In a historic move, Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to international visitors for the first time. Details of the new visa regime was announced on Friday evening at a gala event at Ad-Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Riyadh.
Visitors seeking unexplored heritage sites, an authentic cultural experience and breathtaking natural beauty will be surprised and delighted to discover Saudi Arabia’s many treasures. To help you plan your trip, here are some of the Kingdom’s most popular landmarks.
Saudi is home to 13 regions, each with a distinctive cultural tradition. The Kingdom also has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, they are:
- Madain Saleh in Al-Ula, the largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans south of Petra in Jordan.
- At-Turaif District in Ad-Diriyah, the first capital of the Saudi state.
- Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah, characterized by a distinctive architectural tradition.
- Rock Art in the Hail Region, showing 10,000-year old inscriptions of human and animal figures.
- Al-Ahsa Oasis, with 2.5 million date palms the largest oasis in the world.
It is also home to flourishing contemporary culture, with highlights that include:
- The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture in Dhahran
- The modernist sculpture park along the Corniche in Jeddah
- The Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Jeddah
- Nassif House in Jeddah’s Historical District
- The annual Flowerman Festival in Asir
- The Winter at Tantora festival in Al-Ula
- The Red Sea International Film Festival launching in March 2020
- Contemporary Saudi cuisine by Ali bin Yousef in Riyadh
- The art of Zahrah Al-Ghamdi, whose work is displayed at this year’s Venice Biennale
Saudi Arabia also boasts a surprisingly diverse range of landscapes, including the green mountains of Asir, the crystal waters of the Red Sea, the snow-covered winter plains of Tabuk and the shifting sands of the Empty Quarter.
A number of new tourist destinations are currently under construction, including the futuristic city of NEOM, the Qiddiya entertainment city near Riyadh and a range of luxury destinations by the Red Sea.
Source: Khaleej Times0