King Khalid International Airport is located 35 kilometres north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Opened in 1983, this massive structure in white and sandy brown is an architectural icon in the Saudi capital, and is constantly upgrading its world-class facilities.
The distinctive feature of this Arabian airport is its magnificent mosque and its Royal Terminal, designated for the use of important visitors such as government heads and also for the Saudi Royal family use. The Royal Pavilion has open spaces, gardens with lush and landscaping and impressive fountains. A large ceremonial hall links the pavilion to the mosque. The design of KKIA Mosque is one of the most characteristic landmarks in the airport. It is the arriving visitors’ first look at Islamic architecture in the country.
The King Khalid International Airport is also one of the world’s largest in terms of land area so that it is an alternative landing site for NASA's space shuttles.
The country’s flag carrier, Saudia has direct connections to other Gulf countries and South Asia. Other international carries also operate from this airport to various destinations in Europe and Asia. The most international popular route, though, is via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. For domestic flights, Riyadh is the main travel hub, including multiple daily connections to Jeddah.
There are three options for transportation from King Khalid International Airport to the city center. One can choose from metered taxis, car rentals, or the free hotel shuttle services. The trip to the city center approximately takes takes about 30 minutes, depending on the traffic.
Riyadh, known for its rich and diverse history, is situated in the heart of Saudi Arabia. It is a modern and bustling metropolis with an array of historical and cultural offerings. Riyadh is the country’s center of business, culture and leisure, with many diverse attractions. Visitors can take their pick from modern skyscrapers and shopping malls, natural landscapes, and heritage sites. A trip to Riyadh will definitely not be complete without experiencing the contrast of modern architecture and historical structures. Here are some of the places that should be in every visitor’s must-visit list --
The historical ruins of Dir’iyah, one of the World Heritage Sites, is situated on the northern outskirts of Riyadh. The ruins of the old city of Diriyah lay on either side of the beautiful valley known as Wadi Hanifa.
Consisting almost entirely of mud-brick structures, here visitors can walk through fortifications and towers, castles, courtyards and historic residences.
Located at the Riyadh downtown center, this fortress was built in 1865 in traditional Nejdi style. It is a red mud-brick structure with round towers and characteristic geometric patterns. It is now a museum open to the public with a gallery of various artwork and photographs of old Riyadh, and features a documentary film about the history of the unification of the Kingdom.
Opened in 1999, the National Museum is located in the King Abdulaziz Historical Center of Riyadh. This museum is considered as one of the most important museums in the Kingdom, and is easily one of the top tourist attractions in Riyadh. It houses an extensive collection of antiques, documents, manuscripts and documentary films about the Arabian kingdom’s history and culture. There are also virtual tours of cultural sites and video reenactments of the various historical highlights.
In contrast to the relics of Riyadh’s rich history are its sleek skycrapers, and one of the city’s most popular modern landmarks is the Kingdom Centre. At 305 meters tall, the distinctive Kingdom Centre is the second tallest building in Saudi Arabia. It has a three-story luxury shopping mall, with one floor reserved for women, and a Four Seasons hotel, but the main attraction here panorama of the city from the 99th-floor skywalk.
Getting around Riyadh is quite difficult as public transportation is very limited. Street signs in English, outside the few important streets, are very rare. Most visitors relay on taxis and chauffeured rental cars.
Please note that women are not allowed to drive on public roads in Saudi Arabia.
Sightseeing in Riyadh can also be a challenging exercise in itinerary schedules. Most sites closed on weekends and during prayer hours, and visiting hours are segregated between men and families.
Riyadh is considered the most conservative of the Kingdom's cities. Visitors must take necessary precautions as in other muslim countries. Because of this, Riyadh is generally seen as a business hub rather than a leisure destination. This Arab city however has more to offer underneath its stern exterior and harsh climate.
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