A towering oasis of ultra modern architecture and traditional culture
Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia, which grew from a small desert settlement into a towering high-rise city in just 100 years. As barrels of oil were shipped out barrels of money came pouring in, and soon the towering, futuristic city in the desert became a startling oasis of culture and opulence. Many visitors to Riyadh are business people who make the trip to Saudi Arabia in a professional capacity, but there is plenty more in Riyadh to attract the regular traveller. Great shopping, international restaurants and a good sprinkling of cultural attractions in museums and galleries, make Riyadh a fine holiday destination. However, visitors should be considerate toward local traditions and be respectful of the fact that Saudi Arabia is a deeply religious country, governed under Islamic law.
Riyadh is certainly not just a sun-seekers destination, as much of the time it is too hot to spend a lot of time outdoors, but there is a lot more to the ever-expanding Saudi capital than just business, not least some fantastic shopping. Join the businessmen and oil barons on flights to Riyadh and remember to bring your credit cards!
When to Go?
Riyadh was built in a very dry and arid desert environment, so temperatures can be exceedingly hot! July and August can be sweltering, with temperatures reaching 40-50° Celsius. Humidity is not a factor but it is not advisable to visit in the middle of summer, especially if you have business in the city and expect to be wearing a suit.
How to get there?
You can fly to Riyadh from London Heathrow Airport on British Airways, BMI or Saudi Arabian Airlines, who are based at King Khalid International Airport (RUH). The airport is 22 miles north of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and rather surprisingly it is an alternative landing spot for NASA shuttles, but don’t expect to see astronauts in the arrivals building! Taxi services from the airport to Riyadh are available 24 hours a day and it is customary to pay in advance.
For culture aficionados, the Riyadh Museum of History and Archaeology contains a wide range of exhibits reflecting the religion and culture of Saudi Arabia, including artworks clothing, musical instruments, weaponry and jewellery. An impressive landmark of Riyadh is the Musmak fortress, built in the 19th century, which was significant in the founding of the city. At the opposite end of the scale, the ultramodern Kingdom Centre is the tallest building in Saudi Arabia and contains, among other things, a hotel, fitness club, a huge shopping mall, and dozens of top class restaurants.
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