In Riyadh, the old and new co-exist harmoniously. The capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 1932, the city has evolved into one of the most architecturally interesting places in the region, with striking buildings of all shapes and sizes dominating the skyline.
From swanky malls to traditional souks, Riyadh caters to all tastes.
For the shopaholic, there are many international brands and plush boutiques on Sal Wazir Street and the Olaya district. And if you fancy something more traditional, head for the outskirts of Riyadh, where you’ll find traditional souks and one of the largest camel markets in the Middle East.
Dir’aiyah: 18 miles north of Riyadh lies the dried-mud remnants of Dir’aiyah, the first capital of the Al- Saud clan, Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. From its origins in 1446, it reached its heights of glory by the end of the 18th century, but was devastated in 1818 by the Ottoman Turks. Today, the picturesque ruins –including palaces, mosques and the city wall – are testimony to its rich past.
Prince Abdullah Mosque: The Prince Abdullah Mosque in Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, located 180 meters above sea level, is the highest in the world. Featuring a stunning dome, it covers an area of 500 square meters.
Al-Musmak Fortress: Al-Musmak, located in the oldest portion of the city was captured in 1902 by Abdul Aziz Al-Saud from the Al-Rashid clan, a step that eventually lead to the unification of the regions and clans that now make up the kingdom. Don’t forget to explore the Masmak Citadel, which resembles a gigantic children’s sand castle.
A PLACE FOR EVERYONE
Like everything else in Riyadh, your accommodation options are very diverse, and range from 5-star hotels to budget hotels – all available at reasonable rates.
Taxis are very convenient way of getting across the city, with reasonable rates as well. Most cabbies speak English, so communicating is never a hindrance. Since the roads in and around Riyadh are quite good, a rental car is also a great way to explore the city on your own.
Official Currency: Saudi Riyal
Languages: Arabic (official), English
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +3 hours
Electricity: 110V / 220V 60Hz
ISD Code: +966
Best Time to Visit: November – February
Visa Information: www.sauditourism.com.sa