Saudi Arabia: An Amazing Eight Days Cultural Tour
Learn why the famous city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia attracts so many tourists from across the world with details of its popular parts and destinations.
Saudi Arabia is an inherently Islamic culture founded on the Quran. Saudis stick to the Muslim principles of modesty in dress also is known as hijab. (The word hijab may also be used to refer to a woman’s headscarf.)The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has for several years been behind the veil. The history and culture of the various regions and people who make up the largest country in the Middle East, is really a fascinating one. With limited access, the culture of the Kingdom has seen hardly any influence of the outside world causing this to be one of the least influenced cultures in the world.
Day 01 Arrive Jeddah
We get to the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia where we’re warmly received and used in our hotel. Check in time starts from 1400 hrs. Evening there exists a welcome dinner and are brought to the Kingdom, its culture and attractions.
Overnight: Royal Casablanca Hotel (2 nights) (D)
Day 02 Jeddah
Our KSA experience begins with a tour of the old town of Jeddah famous for its ornate wooden windows and its colorful market. We visit El Beit Nassif – Prince Nassif House – one of the finest traditional Jeddah houses undergoing preservation. This is followed by a visit to the well-stocked Abdul Rauf Khalil Art Museum. (B, D)
Day 03 Jeddah / Madina (Flight) / Al Ula
Morning hours transfer for our morning flight to Madina. Upon arrival, we drive north via Khayber having lunch on route. At Khayber, Charles Doughty of “Arabia Deserta” fame spent 4 months in captivity. His comb, books, and compass counseled me investigated. The Acropolis is situated atop a rocky prominent overlooking the oasis of date palms and the old capital of scotland – Khyber. Visits to Khyber are susceptible to permits. As we travel north, we parallel the Hijaz where Ottoman Turks built the Hijaz railway line. Originally a railway line existed only between Constantinople and Damascus. To carry on to Makkah, pilgrims had to travel by camel caravan, which took 2 months. Once the line from Damascus to Madinah was completed the journey time was reduced to 3 days. Financial help for this railway line originated from all over the Arab and Islamic world and it took 7000 men to put the sleepers and rail tracks. Not just did this track help pilgrims it followed the path of the historical Frankincense trails connecting from Wadi Hadhramaut in Yemen. Caravans traveling this route carried spices from the Indies, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, gold from the Kingdom of Saba, and frankincense and myrrh bound for the churches of Rome and the Pharaohs of Egypt. The cameleers transporting these goods were guided through from well to well by the Nabataeans who took A quarter of the value of their goods for safe passage.
Overnight: Arac Hotel (2 nights) (B, L, D)
Day 04 Al Ula, Madain Saleh & the Hijaz Railway
We spend the day visiting Mada’in Salah. First discovered by Charles Doughty in 1876 as he was granted permission by the Turks to travel having a camel caravan of pilgrims on path to Makkah. Mada’in Salah is sister city to Petra and the ancient capital of the Nabataeans. The inscriptions Doughty discovered over the doorways weren’t to be found at Petra in Jordan. Using wet blotting paper he took imprints, that have been sent to Paris. Later, they were discovered to be Tomb deeds dating between 100BC to 75AD. We visit the various tombs including tomb of Qasr Al Farid – an amazing, carved from one bit of rock standing alone in the desert, Al Diwan – the main site of worship, etc. Mada’in Salah flourished between 100BC and 100AD and grew rich on the caravan trade which passed through from the incense-growing parts of southern Arabia. The Nabataeans were a Semitic people, formerly nomadic, who wrote in an earlier form of Arabic script. The tombs take presctiption a monumental scale, much like those at Petra however with more eastern influence in the style of their facades. There are lions, snakes, and roses embossed on some tombs. In the Koran Mada’in Salah is known by its Arabic name Al Hijr and the way it was destroyed because the people here worshipped false gods.
Alongside the Mada’in Salah railway station is Qaal’at Al Hijr a comparatively new caravanserai. These were designed for pilgrims who traveled on camel caravans to Mecca. Caravanserai is really a Persian word literally meaning ‘Inn’ where travelers would rest for the night. It had been usually built in an oasis having a courtyard in the center. Off the courtyard are arches that will lead through to the various quarters that housed camels and livestock for the night. Alongside could be blacksmiths, coppersmiths, and bakers. On the second level were the sleeping quarters.
The Mada’in Salah Railway station is the largest and most satisfactory of all stations. There are many buildings here, the main workshop and a little fort to accommodate 25 men. You will find underground stores for explosives, more housing, a Rheinland locomotive and 4 Belgian-made carriages plus a water tower. The Hijaz Railway line became well-known from T. E. Lawrence the archaeologist turned flamboyant desert warlord. During World War I Turkey sided with the Germans and wanted charge of the Suez Canal. The British, French, and the Arabs of the Hijaz, under the Hasehmite King Sherief Hussein, prevented this by staging attacks on the line to avoid the Turks from accessing the desert Kingdom and the Red Sea. During this time period Saudi Arabia was still divided and was governed by princes in the different provinces. It wasn’t completely unified by King Abdulaziz until 1932. (B, L, D)
Day 05 Al Ula / Hail in the Great Nafud Desert
Today we have a desert drive to Hail. Hails is in the heart of the Najd. We’ll have a lunch of traditional foods from the region in a classic adobe style house. We tour the old town of Hail, situated in the heart of the country. The Al Rashid group of Hail was once the ruling family in Saudi Arabia. We visit the old fort of I’raif situated in a prominent position overlooking the old city, having a commanding view of the surrounding desert terrain and the mountains of Jebel Selma and Aja then viewing of the Al Qashla Palace, a classic two-story structure of adobe architecture.
Overnight: Al Jabalain Hotel (1 night) (B, D)
Day 06 Hail / Riyadh
We continue our drive to the Kingdom’s capital of Riyadh. Enroute we cross Al Qassim Buraida and Majmaah seeing the rural scenery and landscape of the Middle East’s largest country. Upon our arrival at Riyadh we’re transferred to our hotel. Evening we visit the largest camel market in Asia seeing not just how the cadillacs of the desert can be purchased and bought, but we get the opportunity to ride on one.
Overnight: Tulip Inn Olaya Hotel (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 07 Riyadh
Starting our Riyadh tour having a visit of the National Museum situated in the downtown area near to the old city of Riyadh. The exhibit displays the various artifacts from the Kingdom’s archaeological finds, its history, Islam and present day Saudi Arabia. It provides for us an excellent insight into the country and its people. After lunch, we visit the Muraba Palace – the administrative palace built by King Abdulaziz. It had been built in 1936 when his old palace wasn’t any longer able to contain his growing household and administrative staff. The Muraba Palace in those days lay about one mile north of the old walled town of Riyadh. King Abdulaziz moved into the Palace in 1938 and it was the beginning of Riyadh’s expansion. On the first floor is the royal suite of receptions, or majlis. (B, D)
Day 08 Riyadh / departure
After a thrilling journey covering the kingdoms behind the veil, we’re transferred to the airport for the departure flight home. Take a look at time is by 1100 hrs. (B)