Tourism in Saudi Arabia
Tourism is a primary national resource for every modern country, not only in terms of economy but also culturally and socially. While developing strategic tourism plans, the developed countries target local tourists before foreign tourists because of its extreme importance to the economy on one hand and perseverance of nation's wealth from draining abroad on the other hand. Domestic tourism has a significant impact on the preservation of national economic wealth. Following this, many developing countries have registered substantial growth in the development of domestic tourism by utilizing the experience of developed countries in this sector.
Tourism in Saudi Arabia is an emerging and rapidly growing sector in recent years. In September 2019, Saudi Arabia had opened its doors to tourists from all over the world, welcoming visitors to the Kingdom, its heritage treasures, and cultural monuments, which are widespread across the Kingdom. This is based on Vision 2030 of HRH Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, which incorporates the development of the Kingdom in all fields, including the tourism sector.
It is noteworthy that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 8 Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, is the 4th Arab nation in this regard. Due to the Kingdom's keen interest in developing domestic tourism and providing the best quality services to its tourists, from searching archaeological sites to empowering young cadres, many teachers of the hospitality sector, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, offer free weekly online courses to all age groups, seeking to exploit various components of tourism and tourist attractions that distinguish them from others to encourage tourists from within and outside the Kingdom.
Here we are reviewing tourist attractions in every region of the Kingdom:
Active Tourism Sector in Jeddah Region: It is primarily recreational because of its theme parks, theatres, and different refreshing activities. Jeddah is known for its beautiful beaches and historical monuments, through which tourists learn about the aesthetics of civilization, culture, customs of people of Hejaz and traditional menu, which is more than 100 years old. Jeddah has many tourist attractions and cultural monuments, such as Al Tayebat International City Museum, Museum of Arts, and King Fahad's Fountain.
Riyadh: When we talk about tourism in Riyadh, we have to remember Diriyah, the birthplace of the first Saudi state, historical rendezvous of pilgrims and traders, and home to one of the Kingdom’s most ambitious heritage developments in several locations such as Al Masmak Fortress, Edge of the World, National Museum, Royal Saudi Air Force Museum, Murabba Palace, Archaeological Museum (King Saud University), King Khalid Grand Mosque and King Salman Park.
As for the entertainment and sports sector, Riyadh has recently succeeded in attracting many domestic and international tourists and has successfully presented traditional music concerts and brought its most famous theme park in Riyadh Season.
Eastern Province: This tourism sector region boasts of museums and archaeological mosques. In the recreation sector, there are many beautiful islands. As for the entertainment sector, the Eastern province presented it in a way that suits it in celebrations, parks and events that have attracted many citizens and residents.
Southern Province: This is another famous tourist destination in the Kingdom. Regions of southern Saudi Arabia are noted for climatic diversity. Winter in the cities located on the tops of the Sarawat Mountains is cold, and summer is mild, where the temperature does not exceed 25 °C. The steppe areas of southern Saudi Arabia also enjoy tourism potential and beautiful landscapes that attract tourists worldwide to experience tourism in southern Saudi Arabia.
Among the most popular tourist activities that tourists can do in the southern region are: Visit Asir National Park, located in the southwest of Abha, which has some high mountains, reaching a height of 3000 meters.
Some of the activities that can be practiced in Al Bahah include hiking, trekking, mountaineering and mountain biking amidst the beautiful natural environment that attracts visitors from all over Saudi Arabia and the Middle Eastern countries. Shop in Souq Al Thulatha (Tuesday Market): This is the largest traditional market located in the city of Al Bahah, that sells all the natural and handicraft products such as basil, honey, household items and textiles.
A visit to Al-Bahah Museum of Antiquities and National Heritage:
This museum highlights the cultural and historical dimension of the region from prehistory to the Islamic era until the establishment of modern Saudi Arabia.
The cable car should be ridden to enjoy the landscapes of Jabal Akhdar (Green Mountain) and Jabal Sawda (Black Mountain).
Visit the village of Al Habla: This ancient village is built on a cliff and can only be accessible by cable car.
Visit the village of Rijal Almaa: This ancient village, listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, is set in the bend of an extensive valley on the trade route between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The region's nature consists of steep hills overlooking a treacherous road known formerly for its incense and spice trade.
Visit Imarah Palace: located in the centre of the Najran region; the Imarah Palace was built at an old well in 1944 to host the Saudi King and his family a few years after the province joined modern Saudi Arabia became the telegraph and police station. Visit Al-Aan Palace: known as Saadan Palace, Al-Aan Palace is located in Najran Province and was built in 1688 by Ismail al-Makrami. It offers stunning views of mountains across the Najran valleys.
Visit Asir Regional Museum: Located next to the Al Amira Palace that was built according to Asir architectural tradition, Asir Regional Museum tells the long history of Abha and Asir Province and exhibits some of the province’s traditional handicrafts, along with antiquities of Asir.
Visit Shada Palace: This palace was initially the headquarter of Emira of Asir Province and later turned into a museum displaying traditional plantings, household tools, coins, and several historical manuscripts.
The Green Mountain Tour: Jable Akhdar is a green hill located in the southern part of Abha, and it allows you to enjoy the landscape at the height of 2340 meters. Finally, we can only be proud of what we have, as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become one of the most attractive markets for global brands and a promising market for investments in the tourism sector in particular.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are some popular tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia?A: Some popular tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia include the historical city of Mada'in Saleh, the modern city of Riyadh, the ancient city of Jeddah, the coastal city of Al Khobar, and the mountainous region of Abha.
Q: What are the visa requirements for visiting Saudi Arabia?A: Visitors to Saudi Arabia are required to obtain a tourist visa in advance of their trip. The visa application process can be done online and requires a passport, a recent photo, and payment of a fee. Some nationalities are eligible for visa-free travel or can obtain a visa on arrival.
Q: What is the best time of year to visit Saudi Arabia?A: The best time of year to visit Saudi Arabia depends on the region you are visiting. Generally, the winter months (November to February) are cooler and more pleasant for outdoor activities, while the summer months (June to September) are extremely hot and humid.
Ms. Rahaf Al Suni