Why Visit Abha, Saudi Arabia?

I have not been to Abha….yet, but it is high on my list of places to visit within the Kingdom.  Abha is a popular destination in the Kingdom for vacationing for both Saudis and non-Saudis.  Abha is located in the southwestern part of the Arabian peninsula and known for its mountains, valleys and fertile plains.  It is a welcome respite from the searing heat of the arid desert.  Abha is known for its many parks which include the Aseer National Park.  The area also includes the Grand tourist lake project and Al Hebia Park which has cable car service!  Additionally one can visit more than 56 different gardens when traveling to Abha.  I’ve heard that one can also see monkeys (baboons) in their natural habitat in Abha and due to tourists feeding them, be careful as they have lost their fear of people.

If exploring nature is not ones favorite pastime, Abha also offers the Al Miftaha art village at the King Fahad Cultural Center.  Here is where one can find and enjoy art works by Saudi painters and sculptors.  Handicrafts, local honey, hand-woven products and many other souvenirs are available for those who enjoy shopping and finding a special memory of a trip to Abha.  I should also mention that Abha includes the Shada archeological palace which dates to 1250 (Hijri) and is filled with numerous artifacts.

Abha hosts a five star Intercontinental hotel  (966.7.224.7777) as well as the four star Al Bouaira (966.7.224.6458).  No doubt once I have made my own trip to Abha I will be able to write a more descriptive post but I hope these musings have whet your own appetite about Abha. I have included a few pictures to show the contrast of this area with the traditional desert images of Saudi.

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48 Responses

  1. Reasons enough to go there! I love the photo of the terraces.
    I never knew Saudi Arabia had such landscapes.

  2. Aafke,

    I have been to the Asir province 2 times. The mountains and villages are beautiful. If you stray away from the cities and visit the mountain villages, you meet the most generous and pure people in the country. There is also old architecture homes and plenty of interesting artifacts.

    I like the idea of developing tourism in the area to take advantage of the beauty. I hope it is done in a sensible manner as not to spoil the charm.

    Just a small fact, the region receives huge amounts of rain as it is at the edge of the Monsoon system. Actually the high mountains in the area and West of Yeman are the reason Saudi is mostly desert. All of the rain is captured on the western part of the mountains and does not make it to the rest of the country.

  3. very beautiful and great to see some Saudi country scenes. do you know what grows on the mountain terraces?

  4. wow! Gorgeous!

    just realized.. isn’t it 3:30 am there?

  5. Refreshing change to read a story about Abha. Thank you Carol.

    I have visited Abha few times, it is quite beautiful and enjoyed my summer vacations traveling the region. I really enjoyed the mountains and the warm hospitality of the locals.

    Can anyone guess, who we must thank for developing the tourism industry of this region?

    Here is another photograph from Abha:

    http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/onblack.php?id=2563861238&bg=white&size=large

    p.s. do not worry, the picture is censor proofed…:)

  6. I also did not realize Saudi had this type of landscape. I thought it was all desert.

  7. Haleem,

    It is amazing that Saudi does not advertise the southwest regions of Saudi. It is just a small part of the country, but it is still huge since Saudi is vast. These beautiful mountains cover an area of roughly 50,000 square kilometers which is 12 times as large as Lebanon (a tourist mecca). So definitely there is potential for tourism in the area. A lot of rules regarding entertainment and access have to be relaxed to get these benefits. If the government can overcome these issues, I think we can attract a significant number of visitors from the gulf countries.

  8. You’ll see me continually writing, Saudi Arabia is full of contrasts and contradictions from the landscape and on!

    I also suggest for those interested in seeing more than just desert in Saudi Arabia, do check out my flickr photos (on the right side scrolling down the blog for the various shots I took when visiting Maidan Saleh – also a must-see tourist destination).

  9. Saudi in US: You could do it in Eco-tourism style. That is very fashionable, less of a strain to the environment, and attracts a very different class of tourists, not out to lay about in the sun all day do nothing, and get drunk in the evening.
    However, they are the kind of people who would want to get out and hike, and interact with people, that might not be desirable to the more rigidly inclined.
    It would also generate another positive outlook on the kingdom.

  10. What a beautiful place!I’d love to come visit! Of course I’d have to win a contest or something,finances being what they are.Maybe some company will start one?Visit KSA the land of enchantment!Of course the ad would need to have an arabian nights theme…..

    Seriously though,the pictures are stunning,I really wish I could visit.Keep us posted on when you go.

  11. Eco-Tourism will not work fro Middle Easterners, hiking is not that big yet. Attracting large number of Westerners will mean relaxing many rules, which I do not see happening soon.

    I was thinking more about family vacations for gulf countries. The rich families will still prefer European vacations, but there is a market for middle class families. It is not a major step to change a few rules like allow concerts, festivals and less segregation of men and women. In infrastructure you’ll need development of parks, hotels, Museums, amusement parks and theaters. People from Saudi and the Gulf love to go to places that have trees and green areas because they are not common. Saudi will get favorable status as it will be viewed as safe and has similar culture.

