SAUDI ARABIA: BEHIND THE VEIL

Cultural tour of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has for many years been hidden “behind the veil”. With the exception of Muslim pilgrims, its people have had very limited contacts to the non-Muslim world. This is a ground-breaking journey that very few individuals have embarked on. Experience the fascinating history and sites of the Kingdom, as you explore the largest nation in the Middle East, seldom visited by outsiders. On this exclusive nine-day tour we explore the majestic terrain, archaeological locations, historical cities featuring significant architecture, including visits to 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites. We will see the cradle of the Saud family and enjoy first-hand experiences, such as meeting the Saudi people, enjoying their food, and witness Saudi Arabia’s living heritage during a national heritage and cultural festival.

Tour Information
Tour Duration : 09 days
Min. Tour Size : 10 persons
Max. Tour Size : 18 persons
Includes international air
Tour Price (from) : US$
Day 01: Arrive Jeddah
(D)
Day 02: Jeddah
(B, L)
Day 03: Jeddah/Medina (Train)
(B, L, D)
Day 04: Medina/Ha’il (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 05: Ha’il/Jubbah/Sakaka (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 06: Sakaka/Al Jawf/Sakaka
(B, L, D)
Day 07: Sakaka/Riyadh (Flight)
(B, L)
Day 08: Riyadh
(B, L)
Day 09: Depart Riyadh
(B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Day 01: Arrive Jeddah

Our unique journey to one of the least visited country begins as we arrive in Jeddah, the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia and commercial capital of the Kingdom. Since the 7th century, Jeddah has hosted millions of Muslim pilgrims from all over the world on their way to Hajj. We are warmly received at King Abdulaziz International Airport and transferred to our hotel.   The balance of the day is free at leisure. In the evening our tour guide will join us for dinner and we will get our first introduction to the country and its people, along with our first taste of Saudi Arabian cuisine.

Overnight: Prime Al Hamra Hotel, Jeddah (2 nights) (D)

Day 02: Jeddah

Our introduction of the Kingdom begins with a visit of Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah*. The city was established as a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes in the 7th century AD, feeding goods to Mecca. It was also the gateway for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca who arrived by sea. These twin roles saw the city develop into a thriving multicultural metropolitan area, characterized by a distinctive architectural tradition, including tower houses built in the late 19th century by the city’s mercantile elites. We visit Bayt Nasseef (Nasseef House), one of the finest traditional houses in Jeddah, dating to the 19th century, which now serves as a museum and cultural centre. Albeit usually the visit to Bayt Nasseef is from the outside, at times we have been fortunate to get permission to visit the interior. We then visit the beautiful Al-Shafi Mosque, which dates to the early Islamic period and is one of the most historic mosques in the entire kingdom. Our day will conclude with a visit of the Abdul Rauf Khalil Art Museum, housing a large collection containing objects tracing the various pre-Islamic civilizations that inhabited the region; the rich Islamic cultural heritage of the city; and artifacts belonging to the Ottoman Turks. (B, L)

Day 03: Jeddah/Medina (Train)

We start our day visiting the Jeddah Sculpture Museum on the Corniche, which brings together more than twenty world-famous modern sculptures. Afterwards we are transferred to the railway station for our trip to Medina. The ultramodern Al-Haramain train will travel at 300 Km per hour through the desert, getting us to Medina in under 2 hours., proving to be another highlight of our tour. Upon arrival we are met and transferred to our hotel. Medina contains the burial place of prophet Muhammad and is the second-holiest city in Islam after Mecca. It is also here where Prophet Muhammad took refuge as he was being persecuted whilst preaching Islam. Medina is a modern, multi-ethnic city inhabited by Saudi Arabs and an increasing number of Muslim and non-Muslim expatriate workers. Please note that the sacred core of the Old City is closed to non-Muslims, so we might only get a glimpse of the city from our hotel.

Overnight: Le Meridien Hotel, Medina (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 04: Medina/Ha’il (Drive)

In the morning we drive on the ring road of Medina, and where possible stop and view from a distance the minaret of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Prophet’s Mosque. We then drive to the city of Ha’il, in north-western Saudi Arabia. Here we visit Qishlah Fortress, the largest traditional mud-brick fortress in Ha'il. The building is very well preserved, featuring eight large watch-towers along with two main gates. Next, we visit the 200-year old Airif Fort (also spelled Oreif), located on a hill on the edge of the city with a commanding view of the surrounding desert and mountains. There is a beautiful view of the city from the main watchtower. This evening we will enjoy a dinner consisting of traditional foods from the region.

Overnight: Golden Tulip Hotel, Ha’il (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 05: Ha’il/Jubbah/Sakaka (Drive)

Today we take a desert drive to Jubbah, to explore the Rock Art in the Ha’il Region of Saudi Arabia*. A lake once situated at the foot of the Umm Sinman hill range that has now disappeared used to be a source of fresh water for people and animals in the southern part of the Great Narfoud Desert. The ancestors of today’s Arab populations have left traces of their passages in numerous petroglyphs and inscriptions on the rock face. They show numerous representations of human and animal figures covering 10,000 years of history. After our visit, we continue to Sakaka in the North of the country.

