Tourism in Saudi Arabia is a very new phenomenon! The first tourists came to the international Formula E event, which took place from 13 to 15 December 2018, and the next batch of tourists arrived in mid-January 2019 for the Italian Super Cup.
Tourism has only recently started and given the country's large size, it can be difficult to decide which part of the country to explore when time is limited. There is also a lack of information on places to visit, things to do and how to travel around Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, we will help to highlight the cities to visit in Saudi Arabia.
Everyone knows and speaks of Peter in Jordan as the capital of the Nabatean kingdom. However, few people know that the second largest capital is Madain Salih, which is located in the northern part of Saudi Arabia. It is about 700 km from Petra. It is also the first UNESCO heritage site in Saudi Arabia.
Considering that the city of Al-Ula was the capital of the kingdom of the Ligianites and several other civilizations, there are many historical sites worth visiting besides the majestic Madein Saleh:
Despite the fact that many historical sites are closed, for excavations and further research, the city is worth a visit due to the unique landscape of rock formations and soft sand, which makes you feel like you are on Mars.
Tabuk is located in the northern part of Saudi Arabia and only 100 km from the border with Jordan. The places to visit are mostly outside the city. Can be explored in a small car.
Umluj is located about 500 km south of Tabuk and 300 km southwest of Al-Ula. There are several active volcanoes in the area. The city was evacuated for 2 months in 2014 due to an expected explosion. Many of the volcanoes erupted millions of years ago, and these volcanic materials create beautiful black sand dunes that you must visit!
The Umluj Coast is popular with diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. This is the place where the Red Sea project should start.
Tourism in Saudi Arabia is very limited. Despite the favorable climatic and landscape conditions, as well as the potential attractiveness of architecture and monuments, numerous restrictions mean that this potential is not being used. On the one hand, this is facilitated by moral restrictions (for example, the inability to use bathing on the beaches by women), and on the other hand, hostility (the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns against travel to remote mountainous and desert areas, as well as to border areas due to terrorist threats ).
Police services and very restrictive visa policies also make it difficult to visit the country. Tourist visas are issued only to members of organized and previously accepted groups implementing a strictly defined program.
The backbone of the Saudi economy is oil, the export of which began in 1938. The proceeds made it possible to reform the medieval socio-economic structures, thanks to which a modern infrastructural and technical base was built in the second half of the 20th century and the modernization of social structures began. The annual export revenue is about US $ 50 billion and imports are about US $ 30 billion.
GDP is $ 160 billion and per capita income is about $ 7,500. In 2001, real GDP growth was 2.2%. Inflation is below 1%. Natural growth is over 3%. Unemployment among men is estimated at about 20%. Currency - Saudi Rial (1 USD = 3,745 SR and fixed exchange rate since 1986). The government retains strong control over economic activity.
In Saudi Arabia, the only faith is Islam, which is professed by 100% of the local population and is the state religion. Other religions are prohibited, including meaning that their followers are prohibited from publicly worshiping, wearing and possessing non-Muslim religious symbols (including crosses and the Bible), and from traveling to Mecca and Medina.
The Saudis associate this approach with the existence of the holy sites of Islam on their territory. Moral committee activists, which are the religious police, enforce moral standards. They must have special identifiers and are accompanied by a uniformed police officer.
Detention may be caused by improper clothing (for example, a woman without a headdress), disputes about morality, drinking alcohol, or spending time together (such as walking and shopping) with a man who is not her husband or a member families. There are known cases where proof of marriage between interested parties is required. Its absence may mean that the woman is accused of prostitution.
While most interventions only end in stress and government officials try to persuade religious circles in general to be more supportive, the situation remains very delicate in this regard. The embassy must be informed of every incident. Saudi Arabia's diplomatic missions recommend that women traveling be wearing conservative clothing that covers all of their legs and arms and not wearing pants in public. Mainly in Riyadh and the central part of the country, religious police pressure all women to wear black and cover their heads.
For the sake of peace and tranquility, most foreign women obey. The most vulnerable are women who are similar to Asian or Arab women and are considered Muslims. Women are not allowed to drive cars or ride bicycles in public places. Dancing, music and films are generally prohibited outside of private territory.
Saudi Arabia is an ancient country with Martian landscapes. Until recently, it was closed to tourists; it was almost more difficult for a non-Muslim to get there than to North Korea. In October, a historic moment happened: Arabia began issuing tourist visas. We will tell you how and why to get them.
Saudi Arabia is a closed kingdom in which religion plays an important role. To protect spiritual values, the country was practically closed from the outside world. A visa to Arabia was issued only for transit, pilgrimage and business (by invitation). Single women could only enter with male relatives - even for transit. It was just impossible for anyone to see the country except citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE
The first attempt to issue tourist visas was made in 2014, but it was quickly stopped - they decided to first raise domestic tourism. They returned to the conversation about visas in 2016: Prince Muhammad ibn Naif said that the country wants to get rid of oil dependence and draw resources from tourism.
And in October 2019, Saudi Arabia began issuing tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries, including Russians, regardless of their faith. This was announced at the Welcome to Arabia ceremony, timed to coincide with World Tourism Day.
“We are counting on Russian tourists, and we will be glad to see them. We want them to come to know Saudi Arabia and enjoy our culture and food, ”said the ambassador of the kingdom.
