Saudi Arabia is open to tourists: Discover snowy peaks, coral reefs, chic cafes and a hidden 'Petra'

On a private beach at the resort, its gentle owner Amjad Al-Sanousi takes us out on his small motorboat to snorkel among untouched corals.
On a private beach at the resort, its gentle owner Amjad Al-Sanousi takes us out on his small motorboat to snorkel among untouched corals.PHOTO: SAUDI COMMISSION FOR TOURISM AND NATIONAL HERITAGE
Saudi Arabia's best-kept secret is Madain Saleh, the ruins of a lost city akin to Jordan's Petra, but still blissfully crowd-free.
Saudi Arabia's best-kept secret is Madain Saleh, the ruins of a lost city akin to Jordan's Petra, but still blissfully crowd-free. PHOTO: SAUDI COMMISSION FOR TOURISM AND NATIONAL HERITAGE
The Edge of the World has the majesty of the Grand Canyon, but is far less trodden.
The Edge of the World has the majesty of the Grand Canyon, but is far less trodden.PHOTO: SAUDI COMMISSION FOR TOURISM AND NATIONAL HERITAGE

RIYADH - Even in a Google-mapped world, Saudi Arabia is such an unseen kingdom that very few outsiders have an inkling of its wintry peaks, coral reefs and stylish cafes.

Its best-kept secret is Madain Saleh, the ruins of a lost city akin to Jordan's Petra, but still blissfully crowd-free. These rose-red sister cities deep in the desert were the jewels of powerful Nabatean merchants - of Arabic origin - who traversed the ancient Incense Route profiting richly from the frankincense trade.

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