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SPECIAL INTERESTS

From castles and craters to deserts and beaches, an endless array of interests relating to such elements may rush into your mind.

 

Here are a few special interests that might nudge you towards that which you seek

Natural Wonders

From breathtaking landscapes including seas, coastlines, deserts and oases, Saudi Arabia is a kingdom bursting with beauty. Nature is abundant, offering an extraordinary variety ranging from mountain ranges to paradise islands. Here are some examples of Saudi Arabia’s natural wonders

The Red Sea

The Red Sea is an inlet of the Indian Ocean that lies between Africa and Asia. It is renowned for its light-filled reefs teeming with marine life and historic wrecks that are accessible to recreational divers.

 

Deserts

Saudi Arabia has five deserts, which have bested kings and nomads for thousands of years. More recently however, they have become an attraction for adventurous travelers who want to experience a real natural wonder. Deserts have also become an attraction for avid campers, hikers and star gazers alike.

Al Ahsa – The world’s largest self-contained oasis

In the eastern Arabian Peninsula, the Al-Ahsa Oasis is a serial property comprising gardens, canals, springs, wells and a drainage lake, as well as historical buildings, urban fabric and archaeological sites. They represent traces of continued human settlement in the Gulf region from the Neolithic to the present, as can be seen from remaining historic fortresses, mosques, wells, canals and other water management systems. With its 2.5 million date palms, it is the largest oasis in the world. Al-Ahsa is also a unique ecocultural landscape and an exceptional example of human interaction with the environment.

 

Taif – The City of Roses

Every year, the air in Taif fills with the sweet scent of the city’s famous 30-petal damask roses in bloom. More than 900 rose farms produce well over 300 million flowers, which are harvested to produce the world’s most expensive rose oil, or attar. See the entire operation firsthand with a guided visit to one of the city’s rose factories, or head to Taif’s central market to browse and buy rose-scented oil, water, fragrance and soaps.

 

Al-Ula – An outdoor museum full of Natural Wonders

An outdoor museum on its own curated by nature, Al-Ula showcases dramatic rock formations, sand-swept dunes, lush valleys, canyons, cliffs and ancient basalt lava flows that rival the majestic wonders carved by ancient settlers.

Ancient Civilizations

Amid the arid desert and mountains of Al Ula in northwest Saudi Arabia, archaeologists are excavating sites related to the 2000 years old Dadanite (Thamud) and Lihyanite civilizations. Dadan (Thamud) is mentioned in the Old Testament and the Lihyanite kingdom was one of the largest of its time, stretching from Medina in the South to Aqaba in the north in modern-day Jordan.

 

Al Ula, a flagship tourist destination since it opened in 2019, is known chiefly for the majestic tombs of Madain Saleh, a 2,000-year-old city carved into rocks by the people of Thamud and the governing Nabateans, who were a pre-Islamic Arab people who also built Petra in neighboring Jordan.

 

Below are some sites that you cannot afford to miss if you are an old civilizations buff

 

 

Al Ula

one of the world’s great natural masterpieces. This historically rich oasis at the crossroads of the Silk Road and the Incense Route has also been called the world’s largest living museum. Its dramatic rock formations, sand-swept dunes, lush valleys of swaying palm trees are places of extraordinary beauty. Here are a few must-visit sites:

Tombs at Hegra

The largest conserved site of the people of Thamud and their governing Nabataeans south of Petra, in Jordan, these well-preserved tombs feature beautifully carved facades dating back to the first century B.C.

Rock art at Jabal Ikmah

Referred to as the largest “open library” in Saudi, Jabal Ikmah features the most extensive and varied collection of pre-Arabic inscriptions in the kingdom.

Ancient Capital of Dadan

Among the most significant discoveries in all of Al-Ula is the city of Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan kingdoms.


 

Ḥimā

Cultural Area, Najran Province is an ancient Paleolithic and Neolithic site that is home to a large collection of rock art depictions showing hunting, animals, flora, and lifestyles across a 7,000-year cultural continuity.

 

The Al Naslaa Rock Formation

located in Tayma Oasis, is made of high-density sedimentary rock, and shows significant evidence of weathering and erosion. However, the pedestal beneath it has eroded more quickly, the petroglyphs upon it are thousands of years old, and the extremely smooth fissure down its center is not yet fully explained. Al naslaa is interesting not only from a geological perspective, but also from an archaeological one.

Culture & Heritage

The culture of Saudi Arabia is defined by its Islamic heritage, its historical role as an ancient trade center, and its Bedouin traditions. The Saudi society has evolved over the years, their values and traditions from customs, hospitality to their style of dressing, are adapting with modernization. The cultural aspect of Saudi Arabia is represented in the following:

 

  • Depth of its civilization that dates back to 20 thousand years, which is confirmed by the archaeological evidence and the heritage prevalent in this country.

  • It was the land of many kingdoms and states that prevailed in the evolution of human civilization.

  • Its distinguished geographical location made it a point of intersection of international trade routes through all the ages.

  • Being the cradle of Arabism and Islam and the country of The Two Holy Mosques.

  • Being a crossroads of cultures and a bridge for cultural communication.

 

As a culture and heritage enthusiast, you undoubtedly know that a good way to discover a country’s heritage is by visiting its UNESCO-designated Heritage sites. Visit the “UNESCO Heritage Sites” section of this website for more info.

Caving

Saudi Arabia is renowned for its stunning caves, many of which are sites of historical and non-secular significance. More than 230 caves have been discovered within the Kingdom’s deserts. So if you are an avid caver or spelunker, here’s a list of the best four caves to visit in Saudi Arabia:

Jabal Al-Qarra

or Mount Qarah is a cave system located near Hofuf within the Al Hasa Oasis of Saudi Arabia’s Easter Province. It offers a definite labyrinth of natural caves made of sandstone, clay, marl, and sedimentary rocks.

Shuwaimis Cave

One of the longest caves in Saudi Arabia stretching 530m located in the Hail region of the kingdom.

Heet Cave

Located close to Mount Al Jubayl within the small village of Heet in Riyadh. It has an underground lake and stunning interior chambers. Cave diving enthusiasts as well as regular visitors regularly visit this cave because of the clearest and bluest waters it offers.

 

Dharb Al Najem

Or “the Cave of the Fallen Star'' is rumored by some to be the location of a fallen meteor. It is located within the desert east of Majma’ah in the Riyadh Province of the kingdom. The cave incorporates a single chamber measuring around 100 meters in diameter.