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Book a flight to Riyadh and visit Saudi Arabia's capital, one of the world's wealthiest cities. Riyadh is a city of contradictions; the gleaming modern skyscrapers are in stark contrast to the conservative, cautious vibe of the city. Traditional dress codes are still observed here and Riyadh is a great place to witness the juxtaposition of old and new.
You can fly to Riyadh with Qatar Airways to explore this thriving metropolis for yourself. The summer months are best avoided, as temperatures can exceed 50 degrees centigrade.
You'll discover no shortage of historical sights on your trip to Riyadh, but visitors should be aware most sights are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Everything is shut during prayer hours, so sightseeing needs to be carefully planned.
In the heart of Old Riyadh, visit Masmak Fortress, restored in 2008. The museum inside recounts the story of King Abdul Aziz's raid in 1902 – you can even see a spearhead still lodged in the doorway.
The city's most stunning sight is the Kingdom Tower. Saudi Arabia's second-tallest building attracts visitors to the Skybridge. Set on the 99th floor, the walkway connects the two towers at 300m above ground level and the best views of the city can be experienced after dark.
It's well worth exploring the National Museum, one of the Middle East's finest museums. Here you'll find galleries covering Arabic culture, history and art, and it's easy to spend a whole day here.
Travel to Riyadh and you'll find the area is home to several excellent golf courses. Try the Dirab Golf and Country Club, just 30 minutes from the city, where you'll also find a swimming pool and tennis courts.
The Saudi royal family's ancestral home, Al-Dir'iyyah, was Saudi Arabia's capital until 1818. While you can't visit the old city ruins themselves, the surrounding area has plenty worth seeing and some excellent photo opportunities.
'Dune bashing' in a 4 x 4 at the Thumama sand dunes or guided tours of the desert are a great way to escape the city. Football is also a popular pastime here. Matches are held at King Fahad Stadium, but women are not permitted.
Saudi Arabian cuisine can be found throughout the city, and it is possible to eat very well on a budget here. Traditional dishes such as Shawarma (meat and vegetables in pitta) and Falafel (spiced chickpea fritters) are popular.
Drinking tea is customary in Riyadh, although you will find it is usually served black. If you ask for milk, you may get sheep, goat or camel’s milk. Spending an afternoon at a traditional coffee house on Tahlia Street in Olaya is a great way to mingle with the locals.
For basic curry and rice, the city's Indian restaurants are a safe bet and Olaya Street offers plenty of choice. It's easy to find international cuisine here too. For breakfast or brunch, many of Riyadh's five-star hotels offer indulgent buffets featuring a wide range of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.
It is easy to find unusual souvenirs for friends and family when you travel to Riyadh. Head for Souq al-Thumairi or Lamma for coffee pots, carpets, silver jewellery and handicrafts. You'll find English is widely spoken and haggling essential.
The city's air-conditioned malls line many of Riyadh's main roads and offer welcome respite from the summer sun. Al Faisaliah, one of the city's best malls, is home to designer boutiques and department stores. Al Mamlaka is also a good place to find designer labels, with the third floor specially reserved for women.
Flights to Riyadh with Qatar Airways arrive at King Khaled Airport, around 35km from the city centre.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Riyadh please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Saudi Riyal (SAR)
Voltage: 127 / 220 V 60 Hz
Plugs: Type A / B / F / G
International dialing code: +966