Highlights of Saudi Arabia
Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, is home to over 7 million people. Modern skyscrapers rise high above busy business districts, and one of the tallest, the Kingdom Centre Tower, reveals panoramic views over the city from its 300-metre high glass sky bridge. Learn about Saudi Arabia's history within the sandstone walls of the Masmak Fortress, and delve into the old town to visit the King Abdul Aziz Historical Area and the Murabba Palace.
Jebel Fihrayn (The Edge of the World)
Drive a 4x4 over wild desert terrain to uncover the wonder of Jebel Fihrayn, also known as "The Edge of the World." As you ascend over remote dusty tracks and rocky plains, you suddenly reach a cliff edge, 300 metres high and 800 kilometres long. Feel the warm evening breeze on your face as you look out over the vast expanse of desert; ripples of sand stretch into the distance, and the low sun casts a golden glow over the desolate sierra.
Eroded by sand storms over many millennia, a strange assortment of red-colored rock formations stands in the desert on the outskirts of Al Ula. One of the boulders, rising three stories high into the clear blue skies, looks uncannily like an elephant. A large body bulges from the dusty plateau, and a slender stack forms a perfect arch to resemble an elephant's trunk. A true work of art sculpted by nature, it has to be seen to be believed!
Explore the abandoned settlement of Mada'in Saleh, the world's second-largest Nabatean city after Petra, Jordan. Set on the caravan route between Mecca and Petra, the deserted necropolis is home to over 131 tombs built into the rocky hillside. Intricate inscriptions reveal fascinating insights into the life of the Nabatean people, and the imposing tomb of Al Farid boasts astonishingly high columns and terraces carved by hand and preserved by the desert.
Visit the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad in the sacred city of Medina. Considered the second holiest city in Islam after Mecca, the vast Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) rises out of the valley, and intricate minarets soar into cloudless skies. Muslim pilgrims are welcome to enter the mosque, while non-muslims can explore the surrounding area. Soak up the bustling atmosphere as locals flock to pray within the walls of this iconic place of worship that can hold over one million devotees.
Al Wahbah Crater
Set off on foot to uncover the Al Wahbah Crater - a natural desert cavity created by volcanic activity. Over 300 metres deep, the hollow is thought to have been formed by eruptions sparked off by the amalgamation of lava and groundwater. Hike around the 3km perimeter to admire birdseye views of the glistening white salt-crusted caldera below. Clusters of green shrubs and palms feed off the fertile soils around the rim, and a dried-up lava field flows beyond the northern edge.
Set upon the shores of the Red Sea, the city of Jeddah, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is the gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Lose yourself in the ancient narrow alleyways of the 7th-century-old town of Al-Balad and delve into Souq Al Alawi to browse hole-in-the-wall boutiques overflowing with delicious nuts, aromatic spices and colourful trinkets. As night falls, enjoy a tasty feast of traditional Kabsa - rice, vegetables and seasoned meats - and take some time to chat with the friendly local people.