Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Saudi Arabia
Top 10 Published on 13/01/2012 08:00

1. The Archaeological Site of Al-Hijr

The Archaeological Site of Al-HijrAl-Hijr site is among the most famous archaeological and architectural complexes in Saudi Arabia, dating back to Nabatean civilization. The ancient city is second in importance after the capital city of Petra and is mentioned in the Qur'an. The complex occupies an area of over 16,000 acres and includes more than one hundred rock tombs, numerous rock paintings and sculptures, as well as the ruins of city walls and buildings. In 2008 the complex was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO.

2. Al Mamlaka Tower, Riyadh

Al Mamlaka TowerRiyadh is a high-tech oasis of glass, steel and concrete, a metropolis of huge hotels and one of the largest airports in the world. Al Mamlaka, also known as the Kingdom Tower, is yet another technological miracle that crowns the very heart of the city. It stands as the highest building in the country with an astonishing 43 floors. A property of the royal family, the futuristic monolith of the building is a beautiful sight to behold and is one of the top tourist attractions in the region.

3. Masmak fort, Riyadh

Masmak fortThe authentic fortress Masmak bears a great historical and political significance for the development of city and country. The fort was built during the second half of 19th century and synthesizes the history of the Saudi Arabia's rulers in the most graceful way. The edifice is decorated with four observation towers that rise from its roof. The intriguing interior is filled with tunnels that create the impression of a labyrinth.

4. Mecca

MeccaMecca and, in particular, the ancient temple of Kaaba is the most sacred place on the planet to the followers of Islam. Many pilgrims claim that the graves of Prophet Ishmael and his mother are near the sanctified area. Destroyed and rebuilt several times, Kaaba is unique in its architecture, the most beautiful part of which is the two-meter high golden gate. The building is gemmed with gold painted verses from the Koran, renewed every year to prevent tarnishing. Mecca is visited and cherished by millions of believers, who come to worship Allah. An interesting fact is that Muslims worldwide turn toward Kaaba when they pray.

5. Medina

MedinaMedina is only second to Mecca in its tremendous importance to the Islamic traditions and beliefs. The crown jewel of the hallowed city is the Mosque of the Prophet, where the relics and remains of the holiness Prophet Mohammed are safe-kept. Medina is the site of the most primordial mosques on Earth, including the oldest of all - Quba mosque. The region is only accessible to Muslims and even the streets are forbidden to people that profess other religious practices.

6. Empty Quarter

Empty QuarterRub al Khali, the Empty Quarter - an endless sand sea, stretching over several nations. Thousands of miles of dunes and arid desolation, make this place the largest sand desert worldwide. The conditions are so extreme, that even the local Bedouin fear entering its depths. Almost completely voided of life, the Rub al Khali has a couple of oasis retreats that contrast the ominous tranquillity of the desert. It is hard to believe that once these lands abounded with lakes, luscious greens and vigorous life, a reminiscence revealed only by scanty fossils and remains.

7. Diriyah

DiriyahThe Old Diriyah is a former capital to the First Saudi Empire that precedes the contemporary Saudi Arabia. The city once played a grant role in the countrys glamorous past as it was the site of significant religious reforms in the 18th century. Nowadays, the area is a picturesque array of traditional mud-brick buildings, fascinating ruins, crowned by the magnificent Salwa palace - a memory of Diriyah's heyday.

8. Al Faisaliyah Center, Riyadh

Al Faisaliyah CenterAl Faisaliyah Center is a contemporary epigram of modern architecture and serves as a symbol of Riyadh's technical advancement. With its unique design, pyramidal shape and exceptional functionality, the construction has an important role in the city's urban hassle. The centre is the first skyscraper in the country and houses a hotel, offices apartments and shopping facilities. The golden globe in the top of the Al Faisaliyah contains a luxurious revolving restaurant that provides its guests with a spectacular view of the metropolis.

9. King Abdul Aziz Military Museum

King Abdul Aziz Military MuseumKing Abdul Aziz Military Museum is an impressive tribute to the progress and development of the official military forces of Saudi Arabia. The institution is built in association with the Ministry of Defence and Aviation and processes an exquisite compilation of military artefacts, weapons and machinery, together with an exhibit of the alteration in uniform designs over the years. Access is restricted to military affiliates only.

10. Riyadh Water Tower

Riyadh Water TowerWith its simplistic form and linear pattern, the Water Tower of the city of Riyadh is a peculiar sight to see. The tower was built in 1971 and has a 12,000 m3 capacity. The construction is open to tourist and gives a chance to enjoy a breath-taking vista at Riyadh from its deck atop.

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