A UNESCO World Heritage tour of Saudi

Imagine being one of the first international visitors to ever set eyes upon a UNESCO World Heritage site. Saudi, home to six of these cultural wonders, might be the only place in the world where you can do just that.

Steeped in rich culture, heritage and heartfelt hospitality, there are thousands of years of history to uncover on a trip to this diverse country of warren-like ancient cities, unexpectedly lush oases and archaeological riches. From mud-brick citadels to ancient tomb complexes, the historical wonders in Saudi are both vast and unique.

1. Al-Ahsa Oasis

Picture Saudi and you’ll likely see swathes of untouched, terracotta-hued desertwith towering sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. But with vast deserts come huge oases, and the Al-Ahsa Oasis is the world’s biggest.

A three-and-a-half-hour drive east from Riyadh, the oasis is surrounded by 2.5 million date palms, which bear the sweet, sticky Khalas dates that the region’s known for. The verdant landscape is punctuated by historical buildings and the limestone Al Qara mountains – home to naturally sculpted caves and the Dougha Handmade Pottery Factory, where ancient clay crafts are passed down through generations.

As the former home of King Abdulaziz, Saudi’s founding monarch, Al-Ahsa also has unrivaled cultural sites. You can visit Abdulaziz’s former room at Al Mulla Home and peek into his wardrobe; visit the 16th-century Ibrahim Palace, built by the Ottomans; or pick up an array of trinkets at the local souq (market).

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