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Riyadh

Travel Guide Middle East Saudi Arabia Riyadh

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Introduction

Riyadh , K.S.A.

Riyadh , K.S.A.

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Riyadh (الرياض) is the capital and largest city in Saudi Arabia and is located in the central part of the country on a high plateau. It has about 4.7 million inhabitants and people have been living in this relatively fertile area in the desert since over 1,500 years. The city has seen massive growth in population and 20 years ago the city had only about a third of the amount of people living within its boundaries compared to the present situation. Nowadays, it is a busy commercial city and the economical heart of the country, despite its location far away from most other populated coastal areas. Very few travellers visit the city, as most foreigners are here on a business visit or are working in some of the industries of the country.

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Sights and Activities

  • King Fahd Road, the busy commercial centre
  • Kingdom Centre (the bottle opener), the highest skyscraper and famous landmark
  • Al Faisaliyah Center/Tower: the first skyscraper in the country.

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Weather

Because of its elevation, temperatures are somewhat lower than other parts of the desert and during the February to April period even some light showers are possible, sometimes with hail! In general though it is a dry and sunny places, with temperatures hitting 45 °C in summer, but with some frost recorded in January every now and then.

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Getting There

By Plane

Riyadh-King Khalid International Airport (RUH), located 35 kilometres north of Riyadh receives flights from other places in the country as well as international flights. The main carrier is Saudi Arabian Airlines. There are 3 terminals at King Khalid International Airport. Terminal 1 is used for all international flights, except those operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines, terminal 2 is used by Saudi Arabian Airlines for their international flights and terminal 3 is used for all domestic flights.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Coral Al Hamra RiyadhKing Abdullah Roadhotel-
Coral Gulf HotelKing Abdul Aziz Street Ministries Area (South) Opposite Ministry of Defensehotel-
Coral International Hotel Al KhobarKing Abdullah St Al Khobarhotel-
Coral Olaya Hotel RiyadhOlaya Streethotel-
Coral Plaza Al AhsaKing Fahd Streethotel-
Coral SuliemaniahMousa bin Nossair Road opposite Al-Jazeera Hyperhotel-
CORP Executive Hotel DeiraAl Batha Streethotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes abound in major Saudi cities, and many shopping malls feature a gaming parlor or two. Rates are around SR5/hour.

While Internet in Saudi Arabia is cordoned off by a filter, it aims primarily at pornography, non-Islamic religious and domestic political sites in Arabic, and (from the traveller's point of view) is nowhere near as strict as, say, China's. Google, Skype, Wikipedia, all major webmail providers etc. are all accessible.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The three mobile operators in Saudi, incumbent Al Jawal, Emirati rival Mobily and Kuwaiti newcomer Zain (Vodafone Network) are fiercely competitive, with good coverage (in populated areas) and good pricing. A starter pack with prepaid SIM and talktime starts from about SR 75, and you can sign up in most any larger mobile shop (bring your passport). Local calls are under SR 0.5/minute, while calls overseas are around or less than SR 2/min.

And yes, you can bring in your own phone: despite grumblings from the clerics, both camera phones and multimedia messaging (MMS) are now legal.

Post

Saudi Post has a good network of post offices around the country, but offices are closed Thursday and Friday. Stamps for postcards to anywhere in the world cost SR4. The bigger problem is actually finding postcards, as the mutawwa periodically crack down on the celebration of non-Islamic holidays like Valentine's Day, Christmas or even birthdays, causing all cards of any sort to disappear from bookstores! Your best bet is thus gift shops in major hotels. Mail coming in to the country from overseas is notoriously unreliable. Stories abound of things arriving months after they were sent or never arriving at all. There are branches of DHL, FedEx and UPS operating throughout the kingdom, so a good rule of thumb is to have anything important sent through those channels.

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This is version 7. Last edited at 13:19 on Jun 30, 15 by Utrecht. 38 articles link to this page.

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