Tabuk, now a bustling tourist destination, was a strategic stopping place for pre-20th-century hajj pilgrims trekking on foot from Damascus (Syria) to Medina and onward to Mecca. The city’s culture was deeply influenced by Egyptian travellers (one of the largest groups of land-travelling pilgrims) from the west and the Ottomans (who controlled pilgrimage routes for centuries) from the north.
Defying the perception that Saudi Arabia is all desert sand and sun, Tabuk also serves as a gateway to a pristine region of white beaches, virtually untouched islands and coral reefs, and snowy mountains in winter. An archaeologist’s paradise, Tabuk was once home to the Nabataeans, who populated the region 700 years before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. The region’s rock formations reveal thousands of examples of pre-Islamic art.