Visit Saudi Arabia for the Desert Adventure of a Lifetime
Saudi Arabia has ling be a treasured and mysterious country. Although it is well-known around the world as an intriguing place to want to visit, actually getting into the kingdom has been quite a chore. Visa restrictions and background checks has made it difficult and oft-putting for many casual tourists. However beginning on April 1 of this year, the kingdom has instituted many changes with the aim of bringing in many more tourists each year.
The plan is part of the country diversifying its income from oil to other sectors. The country currently sees tourism from Muslims who come for religious reasons particularly during their holy month. But with so many non-Muslims curious about the kingdom and coming here, tourism is high on the list of areas for the country to generate additional revenue. You can visit on the kingdom on flights with Saudi Airlines that frequents many major cities.
They have also instituted many changes aimed at modernization. Here are a few examples:
- In February it will be the one year of the conservative country allowing female-only gyms.
- The 35 year old ban on movie cinemas has been lifted.
- For the first time women are now allowed to drive in the kingdom.
The push is toward making the kingdom more modernized and inclusive.
New Tourist Visa
There is a new visa scheme that cane into effect on April 1, 2018 that allows a single entry 30-day visa for tourists. This will mark the first time that women aged 25 and above will be issued a visa of any kind without a male chaperone. Younger women will still be required to visit in the company of their husband or male family member. The new visas are aimed at getting more people into the country on a regular basis and hit a target of 30 million visitors annually by 2030.
Places to Visit in the Country
Of course you need to visit the capital Mekka and enjoy the great sites, culture and food there. And with the government making a concerted effort to open its arms there are many places in the kingdom visitors should aim to see:
Carnival of Camels
The annual camel festival is a one of a kind sight to behold.
The festival includes: camel hair art, camel sand art, camel racing, camel beauty pageants, and even portable restaurants selling camel burgers. The camel is an important animal for Saudi Arabia and this type of festival is serious business. It’s part of how they have lived for centuries. They use camels for transportation, they drink from the camels, they eat the meat of the camels.
There are camel contests of all types and camels are judged on their dainty ears, the shape of their head, their height and color, and even their lips. There are also camel races. All told there is more than $50 million dollars in prize money given away during the festival.
You may not know that the kingdom is famous for diving but this is the case. The Farasan Islands have more than just private beaches and sand. You can book hotels here and it is also a bird watchers paradise. There is abundant wildlife here including Gazelle. You can also find numerous historical sites on the main island. A once in a lifetime destination.
Your most important stop in the country is Madain Saleh. You should spend a few days here eploring the beautiful scenery, natural wonders and history that tells the story of the country. Madain Saleh contains the tombs of the ancient Nabatean people who lived here thousands of years ago. It is also set up to accommodate tourists. The Hejaz railway built Ottomans runs through it and the nearby the town of Al-Ula has a beautiful oasis, various museums, exotic foods, an old Saudi village and ruins and tombs of Khuraibah. There is so much to see and learn here that your entire family will have a wonderful time.
Edge of the World
Part of the 800km long Tuwaiq Escarpment the Edge of the World offers Saudi Arabia’s most spectacular views. When you look to the horizon from the edge it appears as if the plains continue endlessly. The view is one you will remember forever.
In the North of the country is the Qassim Region and the towns Buraidah and Unaizah. This area is famous for it’s rich cultural heritage and history. The area teems with beautiful and unique mosques, ancient farmlands, and has an abundance of historical sites. You can also find beautiful jewelry and clothing in the traditional marketplaces.
You can book hotels in Mekka the capital city and use it as a hub for all of oyur travels within the country. Remember to check with the country for dress and conduct codes and alcohol restrictions. The country is very strict in some areas and you need to know all of the restrictions before you come.