    Saudi does have a surplus with the recent increase in oil to develop this industry. Even if we only attract internal tourist, it will be significant as a lot of money leaves the country for summer vacations.

  12. ah, yeah, I was thinking of myself…. Your idea sounds vey good.

  13. Always — thanks for your comment. I hope I can make it to Abha sometime after Ramadan for the weather will also be cooler then too.

    Saudi in US — How I with the Ministry of Tourism would hire me… I’ve so many ideas on how to promote family oriented tourism in KSA. Ironically it seems that it is more of the expats in KSA who travel around and sightsee than the Saudis themselves. And yet, KSA has some outstanding sites and places to see.

    I wish it were more common that one could rent an RV here and just travel around the Kingdom in your “hotel on wheels” for a week and have a great time!

  14. You have opened a new view of KSA to me: complete with climate, people, and topography.

    I am going through your entire blog site, but rarely commenting.

    My view of KSA was very narrow- this is exactly what I was looking for to learn more.

    Thank you- well done.

    Oh, I agree the hiking visitor is far better than others- far less negative aspects to the host country and far more people to people understanding with that approach.

  15. Thanks for your comment baguano and again, welcome.

  16. When I saw the pictures the place looked very familiar. Having never been to Saudi, I know I hadnt been there before so I had to look it up on a map.

    Now I know why it looked familiar, especially with the buildings, it reminds me a lot of some of the places I have traveled in Yemen that have the same high mountains, greenery, rain and buildings.

    I’d love to visit this place!

  17. We have been wanting to go to Abha for a while too after hearing so much about it from a friend who lived there for several years – I’ve heard that the summer temperatures are excellent – not really exceeding 30 degrees. Let me know when you go Carol, I’ll come too! :lol:

  18. It looks so incredible…especially living here in the heart of Riyadh where everything is pretty brown at the moment! I hope to go after Ramadan.

  19. But it seems you have to be muslim to see this wonderfull landscapes.
    What if you are christian?

  20. @Wolfgang – The only areas restricted to those of the muslim faith are the ‘Haram’ areas in the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. Therefore, the majority of the country is open to explore and discover.

  21. [...] summer can also be a good time to travel and explore other areas of the Kingdom such as Abha, Asir and Taif.  These locations are in the mountainous and cooler regions of the Kingdom.   An [...]

  22. cost of living in abha. how safe is it for women in abha. how much salary do doctors(assistant professors) get.

  23. [...] on August 17, 2011 by American Bedu I have written previously about the beauties and wonders of Abha.  However a recent trend is catching on in Abha given visitors yet another reason to go and [...]

  24. Dear All,

    I am going to be deployed in ABHA soon; can any body tell me about the life standard in ABHA and available shopping centers and other facilities available like schools, hospitals, recreations, hotels, etc.

  25. Naveed – Are you in Abha? I have the same questions as you had when you posted?

  26. MAB, Yes I am in Abha for past three months, please feel free to ask , if i can help you in this regard.

  27. Hi Naveed,

    I am an IT professional and my wife was offered a medical related position in Aseer region (most probably in Abha). It would be very helpful if you can give some insight.

    1. How much does it cost to live in “Abha” for a family of 3 (one 4 year kid) (house rent, utilities, car, food, entertainment etc.)
    2. Is there an International School (any idea about fee?)
    3. Are there big MNCs where I can find a job as Computer Systems Analyst (names of companies, job sites will be helpful)
    4. How is the culture there as compared to big cities like Riyadh?

    Thanks in advance,
    MAB

  28. Well, Abha is nice place to live but i dont whether you are arabic or non-arabic. Most of the people speak arabic language except few of benagalis, Pakis or Indis. Cost of living is very nominal compare to other area. House rent = 1000 to 1200/month. Fuel is very cheap, food is very cheap. There is one or two english school under indian management and rest arabic. (i dont have baby going to school so no idea of name), with regards to your job, you can get but it needs lot of efforts as there are not big companies. BTW which country you belong to and what about ur wife’s job is it in some hospital?(Is she doctor?). With regards to culture its a hilly place, arabic culture but cool place? It depends upon person to person who love to live here or not. For any thing, you can contact me at any time. Best of Luck.

  29. I am Non-Arabic and speak Urdu.Yes my wife is a Doctor and we dont know the hospital yet. They said its going to be in some central hospital in Abha. Are you a Doctor as well? Thanks for giving me first hand info. Do you know of any job websites or companies that are in Abha, where I can keep looking for IT jobs?

