One of Saudi’s 13 provinces, Qassim is situated in the center of the kingdom, about 400 kilometers northwest of the capital of Riyadh. It is bordered by the Ha’il province to the north, the Medina province to the west and the Riyadh region to the south and east. The North-South Railway Line can get you from most of the kingdom’s major cities to Qassim, but once you’re done exploring the many attractions in the province’s capital, Buraydah, you may want to rent a car to visit some stunning sights outside the city. Qassim is well connected by highways, so turn on your GPS and enjoy these easy-to-reach attractions.
A hidden gem, Al Bukayriyah — about 40 minutes from Buraydah — is a small city of about 25,000 inhabitants. Although it is lesser known than some of Saudi’s bigger cities, don’t let that deter you: Al Bukayriyah is considered an up-and-coming tourist destination. So if you like to feel like you “discovered” a spot, this trip is worth the relatively little time it takes to get there. Like Buraydah, Al Bukayriyah is characterized by lush greenery and a warm, inviting climate. Historically, it was the site of the Battle of Bukayriyah in 1904, during the unification of Saudi Arabia. In addition to offering a variety of restaurants, shops and spas, culture-seekers will want to see the Az Zahraa Grand Mosque, and children may enjoy exploring the Waterfall Park.
This historic watchtower, which is at least 200 years old, is perched in the southwest of the city of Al Rass in Qassim, a little more than an hour from Buraydah. The incredibly well-preserved mud-brick structure bore witness to many historic battles. It is said that during one battle, the tower was damaged by intense artillery fire and had to be rebuilt, and that it was reduced to its current 27 meters from its original height of 45 meters.
Fans of heritage villages, museums, souqs, historical palaces and ancient architecture will particularly enjoy visiting Al Bassam House, which a tourist who was there recently described as “unforgettable.” Located in Unayzah (about 30 minutes outside Buraydah), Al Bassam House was built in 1955 using traditional Najdi ventilation and lighting techniques and spans 3,500 square meters. The palatial structure’s roof incorporates traditional Najd wood carvings. (Najdi is an architectural style characterized by unfired mud-brick, which has dominated the Saudi countryside for hundreds of years.) It features 30 rooms on two floors, including bedrooms, guest rooms and storage rooms. Inside, visitors can enjoy ancient crafts, traditional foods, folk tales, poems and ancestral heritage and history.
Roughly 50 kilometers northwest of Buraydah, this ancient oasis — the name translates to “the valley’s ponds,” which used to surround the area — is most famous for the societies that used to live there. Humans have lived in Uyun Al Jiwa since at least prehistoric times. And you can still see Thamudic (an ancient Arabian tribe) inscriptions carved on rocks in the area — particularly in Al Hanadir, 15 kilometers outside Uyun Al Jiwa. While in Uyun Al Jiwa, be sure to check out Al Margab watchtower, a mud-and-adobe tower once used to spot approaching enemies; the Old Souq market; and the Old Uyun, a collection of mud houses built with adobe, clay and mud that have been preserved as a historic site.
Qassim is also called the “food basket” of the country because it is rich in water and has a soil and climate that are favorable for growing many fruits and vegetables. Learn more about this fertile land here.