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Weather & best time to visit

18°
Friday, 09.12.2016
12:00 UTC

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Good to know

City map Riyadh

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    Good to know

    Riyadh – a brief overview

    Once a run-down trading station on the Silk Route, modern Riyadh is a thicket of skyscrapers interspersed with fabulous historic buildings and perched on the edge of a desert that stretches as far as the eye can see. More conservative than its rival Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s capital is a place that combines western technology with Islamic mores – most notably in the dress code, but also in the lack of bars or any sort of entertainment.

    Although primarily a business destination, there’s plenty to see should you venture outside your hotel.

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    Top 10 sights in Riyadh

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    Riad, Saudi-Arabien, Lufthansa, Travelguide, Travel Guide, The National museum

    Masmak Fortress

    Thumairi Street
    12652 Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Tel: +966 11 411 0091
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Sat, Mon and Wed 0800-1200 and 1600-2100 (men only)
    Sun and Tue 0800-1200 and 1600-2100 (families)
    Thu 0900-1200 (families)

    Built in the early 1800s, Masmak was renovated in 2008 and now looks brand spanking new, although its interesting past (including being stormed by the ancestors of the Al Saud dynasty) hasn’t been entirely obliterated.

    Murabba Palace

    Khazzan Street
    11461 Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Tel: +966 11 401 1999
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Sun-Mon and Wed 0900-1200 (men only) and 1400-2100 (families)
    Tue 1400-2100 (men only)
    Thu-Fri 1400-2100 (families)

    The seat of the Al Saud dynasty was only built in 1946, although manages to look considerably older. Inside, the palace is a treasure trove of kitsch possessions, among them a fleet of vintage Rolls Royce cars.

    National Museum of Saudi Arabia

    King Abdul Aziz
    Historical Center
    Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Sun 0800-1430 (men only)
    Mon and Wed 0800-1430 (women only) and 1600-2000 (families)
    Thu 0800-1430 (men only) and 1600-2100 (families)
    Fri 1600-2100 (families)
    Sat 0900-1300 and 1600-2100 (families)

    A fascinating and very slick museum packed with treasures from Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries, nearly all of which are explained via interactive films and displays.

    Kingdom Tower

    Al Olaya
    Riyadh 12214
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    The tallest and most impressive of Riyadh’s many skyscrapers, Kingdom Tower rises 302m above the ground and features two separate buildings connected with a hefty glass and steel sky bridge.

    Al Safa Square

    Ad Dirah
    Riyadh 12651 12634
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Plonked next to the Grand Mosque, Riyadh’s main square should be approached with caution: although usually packed with families, it doubles as an execution site – hence its nickname, ‘Chop Chop Square’.

    Ad-Diriyya

    Diriyah Al Jadidah
    Riyadh 13734 8232
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Opening times: Sat-Thu 0800-1800Fri 1500-1800

    Located 12km outside the city centre, Diriyyah is the ancestral seat of the Al Saud dynasty and the former capital city until it was destroyed by the invading Turks in the 19th century.

    Riyadh National Zoo

    Al Ihsa, Al Malaz
    Riyadh 12832
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Sun 0830-1200 and 1300 to evening prayer (men only)
    Mon 0830-1200 and 1300 to evening prayer (women only)
    Tue 0830-1200 (men only) and 1300 to evening prayer (families)
    Wed 0830-1200 (women only) and 1300 to evening prayer (families)
    Thu-Fri 0900 to evening prayer (families)

    With more than 40 different species of animal and scores of birds on display, Riyadh’s city zoo is an interesting place to while away an empty afternoon.

    King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre

    King Faisal Road
    12631 Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    A pleasant spot to explore, the grounds of the King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre encompass beautiful gardens, a 20,000-sq-m public square (the Maydan) and a palm oasis. Within the complex you can find the National Museum, Murabba Palace, a public library, mosque and auditorium.

    Wadi Hanifah

    Near Al Diriyah
    Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    A huge natural rift 40km north of the city, Wadi Hanifah is literally an oasis in the desert that surrounds the Saudi Arabian capital and was once Riyadh’s only source of fresh water. Today, it is a popular picnic spot.

