Saudi Arabia’s wild west
Strikingly contrasting from the rest of the country, Al Baha is a land of rugged mountains, lush forests and abandoned cities.
One of the highest cities in the Kingdom, Al Baha sits at 2,155 metres and is surrounded by lush forests, jagged peaks and ancient marble citadels, a legacy of the Ghamid and Zahran tribespeople who hew their cities out of the region’s striking white marble. Proving a wonderful contrast to the red ochre deserts of much of the rest of the country, Al Baha is a must-visit if you want to learn more about Saudi’s intriguing history.
Visitors to Al Baha will delight in being able to visit the ancient citadel of Dhee Ayn, built from the local marble and perched on an outcrop overlooking the breathtaking Bidah Valley, just to the south of Al Baha. The buildings here are distinctly cuboid and were built over 400 years ago, before the city was abandoned in the 1980s. Walking through the winding streets is an amazing experience, especially at sunrise and sunset when the golden sun shines down on the white marble. The Sarwat Mountains to the west of the city are home to the Raghadan Forest Park where a series of hiking trails take visitors out above the forest canopy to offer spectacular views across the forest and surrounding valleys. Food and barbecue stalls are found here so dinner at sunset is a great way to round off a day. It is also possible to visit the historic village of Sheda, found on the hike to the peak of Jebel Mussal Ibrahim where the ancient buildings will offer a glimpse back in time as you pass through.
With its many points of difference, stunning views and benevolent climate, Al Baha is a lovely stopping point on any adventure through the west of Saudi. Although not the most popular of places for tourists to visit, it is beloved of locals which is always a great indicator of a wonderful place to visit as you explore the Kingdom.
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