An Arabian country located in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is known for its oil reserves, Islamic heritage, and hospitality culture.
The country’s religious and geographical location make it a prime destination for pilgrimage. There are many things that Saudi Arabia is famous for, which make it an important country. We’ll explore some of its history and culture while also discovering interesting facts about Saudi Arabia.
What Is Saudi Arabia Known For?
Saudi Arabia is famous for hosting the two holiest cities in Islam, traditional culture and Islamic heritage, as well as its stunning coastline. Additionally, Saudi Arabia is known for its architectural marvels, date production, and traditional male attire.
The country offers an intriguing blend of old and new. Its historic sites, such as Madain Salih and the Diriyah, transport visitors back in time, revealing stories of ancient civilizations and the birth of Islam. Yet, the modern metropolis of Riyadh, with its towering skyscrapers and state-of-the-art infrastructures, showcases the country’s rapid development and progress.
This unique juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, history and progression, is what makes Saudi Arabia a fascinating destination.
History, Culture, And Traditions Saudi Arabia Is Known For
The Wahhabi Islamic Movement
One of the practices Saudi Arabia is known for is the Wahhabi Islamic movement. Also known as Salafism, Wahhabi Islam is a conservative interpretation of Sunni Islam and is founded on the principle of adhering strictly to the teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadith.
Salafism places a strong emphasis on certain concepts such as the oneness of God, rejection of Bid’ah (practices introduced to Islam after the time of Prophet Mohammed), and social and moral conservatism, which accentuates modest dressing, gender segregation, and more.
Wahhabism has had a significant impact on the religious and legal systems of Saudi Arabia and has shaped many of the country’s policies, education system, and legal framework.
Tourists visiting Saudi Arabia should be aware of Wahhabi laws and practices to ensure they remain respectful of the local culture while traveling around.
Saudi Arabia is known for its generous and warm hospitality. This practice is deeply ingrained in their culture and stems from a genuine desire to make guests feel comfortable.
Hospitality in Saudi Arabia is commonly called “diyafa” and encompasses several aspects. These include a warm welcome for guests, whether they are strangers or friends, offering and pouring coffee in a particular style, serving plentiful meals, and more.
For guests who are staying over, Saudi hosts strive to ensure their comfort and well-being by providing suitable living conditions that make them feel well cared for.
This hospitality culture also extends to the tourism and hotel industry, so tourists visiting Saudi Arabia will definitely have a nice time being pampered and well cared for.
Bedouin culture is a nomadic lifestyle practiced by natives of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East. This culture has been sustained for centuries by the Arabians and remains a part of their day-to-day interactions.
The Bedouin lifestyle is nomadic, involving constant movement in search of water and pasture for their livestock. Due to their frequent travels, the Bedouin people possess extensive knowledge of desert geography and seasonal patterns.
Prominent aspects of Bedouin culture in Saudi Arabia include their renowned hospitality culture, tribal structure, and sports such as camel racing and falconry.
While modern innovations and changes in Saudi Arabia have brought some modifications to Bedouin culture, its core elements and traditional way of life are still preserved and celebrated.
Traditional Male Dress
Traditional attire for Saudi men reflects the country’s cultural heritage, religious values, and practical considerations for the desert climate.
Some of the traditional male garments that Saudi Arabia is known for include the following:
Thobe: An ankle-length loose robe made from lightweight fabric, often worn as an outer garment and accompanied by a head covering.
Ghutra and Agal: Commonly worn as a head covering and for protection against the sun and sand.
Bisht: Worn over the thobe, resembling a cloak. It is primarily worn on formal occasions and symbolizes status and respect.
These traditional dresses are beautiful and serve as important aspects of Saudi Arabian male identity.
Saudi Arabia is renowned as one of the world’s largest producers of dates. These sweet treats play a significant role in Saudi Arabian culture, cuisine, heritage, and hospitality.
