Mysterious and Unique Places in Saudi Arabia

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List of Beautiful Places in Saudi Arabia

“Take chances, explore and find new adventures because no matter where you end up, it will always be exactly how it was meant to be, trust me, it will be worth it and you will feel it, and if you don’t, then your journey isn’t over yet

                                                                    – Enaya-

The contrasting images of the modern city and the cultural heritage & architecture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will take you on an incredible journey into the majestic ancient era. The magical azure waters of the Red Sea call out to the soul and effortlessly your mind aligns with the rhythm of the universe. There is an air of mystery in the golden sands of the deserts, the enchanting winds whisper to you the stories of a magnificent past. You can witness unbelievable mountain sceneries and spectacular heritage villages. Why Saudi Arabia? Well, It’s not just culture, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just traditions, it’s value. I try and write so that I can encompass, even if just a speck of the glorious features of the kingdom and I try to justify its beauty, but all boundaries simply cease to exist. I am left with a never-ending desire to capture and present the Arabian wonders and all I can say is that there is always more than meets the eye!

Al-Bahah (city) & Baljureshi

Just imagine! Taking in a breath of fresh and cold air in the midst of peaceful silence where it’s only you and the melody of nature, would Arabia ever be the first thought to cross your mind? To walk in the midst of clouds is a dream for many, it’s real for those who visit here!

Along the impressively high cliffs of the Sarawat mountains, Al-Bahah and Baljureshi will offer stunning viewpoints on the cliffs of Al-Bahah Province, historical and traditional sites, and satisfying green parks. The city of Al-Bahah will welcome you to a marvelous sight of its finely detailed and picturesque old villages. Although these traditional buildings are now unoccupied, the local residents are proud to see that the visitors are keen on acknowledging skilled carpentry and their glorious ancestral past.

Al Bahah
evening in Al Bahah
  • Al-Bahah Souk: If you are lucky, you will get the chance to see the largest traditional market that is set-up in the city

This souk distinguishes itself as most vendors are locals from the Tihama coastline. All the goods and crafts sold in the souk have been developed by local suppliers and include items such as basil, household items, textiles, livestock and so much more

  • Al-Bahah Museum for Antiquities and National Heritage: This is most definitely a very intriguing place. Located in the city, the museum, which was established by the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH), highlights the cultural and historical dimensions and covers the long history of Al-Bahah province

Baljureshi presents one of Al-Bahahah’s most intense views. In fact, from the park located on the base of the majestic rock formation of Jabel Heznah, the panoramic view of the scarp that separates the Mountains of Sawarat from the Tihama plain is simply breathtaking. If you are adventurous in your approach, a climb till the top of the majestic Jabel Heznah will be the perfect activity for you at the end of which you will be rewarded by the highest viewpoint of the entire province.

  • Jabal Mussala Ibrahim – Sheda: Does Arabia = heat, dust, desert and sand dunes? You will be surprised! The Jabal Mussala Ibrahim presents from a distance its resplendent silhouette with its sharp granite peak pointing to the sky, the view is nothing less than monumental. When you get close, a small road leads you to the hidden treasure that the place actually holds: a village perched halfway to the top, called Sheda. There are other charming sights on your way to this village in the sky, not an exaggeration! It happens to be 1600 meters above sea level! You will experience a dramatic change in the weather, especially during summers, as it will get much cooler as you arrive closer to this destination.
Jabal Mussala Ibrahim
Jabal Mussala Ibrahim
  • Zee Al-Ayn historical village: This enchanting historical village will take you by surprise. The striking contrast of the white structure against the darker shades of the Sarawat mountain backgrounds is a delightful sight and a nearby natural spring that provides water to a lush oasis surrounding the bottom of the hill completes this iconic view. This historical village is an interesting example of traditional human settlements that were well suited to their climate and to their social and financial statuses.

