Tourism in Saudi Arabia

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Al-Bahah, Saudi Arabia
Hafar Al-Batin, Saudi Arabia
Turkish hajjis, visiting Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, are seen at the valley of Jabal Thawr. A part of tourism in Saudi Arabia consists of pilgrims visiting holy sites for their historic significance rather than any religious obligation.

Although most tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages, there is growth in the leisure tourism sector. According to the World Bank, approximately 14.3 million people visited Saudi Arabia in 2012, making it the world’s 19th-most-visited country.[1] Potential tourist areas include the Hijaz and Sarawat Mountains, Red Sea diving and a number of ancient ruins.

In December 2013, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to begin issuing tourist visas for the first time in its history. Council of Ministers entrusted the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities with visa issuing on the basis of certain regulations approved by the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.[2]

Museums

World Heritage Sites

Welterbe.svg UNESCO logo.svg Diriyah is a town in Saudi Arabia located on the northwestern outskirts of Riyadh. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818. Today, the town is the seat of the Diriyah Governorate, which also includes the villages of Uyayna, Jubayla, and Al-Ammariyyah, among others, and is part of Ar Riyad Province.

Mada'in Saleh

Mada'in Saleh is a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector, within the Al Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia.[3] A majority of the vestiges date from the Nabatean kingdom (1st century AD).[4] The site constitutes the kingdom's southernmost and largest settlement after Petra, its capital.[5][6] Traces of Lihyanite and Roman occupation before and after the Nabatean rule, respectively, can also be found in situ,[6] while accounts from the Qur’an tell of an earlier settlement of the area by the tribe of Thamud in the 3rd millennium BC.[7]

Religious tourism

Muslim pilgrims in Mecca

Tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages. Mecca receives over three million pilgrims a year during the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in Hajj,[8] and around two million during the month of Ramadan in Umrah.[9] During the rest of the year, Mecca receives around four million for Umrah. The Hajj, or pilgrimage to the city, is one of the five pillars of Islam. However, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter.

Arrivals by country

National Museum
Hotel in Saudi Arabia

Most visitors arriving in Saudi Arabia on a short term basis were from the following countries:

Rank Country 2015 2016
1  Bangladesh N/A 3,006,729
2  Pakistan N/A 2,878,674
3  Indonesia N/A 2,555,000
4  Yemen N/A 2,426,711
5  India N/A 1,800,431
6  Egypt N/A 1,162,955
7  Iraq N/A 999,683
8  Jordan N/A 801,000
9  Syria N/A 784,502
10  Sudan N/A 500,318

See also

References

  1. ^ Tourism in Saudi Arabia: Wish you were here, economist.com.
  2. ^ "Tourist visas to be introduced". Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  3. ^ Abu-Nasr, Donna (2009-08-30). "Digging up the Saudi past: Some would rather not". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  4. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Macropædia Volume 13. USA: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1995. p. 818. ISBN 0-85229-605-3.
  5. ^ "Expansion of the Nabataeans". Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  6. ^ a b "ICOMOS Evaluation of Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih) World Heritage Nomination" (PDF). World Heritage Center. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  7. ^ "Creation of Al-Hijr". Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  8. ^ "Hajj Requirements: Visas for 1430 Hajj". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Archived from the original on 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  9. ^ "1430H Umrah Visas". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Archived from the original on 2009-07-26. Retrieved 2009-07-30.

External links

  • Official tourism website
  • Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities
  • Traveler's Information by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C.
  • Official restaurant directory and dining guide of Saudi Arabia
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