Date cultivation in Saudi Arabia dates back thousands of years, and the date palm, known as “nakhl,” is often referred to as the tree of life due to its ability to thrive in extreme desert conditions.
Dates are an important Saudi Arabia food option, providing quick energy, especially for the Bedouins who are often on the move. Their long shelf life also makes them an ideal food option.
Dates are considered symbols of generosity and hospitality. You will almost definitely see them when visiting a local family. It is common for hosts to welcome guests with a tray of dates and a cup of Arabic coffee.
Throughout the year, various date festivals are celebrated, showcasing and celebrating different varieties of dates.
Dates are not only a nutritious and versatile food but also hold cultural, religious, hospitality, and economic significance in Saudi Arabian society. They make for great souvenirs to bring home, and you will be spoilt for choice with the large selection on offer.
So, if you’re planning on visiting Saudi Arabia anytime soon, be prepared to indulge in dates – although we do not mean the romantic kind.
Traditional Music And Dance
Saudi Arabians have a vibrant culture, vividly reflected in their music and dance.
They have a wide range of traditional music styles and dances. Some of their most prominent traditional music genres include Al Shiba, played with a lute and often accompanied by poems highlighting love and nature, Al Mizmar, and Al Ardah, to mention a few.
Several of these music genres and dance styles are accompanied by traditional instruments, each with its own unique sound that contributes to the overall character of the music.
Saudi Arabia considers its traditional music and dances an integral part of its history and has taken steps to ensure its preservation. There are several cultural organizations, festivals, and institutions actively supporting the preservation of traditional music and dance forms to pass them on to younger generations.
When visiting Saudi Arabia, you will certainly get the chance to witness and observe these traditional artistic forms during festivals. Who knows, you might even find yourself gyrating with the natives to the melodic beats of the music.
Cities And Areas Saudi Arabia Is Known For
Located on the eastern part of the Najd plateau, and founded in the 18th century, Riyadh is a bustling metropolitan city and the capital of Saudi Arabia. As such, it serves as the political, administrative, and financial center of the country.
Historically, Riyadh played a significant role in the growth and development of Saudi Arabia. What was once a small oasis town and trading center has transformed over the years into a modern city with impressive infrastructure and a stunning skyline.
With a plethora of shopping malls, landmarks, educational institutes, and entertainment options, Riyadh offers plenty to have an amazing time in Saudi Arabia.
Mecca is perhaps the most famous city Saudi Arabia is known for. It is a prominently religiously significant city, especially for practitioners of Islam.
Apart from being the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed, the city also houses several religious structures, such as the Kaaba and the Great Mosque. Therefore, it attracts a constant influx of visitors and pilgrims throughout the year. Additionally, the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, also takes place in Mecca.
Mecca serves as a gathering point for Muslims from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. During the Hajj and Umrah seasons, there is always a massive influx of pilgrims from around the world, fostering a sense of unity among Muslims.
Given the dominant Muslim community in the country, Mecca’s connection to the Prophet Mohammed and its significance as the holiest city make it a crucial destination in Saudi Arabia.
As a predominantly Muslim country, Saudi Arabia is known for its cities that hold great religious significance in Islam; and Medina is one of those cities.
Medina is almost as significant as Mecca in terms of religious importance and is regarded as the second-holiest Islamic city in the world. It is home to the Prophet’s Mosque, which is the burial site of the prophet.
Medina also played a pivotal role in the development of Islam in Saudi Arabia. When the prophet and his followers were persecuted in Mecca, they fled to Medina to continue their Islamic practice. Subsequently, the city became the center of the growing Muslim community and served as a base for Islam.
Historically, Medina is the birthplace of many firsts in Islam. It was here that the prophet established the first Islamic state, and the Constitution of Medina was first implemented.
The religious city also houses several historical landmarks and architectural pieces that will provide you with insights into how people lived in the days of the prophet.
This is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. Known for its coastal location on the Red Sea, Jeddah is one of the major port cities in Saudi Arabia and holds significant economic status. It is also considered the gateway to Medina and Mecca.
