Medina: The second holiest city in Islam may also only be entered by Muslims.
Jeddah: Although the city has grown enormously, efforts are being made to preserve the old town. The Ottoman buildings are currently being restored. The range of leisure facilities has been expanded, and the waterfront promenade invites you to go for a walk. There is an amusement park and the bay is a paradise for sailors and divers. The hotels and restaurants are cosmopolitan and international. A visit to the fish and meat markets is interesting. The former summer capital of Taif, a popular vacation spot, sits atop a 900m cliff on the edge of the plateau above Mecca and has a pleasant, temperate climate compared to the rest of the country.
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This fertile coastal plain is inhabited by the Shia minority, who traditionally live from fishing, trading, pearl diving and the income from the date palm groves. Much of the Saudi oil deposit is located in Hasa.
There are still a few places in the province that have retained the character of the Hasa tradition. Al Hofuf is a bustling oasis with a Turkish influence and a camel market; at Djebel-al-Qara, the potteries have been run by the same family for eight generations; salt continues to be mined at the 500-year-old Abqaiq Salt Mine; the ruined customs house in Uqair, a formerly important portuguese port and end point of the caravans, bears witness to the turbulent past. The oldest city on the Arabian Peninsula is located on Tarut Island, today a picturesque fishing and weaving village.
The rocky desert plateau in central Saudi Arabia, the Nej, is quite remote and inaccessible. Despite oil wealth, some Najdis continue to lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle. The numerous watchtowers on the highest points of the plateau are reminiscent of the ancient conflict between nomads and farmers.
The royal capital of Riyadh (Riyadh) is a modern city that rests on the foundations of the first city conquered by Ibn Saud. In 1902 he stormed Fort Qasr al Masmuk. Little remains of the old town apart from this fortress and a few traditional palaces near Deera Square. The Royal Camel Races take place in the area in April/May.
Beautiful excursion destinations in the Nej are also: Diriya, Wadi Hanifa, Shaib Awsat, Shaib Laha, Al-Hair, Wadi-al-Jafi, Tumair, Towqr, Aneyzah, Qassim and Hail.
The west coast is an important trading region. The city of Jeddah was once the diplomatic capital of Saudi Arabia and remains a major economic and cultural center. The old town with its merchant houses and the typical souk is worth seeing.
Mecca: The spiritual center of the Islamic world may only be entered by Muslims. The main pilgrimage sites are the Kaaba, the Mount of Light, the Plains of Arafat, and the house of Abdullah Bin Abdul Muttalib, where Muhammad was born.
Usta, Wadi Fatima, Hanakiyah, Khaybar and Yanbu are also worth visiting.
This region has the only mountain range in the kingdom covered with vegetation of palm trees and evergreen bushes. Millet, wheat and dates are grown here and continue to be harvested using traditional methods. The inhabitants of this region can partly trace their ancestry back to African slaves. In the more remote areas live baboons, gazelles, leopards, honey badgers and mongooses. The ancient phallus-shaped Gasaba towers are found only in Asir, their exact purpose is unknown.
Also of interest are the caravan city of Qaryat-al-Fau, which is currently being excavated, the great dam and temple of Najran, and the nearby ruins of the ancient cities of Timna and Shiban set amidst banana, lime and pomegranate groves.
Nightlife in Saudi Arabia is very different from what you are used to in other parts of the world. Apart from restaurants and hotels, there is no western-style nightlife. Due to the strict gender segregation required by law, any facility where men and women could come together is prohibited. These include, for example, nightclubs, discotheques and pubs. Although there is a small Saudi Arabian film industry, cinemas were also banned from the 1980s until 2018. Since the reform introduced by King Abdullah in 2005, there have always been special permits for individual film houses, but the films were usually watched at home via satellite television or on DVD. In 2018, the ban on cinemas in Saudi Arabia was lifted. The first cinema has been in Riyadh since April 2018 and many more are to follow nationwide in the near future. But even in Saudi Arabia, you don’t have to do without an evening entertainment program entirely: In the larger cities, men can visit the few bars that are rarely frequented due to the alcohol ban. Significantly more visitors are drawn to the coffee houses, where hookahs, tea and coffee are served as well as small snacks. In some restaurants and hotels, folkloric sword dance performances and drumming concerts are offered. Various concerts and performances are also held at the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh. In the fasting month of Ramadan, night suddenly becomes day: