Saudi Arabia Overview
Saudi Arabia find itself on the brink of a momentous period, leading the nation towards a future full with great and exciting opportunities. With the founding of Saudi Vision 2030 to unlock the real potential of the Kingdom’s tourism industry by promoting both inbound travel to the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia is positioned to be one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.
As the most significant move to open up Saudi Arabia to tourists, the Ministry of Tourism announced the availability of tourist visas and visa on arrival for 49 nationalities in September 2019. Prior to this, travelers could visit Saudi Arabia only with a religious travel visa, for business travel, or to visit family and friends. Saudi authorities also announced that nationals of any country holding a US, UK or Schengen visa in their passports will be eligible to apply for tourist visa.
Saudi Arabia offers various thrilling desert experiences, with dune bashing and sandboarding amongst the adventurous things to do majestic red sand dunes. Saudi Arabia offers plenty for those who want to experience an adrenaline rush during their visit.
As to Saudi culture, it is shaped by its Islamic heritage, its historical role as trade hub, and its Bedouin traditions. From immersive cultural tours explaining local sartorial customs, to cultural shopping at traditional souks (markets), traditional meals in the midst of ancient landscapes, all the way to awe-inspiring heritage and archeology sites, cultural experiences play a huge role when visiting the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia boasts untouched natural landscapes from green highlands covered in fauna, to mountainous terrain, all the way to pristine white beaches and seemingly endless deserts with a range of differing heights of dunes. The variety of natural wonders in Saudi Arabia is virtually limitless and will amaze all visitors and guests.
Saudi Arabia is a brand new tourist destination, and needs to develop its hotel portfolio to a more leisure use, instead of the current corporate, government and religious focus. The main chains are already in country with others on the way. Interesting to see is a trend towards more local, boutique chains and hotels that we see opening in key destinations
In the Saudi Gigaprojects, we see a number of major luxury or experiential hotels opening, and we will listing them here as soon as we get the names. The Gigaprojects are:
- Diriyah Gate
- Red Sea Project
AMAALA is a luxury tourism project on Saudi Arabia’s northwestern coast that is inspired by the Red Sea. Composed of three communities based on the pillars of Art & Culture; Wellness & Sports; and Sun, Sea & Lifestyle, and rooted in philanthropy, the project will come to life as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 roadmap.
Named after the Arabic word for ‘hope’ and the ancient Sanskrit word for ‘purity’, AMAALA targets the world’s top 2.5 million ultra-high net worth travellers, offering them meaningful, purpose-driven and immersive experiences that aim to safeguard the planet’s natural resources. Set within the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve, the development will offer an immersive experience for travellers and residents that is underpinned by a strong focus on environmental preservation, conservation of marine life and sustainable practices.
The unique heritage and unspoiled landscape of AMAALA will allow travellers to immerse themselves in the finest wellness, art, culture, sports and fitness offerings. Being close to major destinations in the region, AMAALA will become the heart of The Riviera of the Middle East.
As part of Saudi’s Vision 2030, seven square kilometres of Diriyah, just 15 minutes north-west of Riyadh city centre, will be transformed into one of the kingdom’s most prominent tourism destinations, as well as a hub for culture and heritage, hospitality, retail and education. With over 20 hotels, a diverse collection of museums, a retail heart and over 100 restaurants. The project includes a series of outdoor plazas as well as a 3km escarpment walk offering views across the historic Wadi Hanifah.
NEOM is a bold and audacious dream. It is a vision of what a New Future might look like (in fact, NEOM means, “new future”). It’s an attempt to do something that’s never been done before and it comes at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions. NEOM is being built on the Red Sea in northwest Saudi Arabia as a living laboratory – a place where entrepreneurship and innovation will chart the course for this New Future. NEOM will be a destination, a home for people who dream big and want to be part of building a new model for sustainable living, working and prospering.
NEOM will include towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centers, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations. It will be the home and workplace for more than a million citizens from around the world.
Qiddiya is an entertainment megaproject to be established in Riyadh. Construction started in the beginning of 2019. Theproject is one of the tourism megaprojects to be established in Saudi Arabia in the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030 which aims to diversify the income resources of the country. It is composed of five primary projects. These projects include resorts, parks, and city center. Phase one that will be opened in 2023 will feature “Six Flags Qiddiya” as a family attraction. The main aim of the master plan is to create a project that overwhelms visitors with a variety of activities. Such designed experiences are planned to be provided in a way that takes in consideration the cultural, natural and professional aspects. Thus, the natural pattern of the site has been taken into consideration. By doing so, the proposed design will take visitors through a green belt network
Red Sea Project is a land and property development announced by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in July 2017. It is planned to be established on the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast. The project is focused on tourism, hoping to attract tourists to visit and explore the Saudi western coast. The mega project is expected to increase the Saudi GDP by $5.86 billion per year upon completion, when it will cover 28,000 km2 (11,000 sq mi) of islands, beaches, desert, mountains and volcanic areas. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2022 when 3,000 hotel rooms will be constructed along with an airport, marina and recreation centers.The project is led by the Red Sea Development Company and it is expected to attract one million people every year. Upon completion, the project will create 70,000 new jobs.