    Al Faisaliah Tower

    King Fahad Road
    12212 Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Tel: +966 11 273 3000
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 1100-2300 (viewing platform)

    Soaring 44 storeys into the air, the Norman Foster-designed Al Fasaliah Tower was built in 2000 and is still one of the most recognisable parts of the Riyadh skyline thanks to its unusual glass globe. The pyramid at the top houses an excellent viewing platform.

    Good to know

    Country information

    Country overview

    No other country in the world is as misunderstood as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and perhaps no other country – rich with culture, heritage, and natural beauty – is as worthy of a first visit.

    Geography

    Saudi Arabia occupies four-fifths of the Arabian peninsula. It is bordered to the northwest by Jordan, to the north by Iraq and Kuwait, to the east by the Gulf of Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, and to the south by Yemen. To the west lies the Red Sea. Along the Red Sea coast is a narrow coastal strip (Tihama) which becomes relatively hotter and more humid towards the south and has areas of extensive tidal flats and lava fields.

    Behind this coastal plain is a series of plateaux reaching up to 2,000m (6,560ft).

    The southern part of this range, Asir, has some peaks of over 3,000m (9,840ft). North of these mountains, in the far north, is An Nafud, a sand sea, and further south the landscape rises to Najd, a semi-desert area scattered with oases. Still further south the land falls away, levelling out to unremitting desert, the uninhabited ‘Empty Quarter’ or Rub al Khali. Along the Gulf coast is a low fertile plain giving way to limestone ridges inland.

    General knowledge

    Key facts

    Population: 26939583

    Population Density (per sq km): 12

    Capital: Riyadh.

    Language

    Arabic. English is spoken in business circles.

    Currency

    Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR) = 100 halala; 5 halala = 20 qurush. Notes are in denominations of SAR500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 25, 10, and 5 halala.

    Electricity

    127/220 volts AC (with plans to change completely to 220 volts), 60Hz. Flat and round two-pin plugs and British-style square three-pin plugs are used.

    General business opening hours

    Sun-Thurs 0800-1200 and 1500-1800 (Ramadan 2000-0100), Fri 0800-1200, with some regional variation.

    Government office hours

    Sun-Thurs 0730-1430.

    Public holidays

    Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2016 – December 2017 period.

    Note

    Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given below are approximations. During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes Eid al-Fitr, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Some disruption may continue into Eid al-Fitr itself. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha may last up to several days, depending on the region. During Hajj, all government establishments and some businesses will be closed for 10 to 14 days.

    2016

    Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan): 07. July 2016
    Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice): 13. September 2016
    National Day: 23. September 2016

    20167

    Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan): 26. June 2017
    Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice): 02. September 2017
    National Day: 23. September 2017

    All information subject to change.

    Enjoy

    Nightlife in Riyadh

    ListMap

    Nightlife is practically non-existent in Riyadh thanks to Saudi’s ban on alcohol.

    What evening entertainment there is happens in and around the city’s coffee shops or (if you’re lucky) during an evening picnic in the desert.

    Spazio 77

    Al Olaya
    Riyadh 12214
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    A pleasant combination of coffee house, cigar bar and shisha café in the mighty Kingdom Tower.

    The Globe - Asir Lounge

    7277 King Fahd Rd, Al Olaya
    Riyadh 12212 3333
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Serving up coffee, non-alcoholic cocktails and caviar, this bar boasts spectacular views of Riyadh.

    Atrium Cafe

    Riyadh Marriott Hotel
    3542 Faydat As Sadriyyah, Al Wizarat
    Riyadh 12622 8482
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Slick and stylish, this is a good place to while away a couple of hours over a coffee.

    Strike Bowling Alley

    Ritz-Carlton
    Al Hada
    Riyadh 12912 3390
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Possibly the world’s most glamorous bowling venue, Strike is hugely popular with locals and expats.

    Areej Art Cafe

    Centria Mall, 2. Stock
    Olaya St, Al Olaya
    Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Excellent coffee, light meals and some gorgeous artwork make this a pleasant place to be.