Al-Jawf Province

  • The Dumat Al-Jandal: This oasis is located in the heart of Al-Jawf province. Visit the local palm grove provides tourists with an enjoyable and tranquil experience; green fields and plants are distributed with apparent anarchy that reveals the area’s natural lushness. Palm trees provide the most exquisite dates. A definite place to visit for an exclusive and tranquil experience.
  • Nefud Al-Kebir: A characteristic feature of the Nefud Al-Kebir is its sand’s plethora of colors ranging from not only the regular beige to red, but also from yellow to white on its edges. Another interesting feature is the shape of the hilly yet scalable dunes. However, the most fascinating part is that it hosts some of the world’s most brilliant rock art. This place has to be on your list!
Nefud Al-Kebir rock art
Nefud Al-Kebir rock art
  • Rajajil is a mysterious ancient site located on a sandstone terrace, south of Sakakah. The conundrum of the site’s standing stones has attracted widespread interpretations and among them, tales of fear and superstition also go around. Archeological excavations have revealed that Rajajil is actually a burial site. It is possible to identify more than 50 burial sites, ranging from single trench tombs to structures of funerary chambers. A place that will definitely enlighten your historic spirit.
  • Za’abal Castle: Za’abal castle sits on a mountaintop in the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia. It is a mud and stone castle situated on top of a functioning well system, which has been operating throughout the city of Sakakah for years. The castle is believed to have been built about 200 years ago, consisting of a wall guarded with four watchtowers and a water reservoir. Archeological evidence, however, shows that there have been several structures on this site since the first century AD. This impressive location, at the highest point in the region, offers it a spectacular view of the city.
Za’abal Castle
Za’abal Castle

Aseer Province

  • Abha is the largest city at a high altitude. It is about 2,200 meters above sea level, BUT the skies fall here! Among the most attractive features is the display of tremendous traditional architecture. Jabal Al-Akhdar- The Green Mountain provides one of the best views of the entire city and its surrounding mountains, as far as the tip of the mighty Sarawat Ranges. The Al-Basta district is one of the oldest villages in the Abha valley where you will find beautiful and vibrant conventional architecture and enjoy its quaint streets.
  • The Ottomans constructed many landmarks in the region, including the Al-Basta Bridge and the Shamsan Fort which overlooks the northern part of Abha at the beginning of the 16th century (BC). The fort is a 91 meter long and 25-meter wide rectangle with three towers and a gate on the southwest wall. Several rooms and services open onto the inner courtyard of the castle.
  • Dhahran Al-Janub’s old village is a beautiful testament to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ancient traditional mud-brick buildings. There are still panels along the old street with inscriptions that surround you in an aura of the past, and even though the village is no longer populated, tourists can still experience the atmosphere that enlivened these streets not so long ago.
Dhahran Al-Janub's old village
Dhahran Al-Janub’s old village
  • The road leading from Abha to Jabal Sawdah, which is the highest point in the kingdom, runs through Moshebah’s hilly landscapes. These sights smash all prejudices about Saudi Arabia as the scenery here is all about mountains and greenery, the absolute opposite of typical sand dune landscapes.
  • The first picture that comes to your mind with regard to Saudi architecture is the artistic and dynamic Rijal Alma’s buildings. The landscape surrounding Rijal Alma ‘ is made up of steep hills overlooking a sinuous path that once carried spices and incense fruits into the Arabian Peninsula’s interior and a valley running towards the Tihama plain. It offers stunning sights and is a must-visit destination. 
Rijal Alma's buildings.
Rijal Alma’s buildings.

