Entertainment, excursions and attractions in Saudi Arabia
95% of foreigners go to Saudi Arabia in order to touch the most ancient Muslim shrines, but the land inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. e., rich in other treasures. The nature of the peninsula is full of life oases in the middle of endless deserts, impregnable Al-Hijaz mountains, national parks with endemic flora and fauna. And in the midst of this splendor are palaces and gardens, mosques and fortresses, monuments of the past and present. According to populationmonster, Riyadh is one of the largest cities in Saudi Arabia.
The symbol of old Riyadh is the Masmak fortress, built in 1865 from sandstone in the shape of a regular quadrangle. Now in a building with narrow windows, battlements and round towers, there is a historical museum. The Burj Al-Mamlaka skyscraper, which belongs to the ruling dynasty, and the Al-Fayzaliya tower, crowned with a giant glass ball, are returning to modern times.
The historical complex of Abdul-Aziz includes the former royal residence of Murabba, a well-groomed park and the red-brick Al-Madi Mosque.
Dirayah is the first capital of Saudi Arabia, founded in the 15th century and soon destroyed to the ground. Now it is a famous archaeological site with ruins of palaces, temples and ramparts. Mecca and Medina are full of iconic Islamic sites, from the Great Mosque to the tombs of the Prophet Muhammad and his daughter Fatima.
In Ed Dammam there is an ethnomuseum “Heritage Village” and a cliff with the eloquent name Cornice, and on the coastal islands of Darin and Tarut there are ruins of centuries-old port buildings. Al Khobar is connected to Bahrain by the 25 km King Fadh Bridge. El Qatif grew up on the site of an ancient port in the Persian Gulf, and the Abqaiq salt mines have been developed for more than 5,000 years in a row.
In the vicinity of Al Jubail, the remains of a Christian church of the 4th century were found, Al Hofuf is the heart of one of the largest oases on the planet with an old fort and an authentic market. In the cool Abha, the Shada palace flaunts, which once belonged to King Abdul-Aziz, in Domat el-Jandal there is a Nabataean fortress and a functioning mosque of the 7th century. And the most mysterious city of the kingdom is Madain Salih with huge stone tombs, reminiscent of the Jordanian Petra.
Horse racing with the participation of horses from the royal stables, excursions to the desert dwellings of the Bedouins, ATV racing and falconry will help diversify your leisure time. Diving, yachting and deep-sea fishing are popular on the coast, and the favorite pastimes of the locals are camel races, team games and even beauty contests among the “ships of the desert”.
Arabian natural parks are also delightful. The immense Asir is mountains (including the highest in the kingdom of Jebel Saud), forests, deserts, gardens of pomegranates and limes, a whole kaleidoscope of landscapes. The Farasan archipelago is inhabited by 87 species of sea birds, as well as gazelles, dugongs and turtles. Red granite cliffs rise in the north, goitered gazelles and white oryx live in the central regions, the south is dotted with dried-up wadis, gravel plateaus and cliffs.
Holidays and events
Almost all holidays in Saudi Arabia are religious, celebrated according to the lunar calendar. The end of Ramadan marks Eid al-Fitr, aka Eid al-Fitr with the obligatory collection of alms, prayers, visits to guests and feasts. After 70 days, Kurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha) comes with ritual ablutions and sacrifices. Laylat al-Mi’raj is the day of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascension to heaven, and Mawlid al-Nabi is his birthday.
The only secular holiday is September 23, the date of the unification of the territories of Najd, Al-Has, Hijaz and Qatif into a single state under the leadership of Abdul-Aziz.
In February, the grandiose festival of folklore and culture “Jinadriya” thunders in Riyadh and its environs, the main venue of which is the oasis of the same name. Dance shows are held everywhere (the Arda and Al-Mizmar dances are especially interesting), exhibitions of arts and crafts, poetry readings and, of course, camel races. And the most spectacular royal camel race starts a little later, in April-May.
The annual fair in Taif has been held since the 6th century, when representatives of different tribes gathered to discuss news, conclude agreements and generally have a good time. Today, the program includes all kinds of competitions, lectures, honoring poets and handicraft sales. And there are two festivals in Jeddah: summer with concerts and fireworks under the auspices of the largest shopping centers and winter with folklore performances and fun activities for kids.
The Arabian Red Sea coast is an ideal destination for divers and snorkelers. In the local waters, there are about 2,000 species of corals (including the rarest black ones), multi-colored “gardens” stretch for 1,800 km. Due to the fact that the country has long remained closed to tourists, the reefs are almost untouched and delight with pristine beauty. Dolphins, humpback whales, moray eels, sea urchins, sharks and all kinds of deep-sea fish live here, sunken ships lie at the bottom, caves and canyons beckon with secrets.
The best time for diving is autumn and spring: there is little rain, the air is not too hot, the water temperature is +25… +28 ° C, visibility is up to 30 m.
The list of the most popular dive sites includes the Ala coral reef, where you can meet sea devils, Campechin snappers with neon pink scales, triggerfish, and most importantly, reef, whale and hammerhead sharks. The wall Redma Wall with a depth of up to 12 m submits to divers with any level of training, and the heavy load Boiler Wreck (18-45 m) is masters of wall, cave and wreck diving.
Certified dive schools are open in the vicinity of Jeddah and Ed-Dammam: beginners are offered instructor services, advanced divers can rent equipment and boats, organize one-day and multi-day tours and safaris. Training courses cost from 500 SAR, private tours with transfers, equipment and drinks – about 3500-4000 SAR.