Saudi Arabia Travel Guide

Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country that occupies most of the Arabian peninsula and has coastlines on the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea. Neighboring countries include Jordan to the northwest, Iraq and Kuwait to the northeast, Bahrain and Qatar to the east, the United Arab Emirates to the southeast, and Oman and Yemen to the south.

Diversity of nature, the culture and civilization will unfold before you in this gorgeous and colorful country. You are in the land of generosity and genuine Arabic hospitality.

It is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the messenger of Islam, and home of it's most sacred mosques: Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque) in Mecca (Holy Makkah) and Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi (The Prophet's Mosque) in Medina (Al-Madinah Al-Monawarah), to which all physically and financially able Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) at least once in their lifetime if possible and where non-Muslims are forbidden from entering.

For those who do get in, rock-hewn Mada'in Saleh which is one of Arabia's greatest treasures. Other wonders abound, from the echoes of T.E. Lawrence along the Hejaz Railway to the mud-brick ruins of Dir'iyah. Fascinating Riyadh is a showpiece for modern Saudi Arabia, Jeddah blends ancient and modern and has an enchanting old city made of coral, while the Red Sea coast has World-Class diving. Saudi Arabia is as rich in attractions as it is in stirring symbolism.

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Green background with Arabic calligraphy in white reading the Muslim creed: "There is no god but Allah - Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah"


Population

34.14 million, including nearly 11.5 million expatriates (2019 estimate)


National day

September 23, commemorating the foundation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932

Saudi Arabia Map

Time

Greenwich Mean Time plus three (GMT+3) equals Eastern Standard Time plus eight (seven during Daylight Savings Time).


Climate

June through August, over 43°C (110°F) midday in the desert; humidity in coastal regions up to 100 percent; elsewhere, mild; possible winter temperatures in the northern and central regions dropping below freezing; rainfall, from none at all for up to 10 years in the Rub Al-Khali, to 50cm (20 inches) a year in the mountains of Asir Province.


Terrain

Varied; fairly barren and harsh, with salt flats, gravel plains and sand deserts; a few man-made lakes but no permanent streams; in the south, the Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest sand desert in the World; in the southwest, mountain ranges of over 2,742m (9,000 feet).


When to visit Saudi Arabia

People tend to think of Saudi Arabia as an expanse of scorching hot desert punctuated with oil wells, and for most of the time in most of the country, they would be absolutely right. From May to September, the country except the southwestern mountains bakes in temperatures that average 42°C (107°F) and regularly exceed 50°C (122°F) in the shade.

In July and August, all who can flee the country, do so and work slows down to a crawl. The coasts are only slightly moderated by the sea, which usually keeps temperatures below 38°C (100°F) but at the price of extreme humidity (85-100%), which many find even more uncomfortable than the dry heat of the interior, especially at night. Only the elevated mountainous regions stay cooler, with the summer resort city of Taif rarely topping 35°C (95°F) and the mountainous Asir region cooler yet.

In winter, though, it's a surprisingly different story. Daytime highs in Riyadh in December average only 21°C (70°F), and temperatures can easily fall below zero at night, occasionally even resulting in a sprinkling of snow in the southern mountains.

The winter can also bring rains to all or most of the country, although in many years this is limited to one or two torrential outbursts. The end of spring (April and May) is also a rainy season for much of the country. In the south, though, this pattern is reversed, with most rain falling during the Indian Ocean's monsoon season between May and October.

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