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Things to see and do in Saudi Arabia

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Attractions in Saudi Arabia

Discover Medain Saleh

A southern cousin to the staggering Jordanian site of Petra, the ruins of Medain Saleh are one of the true wonders of the world. Across a wide plain there stands ancient sandstone mountains, into which the Dedan people thousands of years ago carved temples and burial sites. A place of some controversy to traditional Saudis, who think of history as beginning with the prophet, Medain Saleh is a visit that requires a police escort, for your safety.

Discover Timna

Explore the ornate ruins of Timna and Shiban, ancient cities resting amidst orchards of pomegranates, limes and bananas.

Drive down Corniche road

Tour Jeddah's astounding corniche road, which winds along the azure waters of the Red Sea. The city has worked to sculpt a pleasant sculpture park and path, which is kept cool by the waters of the sea.

Encounter Asir wildlife

Witness the astonishing landscape and wildlife of the Asir, a range of coastal mountains and the only part of the kingdom where there is significant wild vegetation. Baboon, gazelle and leopard inhabit remoter areas.

Explore Taif

Look around in Taif to see pink palaces in between the stunning cliff-tops. Such beauty and a mild climate have made this town Saudi Arabia's official summer capital.

Go shopping

Go shopping in the traditional souks, large department stores and mall complexes. Shopping is a much-loved way to spend time in Saudi Arabia - possibly since there are no bars, casinos, nightclubs, theatres or cinemas.

Head to Tarut Island

View a picturesque settlement of fishermen and weavers on Tarut Island in the east of the country. It is also the site of the oldest town on the peninsula.

Journey to Mecca

Muslim visitors can make a pilgrimage to Mecca, which during the annual holy month of Ramadan can find more than two million visitors traveling to Saudi Arabia for the holy rite. A full visit – which if completed at another time during the year is called Umrah - will include time at the Kaabah, the Mountain of Light, the Plain of Arafat and the House of Abdullah Bin Abdul Muttalib, where Muhammad was born. Non-Muslims are forbidden from entering these holy sites.

Learn the skills of Jebel-al-Qara

Uncover some of Saudi Arabia's ancient crafts and skills. In Jebel-al-Qara, pottery is a skill that has been passed down by eight generations of the same family.

Make a splash in Obhir Creek

Enjoy the Obhir Creek, north of Jeddah. It has good facilities for watersports, including swimming, waterskiing, fishing, snorkelling and sailing. The Red Sea waters here are among the most beautiful in the region.

Marvel at Ottoman buildings

See the ragged, coral-coloured Ottoman buildings of the ancient city of Jeddah. Its hotels and restaurants are cosmopolitan and the city also features excellent fish and meat markets.

See the ancient saltmines of Abqaiq

See an ancient saltmine in use. The 5,000-year-old one in Abqaiq is still in operation.

Visit a camel market in Hofuf

Discover Hofuf, at the centre of the great Al-Hasa oasis, where you'll encounter a traditional Saudi camel market. This is where local agriculture thrives and no visit is complete without a complete sampling of fresh and dried Saudi dates.

Visit the royal city of Riyadh

Visit the royal capital, Riyadh, a modern city built on the site of the first town captured by Ibn Saud in 1902. The only trace of the old town that remains is the Masmak Fort and a few traditional Najdi palaces near Deera Square.

Watch the King's Cup

Each year, Riyadh plays host to a race that takes place on different days each spring during the national Heritage and Cultural Festival at Janadriyah. The annual event is one of the world's most important camel races, with something between 20,000 and 30,000 spectators, 2,000 camels and riders and a winnings purse of hundreds of thousands of dollars.