    Enjoy

    Restaurants in Riyadh

    ListMap

    Saudis take eating seriously and huge buffet feasts are not uncommon. Most of the locals eat late with suppers starting at 10pm and going on into the small hours – even on weekdays.

    As a result, there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to eating out.

    The Globe

    7277 King Fahd Rd, Al Olaya
    Riyad h12212 3333
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    Popular with local bigwigs, The Globe sits within the Al Fasaliah Tower and serves European fare.

    Al Orjouan

    Ritz-Carlton
    Al Hada
    Riyadh 12912 3390
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    Phenomenally good Lebanese food at phenomenally high prices.

    Lusin

    Centria Mall
    Al Olaya Street
    12241 Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    A stylish eatery serving up a cosmopolitan mixture of Lebanese, Syrian and Armenian food.

    Ners

    Manila Plaza
    12643 Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    For freshly made Filipino and Thai culinary classics, cheap and cheerful Ners is the place to come.

    Najd Village

    Al Takhassusi Road
    12331 Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Price: Cheap

    A really good place to try Saudi food, Najd Village is usually packed with crowds of hungry locals.

    Discover

    Calendar of events

    Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market

    27 March – 1 April 2016
    Website

    Venue: Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center

    Locals and expats planning their next trip can pick up masses of ideas at this annual travel market. Resorts, attractions, hotels, airlines and tour operators all set up stands, and though it’s primarily a trade event, it’s popular with the public too.

    Eid al-Fitr

    7 – 9 July 2016

    Venue: Throughout Riyadh and Saudi Arabia

    Four or five days of intense festivities mark the end of Ramadan. The city organises a special programme of events and activities, from puppet shows to theatrical performances to sports competitions. Families enjoy picnics, partying and a huge fireworks display.

    Eid al-Adha

    13 – 15 September 2016

    Venue: Throughout Riyadh and Saudi Arabia

    Muslims begin the festival of sacrifice with sunrise prayers held in 400 mosques throughout the city. It’s then traditional to slaughter an animal and prepare a huge feast. Parks and fairgrounds are packed with families enjoying time together in the days following the festival.

    National Day

    23 September 2016

    Venue: Throughout Riyadh and Saudi Arabia

    Riyadh is awash with green as Saudis celebrate their country’s birthday. Thousands of Saudi Arabian flags flutter on rooftops and streets, and residents dress up in emerald hats, wigs and T-shirts. Barbecues, concerts, craft markets and camel rides draw crowds across the city.

    Riyadh Motor Show

    29 November – 2 December 2016
    Website

    Venue: Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center

    Swanky cars are de rigueur in Riyadh, so it’s no surprise that around 100,000 visitors head to the city’s auto exhibition to check out the latest shiny new vehicles. State-of-the-art gadgets and technology are on show and millions of dollars worth of deals are signed.

    Colors of Saudi Arabia Forum

    11 – 17 December 2016
    Website

    Venue: Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center

    Showcasing photography as a means to promote tourism, Colors of Saudi Arabia invites professional and amateur photographers to enter a competition covering categories such as nature, heritage and faces. All the entries are on display at the show, with workshops available for budding photographers.

    Janadriyah National Heritage and Culture Festival

    February – March 2017
    Website

    Venue: Janadriyah, around 40km northeast of Riyadh

    Saudis celebrate their cultural heritage for two weeks with craft stalls and demonstrations, folk singing and dancing, and a camel beauty pageant. A highlight is the dramatic King’s Camel Race, in which 2,000 camels and their riders thunder across the desert in a battle for the finishing line.

    Riyadh Book Fair

    March 2017
    Website

    Venue: Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center

    Bookworms delight at the hundreds of thousands of books on display and for sale at this vast book exhibition. Over 2 million visitors browse the dizzying array of publications in multiple languages. There’s a special kids’ zone too, with children’s books and activities.

    All information subject to change. Please check the dates on the relevant event organizer’s website.

    Enjoy

    Hotels in Riyadh

    ListMap

    Most of Riyadh’s hotels were built within the last decade, with the vast majority decked out in sleek modern style, albeit with the odd kitschy Saudi twist.

    As most are intended for business travellers, prices can be high.

