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Dir’aiyah/Saudi Arabia

Introducing Dir’aiyah

The ancestral home of the Al-Saud family and the birthplace of the Saudi-Wahhabi union, the historic site Old Dir’aiyah makes a welcome escape from the frenzy of Riyadh.

This is one of the most evocative places in the Kingdom and its Unesco-supervised reconstruction saw it gain World Heritage status in 2010. The visitors centre is excellent, with fantastic black-and-white photographs of the old town, and yet it is almost always deserted; most of the town was abandoned during the 20th century. The guards are usually bored and very happy to share coffee and dates with visitors. Note that parts of the site are treacherous under foot.