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Travel Review: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Adina Oditt

Known as the “Dead Center of the Kingdom,” the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, is one of the most splendid and affluent cities in the modern world, sprawling across about 600 square miles of desert in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Riyadh is a true oasis in the Saudi Arabian desert, brimming with culture, history, exquisite architecture, and an exotic feel of opulence that is bound to enchant just about any visitor. Modern Riyadh has retained its ancient heritage, and business travelers can revel in the many shopping and sightseeing opportunities this city has to offer. Modern it may be, but visitors to Riyadh are never likely to forget that they are in the heart of the Arab world; in between the towering, futuristic buildings, glitzy shopping malls, and sweeping highways are nestled ancient mosques and other remnants of times gone by. The city is also run on a strictly-Islamic moral and cultural code. Visitors should respect the rules while exploring the sights, both ancient and modern.
Airlines: Since Riyadh is in the heart of the Arabian Kingdom, accessibility is highly convenient to this luxurious capital. Whether flying from an international destination or traveling within the Kingdom, a vast majority of visitors to Riyadh arrive at King Khaled International Airport (KKIA). If traveling from the U.S, Saudi Arabian Airlines offers a direct flight to KKIA Airport. Other airlines that are popular to the Saudi Arabian capital are Lufthansa, Emirates and Turkish Airlines.

Attractions/Sightseeing: Sightseeing in Riyadh includes checking out the numerous parks, gardens, castles, palaces, museums, and other fabulous structures and places that not only adorn the city but also speak volumes about the heritage, culture, and history. One of the most famous sightseeing destinations in Riyadh is the Al-Thumama Entertainment Village. Extremely popular among the children, the entertainment center offers a wide range of games and activities for both the young and the old. This is more of an amusement park. You can go on bumper cars or check out food stalls that sell traditional Arabian dishes. Travelers can also pay a visit to the Al Musmak Castle. This castle is a symbol of the history of Riyadh. Built during the reign of Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Rasheed, the Castle is known for its marvelous watchtowers and the huge Castle Gate. Furthermore, Riyadh is home to a large number of modern architectural marvels and buildings. Sightseeing is almost incomplete without checking out structures like the Kingdom Center. This is one of the tallest buildings of the city. The building is shaped like a bottle opener and is home to a large number of offices, shopping malls, and hotels. It is a fine example of modern architecture. Finally, check out the exquisite Salam Park, which represents some of the natural elements for Riyadh City Center in Qasr Al Hokm area (Rule Palace). This historical site and heritage center witnessed the start of the modern Saudi State. A popular destination near the city includes Jeddah, which is the main gateway to holy city of Mecca.

Cuisine: Riyadh offers the highest quality dining experience in the kingdom with restaurants that are located high up in skyscrapers to local desert-bound locations. Enjoy local Najdi cuisine, which is the most traditional meal in the city. The Yemeni dish, Mandi, is also a popular meal, particularly at lunchtime. Fast food is also popular with several multinational chains, such as Saraya Restaurant, specializing in the brilliant Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, and Alrayan Restaurant, which is famous for offering guests the opportunity to sample authentic Arabian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The place specializes in hummus and mutabal. People visiting in Riyadh can also enjoy the diversity of international cuisine at the modern malls, hotels, and restaurants.

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