Ministry of Finance
Similar to my write-up on Saudi Post, I decided to snap a few shots of the Ministry of Finance because of its architectural features, rather than out of any inherent interest in the workings of this government institution. The Ministry’s building features that same horrendous oil-boom architecture that is so common throughout the central area of Riyadh, and which should serve as a reminder to all Saudis of the importance of wisely investing natural-resource windfalls. This is a better example than Saudi Post, as there is greater evidence of the attempt to integrate traditional Islamic patterning into Modernist ideas.
The main water towers
Water is scarce in Saudi Arabia. That’s a bit of a platitude, and yet, after having lived in the country for two years, I now find it to be a telling and thought-provoking statement. Despite the scarcity of water in the Desert Kingdom, there is no shortage of waste: continual washing of cars; watering of grass and lawns; leaks in hoses and storage containers; hosing sand and dirt from walkways on a daily basis. The profligacy can sometimes make it difficult fathom the dearth of natural sources of drinking and fresh water. Perhaps the only constant reminder of this lack of resources is the ubiquitous water tower, the biggest example of which can be found in central Riyadh, close to the King Abdulaziz Historical Complex. The water towers are not meant to be a tourist attraction, but their stripped sides serve as a reminder to all the tenuousness of the lifestyles so many people lead in this city.
Saudi Post Office
I will not lie to you and claim that there is some sort of historical significance to this particular post office. I simply photographed it because I liked the look of the massive building, which is someone exemplary of the architecture that characterizes the oil-boom years throughout the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. It is an awkward blend of the modernist precepts of functionality and a desire to infuse government and public architecture with Islamic design (albeit far from evident on this building). As this is a post office, you can undoubtedly go inside, although I found no compelling reason to do so.
The Kuwaiti Souq is far from a main attraction for anyone visiting the Kingdom for a few days, and really only should be visited by anyone with a very specific need: a good quality but decently priced abaya. The souq is located on King Fahd Road north of Mamluka Tower (on the east side of the street) and maintains the same hours as the other souqs and shopping areas in Riyadh (i.e. go after 7pm). You can find a wide range of abayas here, all of them “moderately” priced, as well as quite a few toy sellers.
While most visitors are likely to spend at least a bit of time at Deira Souq, they are unlikely to venture much farther into Batha, the old centre of Riyadh. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as Batha is far from a pleasant sight, but those who are interested in the troubles of Saudi development and the pressing issues that face this country should spend at least a bit of time here. There is little reason to believe that you are still in the Persian Gulf when you get to the heart of Batha, which is like some sort of weird synthesis of Khartoum and Karachi. Few people here are Saudis, and the streets are devoid of women. While the stores do have signs in Arabic, you are equally likely to see signage in Malayalam, Urdu, Hindi or any other number of South Asian languages. Streets are pretty dirty, and ambulant vendors, something of a rarity in the rest of the city, are pretty common here. This is the Saudi Arabia that the government is anxious to deny, but it is motor of the Saudi economy. The pittances these people receive as wages – kept low by horrific working conditions and contractual terms – are what help to ensure that the price level does not skyrocket. On the positive side, I’ve heard you can get the best Indian food in Riyadh in Batha, so once you’ve finished composing a modern Dickensian novel based on your experience here, find somewhere to dig into some delicious butter chicken.
Twaiq Escarpment and caravan Route-2
Cross The Riyadh-Makkah highway checkpost. As the road decends look for a track on your right (The same track which branches and takes to viewing platform).
Follow the track straight about 3-4 kms, you'll pass a round ruins marker on your right. After 500 meters the track curves to the left.
You are near the caravan route 2 , if you found a track/fence on your right..........the caravan route 2 is exactly on the opposite side(to your left).
Twaiq Escarpment and old caravan route-1
Caravan Route 1: Cross the check post on Riyadh Makkah highway. As the road starts to descend, look out for a metalled link road to your left, You have to take this road but make a U-turn from down the wadi at the intersection of old makkah road.
Take the link road until it ends (about 5km). Before the road ends a track continues follow the track for another 3-4 km keep an eye on your right.......yes you are there.
You can also follow the track to about 500m where it ends for a view of wadi.
Spectacular View of wadi from Twaiq Escarpment
Twaiq escarpment runs from north to south along the west side of Riyadh. Riyadh-Makkah Highway crosses it at right angles at about 35 km from city center. The escarpment has been cut in a beautiful manner and the road leads down into the wadi heading for Mazamiyah.
There is a viewing platform at the top of escarpment which gives a beautiful view of the wadi below. Fossils of corals and snails can be found here.
Location: Cross the check post on Riyadh Makkah highway. As the road starts to descend, keep your speed low and look out for a plain area on your right with a visible track. Take the track and move for about 500meters, now you can see the viewing platform at the top edge of cut escarpment. Take the track which goes to the left side to the platform. Two wheel drive can easily make to this point.
There are old caravan routes on twaiq escarpment worth visiting. Don't forget!
