Top 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia


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Saudi Arabia is not just known for its resources and deserts, it is also famous for many UNESCO World Heritage sites. From Al-Hijr to the Al-Ahsa Oasis, each place reflects the Saudi’s rich history. Studies claim that with the progress of Vision 2030, many pilgrims prefer exploring these places. Therefore, many Umrah packages, including the Ramadan Umrah packages craft guided tours to these sites. Whether it is Al-Balad’s Hijazi homes or the Hail region’s rock art, every site is the narrative of the pre-historic era. Don’t miss visiting the following 6 heritage sites while planning a trip to the Saudi state.

1. Al-Hijr Archeological Site

It was the first in Saudi Arabia to be inscribed by UNESCO in 2008.  Located in the AL-Ula region of Saudi’s Madinah province, this place is also called Madain Salah. It is the land where Archeologists found the proof of Nabatean’s modern hydraulic engineering from the 1st century AD. The signs of Roman and Lihyanite in the pre and post-Nabatean eras are also discovered here. The Quran says that “Thamudi” people lived here during the reign of Prophet Saleh (A.S). They were punished by Allah because of their idolatry.This site is among Saudi’s 4000 archeologic sites and is also called the “Capital of Mounts”. It is famous for its rock labels and arts, that are not only limited to Mount Athleb but also exist across Central Arabia. A Lihyanite script from the 3rd-2nd century BC on Mount Athleb shows that the early settlers had fresh water and fertile land.

2. Al-Turaif District in ad-Diriyah

Adorned with old Najdi buildings, this site was founded in the 15th century. It is home to many antique spots, such as Saad bin Saud Palace, Salwa Palace, and Imam Muhammad bin Mosque. Inscribed by UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2010, this place is known as Saudi’s first capital. This site has seen many political and regional shifts, especially between the 18th and 19th eras. It has also played a major role in the spread of Salafiyah, an Islamic movement in Arab. By showing the early settlement of the Arabian Plateau, this district meets the UNESCO levels. With an array of countless palaces, Al-Turaif stands out as the best of the Najdi’s creations. The place is known for the global conservation of antique sites and the tales of old human societies.

3. Historic Jeddah

Jeddah is the second largest city of the Saudi state, which is known for its district Al-Balad. Being recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2014, Al-Balad is also called the historic Jeddah. It was once a main port on the Indian Ocean trade routes and served as a gateway for pilgrims heading to Makkah and Madinah. This site is famous for its diverse customs, coral buildings, and old-style Hijazi homes. Adorned with wooden Roshan and balconies, these homes look like Mashrabiya in Egypt and Iraq. The district is divided into the following areas, based on its history:

  • Al-Mazloum: Named after Abdulkarim al-Barzanji, who was killed by the Ottomans.
  • Al-Sham: Located north of Al-Balad, it is famous for housing Dar al-Sarti and Dar al-Zahid.
  • Al-Yemen: Located in the south of Al-Balad, it is known for its geography.
  • Al-Bahr: It is located in the southwest of Jeddah and features a sea and Al-Radhwan house.

Al-Balad is a hub of artistic culture in the Saudi state, boasting 500-year-old buildings. Its famous antique houses include Al-Nafees and Al-Jamoom houses. Whereas, Al-Qabal and Al-Shafi are the old mosques located in this district. Whether pilgrims perform Umrah in Ramadan or any time of the year, many agencies include Jeddah in their travel plans.

4. Rock Art in the Hail Region

With a rich history of 8000 years, this place is the fourth Saudi site listed by UNESCO. It has two main regions: Old Sinmon Mount and the al-Manjor and Ryat al Shwamis parts. This place reflects the beliefs, lifestyle, and customs of old residents. Here, the rock art serves as proof of the prehistoric societies that evolved in this region. UNESCO accepted this site for many reasons, including its vast amalgam of petroglyphs. They are crafted with simple tools, like hammers. The old artwork also shows the early human’s adaptation to the surroundings.

5. Al-Ahsa Oasis

It is the world’s largest oasis with 2,5 million palm trees and is known for its rich history. Though it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018, it has been a part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Program since 2015. It is a common belief that humans have lived in this place since prehistoric times because of its water abundance. As the largest oasis on Earth, this site is famous for its rich history and farming perks. It is filled with gardens, lakes, canals, wells, and springs. The area’s cultural heritage dates back to the Neolithic era. Places like Eastern Oasis, Northern Oasis, As-Seef, and Qasr Khuzm are key tourist destinations.

6. The Hima Cultural Area

Since 2001, this area has been known as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located in the southwest of the Saudi state, about 200 km from Najran city. With a rich history of 7000 years, it is famed for its old-style rock art, which is known among the world’s finest arts.  Featuring petroglyphs and old texts, this place serves as a cultural crossroad for early people. Bi’r Hima and other such old wells are the top lures of this place. Though these wells are 3000 years old, they still offer fresh water to the people.

These Saudi’s UNESCO World Heritage sites are a must-visit spots for tourists. Muslims Holy Travel, one of the famous travel agencies, offers guided tours to these sites in their packages. Contact them today and book your exclusive Umrah package at competitive rates.

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