Journey to the past
    • Welcome to Saudi Arabia, one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. It is home to authentic customs, traditions and prehistoric civilizations... discover with us through the timeline of history the oldest civilizations in the world that Saudi Arabia has embraced through the ages.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If you are fascinated by archaeology, culture and ancient civilizations, then Saudi Arabia is the holiday destination for you. The country is justly proud of its rich history and heritage – as is illustrated by national efforts to safeguard this legacy. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program​  is a national initiative to restore, and preserve the Kingdom’s cultural riches, to raise awareness and understanding about the Kingdom’s history and rich legacy of cultural heritage​, developing its central role in the Kingdom’s tourism industry. To date, more than 230 restoration projects have been completed, with more and more historic monuments and sites open to visitors.

 Cultural and historical diversity

From ancient times Saudi Arabia has always played a pivotal role the world. It has existed as a bridge between the East and the West at the crossroads between Asia, Africa and Europe. The first migrations of early mankind out of Africa were to Arabia. It was the starting point of the Islamic call. 
In total, there are more than 11,000 recorded archaeological sites throughout the Kingdom, telling the story of the civilizations that lived here and developed the unique and distinctive cultural heritage that visitors can discover at one of the Kingdom’s regular festivals such as  Janadriya Festival, Okaz Souk Festival and King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival.

 History of Saudi Arabia

The modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia dates back to 15 January 1902 CE when King Abdulaziz took Riyadh. Long before this however, the First Saudi State was founded in 1745 by Imam Muhammad ibn Saud with its capital at Addiriyah – now a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 1818 Ottoman forces overthrew the state and destroyed Addiriyah, but in 1824, Imam Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Bin Saud re-established rule forming the Second Saudi State with Riyadh as its capital, which prospered until 1891. For further information related to the history of Saudi Arabia you can visit  King AbdulAziz Foundation For Research And Archives​.

 The cradle of Islamic civilization

Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islamic civilization, where Prophet Muhammad lived and received the Quran… After receiving the Islamic revelation, Medina was adopted as the capital of the new Islamic polity, which expanded its borders during the Reign of Prophet and his successors, leaving behind many monuments that testify to its strength and greatness. 

 Sites of Islamic history

Saudi Arabia embraces several Islamic sites, ranging from historical mosques, battle sites, and natural landmarks that set the stage for historic events.

 The Prophet’s migration

Visitors can follow in the footsteps of the earliest ever Muslims, by enjoying the hiking trail that follows the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Medinah, learning about the astonishing events during his travails from the Cave of Thur to the campsite at  Um - Ma'bad.

 Pilgrimage routes

Many of the most important places on the numerous pilgrimage trails to the Two Holy Cities are now popular tourism destinations where visitors can get an idea of what it was like to perform Hajj in the past. Many monuments and artefacts can be found on each of the sections of the Al- Kufi, the Basra, Egyptian Hajj trail, Al Shami Hajj trail, Yemeni Hajj trail, Omani Hajj trail and Bahraini-Yamamah Hajj trail.

 Islamic museums

Saudi Arabia boasts several Islamic museums which trace the course of Islamic civilization over the centuries. Visitors can inspect Quranic manuscripts, ancient mosque lamps, antiques and geometric wooden drawings reflecting the spirit and the splendor of Islamic art.   

 The cradle of civilizations

Enjoy the experience of exploring and visiting the world's oldest archaeological sites, the remains of cities, stone tools and temple ruins, fences and dwellings abandoned by ancient civilizations. 

 The Nabateans

Discover the history of the ancient Nabatean civilization by visiting Madain Saleh​ near the city of Al Ula. The first Nabatean settlement was discovered in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula in the first century BCE, its capital being at Petra in Jordan. Walk through the towering palaces carved in the rocks and enjoy the splendor of Nabatean inscriptions and drawings in a visit that you will never forget. 

 The Dedanites

The Dedanite civilization arose in the fifth century BCE, in the northwestern parts of the Kingdom. Dedanite is used for the older phase of the history of this kingdom since the name of its capital was Dedan which is now called Al Ula some 110km southwest of Teima.

