The National Museum, which is part of the King Abdul Aziz Historical center in Riyadh, is one of the largest in the Middle East and undoubtedly the most famous and most visited museum in Saudi Arabia. An impressive collection of artifacts, scriptures and antiquities are inside this two story building covering 28,000 square feet. The Museum is distinguished for its comprehensive exhibits presenting eras and topics in a successive manner, starting from the creation of the universe until the Modern Age, with a main emphasis on the history of the Arabian Peninsula.
For those not able to visit the National Museum in person, you can do a virtual tour here and download a guide here. Some key artifacts of the National Museum are currently “on the road” in North America in a touring exhibition called Roads of Arabia, Unearthing The Ancient Past.
“Roads of Arabia features objects excavated from several sites throughout the Arabian Peninsula, tracing the impact of ancient trade routes and pilgrimage roads stretching from Yemen in the south to Iraq, Syria and Mediterranean cultures in the north. An eye-opening look at the largely unknown cultural history of the Arabian Peninsula, this exhibition draws on recently discovered archaeological material never before seen in North America.”
The museum is open everyday but do check the opening hours and which days are designated for families, singles and school visits. The entrance fee is 10sr. Make sure you reserve at least 2 hours to go through everything the museum has to offer, but if you like to stop and read the exhibits and watch the movie then you would need closer to 4 hours to thoroughly enjoy it. All the information provided in the exhibitions is in both Arabic and English, there are also interactive displays, audio tours and video clips, all bilingual. You don’t necessarily need a tour guide, but in preparation it’s recommended to read and Download the National Museum Guide here. You can see the exact location on the Google maps by clicking here.
The eight Exhibition Halls are:
Man and the Universe
Did you know that oil was formed from remains of billions of marine animals and plants or that Saudi Arabia was actually the bottom of the ocean some 50 million years ago?
The fascinating history of Midian, Kindah, Tayma, Al-Ukhdood, Nabatean, Himyar and many others. Did you know that horse were actually domesticated 9000 years ago in the Arabian Peninsula according to a very recent finding from the Al Majar excavation site? The oldest signs of human civilizations in the Arab peninsula date back over 100,000 years.
Time of “Jahiliya”, Makkah as the Peninsula’s religious, cultural, intellectual capital.
Hall of the Prophet’s Mission
Remarkable, touching and inspirational lifetime story of Prophet Mohammed which every visitor should take the time to read.
Hall of Islam and the Arabian Peninsula
Science discoveries, the golden age of Islam. Did you know that Arabs were the first to count the sun’s movements and confirm the earth was in fact round?
Hall of the First and Second Saudi State
The First Saudi state was established in Diriyah in the 18th century.
Unification of the Kingdom Hall
King Abdul Aziz Al Saud mission to unify the Arabian peninsula tribes and declaration of the United Saudi Arabia in 1351 AH (1932 AD). This is where you get t go to the movies! Only public movie theatre in Riyadh. Watch out for the real canons which blow smoke into the theatre.
Hall of Hajj and Two Holy Mosques History of Mecca and Madina
If you aren’t Muslim, this is probably the closest you’ll come to going to these two Holy sites. Very impressive ending to the National Museum tour!
The cover of Kaaba door in the Hajj and Holy sites section. More images in the gallery below.
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