Riyadh Travel Guide
Why? Riyadh is a true oasis in the Saudi
Arabian desert brimming with culture, history, exquisite
architecture and an exotic feel and opulence that is bound to
enchant just about any visitor. Modern Riyadh has retained its
ancient heritage and business travellers can revel in the many
shopping and sight-seeing opportunities this city has to offer.
When? The best time to visit in Riyadh is the late winter to spring from October to April when there is little to no precipitation and the average temperatures are still invitingly warm. The city is known for its evening thunderstorms that cool the city down just long enough for the night to come to life. Many locals escape the heat of the scorching hot summers by taking breaks in cooler parts of the world.
Who for? Riyadh appeals mostly to businessmen and also visitors with a keen interest in ancient civilizations, ruins and Saudi Arabian kingdoms. Shopaholics will also have a field day in this city with out-of-this-world-shopping opportunities in the Kingdom Centre, which houses a state-of-the art three-level shopping mall with more than 160 stores, amongst many other things.
More info: The Riyadh travel guide includes current reviews and details of upcoming events, attractions and excursions available in Riyadh. The Basics section is packed with all the information required when planning to visit Riyadh on holiday or business.
Al Faisaliyah Center ©
Rising from the barren desert, its towering skyscrapers glittering in the fierce sun, the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, is one of the most splendid and affluent cities in the modern world, sprawling across about 600 square miles (1,600 square kilometres) of desert in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.
Once a small oasis known for its date orchards (hence the origin of its name which in Arabic means 'place of gardens'), Riyadh's phenomenal growth spurt began in 1902 when the desert lord Ibn Saud took over the city determined to turn it into the centre of his Arabic kingdom. Thirty years later it became the capital of the new country of Saudi Arabia, and fuelled by the revenue of the country's abundant oil fields, it has burgeoned into an awesome modern metropolis with a population well in excess of four million.
Modern it may be, but visitors to Riyadh are never likely to forget that they are in the heart of the Arab world. In between the towering, futuristic buildings, glitzy shopping malls and broad, sweeping highways are nestled ancient mosques and other remnants of times gone by, shady trees and date palms line the avenues, and camels sometimes sway between the luxury vehicles. The city is also run on a strictly Islamic moral and cultural code, and visitors should respect the rules while exploring the sights, both ancient and modern, in this fascinating city. Women have restricted access to certain attractions and sites.
The original 'wadis' (dry river beds), where wells were sunk to water the historic infant oasis settlement, have now been supplemented by numerous vast dams and piped in desalinated seawater to adequately quench the thirst of this prosperous capital, quite justly dubbed 'Queen of the Desert'. Travellers can therefore drink deeply of this unique urban landscape, which will not be found wanting in both historic interest and modern wonder.
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