The Riyadh series, Travel

Riyadh’s Most Beautiful Historical Secret: Old Diriyah!

“We were meant to explore this earth like children do, unhindered by fear, propelled by curiosity and a sense of discovery. Allow yourself to see the world through new eyes and know there are amazing adventures here for you.”

Laurel Bleadon Maffei

Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, is filled with interesting and unusual things to see. From quirky restaurants to interesting historical sites, this rich city offers something for everyone. With the new tourist visa opening last year, the Saudi government has a goal of radically boosting tourism in the next ten years.

If you ever find yourself in Riyadh, or find yourself planning a trip to Riyadh, I reccomend that you pay a visit to the one and only Diriyah.

Diriyah (الدرعية) dates back to the fifteenth century and was the original home of the royal family of Saudi Arabia. It is located on the banks of Wadi Hanifa and it was the original capital city of Saudi Arabia. Now Diriyah is recognised for it’s historical value and beautiful surroundings.

I had heard many things about Diriyah from both my Saudi and Expat friends, so one afternoon I decided to pay a visit to Diriyah. After drinking a lovely cup of tea in the Tea Club, we left Riyadh Park mall and drove to Diriyah. It took approximatly eight minutes to drive there.

The biggest problem that we faced was parking: this is something that could be improved, as we found there to be very little parking space. We did manage to find a parking spot about fifteen minutes away, but this may not have been suitable for everyone.

After we found a space everything else was plain sailing. We walked down the road towards Bujairi and we could see Diriyah in the distance. As it was Friday, locals were out in full force to eat together in the park: I really love the way Saudis picnic together!

It is worth noting that Bujairi is filled with lovely coffee shops and it’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll or wander. Please remember thought that like many places in Saudi, the shops and restaurants will remain closed until after 4pm on Fridays because of prayer.

When we walked through Bujairi, the sun was slowly setting which somehow made the Saudi architecture seem even more beautiful. There is something magnificent about the clean cut stone walls against a pale blue sky.

After walking for just under ten minutes we were able to see the Old city of Diriyah and it was beautiful. Unfortunatly, we were unable to enter Diriyah but we heard that is possible to enter after obtaining permission from an office in the Diplomatic Quarter.

Have you visited Diriyah? Let me know if you enjoyed it in the comments below. Please also write any questions that you have about Saudi Arabia, I would love to answer them for you.

The Riyadh series

The National Museum of Saudi Arabia

As somebody who has grown up in a house full of history lovers, I have a firm appreciation for museums and history, therefore, when I moved to Riyadh one of the first places that I wanted to visit was the National Museum of Saudi Arabia.

I booked my first taxi in Riyadh and off we drove into the chaos of the city! I remember that the traffic was so bad that day, but I didn’t care! It was so interesting to drive through the city for the first time.

When we arrived at the museum I was taken aback. The building was huge and appeared empty (I later learned this was because I had visited on a school day.)

When I started to walk around the museum and visit the different exhibits I have to say that I was really impressed. The exhibits were filled to the brim with detail and interesting information.

One of my particular favourites was the timeline of Islamic history; it was very informative and useful as I often struggle to remember dates.

I also enjoyed learning interesting facts such as the fact that there used to be elephants in Saudi Arabia -who knew?

If you do go to the museum, be sure to check the opening times online on the museum website.

Also, the museum is also located next door to Murubaa Fort. The two sites are seperated with beautiuful green gardens – I loved exploring the area in the sunshine.

The National Museum of Saudi Arabia would make a fun family day out and I would certainly reccomend a trip if you have the chance.

The gardens that separate the museum from Murubaa fort.

 

The Riyadh series, Travel

Riyadh Boulevard

The year 2019 was a fundamental year for the country of Saudi Arabia. Many would argue this because of the number of reforms that took place, such as the E-Visa (allowing tourists to visit Saudi Arabia for the first time.) Before the year finished I was able to visit The Boulevard and experience some of what Riyadh Season had to offer.

What is Riyadh Season?

Riyadh Season is a special series of events in Riyadh, designed to showcase some of the talent and beauty that the city has to offer. The season includes many new restaurants, cafes and international brands, car exhibitions, auctions, fashion shows, games and concerts.

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What about Riyadh Boulevard?

Riyadh Boulevard is one of the events in the season. An Old fashioned tram will transport you through a colourful vibrant street filled with so many shops to explore. Talented street musicians line the streets, singing and playing traditional melodies. For an additional fee and a spectacular treat, you can also attend the popular music concerts that take place every night.

There is also the option of visiting the cinema: a new addition to life in Saudi Arabia. Cinemas opened in Saudi Arabia for the first time in April 2018 and have been popular and in high demand ever since!

Why I enjoyed it?

From the moment I arrived I loved the vibe and the ambiance of The Boulevard. It was lovely to see families and friends having fun together. The excitement and energy of the event was contagious, there were activities for everyone.

When my friend and I decided to find tickets to ride the tram we were delighted to find that the tram was free! We thought that this was a brilliant touch and a lovely novelty for families and friends alike.

There was also a lovely variety of food trucks and restaurants so there were plenty of cuisines to sample. I really enjoyed the Kibbeh in Labaneh and the creamy hot Sahlab: the perfect drink for a cool winter’s evening.

If you have the opportunity, you must visit The Boulevard before the season ends!

Check out the video below to see more:

The Riyadh series, Travel

Diriyah Season

Saudi Arabia has been experiencing an immense ammount of reform and transformation in the past few years. Recently Diriyah Season and Riyadh Season were opened to the public. I had the opportunity of visiting Diriyah season (موسم الدرعية) in Riyadh and I have to say that the experience was nothing short of magical.

What is Diriyah season?

Diriyah season was a combination of international sports and entertainment events which were based at the beautiful UNESCO world heritage sight of Diriyah. The season opened from 4pm each day and stayed open until the early hours of the morning. Crowds poured in each evening to experience the fun and games.

Why I enjoyed it?

From the moment I arrived I fell in love with the colourful lights and the buzz of excitement. It was lovely to see so many families and friends having fun together. From the moment that I entered it was clear to see that Diriyah season had something special and unique to offer everyone. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be present.

Interesting activities that I loved

I really loved the upside down house and the water bumper cars. The butterfly garden was so colourful and was filled to the brim with flowers and trees. I really enjoyed the thrill of jumping off a platform onto a bouncy landing area: it made me feel like a stuntwoman for the first and only time in my life.

The restaurants and food choices were superb, and I even had the opportunity to grab a drink from my favourite coffee shop – Caribou Coffee.

Throughout the evening there was also a variety of interesting acts and performances from singers and entertainers from all around the world.

Who would love this event?

This event is perfect for families, friends, children and adults. If you love adventures or evenings in the cool Saudi Arabian winter weather then you should check out Riyadh Season. It may be better to attend the event on a week day or on a Saturday evening if you wish to avoid long queues.