The culture of Saudi Arabia is a rich one that has been shaped by its Islamic heritage. The national capital and the largest city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, is situated in a desert region on a large plateau, in the heartland of the Arabian Peninsula. As the capital, Riyadh has come to its own and no longer the ‘secret city’ which was a little known to the outside world. It has now its own radio television production complex, satellite colleges, schools, hospitals, clinics and the largest and most modern university campus in the kingdom. The skyline is dominated by skyscrapers like The Kingdom Trade Centre, the tallest building in Riyadh at 300m and Al Faisallah Tower. Riyadh resembles a modern American city with motorways and flyovers, international hotels, high rise blocks and neon blazing shopping malls.
Riyadh is a city having continental climate as the climate is hot and dry in the summer long months and moderate during day and cold during night in the winter short season. The rain scarcely fall here and it is accompanied often with wind and storms. The best time to visit Riyadh is from December to March.
How to get here?
If you are flying in from any major city in the world, you will land at King Khalid International Airport, which is about 40 km away from the city centre. There is a regular SAPTCO (Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company) bus service from the airport to various hotels and the centre of town. The roads are well maintained and you can drive in from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey by your own vehicle or International Bus services. There is a limousine service from the airport to your destination. The rates are decided by the government here.
Accommodation and Food
There is a good range of hotel accommodation throughout the city. There are hotels of all grades in Riyadh from deluxe to third class A and B. You can easily find apartment hotels featuring kitchen, sitting rooms and bedrooms including cleaning services, access to pools and exercise rooms and sometimes even free parking. There are some holiday villages too which provide amusement parks attached to facilities for sleeping. The best among luxurious hotels are Al Waha Palace Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, Crowne Plaza and famous Radisson Blu Hotel.
Riyadh might be the last place where you would die starving. There is a long chain of restaurants, bars, cafes, hotel and street food corners here. There is Assaraya, a famous Turkish Restaurant with their homous, mutabal, Houbous, kebab, chicken and veggies. Cheesecake Factory has a wide selection of cheesecakes. You can enjoy delicious shawarma at Alrayan restaurant and Chicken Terriyaki at Golden Royal Chinese Restaurant. Aside from the restaurants and hotels wherein both families and singles can enjoy, there are numerous coffee shops and restaurants which are mostly for singles.
The National Museum of Riyadh is a landmark structure in the skyline of Saudi Arabia. It was established as a symbol of country’s educational and cultural development and is one of the most popular destinations of Saudi Arabia. Inside the Museum you can find a display of different types of antiques, manuscripts, documents and display boards that showcase an erstwhile era. Various lectures and workshops are also held at the National Museum on frequent basis.
Kingdom Centre Tower
Kingdom Centre Tower is a skyscraper located on King Fahan Road. It is considered the most luxurious building in the region, highly favored by local and international visitors. It has total build up area of 300,000 square metres and 300 m high, overlooking the whole Riyadh. The Kingdom centre is the landmark architecture that is famous for its magnificent structure, design and appearance with unmatched distant visibility distinguishes it from any other building in the region.
Al Aghar Equestrian Club
Al Aghar Equestrian Club is located at the Diplomatic Quarter, next to the Janadriyah village in Riyadh. It is one of the largest equestrian clubs in Saudi Arabia covering an area of 60,000 square metres and was founded in 1410 AH. The club facilities include stables with capacity of up to sixty horses. The entry is free for all. You can rent your own viewing room complete with private service and dinner included if you wish to see some race.
King Abdulaziz Historical Center
KAHC is located in center of Riyadh just next to famous Water Tower and houses the National Museum With interesting items through out the history. KAHC tells the story of the founding of the modern Saudi State by the Bedouin King Abdul Aziz. The exhibits are well laid out with a clear narrative and give a good insight into the evolution of the Kingdom. Along with the life history, the collection of king’s cars is a treat to watch.
The Granada Center is an exciting shopping destination situated in the heart of Riyadh, Ghirnatah. It covers the area of 140,000 square metres of the 466,000 square metres originally designated for the center’s development. The center is a blend of modern art, cutting edge design and luxurious landscape. It offers five anchor stores and an extra showroom for electronic goods, in addition to the 235 shops featuring the latest fashion trends and world renowned brand names.
While spending time in Riyadh, don’t forget to get Black Stone Spa and Dunking Donuts and pay a visit to the Tahlia Street, a great shopping area of the city.