Exploring Saudi Arabia

Fri, 05, 24

Read on to learn about some of the interesting tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia...

Exploring Saudi Arabia


Like most people, Saudi Arabia, to me, was a country I revered because it is home to two of our holiest places – the holy Ka’ba and Masjid-e-Nabvi. It was not on my bucket list for travelling to interesting places because until recently, Saudi Arabia’s visa was restricted to Jeddah, Makkah, and Madina. Pilgrims’ movements were strictly monitored, and anyone caught in violation of the visa was was severely punished. Nonetheless, pilgrims could enjoy the historical and holy places in Makkah and Madina. However, Saudi Arabia has been opening up to tourism in recent years as part of its efforts to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

To this end, Saudi Arabia has taken several steps. It introduced tourist visas in 2019, allowing visitors from eligible countries to enter the country for leisure purposes. Also, the introduction of an electronic visa system has made it easier for tourists to apply for visas online. Additionally, the country has been promoting its historical and cultural sites, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of AlUla, to attract tourist. The roads, hotels, resorts, and transportation facilities for tourists are world-class.

So, this time around, when I went to visit my brother who works in Saudi Arabia, I did a bit of tourism. I visited a few places and added a few more to my bucket list. Read on to learn about some of the interesting tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia...

Exploring Saudi Arabia

For the history buffs

If you love historical places, Hegra, also known as Mada’in Saleh, will bowl you over. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, in recognition of its significance in human history. Located in the AlUla region of Saudi Arabia, Hegra was once a thriving city of the Nabatean Kingdom. Renowned for its well-preserved tombs and rock-cut facades, Hegra showcases the architectural and artistic achievements of the Nabateans. Visitors to Hegra can experience its beauty in a unique way by hopping on a horse carriage and witnessing the picturesque evening skies as part of a private tour, while local rawis or storytellers share the site’s fascinating history.

People interested in archaeology will be fascinated by over a hundred elaborately decorated tombs, many of which are adorned with intricate carvings and inscriptions. These tombs served as final resting places for the Nabatean elite and offer a glimpse into the rich cultural and religious practices of the Nabatean civilization.

Old Najran city is another attraction for those interested in ancient history. The city dates back to thousands of years, with archaeological evidence suggesting human habitation since ancient times. It has been a crossroads for various civilizations and cultures, including the ancient South Arabian kingdoms, the Nabateans, and the Romans.

Najran is known for its traditional mud-brick architecture, which is characteristic of the region. The old town of Najran, known as Al-Ukhdood, features narrow alleyways, historic buildings, and traditional souks, providing a glimpse into the city’s past. The city is also home to several archaeological sites, including ancient ruins, tombs, and rock inscriptions.

Exploring Saudi Arabia

The majestic Al Qarah Mountain

Though not as high as mountains we have in Pakistan, Al Qarah feels … majestic. It is a prominent natural landmark located near the town of Al Hofuf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Rising approximately 75 meters above the surrounding desert, Al Qarah Mountain is known for its unique geological formations and historical significance. The mountain is riddled with caves, some of which are believed to have been inhabited since ancient times, providing shelter to various civilizations throughout history. These caves also feature inscriptions and petroglyphs that offer insights into the region’s past.

Exploring Saudi Arabia

The world’s fourth-largest barrier reef

The Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia has the world’s fourth-largest barrier reef system, 90 untouched islands, mountains, and mangroves - all in one place. Its rich marine life has contributed to making it a popular destination for tourists and divers. Stretching over 1,800 kilometers along the western side of the country, the coast offers a diverse range of attractions and activities.

One of the main draws of the Red Sea coast is its world-class diving and snorkeling sites. The crystal-clear waters are home to vibrant coral reefs teeming with a variety of marine species, including colorful fish, dolphins, and even the occasional whale shark. Popular diving spots include the Farasan Islands, Yanbu, and Jeddah, each offering unique underwater experiences.

In addition to diving, the Red Sea coast offers a range of other activities for visitors to enjoy. From relaxing on the pristine beaches to exploring historic places like the ancient port of Al-Wajh, there is no shortage of things to see and do along the Red Sea coast. Whether you’re an avid diver, a history buff, or simply looking to relax in a beautiful setting, the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia has something to offer everyone.