Destinations

Ta'if

Ta'if (pronounced "Taayef", also written Taif) is a city in western Saudi Arabia. It is in the mountains near Mecca and was once used as the summer capital, letting the royal family get out of the much hotter Riyadh.

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Najran

city in Saudi Arabia

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Medina

Saudi Arabian city

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Mecca

Saudi Arabian city and capital of the Makkah province

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Jubail

city in Saudi Arabia

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Jeddah

city in western Saudi Arabia

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Dhahran

city in Saudi Arabia

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Abha

capital of Asir province in Saudi Arabia

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Riyadh

capital of Saudi Arabia

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Sights

Kaaba

At the center of the grand mosque is the Kaaba, which according to Muslim traditions was built by the Prophet Abraham and his son, the Prophet Ishmael. Covered in black cloth, it is circled seven times by Muslim pilgrims and it is toward the Kaaba that Muslims face in the direction while performing Islamic prayers (Salat). The Black Stone set intact into the Kaaba's eastern cornerstone wall by Muhammad himself is an Islamic relic which, according to Muslim tradition, dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. Many Muslim pilgrims while doing Tawaf try to kiss and touch the sacred stone; however, this usually requires a lot of effort because of crowding.

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Great Mosque of Mecca

The holiest site in Mecca and Islam is Grand Mosque. The massive mosque is the world's largest mosque and can accommodate up to 2 million people at once. The mosque has been continuously expanded and still going through major expansion and renovation. This mosque is the focal point of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.

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Abraj Al Bait

This 601 m megatall building has become a modern symbol of Mecca. It is the third tallest building in the world and incorporates the world's largest clock face. The building houses a five star hotel, a large prayer area capable of accommodating 10,000 people, a 5-story grand shopping mall, and numerous eateries.

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Madain Saleh

Ruined Nabataean city similar to Petra

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Hajj

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

Since it is visited only by Muslims, for religious purposes, the main thing to see is the Masjid Nabawi or the Prophet's Mosque where devout Muslims offer prayers. Men are allowed to visit the actual burial site of the Prophet and pay respects throughout the opening hours of the mosque, which used to close for the night at around 10PM but has since become 24/7. Women may visit only after the Fajr or dawn and Duhr or afternoon prayers, when they are taken there in groups according to their countries.

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Empty Quarter

(Rub' al Khali) - one of the largest sand deserts on earth

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Diriyah

city

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Rub' al Khali

desert

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Mina, Saudi Arabia

Mina is a neighborhood of Mecca. It has the nick name of Tent City, as there are hundred of thousands of air-conditioned tents in the area, which act as temporary accommodations for pilgrims during Hajj time. The pedestrian-only Jamaraat Bridge, where the symbolic ritual of Stoning of the Devil is done, is located here.

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Mount Arafat

70m (230 ft) high Hill of Arafat is a granite hill in the outskirts of Mecca is the site where Prophet Muhammad stood and delivered the Farewell Sermon to the Muslims during the last day of his life. During Hajj, pilgrims spend the whole day on and around this hill doing prayers.

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Quba Mosque

Masjid Quba at Quba, which is the first mosque of Islam.

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Al-Baqi'

In fact most of the things to be done or seen are around this grand mosque which is at the city centre. Adjacent to the mosque is Jannatul Baqi, a huge graveyard, where most family members and companions of the Prophet are buried.

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National Museum of Saudi Arabia

Undoubtedly the top sight in Riyadh, this museum (opened in 1999) is done up with the latest technology and is very accessible to visitors, with almost everything available in English. There are so many video presentations and mini-theatres that you could probably spend an entire day here doing virtual tours of Madain Salih or watching re-enactments of the Prophet Mohammed's battle of Medina. Highlights include a kiswah cloth that once covered the Qaaba in Mecca. Half the time, though, it feels more like a propaganda exercise than a museum: the display on plate tectonics starts with a quote from the Quran, the history of the Sauds is rather airbrushed, and the display on the birth of Mohammed, reached from the clash and noise of the Jahiliyah (age of ignorance) by riding an escalator up into a room of soothing, pastel light while a choir of angels sings, has probably inspired a few conversions to Islam. Many cabbies will not recognize the English name, ask for the neighboring Murabba Palace (Qasr al-Murabba) instead.

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King Fahd's Fountain

With a maximum height between 260 and 312 m, this fountain in the Red Sea is the tallest in the world. Water ejected reaches supersonic speeds of 375 km/h, and the amount of water in the air can exceed 16 m³. As a prominent landmark, it is visible from most parts of the city, and illuminated at night by over 500 spotlights. It was constructed between 1980 and 1983, and sponsored by King Fahd, hence its name.

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Masmak fort

The heart of old Riyadh, this was the fortress stormed by King Abdul Aziz and his men in their daring reconquest of Riyadh in 1902. Renovated in 2008 to an inch of its life, the mud brick structure now looks like it was built yesterday, but the museum inside does a pretty good job of recounting the story of the raid and has some fascinating photos of old Riyadh as well. Alas, the second half is devoted to extolling the greatness of the Sauds in everything from agriculture to education.

