As the capital of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is an important centre for international business, shopping and sports. A stay here will give you intriguing insight into the rich history and culture of this highly conservative yet fascinating country. A captivating blend of the antique and modern, Riyadh offers world-class museums and well-preserved heritage sites alongside ultra-modern shopping malls, restaurants and skyscrapers – all surrounded by the stunning golden dunes and rocky outcrops of the desert. To gain perspective on this multifaceted kingdom, head first to the King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre, which incorporates the former royal residence Murabba Palace (now a living history museum) and the newly constructed, state-of-the-art National Museum of Saudi Arabia, which includes exhibits on everything from the geology, animals and plant life of the Arabian Peninsula to the history of the kingdom. Or explore the ancient ruins (currently undergoing restoration) at Old Dir'aiyah, the city's original settlement.
You can learn even more about Riyadh's sometimes turbulent past at the Masmak Fortress, a 19th century mud brick fort that was the scene of Ibn Saud's daring recapture of the city in 1902, a pivotal event in the region's history which is now commemorated in series of exhibitions within the atmospheric old building. Nearby, the traditional Souq al-Thumairi is a colourful place to get a taste of local culture while hunting for unique souvenirs, including carpets, brass coffee pots, elegant jewellery and more.
For a glimpse of modern Riyadh, head to the 99th floor of the distinctive Kingdom Centre tower and cross the Skybridge connecting its two peaks for spectacular views over the city. The sleek structure also houses a luxury shopping centre for those in search of some retail therapy. Another impressive modern viewpoint is at the top of the similarly swanky Al-Faisaliah Tower, which also contains a variety of shops and restaurants within its impressive walls. Alternatively, escape the city altogether on a 4x4 expedition in the desert; play a round of golf at a local club; or catch a football match at King Fahad Stadium.
Whatever you do, be sure to sample some delicious Middle Eastern cuisine during your stay at one of Riyadh's many outstanding restaurants, which craft traditional dishes with a sophisticated twist using local meat and produce. There's also a wide selection of international cuisine available in the city, as well as numerous stylish coffee shops.
Ready to plan your trip to Riyadh? Book your stay with Marriott today for an unforgettable experience in the Saudi capital.