Watersports? In Saudi Arabia?
Yes! After all, beyond the golden sands of Saudi Arabia lie the endless blue waters of Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
The Persian Gulf has several diving sites worth exploring. It is home to 700 marine species such as the dugong, which is often seen grazing along the gulf’s shallow waters. The area is also frequented by kingfishers, whose migration route takes them close to the shores of Saudi Arabia.
The coast of the Red Sea features some of the best wind surfing spots in the region. With winds reaching up to 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) per hour, a surf enthusiast will get all the thrills he wants from this desert country.
Retrace the old Arabian caravan routes
Long before Mecca became a place of reverence to all Muslims, it was already part of a caravan trade route stretching from Rome to Africa to the heart of India. Frankincense from Yemen, pearls from Abu Dhabi, and copper and gold from Muscat once passed through this city.
There are other caravan stops along the way, and while Mecca and Medina are now forbidden to non-Muslims, these other trading stops open their gates to reveal their glorious history.
Al Jawf is a town and oasis in northern Saudi Arabia. Remote and ancient, the town is located along the caravan route between the Mediterranean and India. While largely crumbling, the town has archeological sites worth visiting.
Taima has an extraordinary water well that is considered to be one of the oldest and most sophisticated in the region. Dating back from the Babylonian times, the well was responsible for the orchards sprouting across town. Today, Taima is still known for its high quality figs, dates and pomegranates.
Experience Bedouin hospitality
The Bedouins are the last of the nomadic tribes of Saudi Arabia. They live in tents and travel from place to place with their herds and material possessions.
They raise sheep and camel for food and money. Their homes are literally built on sand and are designed to be easily packed and carried.
Travel with the Bedouins and you’ll get an experience you will never forget.
Because of their portable homes, Bedouins are able to offer their hospitality anywhere. Expect to get shelter and food from your host, and perhaps hear one or a couple of their folk legends.
A Bedouin home is like an oasis in the desert. When you find yourself in one, you not only refresh your body, you also satiate your senses and reenergize your soul.
Expand your view of Islam
The two holiest cities of Islam – Mecca and Medina ¬– sit in the heart of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom itself is the birthplace of Islam.
On your visit to Saudi Arabia, open your heart to learning more about Islam, which is one of the most misunderstood major religions in the world today. Look around you and realize that in this country, you are surrounded by peaceful people, loving families, who all happen to be Muslim.
Study their temples, their rituals, their practices, and look for the principle behind them. Talk to the people, but listen more than talk; do not get into an argument.
Take this chance to open your mind about the Muslim world outside the West. You can never get as up-close-and-personal with the Islamic religion as you can in Saudi Arabia.
See the King’s Cup
The King’s Cup is a yearly sports event that takes place in Riyadh during the month of February. Here, around 2,000 young boys from across the kingdom join the camel race with huge prices at stake.
What is so special about these races is that the boys were trained to ride camels from a very young age, so these races showcase the impressive talents of young riders in riding these magnificent beasts.
In addition to the King’s Cup, you can also attend the Janadriyah Festival, which occurs simultaneously. The event takes place in Riyadh and is regarded as the most important cultural event of the year.
The Janadriyah Festival celebrates Saudi Arabian culture. Songs, dances and even lavish theatrical perfomances showcase the kingdom’s Bedouin heritage. Arts and crafts, sometimes made on the spot are sold in kiosks.
Between just these two events, you will surely get an eyeful of the culture of Saudi Arabia.