Information about flights to Riyadh
Drenched in oil wealth, Saudi Arabia’s gleaming capital in the desert is one of the world’s most affluent cities. Approaching from the sun-scorched desert wastes, Riyadh rises upon the horizon like a shimmering oasis of glass and steel. Here is where modern and traditional Saudi elements combine to create an exciting mix. A conservative, staunchly Islamic society, Riyadh nonetheless typifies the modern Saudi Arabia of shopping malls, expensive cars and outlandishly ambitious architecture. In Riyadh, therefore, you can experience the competing energies that define this powerful Sunni state – where ornately designed, quintessentially Islamic skyscrapers proclaim the wealth and influence of this key Middle-Eastern player.
Flights to Riyadh from London take you into King Khalid International Airport, which is only a short distance from the city centre. You’ll immediately notice Riyadh’s highly distinctive skyline of skyscrapers set against an exotic desert backdrop. Catching the sun on its huge golden ball, the Al-Faisaliah Tower is one of Riyadh’s more unique buildings. Designed by Norman Foster and built in 2000 by the Bin Laden family, the ball at its centre includes a restaurant with fine views over the city. Another notable feature of Riyadh’s cityscape is the Kingdom Tower, which is an iconic symbol for the capital. With sleek curves and a striking design, the tower is as daring as it is beautiful. A popular attraction is the sky bridge, giving you breathtaking vistas of the surrounding desert. The most spectacular views can be enjoyed at sunset, when the land is bathed in hues of gold and blood red. At ground level, the Masmak Fortress is a mud-brick stronghold which serves as a contrast to the glitzy skyline. The fortress has an important place in Saudi popular imagination as it served as the backdrop to an event in the 19th century which consolidated the power of the ruling House of Saud.
Known for its glamorous retail outlets, Riyadh is one of the kingdom’s premier shopping destinations. The Sky Shopping Mall occupies the 44th floor of the Al-Faisaliah Tower and features an array of international brands. For more of a local flavour, the Souq al-Thumairi is a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from authentic Arabic textiles and jewellery to decorative silver daggers.