A TRIP TO SAUDI ARABIA
Once one of the world's most closed-off countries, today Saudi Arabia is easy to access. We give you a glimpse into the Asian destination to explore it like you have never done before
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Numan Shah, Bady Abbas
28 November 2020
Mesmerising landscapes, beautiful sand dunes and futuristic cliff drops - Saudi Arabia is a natural wonder. When the e-visa was introduced in the second half of 2018, the country became even more intriguing to travellers as citizens of 49 countries are now able to apply for the 30-day period visa. It is rightfully known as the Edge of the World. Whilst standing on top of a clif at a head-spinning height, you will get overwhelmed by a feeling of being the only person in the world. The views to the camel riders making their way through the sand dunes in the distance and the skyscrapers that you left behind when you headed to climb the cliffs will put the complexity of the country into perspective.
A religious center and a birthplace of the Islam, Saudi is an authentic destination. There is something about it having been closed off and forbidden for travellers for so long that makes visiting the country irresistible. Once one of the world's most closed-off countries, today Saudi Arabia is incredibly easy to access and getting a visa is a quick process.
The gender segregation in the country is still very tangible. Until recently women were not allowed to vote, drive, exercise in gyms and even eat in most restaurants. Nowadays, those stigmas are slowly evolving allowing women to do more things freely. Yet, men and women are still expected to sit at different tables when dining in restaurants, showing signs of affection on public places is strictly prohibited even for married couples and exercising a religion different to Islam is strictly illegal. Although it is expected from travellers to cover up when visiting Saudi, it is no longer required from female tourists to wear an abaya robe.
The cities are busy and an ideal start for your trip as there you will be able to witness the Saudi culture to the fullest. Walk from the neon-signed restaurants positioned along Olaya Street to the newly built shopping malls; experience Kingdom Tower’s Skybridge and get comfortably lost in the neighborhoods surrounded by skyscrapers around the city centers.
It is easy and affordable to get to Saudi Arabia from different parts of Europe and the Middle East. Flights might be connecting once via Dubai and Istanbul so get ready to soak up all the cultural diversity you get exposed to. Finding a place to stay at is fairly affordable as well and you can choose between more luxury hotels to ones that allow you to travel on a budget.
With so many places to explore such as Mecca, Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is a one of the very few destinations on Earth that has remained almost entirely as conservative and traditional as it has been before tourism was introduced. A traveller's dreamland, Saudi Arabia is a must-visit on your travel itinerary.