Welcome to Riyadh
Once a walled, mud-brick way station along desert trading routes, Riyadh (meaning 'garden') from afar is a picture of soaring modern towers rising up above the surrounding desert. Up close, it can appear cautious and sober and feels more conservative than other Saudi cities like Jeddah. But the winds of change sweeping the nation are also affecting the capital. A long overdue metro system is on its way, as is a public bus service, and the atmosphere is far more liberal than it has ever felt before. Riyadh recently hosted the country's very first music festival, where a female singer performed live for the first time in Saudi history.