The History behind Saudi’s 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Saudi is known for its rich history spanning thousands of years and interconnecting with nearby regions as well as being a dwelling for ancient civilizations, and this has been recognized through six spots on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Let’s take a closer look at these sites that offer a glimpse into Saudi heritage and culture across eras.
- Hegra or Madai’n Saleh — 2008
First up is the magnificent Hegra, located to the northwest of the Kingdom in the city of AlUla. The site dates back to the 1st century BCE and as an ancient trade route bears witness to many civilizations; evidence of whom is present in the surrounding conserved tombs, dated inscriptions and cave drawings. It also showcases the architectural design skills of Nabataean masons of those times. Being in the area is a great opportunity to explore the magic of AlUla as the city has a lot more to offer!
Famous for being the spot where the first Saudi state was founded, Turaif was also named the Kingdom’s first official capital and held the royal residence of the Saud family. Explore the Najdi architecture of the old mudbrick structures containing centuries of rich history within their walls and alleyways, as you hear stories of life in the district from a rawi or storyteller. Don’t forget to check the local market for delicious food and artisanal trinkets.
- Historic Jeddah — 2014
Along the eastern coastline of the Red Sea, this site is a city containing traditional houses with wooden balconies and bazaars, it once lay within walls built by a Mamluk prince in the 16th century to protect it from attacks by the Portuguese and Ottomans. It also had an important trade route passing through the Indian Ocean which was used to bring goods to Mecca, and its geographic position was a key factor in transforming it into a multicultural hub.
- Rock art in the Hail region — 2015
This entry includes two locations in the middle of the desert, which are Jabal Umm Sinman at Jubbah and Jabal Al Manjor and Raat at Shuwaymis. At the foot of the hill range of Umm Sinman was a lake that has since evaporated, but used to gather people and animals who have left behind drawings on the surrounding rock formations. Al Manjor and Raat mountains form a rocky valley and contain petroglyphs that span 10,000 years.
- Al Ahsa Oasis — 2018
A luscious self-contained desert oasis that has been named the largest in the world by Guinness World Records. Dating back 6,000 years; it’s comprised of gardens, hot and cool springs, canals, wells, a drainage lake and 2.5 million date palms. It is also home to archaeological sites and historical structures such as fortresses and mosques, and showcases evidence of human settlements going back to the Neolithic period.
- Himā Cultural Area — 2021
The most recent Saudi site to make it to the list, Himā is located in a mountainous area southeast of the Kingdom on one of the ancient caravan routes in the Arabian Peninsula. It contains rock art depicting images of flora, fauna, hunting and daily life over 7,000 years left behind by travelers and armies passing through and setting up camps in the area. Inscriptions in the carvings showcase text in languages such as South Arabian, Musnad, Thamudic, Arabic and Greek.
Tour the destinations showcasing the astonishing ancient history of Saudi Arabia with Sana Tourism, and always rest assured your trip will be unforgettable and full of magic. Contact us with any inquiries!