Located in the east of the kingdom, Al Ahsa’s verdant lands are UNESCO-listed and home to one of the world’s largest natural oases. Amid the date palm groves, farmland and natural springs, Al Ahsa houses historical sites that date back to the Neolithic era. If you thought that Saudi Arabia was all desert, this is the place to dispel you of that notion.
At just over 200 meters high, the limestone hills of Al Qarah offer a gentle climb, rewarded with spectacular views across the region. Take time to enjoy the vista, before exploring the hive of caves and passageways cut into the rock.
For generations, local potters have been crafting works at the Dougha Handmade Pottery Factory, one of the oldest of its kind in the region. Try your hand at creating something of your own at the wheel, or pick up a souvenir to take home.
Built by the indigenous Bani Abd al-Qays tribe, the Jawatha Mosque dates back to the seventh year of hijra and is believed to be the first developed in the kingdom’s Eastern Province. While most of the original building has been lost, a restoration process means that prayers can once again be held there five times a day and all visitors are welcome.
The Ibrahim Palace was built during the time of the first Saudi state and is considered to be an architectural masterpiece. A mixture of military and traditional Arabic design, it once served as an army base, but today is open to visit. Inside, the Al Qubba mosque is still in use, while the small museum has a collection of various artifacts and photographs.
The open-air Souq Al Qaisariya is one of the oldest markets in the kingdom, thought to date back to 1822. More than 400 stores line the winding streets, selling a wide range of spices, scents and traditional handicrafts. Also on site is the popular Al-Said tea and coffee shop: the perfect spot to experience local hospitality and traditional Arabic coffee.
For pristine sand and beautiful views, take a seaside excursion to Uqair Beach. Relax and unwind by the turquoise waters, or try your hand at one of the many watersports on offer.
As one of the world’s largest natural oases, Al Ahsa combines lush farmland and date palm groves with more than 100 desert springs. Among the most popular are the Um Sabah, Al Jawhariah and Al Khodoud springs.
To experience one of the Gulf’s few natural bodies of water, head to the outskirts of the city where Asfar Lake – also known as the Yellow Lake – hides amid the sand dunes. Its shoreline is a popular picnic spot: take a seat and enjoy the spectacular local wildlife.
For a taste of authentic local cuisine, Dar Albasmah offers traditional Saudi dishes with a contemporary twist, while at the nearby Al Koot Heritage Hotel, local women serve up family recipes that have been passed down the generations.