The vast majority of tourism in the Kingdom revolves around pilgrimages to Mecca, with more than 10 million travellers visiting Islam's holy city each year. Yet the world's largest exporter of oil and one of the richest countries on the planet is trying to change that fact and encourage travellers to stay for longer. Most visitors will need to acquire a visa, although this requirement doesn't apply to citizens of certain countries including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
The natural beauty of the empty Red Sea beaches like Haql, Al-Shuaibah, Beesh, Yanbu, and Farasan, sand dunes as far as the eye can see, and rich coral reefs all provide big draws for visitors. In addition, there are over 200 public and private museums around the country, with the National Museum in capital Riyadh being one of the best.
The Asir mountains in the south-west are among the most remote places on the planet. Make sure to visit Mada’in Saleh, where 131 tombs lay buried in the ground, the former trading centre Al-Faw and Najran Fort.
Hotels in Saudi Arabia range from five-star luxury to simple, clean accommodation. Al Ahsa InterContinental and the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh are two of the best, with the quirky Al-Barraq Hotel an option for an offbeat traveller.