Introducing Saudi Arabia
Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia © Basil D Soufi
There is a certain stark beauty to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is home to the sacred cities of Medina and Mecca, the spiritual centre of the Islamic world. On the other hand, it also boasts spectacularly modern metros which attract plenty of visitors with its shopping and entertainment but, being a theocratic state, most of its annual visitors are pilgrims, permitted access on special religious visas.
Others come to this oil-rich nation on sponsored business trips, generally finding little time or facility for leisure and pleasure. Saudi Arabia is intent on keeping its traditions, culture and religious heritage free of western interference or influence.
Its cities are modern and bustling centres which can be thoroughly enjoyed by those who visit the country. The Royal capital, Riyadh, offers a multitude of sights to see and explore. The historical city of Jeddah is also a popular spot where people can enjoy a unique seaside experience alongside the locals who often flock there for staycations.
Occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula and bordered by no fewer than eight Middle-Eastern states, Saudi Arabia manages its highly-controlled religious society alongside the onslaught of modernity through the oil-boom industry. If visitors are informed about and prepared for the inevitable culture shock, Saudi Arabia can make for a memorable and unique holiday, as well as an eye-opening cultural experience to a world not often understood by western travellers.
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