- Adventure Travel
Ancient Rock Drawings near Riyadh
The way, the modern man tries to leave a land mark for his existence, so did the ancient people in different forms. One such form is the petroglyphs or rock engravings. This rock art provides information about the lives of the people who inhabited the area.
Archaeologists have divided the human cultural developments into different stages, e.g. Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) and Neolithic (New Stone Age). Paleolithic peoples were hunter-gatherers while Neolithic peoples were farmers.
The rock drawings on this site are from Neolithic period (6000 to 3000 BC). It is suspected that the area once contained flourishing grassy plains, which disappeared as the climate grew drier. These drawings are all around on the top of small hill, separated from the main escarpment and are carved into exposed stone. Typically depicting animals, the carvings are of two kinds: engraved images and pecked images made by chipping at the surface of the stone. We can distinguish humans and their weapons, ostriches, ibex etc. These were probably done by hunters in their spare time as they kept watch for prey.
Location: West of Riyadh (about 100 kms) on Riyadh Makkah Highway. After the small town of Jelha, look out for an exit to the right ?Musayqirah?. Take that exit, the road ends after 500meters; continue on the left track down the escarpment (about a km). Now you can see a small rocky hill at about 3 or 4 kms to the north which is the site to be visited.
Important: The track from highway to the site (about 4kms) needs 4x4 due to sand?.but if you feel you are expert at 2 wheel drive and can manage , tracks can lead you to the site..
- Adventure Travel
Lake in the desert ????? Yes!!!!!!! (Lake Gharara)
It is a seasonal water body which becomes a lake in rainy season. The water from the surroundings is trapped in Red sand dunes forming a big lake, more than 2 kms in length. During most of year the lake bed is dry with big acacia trees providing shade and forming wonderful picnic spots.
The place is worth visiting for many points, great Red sand Dunes without gravel or stones, approachable by 2wheel drive……challenging for 4x4s, Safe because it is near to Highway and makes an ideal family outdoor one-day trip from Riyadh.
The best season to visit is from October till March when the day temperatures allow day-time outings……….and off course ideal during rainy season.
Distance:- About 50 kms west of Riyadh.
1-Take Riyadh-Makkah highway…..pass down through the cut escarpment.
2-Cross the old makkah road…go straight…..Now you are in Muzamiyah area.
3-Cross the 2nd over head bridge(exit-6). you’ll see a petrol/gas station on your left, you have to reach there after making a U-turn.
4-Make a U-turn from the 3rd overhead bridge.
5-Now you face Makkah-Riyadh direction, look for a link road at your right sign-posted (Arabic-Lake Gharara) just before the petrol/gas station.
6-Take this link road, going zigzag for about 6-7 kms through resthouses surrounded by sand dunes.
7-At bout 6-7 kms look for a desert track at your left…..take the track.
8- After about 500meters you’ll see what you were looking for…….if on 2wheel drive…..stick to the track.
9-The track gives out a branch to the right…going up to the sand dunes. The main track leads to the lake bed. If the lake is dry enter the first gate…and drive through the lake bed…………..and Explore. ENJOY!!!
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
Long and Winding Road
On your way to South of Riyadh you will pass by the steepest yet amazing road in Saudi.
It was formerly covered with mountains not until the government decided to build wide roads for the people to have an easy access to other parts of the Kingdom.
The Bin Laden group ws one of the construction firm that was able to get the project.
They used dynamites and high tech machineries to make fine cuts on the mountains.
The view is really a treat as if your passing through a different time and place.
Wadi Laban Valley
Although Saudi Arabia is known to have flat land area still you can find certain places with valleys and mountains.
These are mostly located an hour to 2 hrs drive from the city.
One of the famous Valley in Saudi is the Wadi Laban.
collecting Saudi diamonds in the desert
Saudi Diamonds are (semi-)transparent stones lying on the ground in 2 areas in greater Riyadh. They are not classified as jewels or gems but as cristals. You may purchase jewelleries made of Saudi Diamonds in some shops at Dira-souq.
Best collecting time is before noon as you need the strongest sunlight. When picking up a stone from the ground hold the stone against the sun to check transparency.
pass the 3 bridges and choose direction to Janadriyah. Do NOT take exit Janadriyah but go straight. After you passed exit Buwaibyat Farm keep on going straight for 4.8 km until Khozam petrol station incl. its mosque. Keep on straight until checkpoint (Iqama, driving license). Stay straight and you will pass on your right hand side a huge fenced area of app. 30 km with camels inside. It is called King Khaled Wildlife research. A few time after this turn right and go straight until you see a hill to your left . Stay left - do NOT take the right road. stay straight until you reach the cross shown on the 1st photo.
- Family Travel
Go way out of town & collect...
Go way out of town & collect fossils & shark teeth - will give better directions soon. Well I found two & I went with people who also had no idea what & where to look. Any experts out there to help me?
The Hanging Bridge of Riyadh
The Hanging Bridge of Riyadh is located 10 km South of Riyadh City Center. The bridge is made up of iron steel with a magnificent triangular design.