Summer means scorching sun, sweltering heat and sunburns. But the season also means summer vacation, holiday with family and plenty of fun. A host of exciting festivals and activities are being held in different parts of the Kingdom, which means residents and visitors are able to be part of all the fun and adventure with out having to take expensive trips abroad or leave the country.
Saudi Arabia is home to a number of historical and architectural sites. The Eastern Province alone has some 302 architectural sites, besides its city centers, parks and beaches.
Arab News takes you through some great spots across the Kingdom:
Jeddah is the Kingdom’s most cosmopolitan city, comprising a long seacoast and a seaport. The “Bride of the Red Sea” offers its visitors a number of tourism opportunities as well as many recreational activities. Currently, a flurry of events are taking place in various malls, the Corniche and other spots as part of the 'Jeddah Ghair' festival. Additionally, the historical district of Balad, Naseef House, Athr Gallery, Al-Shallal Theme Park and Ataullah Amusement Park are some of the more popular attractions in the city.
Riyadh is the capital city of the Kingdom and has many interesting attractions for visitors, which include a number of historical sites. Some of the must-see spots include the Masmak Fort, King Abdul Aziz Museum, old Dira'yya, Al-Faisaliah Tower and the Kingdom Tower, where there is an exclusive floor for women. Other interesting locations include the Riyadh Water Tower, King Fahd Stadium, National Museum, Fantasia Zoo, King Fahd National Library, Equestrian Club, and the King Faisal Foundation.
Dammam is an important Saudi port on the Arab Gulf. The largest town in the Eastern Province, it is an important seaport and has expanded to the city limits of two other modern towns, Alkhobar and Dhahran. The world's most important centers for the production and refinement of petroleum are located here. The best place to start is at the Dammam Museum, where visitors can tour its historical and archaeological exhibits.
A stroll on the beach of Half Moon Bay makes for a delightful experience. A drive of an hour and a half from Alkhobar takes you to Hofuf and Al-Ahsa. Old Ahsa includes Hofuf, a lively oasis with Turkish influence and a well-known camel market. Jabal Al-Qara is famed for its pottery, which has been produced for the last eight generations by the same family. Abqaiq has a 500-year-old salt mine that is still in operation, while Uqair has several old government buildings and the ruined customs house, once an important Portuguese port and caravan terminus. Tarut Island, site of the oldest town in the peninsula, is now a picturesque settlement of fishermen and weavers, covering an area of 2,500 kilometers in the southern part of the Eastern Province.
An oasis city, Qatif is the center of one of the most important fishing and agricultural areas in the Kingdom. Its inhabitants are mainly fishermen, farmers, businessmen and government employees. The area contains a population of 300,000 people scattered over distinct regions. The villages are inhabited by farmers, and the coastal areas by fishermen.
The valley carries historical and religious relevance. According to several passages in the Holy Qur’an, the site was inhabited in the third millennium BC by the Thamudic tribes. The part of the city in which the people were living was surrounded by various necropolises, which contained monumental rock-cut tombs as well as ordinary pit tombs. To reach Mada’in Saleh, you can take a bus or drive a car as there is no airport in the vicinity. It lies to the northwest of Saudi Arabia, between the cities of of Madinah and Tabuk, 22 kilometers north of the city of Al-Ula.
Madinah, the Prophet's city (peace be upon him), houses the Prophet’s Mosque. Additionally. there are a number of sites that add to the charm of this city. Quba Mosque located here is the first mosque in the history of Islam. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) himself laid down its foundation during his stay there. The mosque is situated about three kilometers from the Grand Mosque. Other important mosques include: Jummah Mosque, where the Prophet (pbuh) offered prayers; Masjid-e-Ghamama, which is situated at walking distance from the Prophet's Mosque, and Qiblatain Mosque, in addition to the site of Uhud Mountain.
The city of Abha lies in the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula and northern part of Asir. The region abounds in mountains, valleys and fertile plains. It has a generally moderate climate offering heavy rainfall, green pastures and agricultural plateaus. Visitors can reach Abha by air or by car .
Located at a two-hour drive from Jeddah, Taif is known as the summer capital of the Western Region because of its hilly terrain and cooler climate. The cooler bodyeratures in the towns of Al-Shifa and Al-Hada have made these locations traditional summer resorts for visitors from all over the Kingdom. Taif is home to numerous farms of honey, pomegranates, grapes, carrots, apples, roses, and vegetables. Visitors can enjoy the crisp, fresh produce, which is sold by hawkers from pushcarts alongside the mountain roads. Souqs here sell carpets, traditional embroidered dresses, hand-crafted jewelry, spices and Bedouin handicrafts.