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Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia, located slightly east of the center of the country in the heart of the Tuwaig escarpment.
Beware that in the last few years, the climate has been shifting in this part of the world as well. Temperatures near 50°C are usually only reached end of July and in August. In 2009, the temperature in Riyadh hit 48°C mid-June. Especially if you wear a business suit, it is imperative to stay out of the sun.
Riyadh is a long way from anywhere, so odds are fairly high you'll be arriving by plane.
Riyadh's King Khaled Airport (RUH) is located about 35 km north of the city. A large, architecturally striking structure in white and desert brown, hypermodern when opened in 1983, it has aged reasonably well but remains a famously boring place to get stuck in. There are three terminals in use.
Riyadh's train station is approximately in the middle of the city, with four trains daily to Dammam via Al-Hofuf and Al-Hasa. Try to show up 30 minutes early, as you'll need to pass through security before boarding.
The Central Bus Terminal is inconveniently located in the Aziziyah district some 17 km south of the city center; expect to pay at least SR30 for a taxi to get there. Buses from Dammam take a tolerable 4.5 hours, while it's a punishing 10-12 hour haul to Jeddah or Mecca with several stops on the way.
The main East-West road through Riyadh is Highway 40 from Dammam and the causeway from Bahrain to Khobar with other road links mainly leading to the North of the Kingdom.
Most roads are tarmacked, albeit to varying levels of repair. Driving standards are slightly more sensible than those of the city centres, but caution is still needed. Some highways see heavy usage from lorries and petrol tankers, often in convoy.
Riyadh is very much a car-oriented city, and public transportation in Riyadh is badly underdeveloped. There are street addresses everywhere in Riyadh, but normally mail is delivered to post office boxes. Getting around requires knowing landmarks near the place where you want to go.
If you are travelling by your own car then it is wise to carry a GPS system. Plan your route before start of journey. Although many streets, roads and landmarks are marked in both Arabic & English yet there are few important major streets, roads and exits that are still marked in Arabic only.
Flat-fare minibuses rumble the streets of Riyadh, but these are mostly used by laborers. They are quite difficult for the casual visitor to use: there are no posted stops, and routes are usually written only in Arabic.
The modern, northern half of Riyadh is very pedestrian-hostile, with 8-laned roads filled with speeding SUVs making crossing the road a dangerous exercise. Pedestrian bridges are very few and even at stoplights you need to keep an eye out for crazy drivers.
What to see
Sightseeing in Riyadh is a frustrating exercise in careful timing: not only are most sites closed on weekends (Fri/Sat) and during prayer hours, but visiting hours are segregated between men and families.
Museums and historical sights
Masmak Fortress, Dirah. The heart of old Riyadh, this was the fortress stormed by King Abdul Aziz. The Masmak Fortress is found around the older part of Riyadh, along with adjacent areas of "Jabrah" or "Mikal".
Murabba Palace. Riyadh's second old mud-brick palace, built by King Abdul Aziz after he conquered Masmak Fortress and figured he should build something harder to conquer.
Although few Saudis play golf, there are surprisingly good golf courses around. The best one is the 18-holes course in Dirab Golf & Contry club a good 30 minutes drive west of Riyadh. Nice layout with green and inviting grass, and the last 9 holes are even floodlit. They offer tennis, swimming and horse-back riding as well.
Head west down the Makkah Road for 30 minutes, and you'll reach the edge of the Tuwaig Escarpment. As you make the 200 meter sharp drop from the Tuwaig escarpment to Najd-proper, you will get a good feel of the desert with dunes and buttresses.
Heading northeast of the airport to the Thumama sand dunes, one can engage in "dune bashing" in 4x4 SUV's or in rented ATV's.
Saudi Arabia is football-mad country, and big matches at the King Fahad Stadium can attract crowds of 50-70 thousand, creating an electric atmosphere. However, note that football stadiums are off limits to women. For people who are moving to Riyadh/ new residents, the city has a good number of fairly well-equipped modern Gym for men, women though have limited options , fitness centres for women are mainly in big hospitals.