Just a few years ago, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia opened its doors to tourism by issuing an electronic visa to tourists. You can apply for an eVisa if you are over the age of 18. It used to be that visas were only available for religious pilgrimages and business purposes. Arabia Airlines (العربية للطيران) is the best way to go if you are looking at booking a flight. Here are some suggestions about what to see in Saudi Arabia once you arrive.
1. Mada’in Saleh
This ancient Nabatean caravan city filled with desert tombs is halfway between Petra and Mecca. It’s one of the most interesting archaeological sites on the Arabian Peninsula. There are 131 tombs that have been cut into the surrounding rocks. There are also some adobe houses which were once the living quarters of the city.
2. Al Masjid an Nabawi
Known as the Prophet’s Mosque, this was the second mosque built by Muhammad in Madinah, and is now on of the biggest mosques in the world. It is the second holiest site in Islam, and is always open regardless of date or time. Visitors say it is a very calming, peaceful place, and it is a place where many prayers are said.
Mecca has long been a popular destination for Muslim tourists since it is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Every Muslim who has the financial means to do so is required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime, according to the Quran. Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering city of Mecca as well as the area around the iconic Kaaba stone.
4. The Lonely Castle
The remote tomb known as Qasr al-Farid is carved right into a giant Saudi Arabian boulder. The Lonely Castle is carved into a giant boulder at Mada’in Saleh and is a stunning carved piece of architecture. The description of the site as a “castle” is misleading, as the grand carving is actually a tomb that was built as part of the ancient Nabatean site of Hegra. This is a stunning wonder that should be seen to be fully appreciated.
5. Masjid Qubah
This mosque was the first one built by the Prophet Muhammad, and is on the outskirts of Medina. This mosque is said to be where the first Friday prayer was held, led by the Prophet Muhammad. It was built in the first year of the Islamic calendar.
6. Al ‘Ula