Sightseeing in Saudi Arabia

Overview by

Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism


Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities of Islam are the most important part of historical tourism in the country.  
Jeddah is home to numerous historical landmarks and buildings such as: the Old Jeddah Wall and Gates, the old quarters, historical mosques.


Islam is the focus of Saudi Arabian culture. Festivals and Events are an integral part of Saudi Arabian culture. These celebrations highlight the customs and traditions in the country and give a beautiful perspective to this wonderful land.


Witness the astonishing landscape and wildlife of the Asir, a range of coastal mountains and the only part of the kingdom where there is significant wild vegetation. View a picturesque settlement of fishermen and weavers on Tarut Island. It is also the site of the oldest town on the peninsula.


- Al-Masjid al-Haram (The Holy Mosque), Mecca
- The Ka'ba and Black Stone, Mecca
- The Prophet's Mosque, Medina
- Floating Mosque of Jeddah, etc.


Though thermal energy is the main source of power in Saudi Arabia, there are no natural hot springs. However few hotels provide hot spring spas.
For more details, visit Saudi World.


Some prominent beaches are Durrat Al-Arus, Shums, Bait Albahar, Salhia and Al Nakeel.

Winter Sports
Outdoor Activities
People also show a lot of interest in activities like scuba diving, windsurfing, and sailing, Golf, horse and camel racing. Do watch the King's Camel Race which takes place in April or May during the national Heritage and Cultural Festival at Jenadriyah.
Saudi Arabia has a blend of traditional open air markets and modern air conditioned shopping plazas and malls to choose from. If open air Souk is a great place to bargain then the Saudi malls offer the popular international brands. The shops are closed on Fridays and during prayer times.

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
Least Liberal. The al-Saud dynasty dominates and controls political life in the kingdom. The citizens enjoy limited political rights.
Civil Liberty
Freedom of the Press
Freedom of press is curbed and controlled by the government and the clerics. National dailies are either owned by the government or by some close associates that ensures censorship on sensitive issues.
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2009 report : 163/175
Evolution: 2 places down compared to 2008
For Further Information, Consult Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2009, Reporters Without Borders
Free Access to the Internet
The government blocks access to websites that criticize its political or human rights violations or carry content that could be considered sensitive for religious reasons.
Freedom of Assembly
Almost non-existent.
Rule of Law
The judicial system is often opaque and arbitrary. Defendants do not have recourse to appeal and often have no right to proper legal representation. Saudi Arabia engages in capital and corporal punishment, including amputations of hands and feet and lashings.
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
Prejudice against foreigners and ethnic, religious, & national minorities is widely prevalent. However, the government is aiming at facilitating the entry and exit of foreign businessmen to attract foreign investment.
Women's Condition
Women in Saudi Arabia do not have legal equality and the law discriminates against them. It is common for women to face violence and discrimination on the basis of gender. All women in the country are prohibited from driving, not permitted to serve as lawyers and not allowed to cast their vote. To ensure that women maintain conservative standards of dress in public, Mutawa'een (a religious police force) uses physical punishment.
For Further Information
Freedom House
Human rights report, US Department of State

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Degree of Freedom
Islam is the official religion fo Saudi Arabia.
Role of Religion in Society
The ruling monarchy follows Islamic law (Shari'a) and the principles of Sunni Islam in governing the country where by Koran and Sunna are the constitution. In spite of recognizing the right to worship in private by non-Muslims, the government does not follow it in practice.

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