Jeddah is also famous for its stunning coastlines, picturesque beaches, parks, restaurants, and exotic resorts where tourists and locals can indulge in recreational activities and relax.
If you want to explore Saudi Arabia in style, away from the crowds of pilgrims, Jeddah is the perfect place to visit.
Landmarks Saudi Arabia Is Known For
The Great Mosque Of Mecca
Also known as Masjid al-Haram, the Great Mosque of Mecca is one of the landmarks Saudi Arabia is famous for. It is also the most sacred mosque in Islam.
The mosque is believed to have been built by the Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ishmael, as a place of worship. Over the years, the mosque has undergone extensive renovations to accommodate the millions of pilgrims who visit it annually.
The architecture of the mosque is unique, combining old, traditional Islamic design elements with modern construction techniques. In fact, it is considered an architectural marvel and boasts several features such as courtyards, prayer halls, the Mataf, and the Tawaf.
The mosque also contains the Maqam Ibrahim, where a stone believed to bear the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim is enclosed and venerated.
The Zamzam well, which is believed to be the well that miraculously appeared to Hajar, Ismail’s mother, when she was searching for water for her son, is also located in the vicinity of the mosque.
To this day, the Great Mosque stands tall as a place of worship, spiritual connection, and unity for Muslims worldwide.
Kingdom Center Tower
The Kingdom Center is an iconic skyscraper known for its architectural style and unique design. It was designed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster and stands at a towering height of 992 feet.
The tower boasts a sleek design and is a multi-use complex hosting a shopping mall, apartments, restaurants, and offices. It also features an observation deck where visitors can enjoy stunning views of Riyadh’s skyline and landscapes.
The Kingdom Center Tower stands as a testament to Saudi Arabia’s progress and modernity. With its striking architecture, luxurious shopping options, and panoramic views it offers, it is a must-visit when in Saudi Arabia.
King Fahd Mountain
King Fahd Mountain is located in the Asir region of southwestern Saudi Arabia. It is situated in the Sarawat mountain range and is characterized by rugged terrain, towering peaks, and lush greenery.
With a staggering height of 8,200 feet, the mountain offers a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape, valleys, canyons, and plateaus.
The mountain is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, where visitors can partake in hiking, trekking, and camping. A visit to this natural gem offers a blend of awe-inspiring landscapes, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences.
Famous Saudi Arabians
Mohammed bin Salman
Commonly referred to as MBS and born on August 31, 1985, Mohammed bin Salman is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and holds several influential positions within the Saudi government.
He rose to prominence in 2015 when he was appointed as the Minister of Defense. Since then, he has emerged as a key figure in Saudi Arabian politics and has been involved in several ambitious plans as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan.
Under MBS’ leadership, the ban on women driving was lifted, and he fostered the introduction of several entertainment and cultural reforms aimed at reducing Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil.
To this day, MBS continues to be a prominent figure in the Saudi Arabian political scene.
Rania Nashar made history as the first female CEO of a major Saudi bank. This played a pivotal role in further promoting gender equality in Saudi Arabia’s corporate sector.
Rania has held various leadership positions, especially in the banking sector, and this ultimately led to her appointment as the CEO of the Samba Financial Group.
Beyond her accomplishments within the banking sector, she has been an advocate for women’s empowerment in the workforce and continues to be an influential and inspirational figure in the Saudi Arabian business community.
Exploring More Things Saudi Arabia Is Known For
Saudi Arabia is a tourist haven and hosts a wide range of attractions that will keep you on your toes. With its impeccable hospitality culture, stunning landscapes, and savory dishes, a visit to Saudi Arabia is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
From the sprawling deserts of Rub’ al Khali to the bustling markets of Riyadh, there is plenty to discover in its rich history and vibrant culture that is deeply rooted in Islamic traditions. You are sure to uncover more things Saudi Arabia is famous for.