Saudi Arabia has long been closed to Western tourists. Now, with the Vision 2030 project, the country is looking to the future with more open eyes and is gradually breaking the curtain on tourism in a broader sense.
Terrain shapes and bedrock
Within the narrow coastal plain of the Red Sea in the west, the country rises with high slopes and reaches Hijaz in the north over 2,500 meters above sea level and in Asir south of it nearly 3,000 m above sea level. The plateau inside, whose surface is covered by lava and gravel fields with deep dry valleys, wadier, gradually descends to the east and is occupied by large desert areas, Nafud in the north and Rub al-Khali in the south. They are joined by ad-Dahna in the east, an approximately 80 km wide strand of red-colored sand, 1,300 km long with dunes of 50-150 m height. The bedrock here consists of sedimentary rocks. Harder layers occur in their places in the day as high, sharp cuesta ridges, e.g. Tuwayq Mountains in southern Najd. The coastal areas along the Persian Gulf are low, have deep bays, large salt plains and rich oil deposits.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the location at the high-pressure belt around the northern tropic and in the rain shadow for winds from the sea gives a dry climate. Only in the mountainous regions in the southwest, the annual rainfall is over 400 mm. In the Rub al-Khali desert, ten years or more can pass between the rain showers. In the northwest, most of the precipitation falls during the winter due to low pressure from the Mediterranean. In the south, the occasional rain is due to the summer monsoon from the Indian Ocean.
The average temperature in January is around 10 ° C in the north of the country and around 20 ° C in the south. In July, the average temperature is around 25 ° C in most of the country, but temperatures of up to 50 ° C have been measured in the desert. In winter, the temperature can reach well below the zero point, and the mountain peaks in the southwest can then be snow-covered.
Plant-and animal life
There are a total of more than 1,700 species of hiding-seeded plants. In the mountain and plateau area Najd there are natural springs and sometimes plenty of water in winter. In their places, juniper and olive trees dominate, in other areas there are shrubs of acacias and tamarisk as well as larger acacias and locusts. In more desert areas, euphorbias, Zygophylllum species, shrub- covered amaranth plants, and the grass genus dominate as Ariʹstida.
There are about 77 species of mammals, 155 species of nesting birds and 84 species of reptiles. Among mammals, small species such as barbed mice (the genus Acoʹmys), desert rats, and capers dominate. Arabian gazelle (Gazeʹlla gazeʹlla) is rare and Arabian oryx has been transplanted. Caracal, fennel and sand fox (Vuʹlpes rueppeʹllii) are fairly common, while striped hyena are rare and leopard and cheetah are likely extinct. Characteristic birds are larches, stoneflies and flying chickens. Typical reptiles include dabbagams, hams and fringe lizards.
In 2010, there were about 30 major nature-protected areas in Saudi Arabia, most of them from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Only one area – Asir (4,500 km2) – is called the National Park.