Saudi Arabia Flights:
Flights to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a country in the Middle East, situated on the Arabian Peninsula. It is a popular destination for those going on pilgrimages but is a notoriously difficult country to get an entry visa for.
You can get a flight to Saudi Arabia from Johannesburg with several airlines, although none direct. The three international airports in Saudi Arabia are at the capital, Riyadh (RUH), Jeddah (JED) and Dammam (DMM) and flights are with South Africa Airways, Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Kenya Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Qatar, flying via cities such as Doha, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
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The Tourist Attractions of Saudi Arabia:
As mentioned above, one of the major draws with Saudi Arabia is for religious reasons. Saudi holds the two holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina which Muslims must make a ‘Hajj’ (traditional Muslim pilgrimage) to at least once in their lives if possible.
The Hajj involves about 2 million people every year, at the same time, making the trip into Saudi Arabia. There are two points to note with this: first, only Muslims can visit the holy cities, and if you enter on a Hajj visa you are only permitted to visit the places which are on the Hajj route. Second, because there are so many people entering Saudi Arabia at this time, if you are coming for any other purpose you would be far better off visiting at another time of year, if at all possible.
In addition to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia has several other cities of interest to a visitor. Jeddah is a city at the gateway to Mecca and Medina, on the Red Sea. The old town, Balad, has ancient buildings and traditional souks, whilst Jeddah’s Fountain is quite a spectacle – it is the highest in the world.
Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia. One place here definitely worth visiting is the Kingdom Centre. This is a huge 305 metre high piece of inspiring modern architecture and is the tallest building in Saudi Arabia. The 99th floor Skybridge is quite spectacular as it connects the two towers.
The National Museum is also highly recommended and has extensive displays and video presentations and the neighbouring Murubba Palace is worth a visit too.
Outside of the cities, there are mountains and lots of desert! The Empty Quarter, is just that, empty! It is the largest expanse of continuous sand in the world. Desert expeditions are popular here and feature some fantastic scenery.
The ancient Nabataean ruined city of Madain Saleh is similar in style to the city of Petra in Jordan. This site is being considered for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and would certainly attract more visitors if it became so, but currently it is not easy to access.
When Should You Visit?:
As mentioned above, it is best to avoid the time of the Hajj, unless of course you are doing it yourself. There are no set dates for the Hajj because it is dictated by the Islamic calendar which is lunar-based, though it takes place between the 6th and 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month.
In terms of climate, Saudi Arabia is a famously dry country. Temperatures can exceed 50C (122F), though in the desert nighttimes can get very cold. In the winter, the higher mountain and interior areas can get cold, experiencing frost and/or snow. Rainfall is very minimal and varies with location, though in Riyadh, for example, the rainy season is between January and May, whilst in Jeddah it’s between November and January.