Travel through the country’s history
Discover Saudi's six UNESCO heritage sites
Experience a land where the past comes to life. From the labyrinthine streets of ancient cities, to the intricate rock carvings of early civilizations, the kingdom’s rich history is written large across the landscape. When you explore the ancient ruins and rock-carven tombs of Nabatean Hegra or walk the narrow winding streets of Al-Turaif, surrounded by beautiful Najd architecture, you are opening a doorway into Saudi’s rich and fascinating history.
World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Places as beautiful and unique as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in the USA, or the Acropolis in Greece are examples of the 1007 natural and cultural places inscribed on the World Heritage List to date. And now Saudi is home to six of these natural wonders:
Hima Cultural Area
Found in the mountainous southwest of Saudi is Hima, one of the largest rock art complexes in the world. Situated along an ancient trade route, Hima is comprised of 34 archaelogical sites that feature inscriptions in a range of languages such as Arabic, Greek, Thamudic, and Musnad which have been carved into the rock-face. The carvings, which depict hunting, flora, and fauna, are a time-capsule that gives us an insight into the diverse cultures and peoples that have inhabited this area throughout history.
Hegra, which sits deep in the desert of Saudi, north-western Al-‘Ula region, is home to the ancient tombs of the lost civilization of the Nabatean tribes who settled the area in the 1st century AD. Visitors view four surviving necropolis sites, which feature 131 rock-cut tombs and ornamental façades carved into sandstone outcrops.
Al Turaif, Diriyah
Diriyah is home to Al Turaif, the Al Saud family's original seat, which was founded in the 15th century. The remnants of the mudbrick houses that were designed in the Najdi style architectural style and the history of the area dates back thousands of years. It was once a trading route, pilgrimage route, and meeting point for travelers and merchants from Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Al Ahsa Oasis
Al Ahsa is the archetype of a lush desert oasis which has been declared by the Guinness World Records as the largest self-contained oasis in the world. From hot and cold springs to historic mosques and sweeping panoramic vistas, this 6,000-year-old oasis is a microcosm of Saudi archaeological and ecological features.
The heart of Jeddah is the historic old town, Al-Balad, where houses built from coral that are over 500-years-old can be found. The old town has been the subject of increased interest in recent years, and conservation has been carried out to preserve its unique history and architecture. According to local lore, Al-Balad may even be the resting place of Eve.
Rock Art in the Al Hail region
Venture to the northern Hail region of Saudi, and you will find yourself surrounded by ancient rock art in the middle of the desert. Jabal Umm Sinman in Jubbah boasts rock inscriptions dating back at least 7,000 to 9,000 years to the Pottery Neolithic period. Home to some of the most prominent Neolithic rock art in the Middle East, various inscriptions and petroglyphs reveal human activities, clothing, animals, and weapons of the past.
Check out the top Instagram spots
Get the best pic!
With the world opening up again and travel at the top of just about everyone’s bucket lists, our Instagram feeds will soon take a turn from #wfh to #travelgram. Saudi is the newest destination full of rare and insta-worthy content. We’ve compiled our top 5 most picturesque places across Saudi to get that perfect pic.
1. King Fahd's Fountain, Jeddah
Visible from all across the city, King Fahd’s Fountain is a much-loved Jeddah landmark, rising against the backdrop of the Red Sea. At 312-meters high, it is the tallest fountain in the world, sending plumes of water shooting skywards at speeds of more than 350kph. The fountain is at its best after dark, when hundreds of coloured lights illuminate the arc of water as it soars spectacularly against the night sky. It’s at this time you’ll find groups of onlookers gathered along the waterfront, watching mesmerised as the fall of water cascades down to the sea below. The fountain sits just off the city’s corniche and uses saltwater taken from the surrounding harbour rather than freshwater to create its signature surge.
2. Soudah Mountains, Asir Region
Rising some 3000m above Sarawat Valley, Saudi's tallest mountain is everything you don't expect in Saudi. Covered in juniper forests and famous for misty, cold weather, the views from here are some of the most spectacular in Asir.
3. Al Wahbah Crater
Measuring 4km wide and 250-meters deep, the sprawling Al Wahba crater is one of Saudi’s most dramatic natural wonders: a vast hollow with an opaque lake at its heart. For true adventurers looking to get one of the rarest shots in Saudi, look no further than Al Wahbah Crater. Carved into the western edge of the Hafer Kishb basalt plateau, the crater is about a two-hour drive north of Taif, or about a four-hour drive from Jeddah. To climb to the top takes about two hours, but those willing to make the trek will be rewarded with one of Saudi´s most dramatic views: a vast hollow with an opaque lake at its heart. The lunar-like landscape offers a near-otherworldly experience for those who come to climb it – complete with glorious views over the desert from the crater’s rim.
4. Al Balad, Jeddah
Have you ever heard of coral architecture? Jeddah’s Al Balad is famous for its intricately designed houses, built using coral from the depths of the Red Sea and boasting colorful rawasheen balconies, known as mashrabiyyahs. It’s unique architecture, which is still preserved today, is not seen anywhere else in the world and serves as a reminder of what the medieval city’s ancient walls once looked like.
5. Elephant Rock, AlUla
AlUla in northwest Saudi is one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. This ancient city, once at the crossroads of The Silk Road and The Incense Route, is a quick 1- to 2- hour flight from Riyadh, Jeddah or Makkah. AlUla’s famous natural wonder is Jabal AlFil, also known as Elephant Rock. Sculpted by natural wind, water, and sand erosion, this monumental sandstone structure resembles an elephant whose trunk extends to the ground.