Overnight: Raoum Inn, Sakaka (2 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 06: Sakaka/Al Jawf/Sakaka

We start our day with a visit of the Sakaka Fort, situated on high ground overlooking Sakaka from the northwest.  The fortress, also known as Zaa'bal Fortress and Zaa'bal Palace is at the heart of many legends and is believed to have been built in the 7th century B.C.  Mud construction was added to the structure in the 3rd century AD. We then visit Al-Rajajil, sometimes referred to as the Standing Men, or Standing Stones, a collection of some fifty groups of man-made stone columns. The stones are arranged in groups of four or more, joined at the base and leaning outwards at random angles, that date back to the Chalcolithic period. Nicknamed the Stonehenge of Saudi Arabia, the Al-Rajajil stones are believed to have been erected more than 6,000 years ago. We then head to Dumat al-Jandal and visit Marid Castle, which commanded the old city of Adumato in the 3rd century AD. Dumat al-Jandal became the capital of the kingdom of Kindah in the 5th century AD. In 633 AD, Khalid ibn al-Walid captured Dumat Al-Jandal and it became a part of the newly formed Islamic empire. Here we visit its famous well, and Omar’s mosque, named after the second Moslem Caliph: Omar Ibn Al Khatab. We will also have chance to visit the newly discovered rock carvings depicting camels at Al Jawf. (B, L, D)

Day 07: Sakaka/Riyadh (Flight)

In the morning we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Riyadh (SV1396 11:55 – 13:30). Upon arrival, we will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. We then drive to Dir’iyah, located on the north-western outskirts of the Saudi capital. The At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah* was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian Peninsula. In the 18th and early 19th century, its political and religious role increased, and the citadel at at-Turaif became the centre of the temporal power of the House of Saud and the spread of the Wahhabi reform inside the Muslim religion. Here we will see the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir’iyah oasis. Afterwards we check in to our hotel.

Overnight: Holiday Inn Meydan Hotel, Riyadh (2 nights) (B, L)

Day 08: Riyadh

Today we tour of Riyadh, starting with a visit to Qaṣr al-Maṣmak (Masmak Fort), a clay and mud-brick fort, with four watchtowers and thick walls, founded on stone blocks, lying in the center of the old city. It was built around 1865 during the reign of Mohammed ibn Abdullah ibn Rasheed. This building also played a major part in the kingdom's history, as it was here that the recapture of Riyadh, led by Ibn Saud, occurred in 1902. Next, we visit the National Museum of Saudi Arabia, designed by a Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama. Established in 1999, it is part of the King Abdulaziz Historical Centre and displays artifacts dating from pre-Islamic times to modern Saudi Arabia. Our visit here will give us an excellent insight into the country and its people.  We will also visit Murabba Palace before enjoying our lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we will attend the Al-Jenadriyah, a cultural and heritage festival held in Jenadriyah during the month of February. The festival features a variety of activities, including camel races, performances of local music and dancing of the Ardah and the Mizmar, thus ending our exclusive tour with an impressions of Saudi Arabia’s living heritage. (B, L)

Day 09: Depart Riyadh

After breakfast, we are transferred to the airport for our onward flight. (B)

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Departure Dates
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).

2019

Feb 18; Oct 07

Tour Price

We accept payments in US$, CA$ as well as in other convertible currencies like EUR, AUD and GBP. Tour prices have been costed in US$. CA$ price shown below is an indicative amount reached at by using the conversion rate at the time of web posting and will be applicable if there is no change in the conversion rate. Should the currency conversion rate change, the US$ pricing will prevail. Bestway Tours & Safaris offers a conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here

Departure(s) Per Person on Twin Sharing Single Room Supplement
2019 US$ 3995 • CA$ 5394 US$ 735 • CA$ 993


Notes

Due to changing local rules, tour itinerary is subject to change without notice. Current visa fee for USA passport holders is US$ 250.



Inclusions


Tour Price Includes
  • Accommodation as mentioned or similar, including hotel taxes
  • Domestic airfare: Sakaka/Riyadh (Currently priced at US$ 115)
  • Train ticket: Jeddah/Medina
  • 18 Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All sightseeing and transfers by private transportation
  • Services of a local English speaking guide/tour escort
  • Entrance fees to museums and sites included in the itinerary
  • Bottled water during touring
Not Included
  • International airfares
  • Insurance/ KSA visa and permit fees
  • Tips/gratuities

Estimated International Airfare
(International airfare is NOT included in this tour)

CANADA(West Coast)
US$ 1600

USA(West Coast)
US$ 1600

CANADA(East Coast)
US$ 1400

USA(East Coast)
US$ 1400

Participants

This tour operates on a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 18 participants

Customised Itinerary

If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.

Contact Info
You may e-mail us at bestway@bestway.com or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.