More about Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, with a population of approximately 5 million. The city is located in the center of the Kingdom, and is affectionately called "The Desert Pearl"; although, its actual name, "Riyadh" is derived from the Arabic word for "garden."

As the capital city, Riyadh is home to all of the government ministries and foreign embassies, including those of the United States and Canada.

Riyadh is served by the King Khaled International Airport. It is approximately 1,061 km (660 miles) from Riyadh to Jeddah on the west coast, and approximately 447 km (278 miles) from Riyadh to Dhahran on the east coast.


Located in the heart of the desert, Riyadh is hot and dry most of the year, though it can be quite cool over night in the winter. See today's weather in Riyadh.


Riyadh is seven hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time, and eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.


Riyadh is very modern, with many malls, office buildings, hotels, etc. Yet it hasn't forgotten its past — you can still visit older market areas ("souqs"), as well as the ruins of the old city of Diriyah, northwest of the city.


For the energetic, there are a large number of options: golfing, hash runs and desert hiking and camping trips, sand-boarding, tennis, team sports (e.g., soccer, rugby, cricket, etc.), swimming, etc.

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