Saudi Arabia is a destination that is perfectly poised to offer unique Experiences, and we have curated a selection of these Experiences perfect for any traveller’s taste.
Whether it be historical, cultural, gastronomic, nautical, aerial or adventurous, Arabian Lux will ensure our guests leave with unforgettable memories.
What really makes Arabian Lux special is our ability to tailor make an Experience through our insider access and knowledge of the best things to do and see in the Kingdom. This could be as diverse as an archeological site visit or even a desert fashion shoot. Saudi Arabia will surprise and delight you.
Food in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s culinary scene is diverse, delicious and booming. From delectable gourmet cuisine to fragrant Arabic dishes, there’s something to suit every appetite and budget.
There is a heavy slant towards arabic cuisine but over the last years we have seen a huge influx of European, Asian and American restaurants. It is easy to always eat in your 5* hotel and enjoy the cuisine there, but why not reach out to your Arabian Lux local experts (ALLE) to find out about some unique location or local find.
Culture & Museums
Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and traditions have been shaped by its position as a historic trade hub and the birthplace of Islam. In recent years, the Kingdom has undergone a significant cultural transformation, adapting centuries-old customs to fit the contemporary world. For example, while modest dress is still encouraged for both men and women — tourists are advised to avoid tight-fitting clothing, and women must cover their shoulders and knees — female visitors no longer need to wear an abaya and hijab (robe and head covering). Unmarried guests to the country may now stay together in hotels, and female tourists (as well as locals) may also drive
he culture of Saudi Arabia is defined by its Islamic heritage, its historical role as an ancient trade centre, and its Bedouin traditions. The Saudi society has evolved over the years, their values and traditions from customs, hospitality to their style of dressing, are adapting with modernization. The cultural aspect of Saudi Arabia is represented in the following:
- Depth of its civilization that dates back to more than one million years, which is confirmed by the archaeological evidence and the heritage prevalent in this country.
- It was the land of many kingdoms and states that prevailed in the evolution of human civilization.
- Its distinguished geographical location made it a point of intersection of international trade routes through all the ages.
- Being the cradle of Arabism and Islam and the country of The Two Holy Mosques.
- Being a crossroads of cultures and a bridge for cultural communication.
A variety of institutions have been established throughout the country to preserve Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage. One of the largest is the Department of Culture at the Ministry of Culture and Information, which sponsors a wide range of cultural programs, including literary and drama clubs, folklore classes, library events, arts and crafts as well as science projects. These clubs cover a range of cultural activities. At the drama clubs, for example, participants engage in writing competitions and performances as part of a team. Other clubs offer Saudis the opportunity to develop various artistic talents.
The Department of Culture regularly sponsors exhibitions, literary readings and symposia at its regional offices as well as its Riyadh headquarters. It also sponsors Saudis to participate in international art and cultural events, including poetry and essay competitions as well as exhibits of calligraphy and artwork. The Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, founded in 1972, sponsors Saudi artists and provides ways for new talents to develop and display their art.
The society has established a library and information center, as well as the Saudi’s first cultural center, located in Riyadh. Other institutions that promote culture include the King Fahd Library in Riyadh, which offers one of the largest collections of rare manuscripts on Arabic and Islamic literature, and is a premier research facility in the Middle East; and the King Faisal Foundation, which offers annual King Faisal International Prizes, including one for Arabic literature. Many King Faisal Prize laureates have gone on to receive other international awards, including the Nobel Prize. The Department of Museums and Antiquities was established in 1974. Today, there are major museums in each of the Kingdom’s 13 provinces, as well many small privately owned ones throughout the country.
Saudi Arabia’s largest museum is the National Museum in Riyadh, which was established in 1999 to celebrate the centennial of the taking of the Masmak Fortress by the young Abdulaziz, an event that led to the founding of the modern Saudi state. There are also private museums, such as the Humane Heritage Museum in Jeddah.
- Four Seasons Riyadh
- Ritz Carlton Riyadh
- Burj Rafal
- Narcissus Hotel & Spa
- Fairmont Riyadh
- Sheraton Riyadh
- Hyatt Regency
- Hilton Hotel & Residences
- Intercontinental Riyadh
- Radisson Blu Riyadh
- Marriott Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter
- Durrar Al Riyadh Resort & Spa
- Park Hyatt Jeddah
- Ritz Carlton Jeddah
- Rosewood Jeddah
- Waldorf Astoria Jeddah
- Movenpick Hotel Tahlia
- Narcissus Resort & Spa
- Sheraton Jeddah
- Shaden Resort
- Ashar Resort