    The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh

    Al Hada
    Riyadh 12912 3390
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Category: Expensive

    With 493 rooms, no one could describe this hotel as small, but for luxury, it’s hard to beat.

    Al Waha Palace

    Wadi Aldawasir Street 6,
    Olaya, Riyadh12211
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Category: Moderate

    Small by Riyadh standards, the well-appointed Al Waha Palace boasts a conveniently central location.

    Coral Riyadh Suleimaniah Hotel

    7193 Al Muhandis Masaid Al Anqari
    As Sulimaniyah
    Riyadh 12241 3201
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Category: Moderate

    The décor is a bit kitsch but its air-conditioned rooms are a welcome refuge from the Saudi heat.

    Aquarium Hotel Riyadh

    6826 Al Amir Abdul Aziz Ibn Musaid Ibn Jalawi
    Al Murabba
    Riad 12613 4188
    Saudi Arabia
    Show on map

    Category: Cheap

    Ignore the prison-green paint in the reception: rooms are comfortable and the in-house restaurant excellent.

    Good to know

    Best time to visit

    Today: Friday, 09.12.2016 12:00 UTC

    sunny

    temperature


    18°C


    wind direction

    north

    wind speed

    9.375 mph

    7 days forecast

    Saturday

    10.12.2016

    17°C / 10°C

    Sunday

    11.12.2016

    18°C / 10°C

    Monday

    12.12.2016

    18°C / 10°C

    Tuesday

    13.12.2016

    22°C / 11°C

    Wednesday

    14.12.2016

    24°C / 13°C

    Thursday

    15.12.2016

    21°C / 13°C

    Friday

    16.12.2016

    21°C / 13°C

    Climate & best time to visit Saudi Arabia

    Saudi Arabia has a desert climate. In seaside Jeddah it is warm for most of the year, though winter is probably the most pleasant time for a visit. Riyadh, which is inland, is hotter in summer and colder in winter, when occasional heavy rainstorms occur. Early spring and late autumn are lovely times to visit this desert capital. The Rub al Khali, or “Empty Quarter,” seldom receives rain, making Saudi Arabia one of the driest countries in the world.

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    31 °C

    -2 °C

    35 °C

    0 °C

    38 °C

    4 °C

    42 °C

    9 °C

    45 °C

    15 °C

    48 °C

    10 °C

    48 °C

    21 °C

    49 °C

    21 °C

    45 °C

    16 °C

    41 °C

    11 °C

    34 °C

    5 °C

    31 °C

    -1 °C

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    11 mm

    10 mm

    24 mm

    29 mm

    8 mm

    0 mm

    0 mm

    0 mm

    0 mm

    1 mm

    6 mm

    11 mm

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    7 h

    8 h

    7 h

    8 h

    9 h

    11 h

    10 h

    10 h

    10 h

    9 h

    8 h

    7 h

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    50 %

    40 %

    35 %

    33 %

    22 %

    14 %

    15 %

    14 %

    18 %

    24 %

    37 %

    46 %

    absolute maxabsolute minØ absolute minØ absolute minrelative humidityØ precipitationdays with deposit > 1mmsunshine duration
    Jan31 °C-2 °C20 °C8 °C50 %11 mm27.3 h
    Feb35 °C0 °C22 °C10 °C40 %10 mm18.5 h
    Mar38 °C4 °C27 °C14 °C35 %24 mm47.8 h
    Apr42 °C9 °C32 °C18 °C33 %29 mm58.7 h
    May45 °C15 °C38 °C24 °C22 %8 mm19.3 h
    Jun48 °C10 °C41 °C26 °C14 %0.5 mm0.111.1 h
    Jul48 °C21 °C42 °C27 °C15 %0.5 mm0.110.7 h
    Aug49 °C21 °C42 °C27 °C14 %0.5 mm0.110.6 h
    Sep45 °C16 °C40 °C24 °C18 %0.5 mm0.110.0 h
    Oct41 °C11 °C34 °C19 °C24 %1 mm0.89.1 h
    Nov34 °C5 °C27 °C14 °C37 %6 mm1.18.0 h
    Dec31 °C-1 °C21 °C9 °C46 %11 mm37.1 h
    year49 °C-2 °C32 °C18 °C29 %101 mm18.39.0 h
    Good to know

    Phone calls & Internet

    Telephone/Mobile Telephone

    Dialing code: +966

    Telephone

    A sophisticated telecommunications network and satellite, microwave and cable systems span the country.