 The Lihyanites

Lihyan was a powerful and highly organized ancient Arabian kingdom that played a vital cultural and economic role in the north-western region of the Arabian Peninsula. The Lihyanites ruled over a large domain from Yathrib in the south and parts of the Levant in the north, the dynasty established in 366 BCE by King Abdo the First. The Lihyanites later became the enemies of the Nabateans. The Romans invaded the Nabatean lands and destroyed their kingdom in 106 CE. This encouraged the Lihyanites to establish an independent kingdom which was headed by King Han'as, one of the former members of the royal family, which governed Al-Hijr before the Nabatean invasion. 

 Kingdom of Kindah

Kindah was a tribal kingdom in Nejd that dates back to the 2nd century BCE. Its first capital was Qaryat al-Fāw, now an important archeological site. The Kindites were polytheistic until converting to Islam in the mid-7th century CE and played a crucial role during the Arab conquest.

 Old trade routes

Trade and caravan routes have always been vital to Arabian life, and now many of the routes and markets have now been restored as important cultural heritage destinations. Among the best to visit are Souk Okaz in Taif, the Silk Road, and the caravans of Aqeelat. 

 Stone Age Araqbia

Mankind has lived in Arabia since the first migrations out of Africa, with a great deal of evidence from the Stone Age sites across the country. Among the best to see are ancient carvings describing Stone Age life, hunting and animals are those at Juba and Shuwamis in Ha’il Province, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

 Urban heritage

Typical Arabian towns were built out of materials that were naturally available – rocks, sand, clay, water and palms. It was a supremely sustainable system of construction that predates the modern demand for eco-living by hundreds of years. What developed was a building style fitting for the harsh climatic conditions and which reflected the people’s cultural and religious identity, blending architecture with life.

 Folklore and folk songs

The Kingdom has a great folk music tradition that varies from region to region. Many songs and dances originated in battle. The warlike men of Asir dance with flowers in their hair, while the Saudi Ardah is the famous sword song and dance performed at every important national occasion. Other famous traditions to enjoy in your visit to the Kingdom are the art of Al-majrour, Al-mo’ashah, Azzawi sword and Dha  among many others. ​

 Clothes and accessories

Visitors new to modern day Saudi Arabia often remark at the uniformity of dress – black abaya for women, white thawb for men, with little colour save for men’s red and white headscarf (shmagh). Today’s textiles might be different but traditional clothing has changed little since ancient times. It is an attire born of practicality and modesty – and something that many tourists are keen to try out when visiting heritage villages and museums..

 Traditional foods

All main towns and cities offer a range of cuisines to suit all tastes and budgets, from fine dining to fast food, international fare to traditional dishes that reflect the desert origins of Saudi cuisine. But if you ever have the fortune of being invited into a Saudi home, you will really understand the meaning of generosity and hospitality. From being welcomed with rose water for your hands, being served coffee and tea, and sitting cross-legged on the floor to being served exotic sounding dishes like Alkabsah, and Alqorsan, Almtaziz, Al Mutabak, Al Masoub, Al Mandy, Al Aareeka, Al Assedah, and Al Haneeth.

 Customs and traditions

Saudi society is characterized by customs, traditions and ceremonies passed down through the generations, and vary from region to region. Rituals mark every important occasion in life, from marriage to childbirth, buying and selling, and going to war.

 Stories and proverbs

Saudi Arabia has a long tradition of story-telling and proverbs such as the story of the people of Prophet Saleh, Qais and Laila, stories of old Jeddah and its proverbs, and the legend of Aga and Salma. These literary figures are still alive in people’s imaginations today, thanks to the people’s love of sharing and celebrating their stories and traditions. Be sure to ask your tour guide to tell you some tales!

 Poetry and poets

Saudi Arabia is the home of eloquence and the Arabic language. Visitors can enjoy  the most beautiful poems at poetry festivals and competitions throughout the country – the most prestigious being the famous Souk Okaz in Ta’if, which sits on the site of a pre-Islamic gathering place where tribes would orate poetry. 


No holiday would be the same without a souvenir, and Saudi Arabia’s great handicrafts are the perfect souvenir or gift. And with handicrafts workshops established in most towns and villages – under Bari, the national handicraft initiative – it couldn’t ​ be easier to find the perfect memento of your time in Saudi Arabia. ​


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