AL-AHSA – Al-Ahsa is putting the finishing touches on its elaborate preparations and extensive arrangements to receive tourists and visitors on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Al Ahsa, the largest governorate in the eastern province , is located in a prime geographical destination overlooking the three Gulf States of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.
Of the Saudi cities, Al-Ahsa is much closer to the World Cup venue. It is one of the most ideal and attractive tourist destinations that World Cup fans and visitors from within and outside the Kingdom can visit when traveling to Qatar or staying in the region for tournament season.
Visa free of charge
Saudi authorities have already announced visa rules to attract World Cup fans and foreign tourists to the Kingdom during the World Cup tournament season. Fan ticket holders of the Hayya World Cup card enjoy several free visas. The Council of Ministers approved that the State would bear the costs of e-services – linked to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ e-visa service platform – for the issuance of entry visa to Saudi Arabia to holders of Hayya cards.
Muslim fans will also be allowed to perform Umrah and visit Medina. The visa will be valid to enter Saudi Arabia from 10 days before the start of the World Cup, which begins on November 11, until the last day on December 18, 2022. The residence period for visa holders would last for two months. The visa will be for multiple trips, and its holder can enter and exit Saudi Arabia at any time during its validity period, and it is not necessary that the visa holder entered from Qatar.
On Nov. 9, Al-Ahsa Governor Prince Saud bin Talal bin Badr revealed that the governorate is ready to receive visitors and fans for the World Cup, which kicks off on Nov. 20. He said preparations had started in the governorate. a year ago, with the inauguration of a central government committee to provide a wide variety of services to Al-Ahsa visitors.
Prince Saud said the governorship’s experience over the past year has been a big boost in making preparations as the region received over 800,000 visitors in 2021. A large number of hotels and rural rest houses have been renovated and furnished in such a way as to accommodate a maximum of tourists and visitors. The number of rural houses and rest houses in Al-Ahsa has exceeded 5,000, in addition to developing a number of tourist sites, totaling 65 heritage sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, he said. added.
Local authorities expect a large influx of foreign and domestic tourists and World Cup supporters to Al-Ahsa thanks to its proximity to the World Cup venue as well as its breathtaking scenery, which acts as a key propeller for Al-Ahsa tourism. There are also several major tourist attractions in the governorate including the following.
Al-Ahsa Oasis is the largest oasis in the world and is well known for its date palms. It includes a number of historical sites, freshwater springs and archaeological sites, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The sand around the area protects the water from evaporation, creating a gentle cold spring that attracts tourists from all over the world. Due to the abundance of water, habitation in Al-Ahsa dates back to prehistoric times.
The oasis is not limited to historical sites, as the palm trees are estimated at 3 million, and this is what qualified it to enter the Guinness World Records 2020. The landscape has evolved over the centuries and highlights value a way of life in the Arabian Gulf region. Peninsula. It includes canals, wells, gardens, springs, historic buildings and an agricultural lake. It is the main source of agricultural crops, especially date palms.
Al-Asfar Lake is known as the Yellow Lake. Stretching over 12 km, the lake is a beautiful natural body of water that lies on the outskirts of the city of Al-Ahsa. The lake is known for its beautiful sunrise and sunset scenes. The lake is one of the most distinctive places in Al-Ahsa, which is surrounded by dunes, sand hills, grasses and shrubs, and is also home to migratory birds, sea turtles , amphibians, grasses and algae.
Jabal Al-Qarah is the most suitable place for climbers and adventure seekers, as it overlooks the oasis of Al-Ahsa. Visitors and tourists can enjoy visiting its deep caves, and Al-Qarah is the most visited tourist destination throughout the year, in addition to being an ideal place for bird watching during the migration season.
This mountain is among the most important natural sites in Al-Ahsa and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2018, after the inclusion of Al-Ahsa Oasis. Al-Qarah Mountain is known for its fascinating and unique caves that formed due to the process of dissolution of water-soluble rocks, collapse of upper rock layers as a result of abrasion and seismic cracks .
Some of the Al Qarah Mountain caves are particularly famous, such as Al-Nashab Cave, which has moderately stable temperatures throughout the year. Some caves are also used to hold workshops for local traditional potters. The caves have 28 large linear passages, which are a total of 1.5 kilometers long. Some of the most famous caves on the mountain include Bu Saleh, Al Eid, An Naqa, Al Muaadhamah and Al Maheub.
Located in Jabal Qarah, the Cave of Judas is one of the famous tourist attractions of Al-Ahsa. What was originally an island now stands as a beautiful landscape.