Hail Province

  • White Volcanoes (The lava fields of the Harrat Khaybar): This is also referred to as the volcanic wonder of Arabia. The jewel of the Harrat Khaybar lies at the center, where there is a very rare type of volcano made of silica-rich magma which gives it a white color. The two largest volcanoes are the Jabal Abiadh and the Jabal Bayda, whose grandiose majesty is stunning. 
  • Shuwaymis: This world-famous site contains some of the earliest and most impressive carvings and rock art of the Arabian Peninsula. The sequence that emerges from an evaluation of the hunting scenes divides rock art into an exclusive hunting period, a herding period and a later period of camel depictions. This is a fascinating place to be.
Rock art in Hail
Rock art in Hail

Jizan Province

  • Farasan Islands: It consists of 84 islands made up of coral reefs located approximately 40 kilometers offshore from the town of Jizan. With its beaches, its crystal clear waters, and its rich land and underwater wildlife. The uninhabited islands serve as breeding grounds for a large number of birds. Farasan waters also host many kinds of dugongs, sea turtles, lobsters, manta rays, lionfish, eels, etc. It is particularly famous for its parrot-fish (hareed). The land reserve has a very special feature with the Farasan Islands Gazelle, whose graceful silhouettes can be seen shyly in the bushes of the main island.
  • Wadi Lajab: Wadi Lajab’s most impressive attribute is that it provides fresh water more frequently than any other wadi in Saudi Arabia. The stream flowing at the bottom of the canyon creates mid-sized waterfalls and multiple ponds which are deep enough for visitors to enjoy a dip!
Wadi Lajab
Wadi Lajab
  • Fayfa is Jizan Province’s diamond in the sky. It provides spectacular and breathtaking views over the lush green mountains with its peaks reaching about 2,600 meters above sea level. Another beautiful feature of Fayfa mountains is the terraces that were built over the centuries in order to allow agriculture to develop in this humid and fertile but steep land.

Madinah Province

  • Wadi Jinn: The interesting part about this mysterious place is that be it a vehicle (left at neutral) or plain simple water poured onto the ground, it all moves in the uphill direction instead of the usual down the slope movement. People over the course of time have come up with all sorts of theories with the superstitious one being that the valley is occupied by supernatural beings while a scientific theory suggests that it might just be some magnetic field reaction. What do you believe?
Wadi Jinn
Wadi Jinn
  • Lion Tombs of Dedan: Some remains of these brilliant kingdoms have been excavated, including an astonishing necropolis whose tombs were dug on both sides of Jabal Dedan, which overlooks the city to the east. These tombs are square-shaped holes, cut off at different heights from the side of the mountain, with cavities about two meters deep. These lion sculptures, which are an outstanding example of the Mesopotamian influence, are proud iconic figures. An interesting fact, not for the faint of heart, is that remains of bones, shrouds and pieces of coffin wood have been found in these graves.
  • Jabal Al Rukkab: Jabal Al-Rukkab’s most impressive rock formations are three incredibly high natural pillars standing in the middle of a wide wadi and at the bottom of a huge sandbank offering a perfect view of an out-of-this-world scenery. The rocks ‘ silhouette is rather striking and the locals have nicknamed them as “the three dancers.”
Jabal Al-Rukkab's rock formations
Jabal Al-Rukkab’s rock formations

Makkah Province

  • Al Wahbah Crater: The Al Wahbah Crater is located in the middle of a barren desert, but the reason that it is an amazing natural wonder is that it has a huge source of salt contained at its base. The giant crater was presumed to have formed due to an ancient meteor collision, but ultimately it was discovered to have resulted due to volcanic activity.
  • Taif (Rose festival): Taif is famous for its roses. Its most attractive rose is an oil-rich 30-petal damask rose, the perfume of which has a robust, spicy, and dizzyingly complex scent. Every year in the months of March-April Taif’s Rose Festival is hosted at King Faisal Park in Qadeera. A flowering tapestry arranged like a carpet, by the Taif Municipality spread over 750 m2, comprising more than 15,000 species of all-color blooming roses, is one of the major highlights of the festival. The festival hosts several pavilions for traditional food items, art and craft, folk dances, and cultural competitions for kids.
Rose festival in Taif
Rose festival in Taif
  • Jeddah: Jeddah presents a quite different image via the seaport city which has an extensive history of exchanges with the world. Having the natural virtue of its location along the Red Sea coast and vibrant coral reefs and the white sand beaches, it has earned its nickname “bride of the red sea.” Obhur on the north of Jeddah is renowned for its resorts with private beaches and dive center. Red Sea marvels are celebrated in the Fakieh Aquarium, where more than 200 species are displayed, including Sharks, Groupies, Napoleon Wrasse, Sea Horses, etc.

