Once an isolated mud-brick town along desert trading routes, Riyadh is now one of the wealthiest cities in the world. As flights to Riyadh come in, skyscrapers such as Al Faisaliah Tower can be seen rising up from the dusty desert while shiny 4x4s cruise the city’s highways in one of the Kingdom’s premier destinations for business tourism.
Saudi Arabia’s capital city is much more than a vibrant business destination, however. It’s a glittering oasis where Arab traditions meet western culture, and is packed with enough restaurants, hotels, history and culture to rival any other capital in the Gulf.
Centrally located in the middle of the country, Riyadh is the beating heart of Saudi Arabia. Take a short drive from the city centre in almost any direction, and you’ll see evidence of its unique Middle Eastern heritage, harking back to Bedouin life in the desert. Try the famous camel souk on Dammam Road, just east of the city, or journey by car to the ‘Edge of the World’ – the stunning Tuwaiq escarpment.
If you’re craving some relief from the heat, head to the Lake Kharrarah Park and Hifna Waterfall on the outskirts. This national park floods during rainfall, creating a lake deep enough to swim in, and it’s a popular picnic spot on hot afternoons.
Sport is incredibly popular in Riyadh and the city buzzes on match days as up to 70,000 football fans make their way to the King Fahd International Stadium. If shopping is more your thing, you’ll find streets lined with malls, many exclusively for women, offering the best in local and imported jewellery, clothing and food.