8 iconic buildings in Saudi Arabia

8 iconic buildings in Saudi Arabia

Discover the impactful silhouettes of the Kingdom's most iconic historic sites, skyscrapers, and cultural gems
11 June 24
الطريف- الدرعية، تصوير: أمين قيصران للوفد الدائم للمملكة العربية السعودية لدى اليونسكو

In Saudi Arabia, each building, whether old or new, weaves a tale of ancient history intertwining with a rich cultural heritage, all against the backdrop of an ambitious and visionary future.

From the beauty of the past, to the soaring heights of modern skyscrapers and groundbreaking giga projects, the architecture of Saudi Arabia reflects the dynamic evolution of a nation embracing both tradition and innovation.

Kingdom Center Tower, Riyadh

Arguably one of the city's most iconic and recognisable buildings, Kingdom Centre Tower (previously known as Kingdom Tower) is an architectural marvel proudly standing tall in the heart of the capital. Standing tall amidst the bustling metropolis of 8 million people, this iconic tower graces the skyline as one of the tallest buildings in the world. Rising boldly to a height of 300 meters, its sleek design and reflective glass exterior not only captivate the eye but also combat the desert heat.

Venture to the 99th floor and experience the awe-inspiring Sky Bridge, offering unparalleled views of Riyadh below. Meanwhile, within the East wing, you'll find the prestigious Al-Mamlaka shopping mall, boasting over 150 stores featuring luxury international brands.  

Dine at Al Mamlaka Social Dining, Saudi's premier social dining destination, located on the third level. For an unforgettable experience, ascend to the Four Seasons high above, where you can enjoy a dinner against the backdrop of Riyadh's panorama.

But the wonders don't end there. Ascend to the 77th floor to visit the highest mosque in Saudi, the King Abdullah Mosque. Kingdom Center Tower invites you to explore, indulge, and create lasting memories in the heart of Riyadh's vibrant cityscape.

Kingdom Centre, King Fahad Road, Al Olaya, Riyadh 11321

Nassif House, Jeddah

Nassif House (Bait Nassif), located in Saudi Arabia's vibrant coastal gem, Jeddah. Also known as Bayt Nassif, this historic residence, located in Al Balad, the UNESCO World Heritage protected old town, is a testament to the city's storied past. Built between 1872 and 1881 for the governor of Jeddah, Sheikh Umar Effendi al-Nassif, its unique design and picturesque setting overlooking a square with a rare neem tree earned it the endearing moniker "the house with the tree."

Crafted by a Turkish architect, Nassif House boasts an elevated ground floor adorned with intricate frescoes, wood carvings, and a magnificent bay window fashioned from carved Java teak. Once the residence of King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, it now serves as a cultural center, celebrating Jeddah's diverse heritage.

As a gateway to Makkah on the Red Sea coastline, Jeddah beckons with its melting pot of cultures, flourishing arts scene, and delectable culinary offerings. Immerse yourself in the ancient markets and bask in the beauty of the Jeddah waterfront, where the past seamlessly intertwines with the present.

Al Dhahab, Al-Balad, Jeddah 22236

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Dhahran

Discover the marvel that is Ithra (King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture) in Dhahran, hailed by TIME Magazine in 2018 as one of 'the world's greatest 100 places to visit'. Crafted by the Norwegian architecture firm, Snohetta, and open to the public, Ithra stands as a destinations for cultural enrichment.

Adorned with over 350 kilometers of stainless-steel tubes, Ithra dominates Dhahran's skyline with its striking presence. Amidst the desert landscape, its interesting 'balancing pebble' structure gives a natural element to the futuristic design, reflecting Saudi Arabia's dedication to innovation and cultural heritage.

From a five-gallery museum to a theatre, library, cinema, and the iconic Ithra Tower, all interconnected by an expansive plaza, every corner invites exploration. Lose yourself in 'Reader's Paradise,' a magnificent library boasting over 300,000 books in English and Arabic, covering diverse topics from art and design to fiction, history, and ancient civilisations. With quiet spaces for reflection, a cozy café, art galleries, and an immersive 'Ideas Lab' offering workshops and collaboration spaces, Ithra promises a day filled with inspiration and discovery.

