Saudi Arabia is a beautiful place to visit, with its archaeological sites, incredible landscapes, and hospitable people. In recent years, Saudi Arabia is opening up more to visitors and issuing tourist visas. More visitors are now making it a point to visit this unique Middle Eastern Country, experience all that it has to offer, and travel a bit more off the beaten path.
Here are a few reasons why you should visit Saudi Arabia as well as things you should know before traveling to a new city.
Why you should visit Saudi Arabia
- Visit the holiest cities, Mecca and Medina
Mecca and Medina are Islam’s holiest cities and are cherished by over a billion Muslims are the world. If you are of the Muslim faith, they are both a must-visit. Note: the cities are off-limits to non-Muslims.
- Technological advancement
There has been significant technological advancement that is worth seeing. NEOM, located in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, for example is a futuristic mega-city that Saudi officials describe as “the world’s most ambitious project”.
- Pre-Islamic sites
Saudi has pre-Islamic sites that give you a glimpse into pre-Islamic Arabia. You can visit Al-Magar site in the south, rock art in Hall province, or 111 tombs of Mada’in Saleh.
- Scuba diving
The scuba diving in Saudi Arabia is incredible. The Red Sea has incredible beaches, warm temperatures, and incredible visibility where you can see sharks, turtles, barracudas, reef fish and more.
Things to know before leaving for your trip to Saudi Arabia
- Saudi Arabia is the most religious Muslim country in the world. According to the Saudi Government, 100% of the Saudis are Muslim.
- Wherever you travel, it is crucial to be respectful of the native culture. Saudis are conservative, so keep this in mind and be extra respectful here.
- Saudis are multi-ethnic. Muslims from all over the world journeyed to Mecca over the centuries and decided to settle in Saudi.
- The food in Saudi Arabia is a blend of all Arabic food. Traditionally, Saudis eat on the floor and with their right hand to eat.
- Even if you are an atheist, do not say that you are while in Saudi Arabia. It is recommended to instead say you are Christian or any major religion in your home country.
- The penal code in Saudi Arabia includes some intense punishments, so being aware and following local laws is crucial.
- Arabic is the official language in Saudi Arabia
- Some places are segregated by gender. You will naturally notice when and where this takes place and it is required to follow suit. Some restaurants for examples have two areas: one for men and a family section.
- Drinking alcohol in Saudi Arabia is not legal. Be mindful of the aforementioned strict penal code.
- Drugs are an absolute no. The punishment can be the death penalty for drugs.
- Public displays of affection are not allowed.
- Women are required to wear an abaya.
- Visitors can’t be inside shops or restaurants during prayer time. Be sensitive and respectful to this.
Have you ever been to Saudi Arabia? If so, did you like it? What was your experience there?