Mecca and Medina are ancient centers of international Islam and sacred places for Muslims, where local relics are kept. According to rumors, these are incredibly beautiful ancient cities. Just like a thousand years ago, only Muslims are allowed there. For example, to get to Mecca, you need to go through "border control", where people with non-Arab appearance can be asked to show a certificate of acceptance of Islam (any mufti will give) and prove their religiosity (read a prayer in Arabic).
If you are a Muslim, you can get to Mecca and Medina on a pilgrimage tour. They are easy to find on the internet.
Russians can get a visa in two ways - on a special website or right at the airport. The visa will be multiple-entry and will be valid for a year from the date of issue. During this year, you can stay in the country for 180 days (6 months), of which 90 days without a break.
Visa fee - 440 Saudi riyals (about 7,500 rubles). Of this, 140 riyals will be used to pay for health insurance, which is included in the visa fee. You cannot extend your visa while in the country.
One of the three remaining absolute theocratic monarchies in the world beckons guests from all over the world with an abundance of attractions. Tourists are met by the sights of Saudi Arabia literally at every step - it is important to rationally allocate time, choosing for studying those of them that are well located and of interest to you and your companions (friends, family members, etc.). The country maintains the ancient traditions of the Islamic people, so you should see everything together with a guide. We will show you what to see in Saudi Arabia in 1 day and where to go if your vacation is long. You just have to decide on the most attractive of the attractions.
Whatever sights of Saudi Arabia you decide to see, remember to comply with restrictions on dress, drinking and socializing with local girls. The punishments for violation of laws (official and secret) are serious, up to deportation and imprisonment. Leaving the hotel grounds in Saudi Arabia without an escort is extremely risky. You should also be careful when choosing a wardrobe - it is very hot here during the tourist season - you will need hats, breathable shoes and sun protection. There are air conditioners inside buildings and at bus stops.
The main options for what to see in Saudi Arabia are historical monuments and cultural sites, but there are also natural wonders that will delight lovers of outdoor activities. Among the main attractions:
The city of Mecca is the most important city for the followers of Islam, where tens of thousands of people perform the Hajj every year. It is located an hour's drive from the Red Sea coast and impresses with an abundance of historical and architectural monuments. If you are not a Muslim, then when planning what to see in Saudi Arabia, Mecca should be removed from the list. A tent camp has been created especially for pilgrims in the vicinity of the city, where Muslims come to pray in the Protected Mosque. In Mecca itself, ancient buildings are interspersed with ultra-modern complexes such as Abraj al-Beit. An overground metro has been operating since 2010.
The Al-Haram Mosque, which is also called the Great Mosque, was built over several centuries, starting from the seventh century AD, becoming world famous due to its location inside the main Islamic shrine (Kaaba-kuba). Covering an area of over 357,000 sq. m, it has more than forty entrances to receive the maximum number of believers. During the big holidays, there is a crush here, so you need to carefully choose when to go to see this attraction of Saudi Arabia.
The Kaaba - a cube - is a one-of-a-kind building in the form of a rectangular structure of black color about thirteen meters high, towards which Muslims bow during prayer. According to legend, the cube was built by angels who descended from heaven, but then it was reworked and reconstructed many times. Large-scale restoration work was carried out in the 7th, 17th and 19th centuries.
The al-Nabawi Mosque is the second temple in importance for the followers of Islam, the creator of which is considered to be the Great Prophet himself. It is worth seeing this attraction of Saudi Arabia for the sake of the burial place of Muhammad and numerous minarets of more than a hundred meters in height. Also, two caliphs of the country are buried here. The mosque is designed for the simultaneous prayer of 600 thousand Muslims, and during the Hajj their number rises to one million. The design feature is an open-type courtyard in the shape of a rectangle. The principle of the construction of the shrine became the basis for the architectural projects of other mosques. Previously, here they not only prayed, but also held court hearings, public meetings, Islam lessons and solemn events.
From choosing a husband to traveling by public transport, almost everything is banned for women in this country. According to the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia ranks 129th out of 134 countries for gender equality. How does the beautiful half of humanity actually live in the country of the Arab world, where women's rights are particularly severely restricted? Which of the usual stereotypes is a myth, and which is true?
Dumpty will talk about the most unexpected bans that local residents face every day. Read on to find out how those who refuse to live by strict rules and risk breaking them are punished.
Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to travel on their own without a legal spouse or male relative. Such an accompanying person is called a mahram. Without his permission, the girl cannot go abroad, get a job, get married, go to university and even have an operation.
If you go to court or the police, a male guardian is needed to verify your identity, since a woman cannot take off her hijab. In such conditions, it is impossible to complain about the mahram, even if he exceeds his authority. However, local girls not only do not rebel, but also actively defend their right to be under the care of a man.
But this point will soon become a myth. In recent years, the Gulf countries have passed a number of laws to liberalize women's rights. In September 2017, the King of Saudi Arabia issued a decree allowing residents of the country to drive a car. However, in order to get behind the wheel, motorists will need to obtain permission from a guardian.
It would seem that you cannot use a car, go by public transport. But even here everything is not so simple. You can move on the train, but only in a separate carriage located at the end of the train. And most bus companies refuse service to women altogether.
In this regard, the residents of Saudi Arabia have to move on foot, by taxi or with a personal driver.
Quite a rather big black dress
Study of relief One of the most important objects of observation is relief, that is, a set of irregularities of the earth's surface - lowlands, plateaus, mountain ranges, river valleys,