One of the most famous attractions here is the fish market located on the west of the Corniche and offers at least 50 species of freshly caught sea creatures from the Red Sea, ranging from hammerhead sharks to groupers, shrimps, parrotfish, and squids. Besides the seafront is the beating heart of the city.

Ancient Jeddah people used to build their homes with coral stones collected from the coastal reef along the shores of the Red Sea, while purified clay from the depths of the two Al-Mangabi and Al-Arbaean lakes were used to cement coral stones. The clay was also used to protect the soils and roofs and lower coral walls. There is also some very old traditional architecture in Balad.

Al Rahma Mosque
Al Rahma Mosque
  • The Haunted House of Jeddah: Jeddah’s haunted house sits on the North Corniche hundred meters or so from the seafront. Among the communities in Jeddah, it is well known and people avoid going close to this house. People around say it’s a magnet for the youth (shabab). Approximately 16 people have entered this house and have never returned, confirms a news report. The outside world has no idea as to where they have gone, there is no trace of them still today.

Najran Province

Najran city is famous for its two palaces, Emarah and Al-Aan, which are inevitable landmarks and brilliant examples of the province’s traditional architecture. The old streets of  Najran traditional villages like Abu As-Su’ud is a delightful experience that will take you back in time. Another artistic feature of Najran’s traditional houses is the sleek crenellations on the top of the walls, which gives the silhouette of these rectangular buildings a strong impression of lightness. It is truly an aesthetically pleasing sight.

Najran province
Najran province

Qassim Province

The province of Qassim is home to some of the most symbolic attributes of the Arabian cultural heritage, not only with its iconic date festival but also with many other festivities, rural villages, and museums that have kept Arab customs and lifestyles intact.

  • Al- Shinanah Tower: This is an extraordinary architectural feature that can be found in the southwest of Al-Rass in the province of Qassim. The slender silhouette of the watchtower is located on the top of a small hill where the desert begins. This classic 27-meter-high tower is a brilliant example of Qassim’s classic architectural heritage, which has been preserved to this day. 
Al- Shinanah Tower
Al- Shinanah Tower
  • Uyun Al-Jiwa: Uyun Al-Jiwa’s name refers to the governorate as well as its main city. The term translates literally into “the pond valley” and is derived from the water ponds that used to surround the area. Classical Arab poetry attests to the reputation of loyalty, honesty, and hard work of the people of Uyun Al-Jiwa and the historical importance of the oasis.

Riyadh Province

  • Ushaiger heritage village: Ushaiger, which literally means “blonde”, is a heritage village located 200 kilometers northwest of Riyadh in the heart of the Najd. Although it’s built of red rock, locals say that the Arabic word for red was also used for blonde in the past.
Ushaiger heritage village
Ushaiger heritage village
  • Al Ghat Heritage village (One of the largest traditional villages of Saudi Arabia): The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an incredibly rich architectural heritage with dozens of styles across the country. It is situated 250 kilometers from the capital city of Riyadh and adjacent to the province of Qassim, Al-Ghat is one of the most well preserved traditional villages in Saudi Arabia.
  • Musayqirah rock is one of the very rare known sites in the province of Riyadh where water-buffalo carvings can be found, attesting to the Arab Peninsula’s previous humid climate. They are on the eastern side of the main rock. Particularly notable is the large panel on the western side of Musayqirah given a large number of carvings and a variety of representations it carries. Ostriches, ibexes, dogs, lions, camels as well as hunters, warriors, a human skeleton, horsemen, and even Thamudic inscriptions have been found. A very interesting sight and should definitely make it to your list!
Musayqirah rock art
Musayqirah rock art
  • Edge of the world: The Edge of the World is part of the Tuwaiq Escarpments, which runs through the central region. The splendid view of the cliffs and the endless panoramic view of the plains below make it an enthralling tourist attraction. As the cliffs face westward, they also give spectacular sunset views over the Saudi Arabian desert to tourists who camp there overnight.

