Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Saudi Arabia - Saudi smile - Elter photo

Saudi Arabia - Riyadh - nonartificial old town - Elter photo

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Practicals

Transport

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Saudi Arabia - Riyadh - street scene - ata photo

Saudi Arabia - petrol prices in December 2019: 0,40 USD cent and 0,55 USD cent for a liter - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Saudi Arabia - Tabuk Region - Ata photo

Saudi Arabia - on the way to Taif City - mountain highway - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Saudi Arabia - Tabuk Province - Ata photo

Accomodation

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Saudi Arabia - Alula - overnight in a tent with full comfort (floor, air conditioning, heating, toilet etc.) - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Others

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Saudi Arabia - Jabal al-Lawz - teatime - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Background

Destination in brief


Saudi Arabia is a kingdom in the Middle East (Western Asia) and covers the greater part of the Arabian Peninsula. Neighbors: Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait (north), United Arab Emirates (east), Yemen and Oman (south)
 
Size: 2,150,000 km² (830,000 mi²) – It is the largest country in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is 95% desert - the world’s largest sand desert covers about a quarter of its territory.
 
The highest point in the country is Jabal Sawda – it peaks at around 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) high. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a single natural river.
 
Capital city: Riyadh – Its population, surprisingly, stands at 7,9 million (2020).
 
Population: 34,7 million (2020) – 32% of the country’s habitants are not Saudi citizens, but immigrant workers, many of them from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Syria and Sri Lanka.
 
Languages: Arabic – English is widely spoken
 
Religion: 100% of Saudi citizens are Muslim – Most of them are Sunni Muslims (in its Salafi version), and about 10-15% are Shia Muslims. Islam is the official state religion. The rulers of Saudi Arabia follow an ultraconservative (Wahhabi) interpretation of the Quran.  
 
Currency: Ryal (SAR)
 
Average net monthly salary: 4,500 USD for qualified foreign workers and Saudi citizens, and about 630 USD for unskilled laborers
 
Most frequent surname: Khan
 
Political system: absolute monarchy. The King is both head of state and head of the government. There are no general elections, only municipal ones.
 
Saudi Arabia is considering ending beheadings as the traditional form of execution in favor of firing squads because of a lack of executioner swordsmen to be found in the country.
 
Safety for tourists:
 
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s safest countries. The country has very harsh laws and the police are practically omnipresent.
 
When to visit? April, May, September or November - forget about June, July or August, when temperatures often reach 50°C (122°F).
 
Top tourist attractions:
 
Non-Muslims (infidels) are not allowed to visit the two holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, where the infrastructure for receiving visitors is well developed.
 
Proper tourist infrastructure in other parts of Saudi Arabia is lacking.
 
To visit: Al Masmak Fortress and Kingdom Tower, Al Rajhi Grand Mosque in Ryyadh, Al-Balad and King Faddah’s Fountain in Jeddah, Lost City of Mada'in Saleh, scuba diving in the Red Sea
 
In Saudi Arabia, a liter of drinking water is more expensive than a liter of oil.

SaudiArabia - Saudi national flag - featuring in white an Arabic inscription of the Islamic creed - Elter photo

Saudi Arabia - national flag - Ata photo

Geography

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river.

95% of the country is a desert or semidesert.

Saudi Arabia - Jabal al-Lawz, a spectacular mountain area in northwest Saudi Arabia, near the Jordanian border, - Viktor Ohotin s photo

Saudi Arabia - Jabal al-Lawz - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Climate

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Saudi Arabia - Riyadh - car after sandstorm - Elter photo

History

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Saudi Arabia - Al Jawf Province - the third century AD castle, Qasr Marid (Dumah Al Jandal) - Viktor Ohotins photo

Nowadays

The Saudi Arabian Supreme Court has ruled that from 2020 flogging will no longer be used as a punishment. From now on corporal punishment will be replaced by fines, imprisonment, or some combination of the two. Flogging has to date been used to punish drunkenness and sexual harassment, among other crimes.
This decision forms part of a process of human rights’ reform. Other forms of bodily punishment, such as amputation for theft and beheading for murder and terror offences, have not yet been banned.

This Muslim kingdom, which adheres to the fundamentalist Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam, implements a strict interpretation of the Islamic legal code, the Sharia. In the absence of codified criminal law, individual judges interpret Sharia according to their own understanding. (April 2020)

People

Fridays are unique to all Muslims, even more in Saudi Arabia. At around 10 AM, men start getting ready for the Friday prayer, and women start preparing for lunch, making Fridays unique. Some families have a tradition of having the same meal every Friday; for example, having seafood for lunch is in both Western and Eastern provinces is crucial to most families!  Other provinces usually stick with Kabsah or other dishes that consist mainly of meat and rice.
Since most shops don't open until 5 PM, young people tend to go out at night with friends to shop or watch a movie, however; more mature people tend to gather at home, grab some Arabic coffee, and chat."

Saudi Arabia - tea-drinking - Elter photo

Saudi Arabia - family - Ata photo

Tourist etiquette

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Saudi Arabia - the sweet pleasure of breaking a needless ban - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Attractions

Riyadh

Saudi Arabia - Ryjadh - Al Faisaliyah Center - Elter photo

Riyadh - Kingdom Tower Centre (Burj Al Mamlaka) - an overgrown bottle opener - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Edge of the World (Jebel Fihrayn)

Saudi Arabia - The Edge of the World (Jebel Fihrayn) near Ryadh - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Saudi Arabia - Edge of the World - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Castles

Saudi Arabia - Sakarah - Za'abal Castle, a historic fort built in 1 A.D. from sandstone & clay, with four observation towers & a water reservoir. - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Jeddah

Jeddah - Old Jeddah, Al Balad - shopping street - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Jeddah - The new Jeddah Waterfront - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Jeddah - traditional architecture - windows&balconies - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Rijal Almaa

Saudi Arabia - Rijal Almaa - Ata photo

Thee Ain Heritage Marble Village

Saudi Arabia - Thee Ain Heritage Marble Village - Ata photo

Alula

Saudi Arabia - Alula - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Saudi Arabia - Alula - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Saudi Arabia - Alula - strange sunset - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Mecca

Saudi Arabia - Mecca - Makkah Clock Royal Tower - As an infidel, this photo was only taken from the distant highway - Viktor Ohotin's photo

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