While sleek skyscrapers dot the glittering skyline and the infrastructure is avant-grade, very few countries are so deeply encrusted in religion, heritage, culture and history as much as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The result is a country of contrasts for the look and appearance of KSA is ultra-modern exhibiting the dynamics of a modern 21st century nation but the inhabitants have fiercely maintained their Arabic tradition, making the Kingdom a delightful cocktail. It is also one of the most wealthy and affluent nations in the globe owing to it's thriving oil-based economy with a large number of expatriates working.
With miles of vast desert terrain, breathtaking oasis, towering mountain-tops, sandy beaches and clam rivers, Saudi Arabia possesses a complete well-rounded landscape that can rival other countries easily. The Empty Qaurter (Rub' al Khali ) is a limitless and boundless desert located in the south-eastern interior of the Arabian Peninsula and is famous for being the most massive continuous body of sand in the planet. Giving Petra a run for it's money is the renowned Madain Saleh, an assortment of colorful red stone dwellings and structure that are simply magnificent to look at and admire.
Saudi Arabia is home to plenty of cities that will be fun for the tourists to explore. Jeddah houses abundant old-school coral houses. As the city is perched on the shores of Red Sea, scuba divers will be pleased to go on diving expeditions, snorkelling and deep-sea diving on the numerous coral reefs. The Floating mosque or the King Fahd water fountain are other sight-seeing spots which will enthral the visitors.
Jeddah is also the gateway to two of the holiest cities of Islam - Makkah and Madinah. When in Makkah, marvel at the opulence of the largest mosque in the globe - Masjid al-Haram, which can hold upto 2 million people at the same time. The birthplace of Prophet Muhammed is visited by Muslims worldwide for Hajj pilgrimage. Madinah is known as the second holiest city of Islam for the Prophet Muhammad was buried here. Kindly note that the city of Makkah and the inner-core of Madinah are prohibited to non-Muslims.
The capital of the Kingdom, Riyadh cannot be left behind. Even though it is primarily viewed as a business hub, there is plenty to view and marvel owing to the ancient historical structures that are rich in culture and heritage as well as looming steel-and-glass towers dotting the cityscape. Several sightseeing points include clay and mud-brick Al Masmak Fort with four watchtowers, Al Murabba palace, day trip to the ancient city of Diriyah as well as the stunning and spectacular Kingdom Center, now viewed as Riyadh's landmark. Be sure to visit the Al Morjan Island in Dammam, a tiny artificial island with a monument housed at it's heart.
Saudi Arabia can be overwhelming for a new tourist. The nation is extremely rigid in maintaining it's roots and tradition and visitors have to adhere and respect the Arab culture, lest they can get into trouble with the mutawwa (religious police). Shopping is varied and diverse in the Kingdom. The country is renowned for it's locally produced high-quality dates that are world-famous. A wide variety of souks can be visited for quintessential Arabian goods such as carpets, perfumes, jewellery and so forth. Religious paraphernalia are available everywhere, particularly in Makkah and Madinah. For urban expensive shopping, the Kingdom is equipped with a variety of sprawling shopping complexes housing international brands and designer labels.
When in Saudi Arabia, be sure to gorge into their local cuisine such as the delicious and world-famous Kabsa prepared with spiced up rice, accompanied by chicken or lamb or refresh yourself with traditional Arabic coffee in any of the coffee shops housed in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has no shortage of stay options with the best luxury hotels the nation can offer, spacious private apartments as well as modest and cheap accommodations. Tourists have the liberty to pick and choose based on their budget and requirements.
Saudi Arabia experiences scorchingly hot desert climate. The best time to visit the Kingdom would be during winter months from November to March as the temperatures are relatively pleasant.