“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”– Caskie Stinnett
I visited Riyadh Saudi Arabia in July 2014. This was purely a Business trip and I did not find much time to explore a lot in Riyadh.
Riyadh is the capital and the largest city of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh may or may not be known to many, as it is not a Tourist destination as such. This is more of a Business destination .It is indeed a very lively city. The ancient fortresses and tall skyscrapers stand side by side in this Arab Capital.
King Khalid International Airport is about 35-40 Kms to the north of the city center.The easiest commuting option will be to take the ‘Riyadh Airport Shuttle’.
The main attraction that I targeted in this trip was ‘Kingdom Tower’ and ‘Al Fasaliah’ Tower.
‘Al Fasaliah’ Tower:
Although Riyadh is a historic city, state-of-the-art buildings are constantly popping up across the Saudi capital. The Al Faisaliah Tower is the fourth tallest tower in the Kingdom, and towers over Riyadh at 267-metres high, spanning 44 floors. Although the tower is metal and glass, the geometric design is a nod to the traditional Arabic designs that once dominated the city. An expansive luxury mall and restaurant complex occupies a number of floors in the tower.
This is the world’s third-tallest building with a hole after the Shanghai World Financial Centre and the 85 Sky Tower in Taiwan.
The Sky Bridge at Kingdom Centre is one of the hottest attractions in Riyadh. The Kingdom Centre, also called the Al Mamlaka Tower is a skyscraper which has truly transformed Riyadh’s skyline.For a fantastic panoramic view of the city, a visit to the Sky Bridge at the Kingdom Centre is a must. The bridge, connecting the two towers of the Kingdom Centre, is 65-metres in length, 300-metres above the ground, and weighs some 300 tonnes. A high-speed elevator takes visitors to the 50th floor, where a second elevator takes them to the bridge. Bridge is in the 99th floor.Try and visit the place 30min-1 Hour before Sunset and enjoy the breath-taking view at sunset. The views from the bridge at night, as the city is lit up with glowing lights, is simply spectacular. The Kingdom Centre also houses a shopping mall, luxurious residential apartments and a number of fine restaurants.
Ticket charges are around : 35 SAR
Saturday – Thursday –> 1 PM – 11 PM ; Friday –> 4 PM – 11 PM
1) It is important to respect and follow the local laws of Saudi Arabia and there are a number of restrictions that you need to be aware of in terms of Saudi culture and what they deem to be acceptable. It is important to know these before you go in order to have a trouble-free trip.Also, its good to go through the ‘Do’s and Don’ts list while travelling to Saudi Arabia’
2) Also, please note that the Saudi working week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Friday and Saturday are the official days of rest, but in certain cases Saturday might be considered as a working day.
3) It will be nice to carry your travel document (passport/visa or copy) while roaming around. There are chances that cops might ask you to show them the same.
If you are looking to purchase some dates, ‘Kingdom Dates’ is the place to go. You will find all varieties/all ranges of dates.
The most interesting thing I found was the price of petrol. I have heard people saying the price of petrol is cheaper than water, but I never thought that it will be so cheap.
(Price per litre = 0.450 SAR)
For affordable shopping, you can also try visiting shops like Nesto or Lulu
There are lot of Indians (especially Malayalees/Keralites) staying in Saudi Arabia. Hence, you will also see a lot of South Indian Restaurants here.
Many of the world-famous Arabic foods have their origin in Saudi Arabia, so please don’t forget to try some local cuisine before leaving Riyadh. Shawarma street stalls are littered across the capital’s streets, offering a cheap, filling meal. A shawarma is a wrap stuffed with mixed meat and salad that has been grilled for a whole day.Kabsa is another must-try dish while in Riyadh. Kabsa is a huge dish of mixed rice, spices, raisins, and grilled chicken. It’s usually a sharing dish that brings family and friends together. Head to the Najd Village for traditional Arabic cuisine and try out dishes like lamb and chicken kabsa, moqalqal, goursan and marqooq. Mataziz, which is boneless lamb cooked with vegetables and small round bread is a must-have.
If you want to explore some local travelling, there are vans like this which carry people from one place to another. You can pay the fare to the driver.
The toughest part will be to adjust with the hot climate here. Temperatures can reach up to50-degreeCelsius at times in the Summer. I have personally experienced around 43 degrees. Believe me, it’s really HHHOOOTTT…
You will see all the International Brands in the Malls here. And people do a lot of shopping aswell.
What else to see in Riyadh:
Al Masmak fort:
Located in downtown Riyadh, is a castle made of clay and mud-brick that once played a significant role in the Kingdom’s history. It was where the recapture of Riyadh took place in 1902. Even today, Al MasmakFort still plays a big part in the country’s tourism.
After you get a dose of Saudi history, it’s time to do some bargaining at Deerah Souk. Souk is the Arabic word for market or bazaar. It is located just behind the Masmak Fort.
King Abdul Aziz Historical CenterAl-Thumama Entertainment Village
Al-Hokair Land Theme Park
Al-Hamrah Entertainment Village
Al-Safi dairy farm:
It is the World’s largest integrated farm. I believe it also holds a Guinness world record holder with more than 50000 cows.
ATV ride in red Sand dunes
Edge of the world: It around 90 kms north of Riyadh
I had stayed in Holiday Inn and Novotel (both in Olaya street). My personal recommendation would be Holiday Inn.