UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia

Last Updated on

There are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia as of 2019, all of which are cultural.

Map of Saudi Arabia World Heritage Sites

Saudi Arabia UNESCO Sites Placeholder
Saudi Arabia UNESCO Sites

Al-Ahsa Oasis (2018)

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madain Salih) (2008)

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madain Salih)
Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madain Salih)

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia. This is an ancient archaeological site that originated to the pre-Islamic times. It is also the first site to become designated as a UNESCO site in Saudi Arabia. The location of this city along the ancient trade route is critical to its cultural significance.

Before it was declared a UNESCO site, it was known as Hegra. This is the site of the largest conserved site for the Nabataean civilization that is located south of Petra, Jordan. This is evidenced by the large collection of monumental tombs that are preserved on the site, all 94 of them. In addition to the tombs that were discovered, there are inscriptions and cave drawings on the site too.

At-Turaif District of ad-Dir’iyah (2010)

At-Turaif District of ad-Dir'iyah
At-Turaif District of ad-Dir’iyah

This is one of the cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia. It was also the first capital of the country. Founded in the 15th century, this district is recognizable for its plethora of Najdi architectural style that is reminiscent of the Arabian Peninsula. By the 18th to the 19th century, the political roles played by this district continued to grow. Within this district, you will find remains of an urban ensemble and palaces that are built along the oasis edge of ad-Dir’iyah. Even after many centuries, the site has largely kept its urban and architectural ensemble intact.

Historic Jeddah (2014)

The Historic Jeddah was recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia in 2014. It is located along the eastern shore of the Red Sea. This site served as an important port for the trade routes that pass along the Indian Ocean. This activity was also responsible for bringing goods to Mecca. The strategic positioning of this city was critical in transforming it into a multicultural hub.

The Old Jeddah Wall is the most distinctive feature within this UNESCO site. According to the Tourism board in Saudi Arabia, it was built to protect the city from external attacks and aggressors. Meanwhile, many of the historical markets and mosques are still standing today.

Rock Art of the Hail Region (2015)

This is the newest cultural site added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia. It was added to the list in 2015 and is also a cultural site. The rock art of the Hail region is located in the Jabal Umm Sinman hill range. The entire land area covered by this UNESCO site spans 2,043 hectares. The site consists of petroglyphs rock art that were carved using stone hammers that were made by the earlier settlers in the area. The subject of these inscriptions were humans and animal figures. These depictions provide a glimpse 10,000 years into the history. In order to preserve the integrity of the rock art, any form of vandalism on the rock art will be prosecuted.


Book Your Trip

Book Your Accommodation
Booking.com is hands-down the best way to book accommodation—it offers the lowest rates, and the massive community of user reviews helps you decide on the exact right place to stay, from high end hotels to budget hostels.

Find Interesting Things to Do
Viator, a TripAdvisor property, offers tours all over the world. I also love GetYourGuide, a scrappy booking engine with great prices and a wide selection of tours on every corner of the earth. If you’re keen to take a multi-day tour, I’ve been on more than a dozen G Adventures tours and highly recommend the company.

Protect Yourself With Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is the single best way to protect yourself and your trip from unforeseen complications, illness, theft, and more. Book travel insurance with a trusted company for your international adventure. World Nomads is the best for adventurous trips and budget travelers. International Medical Group (IMG) offers great prices for families and seniors traveling the world. The EE team has used both for more than a decade and highly recommends choosing the one that best fits your next trip.

Pack the Necessities
I carry a lot of travel gear, but I never leave without my travel adapters. This Glamfield one is my favorite: It features three USB chargers, USB-C, and adapts to most plugs anywhere in the world! If you’re looking for a lower profile adapter, however, you can’t go wrong with this one (I carry both!).