Tabuk Province

  • Jabal Al Lawz: Jabal Al-Lawz, which in Arabic means the almond mount, is one of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s most mystical ranges with its height at 2,549 meters above sea level, rendering it the tallest mountain in the province of Tabuk. This is the only place in Saudi Arabia where snow falls almost every year. As shocking as it is, owing to its many mountains reaching heights of over 2 500 meters, Saudi Arabia does witness regular snowfalls. It is believed that Mount Sinai is also located in this region where Prophet Musa (as) received the word of Allah.
Jabal Al Lawz
Jabal Al Lawz
  • Al Shaq: Al-Shaq means the tear (or rip) since it seems that the tectonic forces have literally torn the earth apart. This is why this place is also known as the Great Canyon of Saudi Arabia. Elegant sandstone formations can be seen everywhere in that area. This is a very captivating place and you should definitely make time for this one!
  • Mahajah: Natural arches that are present in many parts of the country are among its enigmatic characteristics, however, Mahajah hosts the most remarkable ones. Wind and rain erosion sculpted a formation of sandstone into three striking arches, the highest reaching up to 40 meters. There is a natural rock wall, more than 160 meters long, adorned with thousands of carvings depicting life-size camels, horsemen, goats, buffaloes, geometric figures, and even a boat!

Owing to its hard, rocky terrain, it is a very remote area with soft sand fields that dictate slow progress. It’s also full of dead ends, so it’s just for experienced drivers! It is strongly recommended that you go with a guide who knows the way!

Natural arches in Mahajah
Natural arches in Mahajah
  • Ras Al-Mashee – Safinat Haql: The Gulf of Aqabah offers stunning views along its magnificent stretch of 170 kilometers from Ras Al-Sheikh Hameed in the south to the city of Aqabah in the north. Turquoise waters on both sides are home to vivid marine life, variegated corals, and white sandy beaches at the foot of astounding mountains. An unintended manmade characteristic lies on the coral reef near the beach-a shipwreck, part of the hull jutting out of the water. The shipwreck of ‘Georgios G’, known as’ Safinat Haql’ which stands for ‘boat of Haql’ by the locals. It remains unclear what caused its unfortunate fate.
  • Tayeb Ism (The valley of Musa {as}): This is a destination that will most definitely take you by surprise. While approaching the road that runs along the azure waters and white beaches, the first thing to grab your attention is the reverence of the 600-meter-high granite massif, whose indentations fall into the Gulf of Aqabah. The visitors will see another enticing wonder from the bridge, a stream of crystal clear water that runs through the gravel throughout the year. As a result, the wadi hosts numerous palm trees and reeds that create small valleys overlooked by the canyon’s vertiginous sides.

Another interesting fact is that Madyan is the land where, after fleeing from Egypt, Prophet Musa (as) spent ten years in voluntary exile. It is also believed that they reached the land of Madyan at Tayeb Al-Ism when he brought the people out of Egypt through the Red Sea, which is the reason why it is also called the Valley of Musa.

Tayeb Ism
Tayeb Ism
  • Wadi Qaraqir (Wadi Dissah):  The first distinctive feature of this wadi is its dimensions: the side cliffs are already higher than 100 meters at the eastern end of the canyon, but at the western entrance the distance between the wadi’s base and the highest cliffs reaches as high as 500 meters! It is there that one can enjoy the most breathtaking landscape of this magical place, from the huge granite peaks, standing on both sides of the canyon.

A mystical aura escapes through the sands which reflect the hue of the sun and brings forth destinations that smash stereotypes of Arabia simply being a desert landscape! This list of mysterious, unique, and interesting places will definitely broaden the horizon of your imagination.  Saudi Arabia – truly a magical place, a diamond in the rough!

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