First Saudi Arabia guidebook published

While visiting Saudi Arabia may be controversial, there’s no doubt it has some amazing sights.

And now there’s a travel guide to assist tourists eager to visit and explore the unique landscape and culture of the country.

Written by a female Middle East expert, Bradt’s Saudi Arabia is the first English-language travel guide from a mainstream publisher that focuses exclusively on the Kingdom, which has now opened for general tourism.

Saudi Arabia offers activities ranging from pristine scuba diving to mountain-trekking. With dramatic scenery including a desert that stretches for hundreds of kilometres (where you can camp like a Bedouin) and several accessible nature reserves, visitors looking for undisturbed landscapes are spoilt for choice.

Culture vultures will appreciate pre-Islamic rock art, Nabatean heritage, Mada’in Saleh (the sister city to Jordan’s Petra in Jordan) and six UNESCO World Heritage Sites rarely visited by international tourists. After sundown, when Saudi Arabia truly comes alive, urbanites can explore the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, where shopping opportunities range from traditional souks to top-end malls where the wealthy go to see and be seen. Gastronomists can enjoy varied cuisine, from fine dining to traditional meals served on the floor, shared by all and eaten by hand.

The new guide, which was published in December, provides an up-to-date and comprehensive resource that reflects what Saudi Arabia now offers visitors from all backgrounds. Most outsiders know little about the Kingdom, so may be pleasantly surprised at its history and population eager to extend hospitality to guests respecting their culture and traditions.

With detailed advice on what to see and do, listings for accommodation and restaurants, guidance on cultural etiquette and advice for women and other diverse travellers, Bradt’s Saudi Arabia provides the practical information adventurous tourists need to explore this new, exciting destination.

The paperback book, which retails for £19.99, supplements detailed travel information about the entire Kingdom (from Shammar to Asir, and from Hejaz to Sharqiyah) with a chapter explaining some of the main practices of and reasons for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, plus contextual insights covering cultural etiquette and reforms.