For the first time, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has publicized that it will be opening its doors to tourism by issuing an electronic visa for visitors coming from 49 countries — comprising the United States.
And over the past few years, the government has also announced the launch of numerous ambitious projects, comprising an entertainment mega-city in Riyadh (apparently, twice the size of Orlando’s Disney World), an innovative beach destination on the coast of the Red Sea, and the restoration of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Also, to attract Western travelers and market itself as a tourist destination — on par with the immediate Gulf States — Saudi Arabia has relieved some of its traditional limitations, like granting women’s rights to travel without a guardian, curbing the control of the moral police, allowing unmarried tourist couples to rent hotel rooms, and comforting dress codes.
So if you are planning to book your holiday to explore this land, here are a few of the places that you can explore.
- The Ruins of Al Ula
The stunning area in the kingdom’s northwest is dispersed by golden rock developments, lush citrus farmsteads, and numerous ancient kingdoms’ remnants. The most well-known ruins, Mada’in Saleh, comprise clusters of 2,000-year-old Nabatean tombs. Think of Jordan’s Petra, without the crowd.
2. Saudi Arabia’s “Maldives”
The unspoiled islands near the towns of Umluj and Al Wajh are also partly off-limits as the government plans a tourism development called the Red Sea Project. But the low turquoise water and coral reefs around the islands are worth hiring one of the native boatmen to discover what they call their version of the Maldives. In the winter, dolphins can be seen.
3. The Mountainous South
Saudi Arabia’s southern region of Asir is far away from the sandy capital of Riyadh. Summer showers bring greenery to melodramatic mountain viewpoints and local men wear aromatic crowns of flowers in their hair. Popular activities include here are hiking and touring the historic village of Rijal Alma.
4. Al Wahbah Volcanic Center
Al Wahbah has become common with hikers in recent years, though it is a challenge. As the hollow is 820 ft. deep, it takes proficient hikers about two to three hours to get down and back up again. For those wanting something a bit less active, it is also a prevalent camping spot.
5. Historic Jeddah and the Gate to Mecca
Another Unesco World Heritage Site is the historic Jeddah and the Gate to Mecca.
In the 7th Century CE, Jeddah was recognized as both a major port for the Indian Ocean trade route and as the entrance for Muslim travelers who arrived by sea on their way to the spiritual city of Mecca.
6. King Fahd’s Fountain
King Fahd’s Fountain is said to be the tallest fountain in the world. The Conservatives estimate that the fountain, which was given to the city by the late King Fahd, can shoot salt water up to 853 ft. (260 meters) high – although some guesses put this closer to 1,000 ft. At night, it is lit up by more than 500 focused lights.
This is certainly not the end of the list of things that you can explore, but rather, it’s just a glimpse of what you can explore. From explorations such as hiking and stargazing in the vast blazing desert and discovering the 2,000km coastline to soaking up the rich and diverse culture, Saudi Arabia offers astonishing travel experiences for the discerning traveler. So book your flight tickets and explore this beautiful land with us today!