|Riyadh, which lies in the Central Region, is the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and now rivals any modern city in the world in the splendour of its architecture. Broad highways sweep through the city, passing over or under each other in an impressive and still growing road network. |
Trees now bedeck the broad streets and avenues, giving pleasure to passers-by and shade to those who linger beneath them. Today the city extends for some 600 square miles (1600 square kilometres) and has a population of more than 5.8 million.
The name Riyadh is derived from the Arabic word meaning a place of gardens and trees ("rawdah"). With many wadis (a former water course, now dry) in the vicinity, Riyadh has been since antiquity a fertile area set in the heartland of the Arabian Peninsula.
Of all the Kingdom's developmental achievements, Riyadh is perhaps the most obvious and accessible to the foreign visitor. From the moment he lands at the King Khalid International Airport, itself a marvel of design wedding the traditional Arab style with the best of modern architecture in a happy marriage of spacious practicality, the traveller is aware that he has reached a city that must be counted one of the wonders of modern times.
1824: Riyadh becomes capital of the Saudi kingdom.
1891: Riyadh is conquered by the Rashidi clan.
1902: Reconquered by Bin Sa'ud, becoming an early stage in his fight for control of Arabia.
1932: With the formation of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh becomes the new country's capital. Still, many government offices are placed in Jeddah.
1940's: With the high oil revenues, a rapid program for modernization of Riyadh begins.
1953: The Islamic University of Imam Muhammad bin Saud is founded.
1955: The King Abdulaziz Military Academy is founded.
1957: The University of Riyadh is founded.
1985: All government offices and foreign embassies are moved from Jeddah to Riyadh.
Summer temperatures are very hot, frequently exceeding 45 ℃ (113 ℉). Winters are mild with cool nights. Although the city is located in a highly arid area, It receives some rainfall. Hail occasionally falls in Riyadh during winters.
Some Saudi Customs:
Traditional Saudi dress/clothing:
THOBE: The traditional clothing for men is the Thobe, a loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garment. Thobes worn in summer are generally white and made of cotton. Thobes worn in winter are generally darker in colour and made of wool.
TAGIYAH: The Tagiyah is a white knitted skull cap
GHUTRA: The Ghutra is a square scarf, made of cotton or silk, which is worn, folded across the head over the Tagiyah. The end of the scarf can be draped across the face as protection in the event of sandstorms.
AGAL: The Agal is a thick, doubled, black cord which is worn on top of the Ghutra to hold it in place.
THOBE: Women wear the Thobe - a loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garment, but, for women, the neck and front can be embroidered and decorated with beads.
ABAYA: The Abaya is a large, black cloak, worn either loose and flowing or wrapped around the body. The Abaya is generally made of silk or synthetic cloth.
BOSHIYA: The Boshiya is a black veil, light in weight, worn across the lower part of the face.
SURWAL: The Surwal are cotton or silk trousers worn by women under the Thobe.
Simplest Expression of Hospitality – COFFEE:
Arab traditions also play an important role in Saudi life. These age-old traditions have evolved over the past years and are highly regarded. They include generosity and hospitality, which every Saudi family offers to strangers, friends, and family. The simplest expression of hospitality is coffee – its preparation alone is an intricate cultural tradition, and it is often served in small cups along with dates and sweets.
Arabic Coffee or Gahwa is a special mixture of Arabic Coffee and Cardamom. Cardamon is always added to Saudi coffee, either crushed or whole pods, giving it a distinctive flavor, and aiding digestion. A pinch of saffron may be added on special occasions, or by the wealthy.
The coffee is poured from a long-spouted pot called a dallah. The green-yellow coffee is drunk without milk or sugar from small handleless cups, which are only half filled.
Guests should accept no less than three cups. It is courteous to accept one cup, although not essential to drink it. Always hold the cup in your right hand.
To signal that no more coffee is required, wobble the cup from side to side (or in some areas cover it with the palm of the hand).
Oud (Incense / Oil):
Another gesture of Saudi hospitality is the burning of incense (oud) to welcome guests. It has a very distinct Arab smell.
Oud came from a bark of a 100year old tree either from Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.
A gram or kilo of this will make a hole in your pocket. From 100USD up per kilo.
Burj Al Mamlakah:
Kingdom Tower in Riyadh is the tallest skyscraper in Saudi Arabia. With a height of 302 m (992 ft), it is the 37th tallest building in the world. The tower is built on area of 94,230 square meters of land, while the whole center is built on a total area of 300,000 square meters. The tower is host to the highest mosque in the world. A three-level shopping center, which also won a major design award, fills the east wing. The large opening is illuminated at night in continuously changing colors
Burj Al Faisaliyah:
Al Faisaliyah Center was the first skyscraper constructed in Saudi Arabia, and the second tallest building in the country after the Kingdom Center. The golden ball that lies atop the tower is said to be inspired by a ballpoint pen. Inside the ball is a restaurant, immediately below it an outside viewing deck at ground level, there is a shopping center with major world brands.
Burj Al Anoud:
Al Anoud tower is a major commercial building on King Fahd road, with a height of 145 m. There is plans to build another similar tower beside the current tower with the same name. The tower is owned by Princess Al-Anoud and moderated by several Saudi Arabian companies.
The Saudi currency is the riyal. Riyal banknotes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 riyals.
The riyal is divided into 100 halalas. Coins are issued in the value of 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 halalas.
The Riyadh city area has a distinctive regional speech pattern called the Najdi dialect. It is often considered to be one of the most recognizable accents within the Arabic language. The Najdi accent is widely spoken in the desert regions of central and eastern Saudi Arabia.
Like other Saudi cities, the Nejdi Kabsa is the most traditional lunch in Riyadh. The Yemeni Mandi is also popular as a lunch meal.
Fast food is also popular in the city. McDonald's, Burger King, Domino's Pizza and KFC among others are widely distributed in Riyadh.
Riyadh hosts 50 embassies , 22 embassies belong to the states of the Arab League. Along with embassies of Austria, Australia, Bangladesh,Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America.
As a capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh has received millions of visitors of different backgrounds from all over the country. The population of Riyadh includes 66% of Saudis along with 34% of foreigners from Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East, many of whom remained and became residents of the city