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Mount Uhud

Other things to be seen, a little away from the city, are the plains and mountain of Uhud where the battle took place. There is also the burial ground of the 70 martyrs of this battle including the Prophet's uncle Hamza who is considered one of the greatest martyrs of all time.

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Jabal Thawr

This is the cave in which Prophet Muhammed hid in as he made departure to Yathrib (now Medina) from Mecca while being pursued by Quraish of Mecca who were planning to harm him. According to traditions, once Muhammad and his companion made entrance into the cave, the entrance was blocked by a spider which had cast a web to cover it and gave the impression to members of Quraish that no one has made entrance inside the cave since a long time thus saved life of Muhammad. Today, many pilgrims climb up the 1,405 m high mountan to see the cave.

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Jannat al-Mu'alla

This is the cemetery in which companions and relatives of Prophet Muhammed are buried, including his first wife, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great great-grandfather.

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Murabba Palace

Riyadh's second old mud-brick palace, built by King Abdul Aziz after he conquered Masmak Fortress and figured he should built something harder to conquer. This two-story structure does indeed look pretty intimidating, but permits are no longer needed to venture inside, where you can find sights including the first royal Rolls-Royce.

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Safa and Marwa

Holy Mountains in Makkah الجبال المقدسة في مكة

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Nasseef House

The former house of one of Jeddah's main trading families is now being renovated as a museum and cultural center. Great views from the top floors when it's open.

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Deera Square

Next to the Great Mosque and the mutawwa headquarters, this nondescript expanse of cement is known by expats as Chop-Chop Square as convicts are publicly beheaded with a scimitar here. Executions take place on Friday mornings (but not every week), just after the noon prayers. Beware that any Westerners nearby have been known to be taken to the front row and forced to watch the whole thing, in order to further shame the condemned. It is forbidden to take photos of executions or to record videos of them.

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Al-Shallal Theme Park

The park boasts of having the largest double looped roller coaster in the Asian continent. Operational since 2004, the roller coaster at the Theme Park is 34 m high and caters to more than 700 visitors/hr. The two storey entertainment building at the centre of the Park features an ice skating rink and a theme area, a roller skating rink and the Amazon Ride with a jungle theme, complete with life-size figures of animals, light and sound effects. The Amazon Ride is spread over an area of 1800 m2 with a lagoon and 15 m high waterfall. Seven restaurants, party rooms and a games arcade are housed in the entertainment building. The party rooms can be reserved by the public for birthday parties and private gatherings at reasonable rates. The park also has a European village theme area, a Far East village area and a large number of retail outlets for souvenirs and soft toys for the children. The complex has a separate building for car parking which can accommodate 300 cars plus an additional open air parking facility which has an additional capacity of 300 cars.

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we will see

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a kingdom which geographically dominates the Arabian peninsula, with coastlines on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. It borders Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.

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Nearby countries

Jordan

Jordan (Arabic: الأردنّ al-Urdunn) is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel, the West Bank and the Dead Sea to the west and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city and the country's economic and cultural centre.

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Kuwait

Kuwait (Arabic: الكويت) is a monarchy at the Persian Gulf, bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

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Qatar

Qatar (Arabic: قطر; pronounced kut-ar) is a rich Arab state occupying a small peninsula extending into the Persian Gulf to the north of Saudi Arabia, east of Bahrain and west of the United Arab Emirates.

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Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic: البحرين‎ , al-Baḥrayn) is a Middle Eastern archipelago in the Persian Gulf, tucked into a pocket of the sea flanked by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It displays relatively social liberalism compared with more conservative neighboring countries, where Islamic law is applied in a much stricter way. Case in point: alcohol is legal here. Although Bahrain has a heavily petroleum-based economy, its political, social, and cultural peculiarities helped it develop a fairly cosmopolitan middle class and a politically conscious working class.

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United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (Arabic: دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة) or simply the Emirates, is a federation of seven emirates on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. It has coastlines on the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. The neighboring states are Saudi Arabia to the west and southwest, and Oman to the east and southeast, including Omani enclaves on the Musandam Peninsula and at Madha. It is a country rich in history and culture and an easy starting point for travels in the Middle East.

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Oman

The Middle East Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: سلطنة عُمان) is on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders the United Arab Emirates in the northwest, Saudi Arabia in the west, and Yemen in the southwest. Oman has two exclaves separated from it by the United Arab Emirates, the Musandam Peninsula and Madha.

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Yemen

Yemen is on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, and sharing borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. Since at least 2011, Yemen has endured a bloody civil war, and tribal conflicts are ongoing.

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Iraq

Iraq (Arabic: العراق Al-Irāq) is a republic in the Middle East, north-west of the Persian Gulf. It borders Iran to the east, Kuwait to the south, Saudi Arabia to the southwest, Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, and Turkey to the north.

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Egypt

The Arab Republic of Egypt (Arabic: مصر, màSr) is in north-eastern Africa. Egypt is perhaps best known as the home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its art, temples, hieroglyphs, mummies, and above all, its pyramids. Less well-known is Egypt's Coptic Christian and Muslim heritage, with ancient churches, monasteries and mosques dotted across the landscape. Egypt stimulates the imagination of western tourists like few other countries and is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations world-wide.

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