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Cheap flights to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia - officially named the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - is the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula and was first established in the 1900s. The country is located in southwest Asia - at the conjunction of Europe, Africa and Asia - and is bordered by Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iraq and many other Middle Eastern nations. Saudi Arabia consists of 13 different provinces - Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah, Qasim, Asir, Tabuk, Hail, Jizan, Najran, Baha, Jouf, Eastern and Northern Border - and has a population of more than 25 million (as of October 2014). The country also sports a diverse landscape and climate - it has deserts, mountains, grasslands and forests dispersed throughout the land, and temperatures range from below freezing to over 110 degrees Fahrenheit depending on location and time of year.

Getting around

To tackle long distances in Saudi Arabia, domestic plane travel is the fastest (but also the most expensive). The country’s national carrier Saudia offers almost hourly flights on the popular Riyadh-Jeddah route, which makes booking a flight a piece of cake. Otherwise, long-distance buses are also available: these provide a comfortable, if slow, means of inter-city transport.

For those who would prefer to drive, the road system in Saudi is modern and extensive, and petrol is unbelievably affordable. However, do remember that women are not encouraged to drive or ride bicycles within the country (as of October 2014).

What to see and do

If you find yourself in Saudi Arabia don’t miss a visit to Riyadh - largest city and capital of Saudi - for a deeper understanding and cultural appreciation of this mysterious Middle Eastern country. Have a look at the Masmak Fort, an ancient castle constructed during Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Rasheed’s reign. Besides being a mighty impressive sight with its 18-meter high Watch Towers, 3-meter high Castle Gate, clock tower, high ceilings and mud walls, the Masmak Fort also holds historical significance for the city. It was captured by King Abdulaziz - who had been living in exile till he conquered Riyadh - a tale which achieved legendary status over the years and came to signify the heroic King’s attempts to unify the country. Today, the Masmak Fort has been converted into a museum and represents a great way to learn about ancient ways of life and architecture in a fun, interactive manner.Next, check out the exotic beauty of the Murabba Castle, fabled King Abdulaziz’s residence after the Masmak Fort was converted to an educational museum.  Besides having been a royal place of residence, Murabba Castle was also where the first lift in Saudi Arabia was built after the King developed advanced arthritis and experienced difficulties with climbing stairs.

 

After Riyadh continue your visit in Saudi Arabia by going to Jeddah, second largest city in the country and one of the most religiously significant (as it is the gateway to Mecca, considered the birthplace of Muhammad and the holiest city in Islam). Every year during the Haj and Umrah seasons, Muslim pilgrims by the millions flock to Mecca to worship and pass through Jeddah on their way there. But the city is not without its own attractions: it boasts famous architecture such as the Khuzam Palace and the Jeddah Floating Mosque - so named because it is raised above the Red Sea on a platform resting on pillars, resulting ‘floating’illusion. An impressive architectural feat combining both modern technology and traditional architecture, the floating mosque is one of the most sacred sites in the city with a large prayer space and soothing ambiance suitable for meditation. On top of that, the entire structure is painted an ethereal shimmering white and is lavishly decorated, resulting in a real treat for the eyes not to be missed even by non-Muslims.

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Images by Flickr\ActiveSteve