Al-Ahsa has over 150 hot and cold springs that offer mesmerizing views. Due to the abundance of water in the area, the springs are surrounded by lush vegetation. Many springs are even renowned for their “healing properties” due to the concentrated minerals dissolved in the water. Some of the popular sources are Um Sab’aa, Al-Harah, Al-Jawhariah and Al-Khodoud.
Ain Al-Hara is a distinguished treatment site for patients suffering from joint pain and rheumatism. As for Ain Um Saba’a, it is a distinguished place for recreational and medical tourism, as it is one of the sources of sulfur
One of the distinguished places in the governorate is Al-Shu’ba Mountain, where one can walk and enjoy eating and drinking at its peak, and reach it by cable car.
It stretches from north to south with a length of 20 km on the eastern edge of the northern oasis and its width is 4 km. The height of Al-Shu’ba mountain is about 246 above sea level.
The two parts of the mountain are separated by an opening 600 meters wide. Additionally, the mountain overlooks the oasis from the west side and from the east side it overlooks the desert and the site of the Jawatha Mosque. It should be noted that in summer, families spend time there to enjoy the sunsets. Due to the ease of its slope, cars can climb to high levels with the possibility of camping.
Al Amiriya School
Al-Amiriya School is known as the first school in Hofuf. Established in Al Ahsa in 1940, it was initially a primary school for boys, then it was transformed to teach middle and secondary education. Its area reaches approximately 1,200 m².
It is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Al-Ahsa, dating back to the 1460s, with its two-story gate and architecturally designed balconies. It was initially a primary school for boys, then it was transformed into intermediate and secondary education. It was the first government school building in Al-Ahsa during the Saudi era.
The historic Ibrahim Palace in Al-Ahsa is one of the most famous historic palaces in Saudi Arabia and the region. The palace consists of two architectural styles: the religious style through the semicircular arches and the prominent Islamic domes of the palace and the mihrab of the mosque, and the military style, which is represented in the huge towers that surround the palace in more to the residential barracks of the soldiers which represents the east of the palace and the stables.
The palace was built in 1555 which was later expanded into a castle. In the center of the palace is the Qubba Mosque. In 2018 the palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2019 all restoration work was completed. It covers more than 16,500 m² and features Islamic architecture with a mixture of military style. The Islamic domes, semicircular arches, and mihrab of the mosque feature Islamic-style construction. The residential barracks of the soldiers and the huge towers that surround the area represent the style of military architecture.
The governorate also includes Al-Majsa Palace, whose name is associated with the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz, and its distinctive architectural heritage, which is evident in its remains that exist to this day. .
The historic Jawatha Mosque located in Hofuf enjoys high status among Muslims in general, and the people of Al-Ahsa in particular, as it is the second mosque in Islam in which Friday prayers were performed after the Masjid Jumah in Medina.
Considered the first mosque in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, it was built by the Bani Abd Al-Qays tribe in the year 7 AH. According to legends, there was a time when the Black Stone (Hajr Al-Aswad) was stolen from Makkah, and the stone is believed to have been kept here for around 22 years.
It remains in danger of collapsing, however, there are five mudbrick arches that remain standing. Its construction resembles the architecture of Masmak Fort in Riyadh.
Fort of Uqair
It is a 300 year old structure facing the beautiful beach of Uqair. The fort and the beach together offer captivating views. From the fort, tourists can also walk to the serene and clean beach and have fun with their families, children and friends. Families also visit the fort and get a glimpse of the glorious history of the Ottoman Empire.
The governorate is characterized by several popular and historical antique markets such as the Qaisariya market in the Al-Rafa district in Hofuf. This is Al-Ahsa’s busiest market. The outdoor market is believed to have existed since 1822.
Qaisariya is one of the oldest markets in Saudi Arabia and spans over 7,000 square feet. With brick buildings, the shopping venues are home to around 420 stores selling vintage pottery, perfumes, rugs, leather, spices, jewelry, oils, clothing, and more. Tourists often come here to learn about the culture and buy popular items.
Suwaiq is another famous historic market.
The Amara Al-Subaie market is the historical market known for its handicrafts in addition to the Al-Sha’abi women’s market, which is distinguished by the fact that its vendors are women, whose architectural style imitates the heritage of the city, and is characterized by local products, women’s accessories, ornaments and jewelry.
Al-Ahsa also has shopping malls where travelers go to buy clothes and other necessary items.
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