The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, but few enter as tourists. This conservative country connecting Africa and mainland Asia contains the spiritual centre of the Islamic world, Mecca, and the sacred city of Medina, so most of the visitors are pilgrims, permitted on special religious visas.
Others come to this oil-rich nation on sponsored business trips, generally finding little time or facility for leisure and pleasure. Saudi Arabia is intent on keeping its traditions, culture and religious heritage away from prying western eyes.
Its cities, however, are not backwaters but modern, bustling commercial centres, like the Royal capital, Riyadh, offering excellent hotels and some breathtaking sights, like the Al Faisaliah golden geodesic dome, one of the tallest buildings in the region.
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