This Summer I had the unique opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia may not be on top of most Americans travel bucket list, as the cultural differences and perception of a strict government can be a deterrence for some. What I can say from my time in Saudi Arabia is that even though the culture is different, I felt perfectly safe and comfortable while I was there. Even more-so the people of Saudi Arabia that I interacted with were very welcoming and polite. That said I would still advise any visitors to respect the local laws and customs, as this would avoid any chance for a problem to occur. I did not have a whole lot of time to sight see but I have included some of the things I did while there. If you find yourself in Saudi Arabia I hope this list will help be a guide to you.
Jeddah Corniche a long stretch of coast line on the Red Sea. The corniches is a great place for people and families to take a stroll along the water front. There are many recreational areas, sculptures, pavilions, as well as the largest fountain in the world (King Fahd’s Fountain).
King Fahd’s Fountain
King Fahd’s fountain is a fountain in Jeddah, and is the tallest of its kind in the world. The fountain reaches 312 Meters in height.
Al-Balad Historic Jeddah (Old Town)
Al-Balad is the historical area of Jeddah. Balad is the historic center of the City of Jeddah. Al-Balad was founded in the 7th century and historically served as the centre of Jeddah. In Balad you will find many interesting sites, buildings, gates and markets (souks). The most famous site in Al Balad is the Naseef House which was home to King Abdul Aziz who moved there after his conquest of Jeddah in 1925.
The Makkah Gate (also in Al-Balad) is a prominent landmark of Jeddah. It is a place from where people would come and go to Makkah after leaving ships for Haj or Umra.
Bedouin Market is one of Jeddah’s oldest cheap and popular markets. There are many vendors there selling a variety of goods from fruits, dates, spices, garments, and souvenirs. The sounds, hustle and bustle of this market are mesmerizing. I really enjoy walking through old souks like this one. There are a handful of other souks in Jeddah as well.
Jubail is a town on the Arabian Gulf that is popular for its resorts. Jubail also has a large industrial zone. I spent a few days there and had the pleasure of staying at one of its resorts. Jubail is a great place to go to to relax and unwind for a few days.
Ok the image below isn’t exactly what I would call sand dunes, but it is all I had time to snag a picture of. If you are in Saudi Arabia and have more time than I did, you are going to want to go dune busting, or desert camping. Riyadh is the best place to do this from due to their proximity to the red dunes.
Occasionally you would find a restaurant with floor seating, this is a more traditional style of eating in Saudi Arabia and you will find this type of seating when eating at traditional Saudi restaurants.
Kabsa is the Saudi national dish. The dish consists of Lamb cooked with traditional Saudi spices served over rice.
Saudi has many Turkish restaurants, below is an image of a Turkish Pizza with Zatar (a mixture of thyme and other spices)
Hummus and other mezza
Middle Eastern cultures typically eat mezza before eating their main course. Common mezza dishes are hummus, taboulah, labneh, baba ganoush, etc
Shish Kabob & Adona Kabob
Shish Kabob is cubed meat grilled with spices on a skewer.
Adana Kabob is ground lamb meat grilled with spices on a skewer
You can also get similar dishes made with chicken.
Being on the Arabian peninsula, Saudi Arabia has a wide array of sea food. They have an abundance of fish from both the Red Sea on the east coast and the Arabian Gulf on the west. The favorite fish in Saudi Arabia is Harmour.
Chai Ahmar (Red Tea)
Red tea is a Saudi staple. Most traditionally it is served after a meal, as it is said to help with digestion.
I am not sure if this is a traditional Saudi Arabian drink, but I found it on a handful of menus and could not get enough.