Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula, with around 34 million (2019) with 13 provinces; the country has a rich culture with different amusements and recreations in each province. Built amidst the arid desert under the scorching sun are cities flowing with traffic, framed by monumental buildings and malls. Cafes meet your eyes at every turn of the road.
I have lived in Saudi Arabia for about 13 years now, shifting from one province to the next every few years due to work, studies, or other personal reasons. Every province lives up to its previous one- be it Dammam in the Eastern province sharing drivable borders with Qatar and Bahrain, or the country’s capital Riyadh, there are unique destinations to visit.
THE CAVE OF THE FALLEN STAR: Dharb Al Najem, Arabia’s Deepest Cave (RIYADH)
A beautiful, nature-made place, this attraction is freely accessible to all. It lies on the roadside with no specific entrance fees. A deep meteor crater that is bound to scare even the bravest of hearts. If you have a fear of heights, I’d suggest you stay far away.
But if you are curious about natural creations, then surely pack a picnic bag and travel here with your family. The last time I visited in 2014, there were rumors of attempted suicides here; hence, they covered the giant crate with fences all around. Others suspect that it was once a mysterious well that had given water to weary travelers.
Nevertheless, you still get a close view of the depths created by a fallen meteor or star. If you own a drone, then go for it and film the place. The sunny weather paired with the echoing depth of the cave will surely be a core memory.
RED SEA MALL (JEDDAH)
One of the biggest malls in Saudi Arabia, this place has it all. From famous stores like H &M to Pottery Barn, it is a pleasant and elegant mall for perfect weekend shopping; extraordinarily spacious and clean with friendly staff. It might take about half a day to cover the whole mall! There is no wonder it boasts more than 40,000 Google reviews.
It also houses many theatres playing blockbusters right next to popcorn stalls and in-theatre delivery services. Suppose you’re looking to get classic oud perfumes that remind you of luxurious middle eastern scents. In that case, you can visit Aroma, Emirati house of oud, Al Majed for Oud, and many other stores.
Apart from vibrant shopping outlets, you can choose from plenty of classic fast-food chains like the famous Arabian restaurant chain Al-Baik. Different multi-cultural cuisines, including French delicacies and pastries or mouth-watering Sushis, are also available for hungry shoppers. The mall prepares itself for all main events, like the holy month of Ramadan or Eid. During the winters, “Winter Wonderland” is a common theme adopted to liven up even more.
KINGDOM CENTRE (RIYADH)
Locally known as Kingdom tower, I used to drive past this giant building almost every day. Kingdom Centre is a 99-story, 302.3 m skyscraper in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 2002, it overtook the 267-meter Faisaliyah Tower as the tallest tower in Saudi Arabia. It was built by the team of Ellerbe Becket and Omrania after they were exclusively selected from international competition.
The entrance fee is about $20-25 and worth the money. With modern architecture and a hanging Sky-Bridge, this is another spectacular sight to behold—especially in the evenings. The center also offers an optimistic view of the whole city on a clear day. Posh restaurants and blockbuster movie theatres welcome you all year round. The Sky-Bridge is 300 meters above the city and is a must-visit for all the thrill-seekers out there.