|As mentioned above, one of the major draws with Saudi Arabia is for religious reasons. Saudi holds the two holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina which Muslims must make a ‘Hajj’ (traditional Muslim pilgrimage) to at least once in their lives if possible.
The Hajj involves about 2 million people every year, at the same time, making the trip into Saudi Arabia. There are two points to note with this: first, only Muslims can visit the holy cities, and if you enter on a Hajj visa you are only permitted to visit the places which are on the Hajj route. Second, because there are so many people entering Saudi Arabia at this time, if you are coming for any other purpose you would be far better off visiting at another time of year, if at all possible.
In addition to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia has several other cities of interest to a visitor. Jeddah is a city at the gateway to Mecca and Medina, on the Red Sea. The old town, Balad, has ancient buildings and traditional souks, whilst Jeddah’s Fountain is quite a spectacle – it is the highest in the world.
Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia. One place here definitely worth visiting is the Kingdom Centre. This is a huge 305 metre high piece of inspiring modern architecture and is the tallest building in Saudi Arabia. The 99th floor Skybridge is quite spectacular as it connects the two towers.
The National Museum is also highly recommended and has extensive displays and video presentations and the neighbouring Murubba Palace is worth a visit too.
Outside of the cities, there are mountains and lots of desert! The Empty Quarter, is just that, empty! It is the largest expanse of continuous sand in the world. Desert expeditions are popular here and feature some fantastic scenery.
The ancient Nabataean ruined city of Madain Saleh is similar in style to the city of Petra in Jordan. This site is being considered for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and would certainly attract more visitors if it became so, but currently it is not easy to access.