with residual validity of at least six months from the date of travel is required.
Beyond Mecca and Taif, the holy cities of Islam where non-Muslims are not allowed, there are many places of interest in Saudi Arabia. Najran, for example, is one of the most fascinating and least-known cities in the country. It is located in the southeast of Saudi Arabia, in an oasis that stretches for about 20 km.
Inhabited for over 4000 years (it was an important stop on the Silk Road) it is still an important crossroads between Arabia and Yemen. The architecture is very accurate and people appear more extroverted than in the rest of the country.
The Al-Aan Palace, in particular, shows evident influences of Yemeni culture and dominates the city from the top of a rocky outcrop. The Fort is also worth seeing in Najran, built in 1942 with about sixty rooms, corrals and a mosque.
To the northwest is the plain of Madain Salah, the most famous archaeological site of the kingdom famous for its tombs carved into the rock. They are less spectacular than those of Petra, Jordan, but certainly better preserved. They were only discovered in 1880 by the scholar Charles Doughty.
Qasr Farid, the largest tomb, stands majestically in the desert. You can visit the site independently by renting a car or with an organized excursion. Four hundred and fifty thousand hectares are instead of the Asir National Park, which extends from the southern shores of the Red Sea to the desert areas east of the Saudi mountains.
Here is the country’s highest peak: Jebel Sawdah (2910 m). The Shada Palace, built in 1927 and transformed into a museum in 1987, is one of the few buildings found within the Park. Another jewel of Saudi Arabia, still little known, is Domat Al-Jandal.
It is a small town that is home to the ruins of Qasr Marid and the Omar Mosque, built in the mid-7th century and one of the oldest in the kingdom.
Things to do Before You Plan Your Trip to Saudi Arabia
Although there is strict gender segregation in Saudi Arabia, have women recently organized themselves into a protest movement called “Enough Embarrassment”? In fact, women are prohibited from driving a car, voting or traveling without a male “guardian”, chosen from among their family members.
1. Famous characters
Al-Hilal is the country’s most famous football club and is based in Riyadh. The most famous Saudi footballers who have played in the club are Sami Al-Jaber and Yousuf Al-Thunayan. They also played for the Saudi national team for many years.
2. To read
The way of incense. On the trail of the ancient caravans across the Arabian Peninsula by Aldo Pavan (Geo next). The incense route ran through the south of present-day Saudi Arabia and was so important and well-traveled that it turned the country into a happy island: Arabia Felix, in fact.
However, the incense route is not only a commercial artery, but one of the routes on which the history of humanity has passed.
3. To listen to
In Saudi Arabia, a fatwa (condemnation) has established that listening to music is not anti-Islamic. Yet the most conservative part of the Muslim world argues that music should not be heard even at home.
4. To be seen
Baraka by Ron Fricke (1992). It is a documentary film directed by the former cinematographer of many of Godfrey Reggio’s films. Filmed in 152 locations in 24 different countries, including Saudi Arabia. It contains no dialogue.
5. Typical products
In addition to copies of the Koran, sold practically everywhere, you can buy carpets, perfumes, incense and traditional headdresses such as the ghutra and the Shayla worn by men and women respectively.
As for the jewels, they are very beautiful and are made of silver. Among the most interesting souks, there are those of Khamis Muchayt and Najran. The important thing, to conclude a good deal, is to know how to bargain and be patient.
6.Traditions and folklore
The most important holidays in Saudi Arabia are linked to the Islamic religion. The most important period of the Islamic calendar is that of Ramadan. It falls in the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year and implies the observance of fasting during the day.
All the shops are closed and only when the sun goes down do the holidays explode and collective prayers are celebrated. Ramadan ends with a party particularly popular with children: Eid al-Fitr, which involves the exchange of sweets.
Eid al-Adha, also nicknamed “Great Feast”, commemorates the miracle that Allah performed by replacing Abraham’s son with a ram during the sacrifice. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of the Pilgrimage. September 23, finally, is celebrated as the National Day which commemorates the reunification of the territories, which took place in 1932.
7. At the table
Islamic law prohibits the consumption of pork and alcoholic beverages. Arabian bread known as khubz is eaten during almost all meals. Among the most popular dishes, there are grilled chicken, falafel, chickpeas boiled and fried after having been mixed with parsley and cumin, shawarma, roasted lamb, and full of boiled beans, garlic and lemon. Among the drinks, camel milk, Arabian coffee and mint tea stand out.
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