Traditional Saudi culture meets stunning landscapes in historic Al Ahsa
A charming town in the north-east of the country, Al Ahsa is a perfect stop for visitors looking to get a taste of traditional Saudi life.
The town of Al Ahsa is found 60kms inland from the Persian Gulf in the north-east of Saudi Arabia and is a charming place to spend a few days if you are looking to slow the pace of your trip down somewhat. Blending spectacular scenery with a lovely old town, it remains one of the most quaint places anywhere in Saudi Arabia, ideal for visitors looking to get a taste of traditional Saudi life.
The town was built around a series of oases and is renowned for the vast expanse of palm groves and crystal-clear springs found on the plains of the Rub Al Kahli, “The Empty Quarter”. At just over 85km2 there are over 2.5 million palms found here. Historically this was a stopping point for merchants crossing the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Pilgrims on their way to Mecca. Nowadays it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to both presence of the oases and the network of caves on the Ol Qarah Mountain which show some of the earliest signs of human habitation in the region. The city itself is a bustling place and a microcosm of what Saudi Arabia is today, a rapidly modernising city but one that remains loyal to its heritage. The Souq Al Qaisariy gets very busy in the evenings, with street vendors selling their wares and the delicious smell of spices and fragrances filling the air. Renowned for its excellent food, especially delicious dates, vibrant fabrics and interesting local art, this is one of the most culturally varied parts of the country. If you happen to be visiting on a Friday then you will see and hear the hive of activity that the town’s Jawatha Mosque, believed to be eastern Arabia’s first mosque, becomes.
Although a little off the beaten track, this is a beautiful and vibrant part of the country with so much to see and do, it is well worth dedicating a few days of your trip to in order to get an insight in to one of the country’s most intriguing areas.
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