Ad Diriyah or Old Riyadh is a 30 minutes drive from Central Riyadh.Here you can find the traditional and old houses of the Saudi people.
It is usually brownish in color because it is made of mud or clay. The whole structure gives warmth during winter while it is cold during summer.
As part of the government's project to preserve this kind of places....they have special projects which will take care of the few historical sites found here.
Although new structures are being built within the area, they are encourage to build somehow a replica of the old structures.
Many families do come here for a weekend get away from the city..They do barbeque and just enjoy the weekend with fresh air, the sites and the palm trees.
One of the few public places in Riyadh where men and women can gather together and spend a fabulous afternoon with or without (just the platform) afternoon tea.
I recommend the afternoon tea: the price of SR 100 is well affordable and you can eat as much as you can in a stylish environment. The buffet is various. Saudi couples prefer to go upstairs to the cigar lounge with a more intimate atmosphere. You can stay from 15.30h until 19.30h overlooking Riyadh during daylight, sunset and darkness.
Ladies can take off their Abbayas and the Mutawas (religious police) who might also visit the platform do not object.
The lush green trees along Acacia Valley have made this a very popular picnic spot. The whole area is covered with huge acacia trees, wild flowers, birds and different insects.
The Acacia Valley is still a very rich agricultural area as of today. You can see fields with vegetables and fruits which runs through the small villages.
The way to the desert is really bumpy, rocky and dusty. So be prepared!
You need a 4x4 car to get near the valley.
Buggy is a small motorbike designed especially for sand dunes used.
Baggy riding is one famous sand dunes activty aside from the 4x4 wheel drive in the sand.
It is one fun ride both young and young at heart will enjoy.
One hour rent would cost you 50SR though you can bargain upto 35SR.
**One great spot to do this activity is near the Hidden Valley. The place is called Red Sand Dunes. The red orange sand looks really great with less stones/rocks **
**This tip can be a must thing to do or off the beaten path tip**
Pools of Sha'ib Luha is located about 80km from Riyadh City Center. It is one of the beautiful Wadi's (valley) which you can find outskirts of Riyadh.
The whole area is surrounded by magnificent rock formations and rusty orange sand dunes.
There are cliffs, steepy slopes and caves which you can explore.
There are standing pools of water within the area which they said was able to survive the heat of the summer but unfortunately it was all dried up when we went there.
Palm trees, shrubs and farms can also be found within the area. A little bit secluded and far from the town proper so better be prepared when you plan to go and visit this place.
It is advisable to go there before sunrise so it wont be too hot. Many people both families and groups do come here for encampments esp during weeekends and holidays.
a. Wear a comfortable clothes and shoes (trekking shoes if possibe)
b. Bring water, food, tent or mat.
c. Getting closer to the cliff is a little bumpy but a 2 wheel drive can pass through the area.
d. No cellphone coverage
All over the Kingdom you will come across rocks covered in ancient graffiti. One of which is the Graffiti Rocks located West of Riyadh near the town on Jelah/Jelh.
This is a 110Km drive from the City Center and will take you about 1 1/2-2 hrs travel.
We saw two huge rocks with old carving (graffiti) which they said was made thousands of years ago.
They left a record on the rock of the animals they hunted, the weapons they used, their rituals of worship and many other details of their daily life. You can also find hand prints, human skeletons, ducks and family of ostrich.
It is an amazing sight but to climb about 300 meters is no joke. So prepare your legs and arms going up to the graffiti rock.
Almamlaka or the Kingdom Tower is one of the famous landamarks of Riyadh today.
It has 99 floors with designer shops at the lower floors while viewing deck/sky bridge is located on the 99th floor.
The skybridge is an iron structure weighing 300tons and is located 300mts above ground level.
The trip to the transfer level (77th floor) will last for 50 seconds while at the end of which you will transfer to another elevator that will take you to the skybridge.
Speed of the levator is 120KPH.
That's the place where the story of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began in 1902.
Until that time the area was governed by the Rashid Family.
Then, a son of the rival-family Al Saud, his name was Abdulaziz stormed and conquered this Fort together with several supporters. This was the beginning of his famous rulership.
Inside the Fort you can see a movie showing the battle.
The Fort gives you an insight of how the govering people and their families lived at that time and you will also understand how they could cope without AC in summertime.
Do not miss visiting this site.
No entrance fee.
You will be asked to sign in on a list at the entrance. Do not worry. At the exit there is a sign saying females not without legal male escort. But they always let me in on my own.
I call it Grand Canyon land which can be found at the south-west part of Riyadh it is 80km away from Riyadh center. I was really surprised and amazed when I saw this site they said Riyadh or Saudi is poor of things to do but as I researched Saudi has a pleasant desert tourism just like the canyons paved on the desert is one of the wealth tourist spot in the country.
But the problem is no tourist visa have been available in this country if you have to intend to work here and bring your family I’m sure you may enjoy this place.
The Globe Experience( Al-Faisalia tower)
This building is located between the King fhad road and olaya st. the second biggest tower in the city. The view from The Globe Experience stretching over 40 miles in all direction, the building has skyhigh shopping facilities, luxury hotel and observation gallery.
Picnic… is the most popular activity here in Saudi especially for family people, there are lots of public parks either private where you can go picnics with your family, though Saudi is very restricted country other activities like cinemas, nightclubs are not allowed so the way of spending time with your someone is either go to the malls or picnic.
Go to amusement park is one of the best way how to enjoy life in Riyadh, and one of the most famous family activities for both local and expat, mostly it would be done during the weekends when the parents have no work.
There are lots of amusement park around the city where the kids must be enjoyed the all kids of rides as well as the adults and as a rule there are amusement park that built for family only and so exclusive for ladies only.
The common thing that people must often to do is shopping or malling either, the major diversion for the whole population here in riyadh, though the local tradition here is very restricting other type of intertaiment, so shopping is best way to enjoy life and choices of shops here are so much.
Saudi people are serious shopper especially the ladies, and as the people of Riyadh love to shop over this year the massive of constructions of the malls are still growing.
At the heart of Riyadh's Al-Bathaa district lies the citadel, also known as Masmak fortress. It's built in mud, which makes it very interesting when it rains a lot (part of it melts and has to be patched).
The forest is a museum, obviously closed on Fridays (when I went there).
Middle east is a land of desert and Saudi Arabia has magnificent sand dunes that you may enjoy out skirts of Riyadh, you would see them in different colors like I’ve shown in this picture,the colors mixed with red and orage, it is the most beautiful sand I've ever seen, this picture was taken at the Red Sand 4km from hidden valley.
Red Sand is also famous place where locals and expat have visited for having a picnic and find some adventures, you can find here quad bikes as they used to drive up on the sand hill and the rent it cost about 30-40 riyals per hour.