Visiting Saudi Arabia isn’t necessarily the usual destination choice for an annual vacation. That isn’t really for any derogatory reason, just for the fact that it is a nation that is relatively shrouded in mystery from an international perspective, and which didn’t open up its doors to the prospect of international tourism until recently.
With that considered, a visit to the Saudi kingdom can make for a “once in a lifetime” that all of your friends and family will be jealous of. Here’s why you should consider adding Saudi Arabia to your travel bucket list.
Middle Eastern hospitality is real, and that couldn’t be more evident than when travelling in the Saudi Kingdom. People will greet you warmly, offer you tea when you enter their stores and businesses and take a great pleasure in introducing you to their country and culture.
It Holds Spiritual Importance
As an Islamic nation, Saudi Arabia is home to Mecca which is a life-changing pilgrimage for followers of Islam. If you are Christian however, you will have the opportunity to conduct your own pilgrimage here in order to visit sites that are depicted in the Bible – such as the mountain where Moses received the ten commandments and the rock which he is said to have split in two.
Some of the world’s oldest historical and archaeological sites are waiting for you in Saudi Arabia. It is believed that it was here that the very first humans came to roam the earth (aka Adam and Eve) and you can visit Eve’s tomb as a part of your trip. There are also numerous Nabataean ruins scattered throughout the kingdom which are equally as impressive as the world renowned “lost” city of Petra, Jordan.
Arabic food is a wonderful infusion of spices and flavours that we are simply not used to seeing in western cooking. Be sure to experiment with the much adored national dishes like kabsa (marinated meat served with rice) or mandi and muttabaq. The great thing about dining out in Saudi Arabia is that its proximity and close relation to other middle Eastern nations means that there is a really broad range of food choices available. So if you wish to eat Saudi food for breakfast, Yemeni food for lunch and Lebanese food for dinner then you can go right ahead and enjoy the diversity available.
Everything always seems better when the sun is out, doesn’t it? Saudi Arabia is known to get incredibly hot, especially during the summer months so you should plan your trip accordingly. With that said, sitting outside enjoying an Arabic mezze while the sun is shining is sure to brighten up your mood. Though you must adhere to a respectable dress code while traveling in the kingdom, Western hotels and resorts follow more lax dress codes and so as such, there is still the opportunity to return home with a good suntan!
Taking a desert safari and camping beneath the stars Bedouin style is a must while in the Middle East. Aside from the arid desert landscapes, however, there are also other fascinating natural wonders in Saudi Arabia. For instance, the Al Wahbah crater is a huge crater in an otherwise nondescript desert. Though no plants or vegetation grow in the desert, there is an entire oasis around the crater. That’s interesting in itself, sure, however, the fascinating thing about the crater is that it holds expansive salt flats right in the centre of it. Some of the scenery in Saudi Arabia is unlike anything else you can find in the world.
Your visit to Saudi Arabia is an opportunity to discover more about a culture that is wholly different to that which you are used to. Though the differences between Saudi and British life are vast and may cause a little culture shock in the beginning, experiencing these first hand gives you a valuable opportunity to learn things from a different perspective. Saudi Arabia is arguably one of the most misunderstood countries on this earth. After traveling through the kingdom, though you may not identify with all aspects of the culture exactly, you will at least see things from fresh eyes and gain a valuable insight into the way that people in the Middle East live their lives.
Just like people from anywhere else in the world, the Saudis love to have fun. Whereas the UK may have prominent music festivals like Glastonbury, Saudi Arabia has its own festivals. One such example is the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival which happens annually each spring and is free to attend. The festival includes a number of “only in Saudi Arabia” events and attractions, including camel racing, camel beauty pageants and live music performances.
If you are the type of person that likes exploring eerie and abandoned places then you might be startled to discover that Saudi Arabia is quite a perfect place for that. There are numerous villages and settlements around the country that lay in abandon after they became too outdated for modern civilisations or after the people living in them simply moved on. As an example, the mysterious city of Al Ula is a ghost town that dates back over 2000 years. Walking through its winding streets and past its tiny houses is like navigating your way through a complex labyrinth. Similarly, Dhee Ayn Marble Village is a beautifully picturesque village surrounded by lush greenery that was abandoned when it’s residents moved elsewhere. Even the road approaching Dhee Ayn is eerie since several outposts still stand, guarding the derelict city against intruders.
It’s Completely New to Tourism
Since Saudi Arabia has only just opened its gates to the prospects of international tourism, you will be traveling in one of the world’s least visited countries, and being one of the first people to experience everything the kingdom has to offer. By traveling here, you will be the envy of all of your friends!