Ushaiger Heritage Village
Hidden in the heart of the Najd, an oasis-dotted region 200km northwest of Riyadh, Ushaiger Heritage Village provides a glimpse of a slow-paced Saudi society of old.

Bedouins first settled here 1,500 years ago and Ushaiger quickly became a popular stopping point for pilgrims crossing to Makkah, thanks to its springs and low-brimmed olive and palm groves. But far from being a dusty, deserted museum piece, Ushaiger – which, in a naming quirk, means ‘little blonde’ to reflect the nearby red mountain that looms over the yellow mud houses – still has a small community of residents, making use of its schools, shops and mosques. To walk its narrow lanes is to enter a living museum, draped with traces of an ancient way of life.

Encased in thick walls, Ushaiger is a labyrinth of winding alleyways, shaded pathways and timber-framed walkways, crossing between hundreds of mud houses. The village is divided into districts and bisected by groves of palm trees, and includes a cluster of beautifully renovated houses. These offer a stunning example of Najdi architecture, with its distinctive triangular windows and roofs, and ornately carved wooden doors. Some still bear the names of the families who lived there.
Al Masmak Fortress

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The waterfront development is also host to an array of eateries, ranging from street stalls and restaurants, to coffee houses and fast food chains.

Did you know that in the 1970s Jeddah was known for its outdoor sculptures? Part of the waterfront refurbishment plan involved gathering up some of the best examples, including works by masters including Henry Moore and Joan Miró, restoring their faded grandeur and presenting them together in a stunning open-air museum spanning 7km of parkland. It’s a photographer’s dream: and the waterfront’s free phone charging points and wifi mean you won’t miss a shot.

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