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Riyadh is Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city. Its name comes from the plural of “rawdha,” which is an Arabic word that means garden. This may sound strange at first because Riyadh arouses visions of dusty deserts instead of lush gardens but “rawdha” is more like a garden that sprouts after rain falls on a desert. This may prove to be prophetic in the sense that formerly viewed as a mere dusty capital city, Riyadh is now considered as one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. According to the latest measurement, the city has 4.7 million registered residents.

Modern Saudi Arabia is best seen in Riyadh. The modern buildings rise against the backdrop of deserts and camels. Even with sparkling sports cars driving by, people still do not forget to stop when it is time to pray. The star-quality establishments that have made Riyadh a truly modern city are not able to erase the conservative nature that The Kingdom is known for.

Fly into Riyadh through the King Khalid International Airport. There are three other international airports within the country but it is best that you arrive at Riyadh’s main airport. Within Riyadh, you can get around by bus, train or car. The city’s bus system does not only connect you to cities within Saudi Arabia but also to nearby countries. The weather in Riyadh is very hot. The temperature can burn up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit on average during the summer. Winter can provide you with much needed mild or cool weather conditions.

If you are visiting from the United States, you will need a passport valid for at least six months. You also need to bring documents such as your return ticket. You will generally only be allowed a visa to Saudi Arabia if you are only passing through, visiting relatives or are there for religious or business purposes. If you are visiting as a tourist, you have to be part of an approved tour group.