 Gharb Al Dhahran, Dhahran 34461

At-Turaif, Diriyah

Established in the 15th century, At-Turaif stands as a testament to the traditional mudbrick Najdi architecture style which flourished in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula and is characterised by its geometric motifs and its use of the courtyard space. Over the centuries, the 300-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site has evolved into a symbol of Saudi’s rich cultural and historical heritage.

Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, at-Turaif grew in significance, becoming a hub for both political and religious affairs. As the fortress of the House of Saud, it served as a stronghold of their temporal power and played a crucial role in shaping the region's destiny.

Now a tourism giga project, Diriyah is a hub of activity, hosting its own Diriyah Season events calendar during the Winter months, and hundreds of events year-round, as aims to attract 50 million visits by 2030. A trip to Diriyah is not complete without visiting Bujairi Terrace, now the ultimate dining spot, with announcements taking place every year from now until the end of the decade, creating an unprecedented culinary offering.

@bujairiterrace @visitdiriyah
Wadi Hanifah, Al Traif, Diriyah 13711

Ritz Carlton, Riyadh

Originally built as a royal palace, it now stands as an iconic hotel of pure opulence. Surrounded with lush gardens, centuries-old olive trees, and serene palm groves, the interior design of the guest rooms incorporates colors and textures inspired by the region.

Steeped in history and surrounded by 52 acres of meticulously landscaped gardens and cascading water features, from its spacious suites and world-class spa to its exquisite dining venues and elegant event spaces, every corner exudes unparalleled luxury and impeccable service.

Book a unique spa experience such as the Dead Sea Salt Toning body treatment and travel the globe with culinary delicacies from Italy, China and the Middle East, including a traditional patisserie.

Al Hada, Riyadh 11493

Maraya Hall, AlUla

Maraya, meaning mirror in Arabic, is the largest mirrored building on earth, an architectural wonder that has quickly reached icon status in Saudi and on socials. This striking mirror-clad surface has quickly become one of the ultimate selfie spots in Saudi Arabia - even for celebrities such as Will Smith and Eva Herzigová.

Found between the cliff faces of AlUla's Ashar Valley, its mirrored surface makes the modern building seem as if it seamlessly blends with the desert cliffs. The exterior of the 5,000-square-meter cubic building feels futuristic in design with a floor-to-ceiling facade covered in 9,740 square meters of mirrors.

The mirrored building is also one of the Kingdom's most impressive concert hall, and has hosted a number of internationally renowned singers such as Andrea Boccelli, Lauryn Hill and talented Lebanese soprano singer, Majida El Roumi. You can also indulge in the Maraya Social by Jason Atherton, with the dining destination offering a selection of sharing plates and quality mocktails, featuring Mediterranean, Arabian and British cuisine served in Atherton's signature style.

@marayaalula @marayasocial
Al Atheeb, AlUla 43552

Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah, Riyadh

Another unmissable building on Riyadh's skyline is the unique silhouette of The Globe at the Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah, within the Al Faisaliah Tower.

One of the first skyscrapers in the Kingdom's capital, the now signature structure, encompasses the 5 star Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah, alongside various residential accommodations, restaurants and, observation decks and even a shopping mall.

Strikingly clad in beams of steel, coming together into a point at the top, the beams come together and encapsulate a golden sphere. It is within this golden sphere where The Globe restaurant sits, a dining destination that offers guests panoramic views of the city.

King Fahd Road, Riyadh 12212

Matbouli House Museum, Jeddah

Matbouli House Museum, located in Jeddah's historic district Al Balad, it has been converted into a museum, preserving its original urban architectural style with minimal renovation. The museum, owned by a local family, spans four floors with two entrances and showcases remarkable wooden balconies. Inside, visitors can explore classic stairwells, antique furnishings, and local artefacts, including old gramophones.

The museum offers a glimpse into daily life in Al Balad during past centuries, although certain areas like the rooftop remain closed to the public. Nonetheless, visitors can still experience the rich cultural heritage of the region through accessible sections of the museum.

Al Balad District, Jeddah 22236