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If you’ve been following my progress toward the goal to visit all the countries of the world, you must have seen that I still have some countries left to see. Among them one of the most luxurious places I can imagine: Saudi Arabia. It’s one of my “bucket list” items, in part because of its rich history, and also because of the amazing sights I can see there. Here is a short list of the things I want to see if I ever make it there. PS: Remind me to pack some reading material – as far as I know, playing red flush casino games is illegal there.

Mecca would have made it on my bucket list of destinations, but unfortunately I won’t be able to see it, unless I convert to the Muslim faith. The reasons for this restriction are both political and religious. First, as the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, Mecca is the holiest city of Islam. It is also the home to the Kaaba, a building at the center of Al-Masjid al-Haram, considered to be the “House of God”. Too bad – Mecca is one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities of the Muslim world. Well… maybe in another life.

But there are still enough significant places to see in Saudi Arabia.

Medina, for example, is another significant city for Islam, as it contains the burial place of Muhammad. Unlike Mecca, Medina can be visited by traders and tourists alike, even if they are not Muslims. The sacred core of Medina is also off limits to those of other faiths, but the rest of the city surely has enough sights to see and explore.

Mada’in Saleh is also on my bucket list. The pre-Islamic archaeological site has over 130 tombs, combining the architectural styles of Greece, Rome and Babylon. It was a veritable melting pot of civilizations, a crossroads where traders, pilgrims and explorers met. Some have compared Mada’in Saleh to the ancient rock city of Petra in Jordan. But travel guides consider this site unique due to its “remarkable rock formations”, which I plan to see on my journey there.

Last, but not least, I’d like to visit is Jeddah, the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia. It’s the second largest city of the country, and the principal gateway to Mecca (which I won’t get to visit…). Jeddah is also one of the primary resort cities of Saudi Arabia, and is famous for its variety of seafood sourced in the close Red Sea. It was for a long time considered the “most open” city of the country – I plan to see this for myself on my trip there.
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