    Mobile Telephone

    Visitors can apply for a mobile telephone number upon arrival at the airport. Prepaid SIM cards, which operate in most handheld devices, are affordable and reliable.

    International roaming agreements exist with some mobile phone companies and coverage is mostly good.

    Hotels and some long-term apartment rentals will include access to a landline, but local and international calls can be much more expensive than calls placed on a landline.

    Internet

    The Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephones provides internet facilities in most cities. But email can also be accessed from many hotels and internet cafes.

    Enjoy

    Shopping in Riyadh

    Stadtführer, Lufthansa, Travelguide, Shopping, Einkaufen

    Key Areas

    As befits a city perched at the intersection of one of history’s most important trade routes, Riyadh has no shortage of shopping opportunities – indeed, flashing the cash is something of a national sport. Most of the action happens around Al Olaya Street, which is also where you can find the big malls and Kingdom Tower – home to a substantial mall of its own. For a more traditional experience, try Souq Al Thumairi for local crafts.

    Markets

    Along with Souq Al Thumairi, Riyadh also has a gold souq.

    Shopping Centres

    Al Mamlaka (Kingdom Tower) is the priciest while the Al Fasaliah Tower boasts its own branch of Harvey Nichols.

    Good to know

    Traveller etiquette

    Social Conventions

    Saudi culture is based on Islam and the perfection of the Arabic language. The Saudi form of Islam is conservative and fundamentalist, based on the 18th-century revivalist movement of the Najdi leader Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab. This has had a great effect on Saudi society, especially on the position of women, who are required by law to leave the home covered in abaya, (black robes). Some women also wear a niqab, a black mask that covers the face, and gloves, though there are regional variations of dress. The Najd and other remote areas remain true to Wahhabi tradition, but throughout the country this way of life is being altered by modernisation and rapid development.

    Shaking hands and kissing on the cheek is the customary form of greeting between men. Invitations to private homes are unusual, though not unheard of. Entertaining is usually in hotels or restaurants and although the custom of eating with the right hand persists, it is more likely that knives and forks will be used. A small gift either promoting the company or representing your country will generally be well received.

    Women are expected to dress modestly and it is best to do so to avoid offence.

    Men should not wear shorts in public or go without a shirt. The norms for public behaviour are extremely conservative and religious police, known as muttawa, are charged with enforcing these standards.

    Customs regarding smoking are the same as in Europe and non-smoking areas are indicated. During Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to eat, smoke or drink during the day and it is illegal for a foreign visitor to do so in public.

    Photography

    Strictly speaking, photography is not permitted. However, many people do still take photos, but are careful to ask permission of the relevant authority before photographing people or any building. In recent years, the spread of small digital cameras and mobile phones with cameras have eased official and unofficial acceptance of photography.

    Good to know

    Health

    Food & Drink

    All water from the tap should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Bottled water is cheap and safe. Fresh milk is pasteurised but powdered or boxed milk is also available as an alternative. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be washed and fruit peeled.

    Other Risks

    Avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water; swimming pools which are well chlorinated and maintained are safe.

    Contractual physician of Lufthansa

    Dr. Abudaga, Wesam
    Saudi British Hospital
    Olaya Street
    King Fahad Road
    Riyadh 11323
    Saudi Arabia
    Tel. +966-5031-05507

    Please note that Lufthansa accepts no responsibility for the treatment nor will it bear the cost of any treatment.
    Good to know

    Visa & Immigration

    IATA Travel Centre

    The IATA Travel Centre delivers accurate passport, visa and health requirement information at a glance. It is a trusted, centralized source for the latest international travel requirements. The IATA Travel Centre is the most accurate source available because it is based on a comprehensive database used by virtually every airline, and information is gathered from official sources worldwide, such as immigration and police authorities.

    IATA Travel CentreIATA Travel Centre