    I will keep in touch and thank you!
    MAB

  30. Well MAB from which area you belong to…. I am not a doctor but my wife and she is looking for a job as well… dont worry you come here no problem u will get job and make link with me in Linkedin you will get some recruiting companies in my profile…. tc when come let me know…

  31. Originally I am from India. I thought it was easier to find a job if you are in Saudi? What field are you working in? Are you Arabic speaking? Sure I will keep in touch with you and will let you know when I will be coming.

  32. Getting job is no where easy like before…I am from Pakistan and my field is civil engineering. I am not arabic speaking….. anyway you plan to come here.. definitely it will be good for you….. best of luck…

  33. Dear Naveed lqbal,

    How r u, since l had been awarded a post of an HVAC/MEP Project Manager in a housing constructing co. in Abha. Naveed Bhai l just want to let me know how is the working conditions there, and the climate, schools and the cost of living. l will be very thankfull if you please inform me the know the rent for a family of 3 persons.

    Thanking you,
    Allaha hafiz.

    Asadulla

  34. we are 8 friends and we will visit abha this Eid 25-10-2012
    i want to know the climate and about places to visit and hotel rent
    waiting for your reply

    Thank
    Waqar Ahmed

  35. Dear Asad, I came to Abha in January 2012 and it was freezing cold here. Well its a big city but for medical and school point of view its weak. Especially for people for Indo-Pak region. Rent is very nominal you can get furnished for your small family in only 1500 per month all the year. Cost of living very low as there is no choice for dine out except Pizza Hut, KFC and not soon there will be Hardees. But continental and desi foods are not available easily. For education purpose of my education, I am trying to move to Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammad or Medina. When you decide some thing do let me know.

    Dear Waqar, for outing point of view Abha is the nice place. Now a days temp is very nice with slightly chill. Hotel rent are normal in these days but most of the places are closed. Usually they are open during June, July, August which they called Safia.

  36. thanks brother but you know in normal days its very difficult to visit but Eid is special for muslims and also have 5 to 6 vacations thats why we plain to visit here its not possible for us to visit here in june or related months we are from Dammam.

    Thanks for your reply.

    Regards,
    Waqar Ahmed

  37. No probelm Waqar. You come and enjoy your time with friends. I am sure you will love it. I am leaving for Paksitan tomorrow otherwise I would have requested you people to join for having funs. Anyways Happy Eid to all of you. Have safe journey and wonderful days ahead.

    Regards,
    Naveed

  38. Thanks Brother realy nice to chat with you best of luck for for journey
    Next time we will rock together.

    0541893169

    Regards,
    Waqar Ahmed

  39. i write the wrong number
    0541893469

  40. hi everyone. I was offered a job in abha, saudi. I am a nurse and will be working in a clinic – Al Baraque Polyclinic, does anybody knows this clinic? I already exhausted searching the web but there is no result. Can anyone give me an idea about this polyclinic? thank You in advance! i will really appreciate your answers guys.. :D

  41. hi : I need someone tells me about the places in Abha so I’ve got a project in class and I’m talking about Abha,.,,, Vaanaj
    Mall + street + public places buildings famous + or heritage of

  42. Hi, I have been offered a job teaching Esl at the University. What are the two English curriculum schools in abha? Can someone give me contact info, website, school fees etc? Thanks

  43. Jamillah what is exactly you are asking describe in detail….

  44. Dear Mr. Naveed, Nice to watch you helping expats interested to know about Abha. I would like to know about housing, apartment rent per month near Aseer Central Hospital and within 5-10 minute’s drive. 1 bed room, 1 living room will be okay.

  45. Hi Mahmood. I am not doing anything its a matter of a minute job to share your experience when somebody needs. Accomodation near Aseer Hospital has different variety. If you go for Hotel Apartment (Shuqqa Mafroosha) it will cost you 1200 to 2000 and if you go for a home as you said. First in all I observed mostly the big houses are there but not one bed hall however the rent is very nominal depend upon the type of house starting from 800 to 1600.

  46. Dear Mr. Naveed, my name is Tahir and i am living in Jeddah. planning to come with my family 23rd August to Abha Insha Allah.
    i just want to know, how is the weather and where i can go and have fun and oc stay with low rates.
    please guide me.
    Thanks
    Tahir

  47. Dear Tahir, Abha is good place to live as the weather is best comparing to all other regions of KSA and even gulf. Now a days temperature is around 25 to 30 in day time with negligible humidity and in night time it reaches to 25 max. There are several hotels (Shuqqa Mafroosha) with one bed hall or two bed hall and price varies from 100 to 250 as the summer vacation are finished. I am already living in Shuqqa Mafroosha (Hotel Apartment) and if you want to come and live there, I will try to bargain with the management.
    When you are here, you will know several places to go such as Souda, Habla, Playlands, etc.
    I hope it will be a nice trip for you.
    Please feel free to contact me if you need any other information.
    Regards,
    Naveed

  48. hi I am about to come to Abha to teach english.Are there any other expats out there who can show me the ropes ?also is there a decent gym there.

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