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So Many Things to Discover Saudi Arabia
THE LARGEST COUNTRY ON THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, JAZIRAT AL-ARAB IN ARABIC, SAUDI ARABIA IS A LOT MORE THAN JUST DESERT AND OIL.
The breadth of this country’s borders do not convey its greatness. With their deep-rooted culture, these lands have impacted world history down the ages and been a major actor in a gigantic cultural landscape stretching from Spain to China and from the steppes of Russia to Africa and India. Founders of great empires, the precursors of art, literature and science grew up in these lands with a vast culture embedded in millions of original Arabic words. Saudi Arabia harbors great mysteries waiting to be discovered in all their many facets, embracing past as well as present.
Tradition and modernity co-exist gracefully in Riyadh, the country’s capital and largest city. Eye-dazzling as well as the skyscrapers where international trade is conducted is the architecture of the country’s official government buildings. Situated on level ground, Riyadh stands out immediately for its contemporary city plan. The city’s broad avenues run parallel to each other for miles without the slightest eyesore to spoil the harmony of the view. Among Riyadh’s modern architectural wonders, the 99-story, 300 meter high Burj al Mamlaka or Royal Tower has a special place. The entrance level boasts almost all the world’s most select brand name shops, and the world’s highest mosque on the 77th floor has made it into the Guinness World Records Book.
DARIYAH AND MASMAK FORT
Dariyah near Riyadh is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important sites. This region, where the foundation stones of the country were laid, is like an open air museum with its many renovation projects. Also near Dariyah, Masmak Citadel with its thick walls and towers is among the historic structures used today as a museum. If you are interested in authentic and traditional products, you can spend enjoyable hours in the shops here with Old Riyadh nearby.
Located at Ula in northern Saudi Arabia, Medain Saleh, aka Al Hijra, is an impressive historic site that has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Second largest city of the Nabatean Kingdom, an ancient Arab civilization, after its capital at Petra in Jordan, Medain Saleh challenges time smack dab in the middle of the desert with its dwellings and temples carved into the rocks and mountains like fine lace. In Islamic belief the region is acknowledged to be the place where the Prophet Saleh and his tribe once lived. In any case, Arabia derives its impressive strength from a combination of old and modern, yesterday and today, desert and sea, in short, from its harmonious juxtaposition of opposites.
Saudi Arabia is a country in which established traditions and modernity live side by side. Most Arab artists and intellectuals live in Riyadh. Reflecting the Arab style, the architecture of the shopping centers, where the world’s quality brands are sold, more than meets modern needs. Surveyed from the 99th floor of the country’s stunning national icon, the Royal Tower, Riyadh sprawls into the vast desert like pearls of light.
Known for its beauty, speed, stamina, intelligence and attachment to its owner, the Arabian horse has been a symbol of honor and nobility
throughout history. The pure bloodlines are bred today at the King Abdul Aziz Arabian Horse Center at Dirab near Riyadh. Meanwhile the colorful fish of the Red Sea, one of the world’s most fertile seas, adorn the city’s fish markets and are a source of livelihood for thousands of people.
Located at Ula in northern Saudi Arabia, Medain Saleh, aka Al Hijra, is an impressive historic site that has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The houses and temples carved like lace into the rocks and mountains here defy time smack dab in the middle of the desert. Jeddah, the city where Eve, the first woman and mother to all mankind, is thought to have lived, also takes it name from this belief. A word meaning grandmother in Arabic, Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s largest city on the Red Sea. Ta’if meanwhile is at once brother of the clouds due to its elevation as well as the country’s fruit garden. Meanwhile Mother of all cities Mecca, and Medina, are sacred not only to Arabs but to all Muslims.
Saudi Arabia’s port city overlooking the Persian Gulf, Dammam is located in the oil region. Once home to fishing and the pearl trade, Dammam today is one of the leading centers of the country’s economy and industry. It has also opened up to tourism with modern resorts lining the shore at Half Moon Bay. The enormous shopping centers seen all over Saudi Arabic are conspicuous here as well. In short, Saudi Arabia is a magnificent country, full of surprises and boasting different cultural and historical riches in every region. Go with the idea of exploring a country where you will feel the warmth and nobility of Arab hospitality everywhere you go. As you discover the worlds beyond the desert, you will understand that you have come to the right place.
Arab cuisine is one of the richest in the world. Tasty dishes are made using spices as well as seafood of almost every known species. Hashi meanwhile is the name of a traditional dish made with camel meat.
Metal coffee pots with long spouts are among the first traditional handicrafts that pop to mind in Saudi Arabia. Products like Bedouin flat weaves and straw baskets made of date fibers can also be found at authentic shops.
Saudi Arabia offers a wide array of accommodations. The Red Sea and, especially, Dammam on the Persian Gulf attract with their modern resort villages.
The cities of Mecca and Medina, which are visited every year by millions of Muslims on the Hajj or Umre pilgrimage, are where the religion of Islam was born and where the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).
Turkish Airlines has regular flights to Riyadh, Jeddah and Medina. For information:
The city of Ta’if is known for its fruit gardens, vineyards and, especially, the cultivation of roses. Situated near high mountain summits, Ta’if is the resort of choice for its mild climate.
ON THE TRAIL OF THE PAST, MEDAIN SALEH
Located at Ula in northern Saudi Arabia, Medain Saleh historic site that has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The second largest city of the Nabatean Kingdom, an ancient Arab civilization, after its capital at Petra in Jordan, Medain Salih challenges time smack dab in the middle of the desert with its dwellings and temples carved into the rocks and mountains like fine lace.
Monkeys wait at the roadside for food handouts from passing motorists in the foothills of the rugged Al Sarawat Mountains, which must be crossed on the way to Ta’if.
You can take enjoyable walks in stunning landscapes along the shores of the Red Sea at Jeddah.
Jeddah Fish Market is one of the busiest in the world. Hundreds of different fish and shellfish find buyers at this market that reflects the rich underwater life of the Red Sea.
Last stop on the Hejaz Railway, built in Ottoman times, Medina Station is among the city’s historic sights.
A leading name in contemporary Arab art whose works have been gifted to numerous men of state, Ali Al Ruaiza taught for a long time at the Milan Academy of Art. “The people of today are finally taking ownership of their past,” says the great master, “and they want to preserve that heritage and exhibit it.”
Prof. Dr. Khaled al-Mutlaq
Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission, Ankara
“It is extremely encouraging to see how Turkey-Saudi Arabia relations are growing by the day. The Turkish and Saudi peoples share many common characteristics and values. Both sides have a large number of cultural, touristic and historic sights to discover in each other’s countries.”