6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Saudi Arabia That Are Perfect For History Aficionados

UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Saudi Arabia
by Anupriya Mishra 238

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a rich history and there are many sites that give us a peek into the bygone era. While there’s something for every traveller, from glitzy nightlife to thrilling adventurous sports, the World Heritage Sites here are especially a treat for history aficionados. So, if you too wish to explore a slice of history, might we recommend checking out these 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Saudi Arabia?

6 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Saudi Arabia to bookmark

1. Al-Ahsa Oasis


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Al-Ahsa Oasis is a continuously evolving landscape in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The dazzling cultural landscape comprises gardens, canals, springs, wells, an agricultural drainage lake, and even historic buildings. Not to mention, this is the largest oasis in the world comprising over 2.5 million palm trees! The site boasts an unparalleled representation of continued traces of human settlement in the Gulf region, from the Neolithic to the present. This makes it an important World Heritage Site.

2. At-Turaif District


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Located in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, Northwest of Riyadh, the At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty. Established in the 15th century, you will find an abundance of the Najdi architectural style here. The age-old site is home to the remains of several palaces and an urban ensemble, which was built on the edge of the ad-Dir’iyah Oasis. This is an important World Heritage Site, as the urban and architectural components of the property have not been altered.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About Diriyah, Old Capital Of Saudi

3. Hegra Archaeological Site


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Hegra Archaeological Site is the first site in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2008. The majestic site is home to well-preserved monumental tombs with decorated facades that are as old as the 1st century BCE to the 1st century AD. Since this is a major site for Nabataean Civilisation, there are about 50 inscriptions of the pre-Nabataean period and even some cave drawings. In addition, there are 111 monumental tombs and water wells. These relics make it an excellent example of the civilisation’s architectural accomplishment and hydraulic expertise.

Also Read: Saudi Arabia Opens The Untouched Historical City Of Hegra To Tourists

4. Ḥimā Cultural Area

Hima Cultural Area

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Ḥimā Cultural Area is situated in the arid mountainous area of Southwest Saudi Arabia. The site is home to a substantial collection of rock art images featuring hunting, fauna, flora and even lifestyle. As a result of the cultural continuity of 7,000 years, travellers and armies continued to leave behind inscriptions and petroglyphs through the ages until the late 20th century. These have been preserved in pristine condition and the site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021. Did you know that the inscriptions here are in diverse scripts, like Musnad, South Arabian, Thamudic, Greek, and Arabic?

Also Read: 5 Road Trips To World Heritage Sites In Saudi Arabia

5. Historic Jeddah


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Located on the eastern shore of the Red Sea, it used to be a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes during the 7th century. Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah, showcases the rich Red Sea Architectural Traditions. This construction style includes imposing tower houses featuring large wooden Roshan, lower coral stone houses, mosques, ribat-s, suqs and small public squares. Together, these elements form a vibrant space that attracts people from across the globe. As such, Historic Jeddah was a symbolic gate to Makkah for Muslim pilgrims who travelled to Arabia by boat. In fact, it was recognised as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2014!

Also Read: Walk The Historic Jeddah Streets At Al Balad And Soak In Its Unique History

6. Rock Art, Hail Region


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Rock Art in the Hail Region comprises 2 components – Jabal Umm Sinman at Jubbah, (approx. 90 km Northwest of the city of Hail) and Jabal Al-Manjor and Jabal Raat at Shuwaymis (approx. 250 km South of Hail. As evident from the name, together they boast the biggest and richest rock art complexes in the kingdom. Did you know these rock carvings date as long as 10,000 years ago? Yes, and it was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2015.

Which of these sites would you want to explore first? Let us know in the comments below!

Cover Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons