Cities and Regions

Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia. The name is the plural of the Arabic word 'rawdah', which means 'Garden' or 'Meadow'. The city located in an arid region in the center of the Arabian Peninsula. It has a population of 3.5million people. Water is supplied from desalination plants on the Arabian Gulf. Riyadh is built on the ruins of the pre-Islamic city of Hajar al- Yamamah, on the confluence of rivers which are today dry wadis. At that time there was enough groundwater to irrigate fruit and date producing orchards.

Its history goes back to the time of the tribes, Tasm and Jadees. They are said to have built towers and palaces, the ruins of which could be seen in the 11C. The area was later settled by the Hanifa tribe, and was a flourishing trading and market town.

Al-Ha'ir, near Riyadh, is a Special Nature Reserve. It is a man-made river of treated effluent in a desert and rocky landscape. It functions as a bird sanctuary. Important species include Marbled Teal, Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Night Heron, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Ferruginous Duck and Black-winged Stilt.

Hawtat Bani Tamim, 200km south of Riyadh, is an Ibex Special Nature Reserve on 90,000 hectares. Bird visitors include the Houbara Bustard, Griffon Vulture, Sand Partridge, Yellow-vented bulbul, Hypocolius, Upchers warbler, Desert Lesser Whitethroat and others.

Today in Riyadh there are several contemporary structures; the Riyadh TV Tower, the King Fahd Stadium, the Kingdom Center, Saudi’s tallest building and al-Faisaliah, the second tallest building.