Leisure in Saudi Arabia


Foreigners are likely to enjoy various leisure activities in Saudi Arabia. Find an overview in this article.

Saudi Arabia is a huge country which has been attracting thousands of foreigners year after year due to its economic prosperity and the different opportunities it offers. So if you intend to settle there, you are quite likely to have a busy schedule. However, during your free time, you will probably want to discover and learn more about the country. Saudi Arabia offers various leisure activities, including sports, cultural and social activities, etc. Living in Saudi Arabia can be a real delight, especially if you wish to enjoy its great historical and cultural wealth.


Saudi Arabia is far from being a desert area covered by oasis and stuffed with modern buildings. Indeed, the desert can provide intense sensations to foreigners and to locals. In general, Saudi nationals as well as tourists explore the desert in pickups. One of the most popular desert regions is the Rub Al-Khali, which is also known as the Empty Quarter name, stretching over some 655,000 km2 through Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. You are more likely to start at Sulayyil (Riyadh), Sharurah (Najran) or Haradh (Eastern Province).


You are advised to hire an Arabic-speaking and licensed guide or seek the assistance of a specialized company before indulging in such activities for security reasons.


Alternatively, you can also enjoy Saudi Arabia's 15 national parks and nature reserves. Surprising as it may seem, the country also has a greener side, apart from its dry and hot deserts. The Asir National Park, for instance, stretches over 450,000 hectares. Its access is free of charge but you can visit it with the assistance of a specialized guide or tour operator.

You may also visit the Harrat Al Harrah First National Park which is located in the North, the Al Hasa National Park, in the Al Hasa oasis, stretching over some 45 km², the Sa'ad National Park in the East of Riyadh over 3 km², and the Al Khunafah national park which is located in Northwest Saudi Arabia. You will be delighted to watch oryx and gazelles walk there.

Water sports

During your stay in Saudi Arabia, you will also be able to enjoy its beautiful and peaceful beaches to relax, take a walk or swim. You can even practice water sports such as snorkeling, fishing, sailing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, water skiing, boat races, etc. These are particularly popular in Jeddah, at the Silver Sands Beach Resort which is open to foreigners every Friday, at the Jeddah Beach or in Obhor, in Northern Jeddah. Note that windsurfing and kite-surfing are especially popular from January to March.

If you wish to discover the wonderful coral reefs around Jeddah, you can also hire a boat.


Saudi Arabia has many breathtaking diving spots which will allow you to explore surrounding coral reefs as well as the Red Sea coastline. Jeddah and the Farasan islands are also highly recommended to scuba divers so that they can discover the region's wonderful marine environment. Note that you can rent diving equipment on the spot for some thirty riyals.


Saudi Arabia is world famous for being a traditional and luxury shopping hub. Hence, you will definitely find time for shopping during your stay in the country. It will also be an opportunity for you to discover and enjoy the country's various modern and luxurious shopping malls. For a more oriental touch, you can visit the souks which are fantasizing due to the scent of incense and spices. You are likely to find souks in most major cities, namely in Taif, Dammam, Al Thumairi, Batha, Princess Al Owais, Qabel Al Alawi ibn Madhan, etc. Note that each of these souks has its own specialties.


Those who wish to get closer to the Saudi culture can consider visiting places of interest such as the Masmak Fortress, the Al Diriya Al Tayibat City Museum, the Naseef House, Al Kady rose plants, Jubba city, etc., which hold the country's historical heritage.


As regards sports fans, they can choose among various sports activities such as football, cricket, golf, horse racing, camel racing, and many others. You will also find many gyms and fitness centers where you can register. However, these are not likely to be accessible to women. Hence, some compounds offer sports and gym facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, etc.

 Useful links: - Saudi Arabia Forum - Leisure directory in Saudi Arabia 
Saudi Tourism
Saudi Tourism Commission
Jubail Cycling Club

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See also

If you are moving to Riyadh, you will probably want to discover the city during your free time. Various leisure activities are available to foreigners.
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