Our armchair travels have taken us to Saudi Arabia which takes up most of the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea and Persian (Arabian) Gulf as coastlines. This is known as the birthplace of Islam and is home to the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Riyadh the capital is the main financial hub and sits on a desert plateau. It has many amazing modern buildings that offer spectacular views of the city.
Masmak Fortress is completely surrounded by sand and was built around 1865. This fort was the site of Ibn Saud’s 1902 raid at which time a spear was thrown at the main entrance door and the head of the spear is still lodged there by the force.
Some of the highlights here include maps and interesting photos of Saudi Arabia from 1912 to 1937. These are displayed in galleries that have been converted from diwans or living rooms.
Al Faisaliah Tower was designed by British architect Norman Foster and built in 2000. It is famous for its enormous glass globe made of 655 glass panels near the top. It has 44 floors including a five-star deluxe hotel and four exclusive restaurants, offices, apartments, the Sky shopping mall and an awesome viewing platform – Globe Experience. The needlepoint pinnacle has a crescent tip and rises 267m above the ground.
The National Museum is a state-of-the-art museum and one of the finest in the Middle East. It offers two floors of eight well-designed and informative galleries that give visitors a look into Arabian history, culture and art. You can see films in English through headphones that are shown on 180-degree screens. There are also great interactive displays.
Riyadh Zoo is the largest zoo in Saudi Arabia which started in 1957. At first it was a small zoo that was home to animals that had been gifted to members of the Al Saud ruling clan. After renovation it reopened in 1987 and among its highlights i the Houbara bustard. This bird is almost extinct in the wild in Saudi Arabia. Opening hours vary with prayer times. Children can take mini train rides.
The zoo is located in the heart of Malaz in Riyadh and has over 1500 animals from 40 different species. At the gates the flamingos will welcome you and are a great attraction. All of the animals are living in natural habitats.
You can see Bengal tigers which are also an endangered species native to India. At the Australian bush you can see kangaroos and emus.
Owais Souq is an Arabian market that has many great flea-market stalls and you can buy anything from gold jewelry to beautiful fabrics. It’s a great place to bargain.
Kingdom Center is a landmark tower in Riyadh and an amazing piece of modern architecture.
It rises 302m high and its most distinctive feature is the steel-and-glass 300-ton Sky Bridge that connects the two towers. High speed elevators take you up to the 99th floor from where you can get spectacular views.
Other important landmarks include the Clock Tower
and the Water Tower.
King Abdullah Malaz Park stretches for more than 318,000 square meters and is the largest park of its kind in the Kingdom. A 12-meter wide pedestrian pathway takes you around the lovely landscaped hills and greenery. Here you’ll find several children’s playgrounds, sport areas, specially shaded areas and a big restaurant. There is a spacious square overlooking the lake.
The lake features the park’s main attraction as the sun goes down – dancing water fountains with colorful lights. There are benches scattered all through the park and you can even have a picnic if you like. Other facilities include an events center, VIP building and the park exploratory.
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