Visiting Al Khobar – A City Guide
Al Khobar is a laidback city set on Saudi Arabia’s gulf coast. Its sandy beaches and dusty shopping streets may seem quiet, but that’s part of its charm. With museums, malls and restaurants all ticking along at an unhurried pace, Al Khobar is a place that invites visitors to slow down and relax.
Al Khobar: city layout and top attractions
Al Khobar’s downtown area is defined by King Khalid Road on its west and the gulf coast on its east. Most of the city’s commercial activity can be found in Al Aqrabiya and Al Shamaliah, with rows of small shops amongst luxury malls and hotels. The Corniche Road, with its parks and restaurants, runs along much of the coastline. Northwest is Dammam, the regional capital. The beaches of Half Moon Bay lie to the southwest.
The first stop for many is the Corniche, where joggers and cyclists whizz past picnicking families and playing children. You can walk north towards the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Science and Technology Centre, or SciTech, a futuristic building housing several exhibit halls and an aquarium.
The concierge recommends…
Eating Out in Al Khobar
Al Khobar offers restaurants and snack outlets at all prices. European-style cafés in Mall of Dhahran and Al-Rashid Mall entice the hungry with freshly baked pastries and strong Arabian coffee. Along the Corniche, food trucks and mobile stalls sell savoury nibbles and sweet treats. Dinners are usually a leisurely affair, with fresh seafood and meat the main feature.
Despite its no-frills exterior, Al Shahrour Restaurant is a local favourite for reasonably priced, high-quality Lebanese food. Al Khobar Traditional Village offers Saudi cuisine in private rooms with floor seating. No trip to Al Khobar would be complete without seafood at the long-established Soul Kitchen.
Restaurants and cafés are divided into “men-only” and “family” sections. The “family” section is for parties of men and women, and all-women groups.
The chef recommends...
Shopping in Al Khobar
You’ll feel like a local shopping in Al Khobar’s traditional open-air souq, a sprawling maze of shops between Prince Bandar Street and King Khalid Street, but there are plenty of modern malls, too.
Al-Rashid Mall recreates has air-conditioned comfort in its Qaisariya area, while its Boulevard is a ladies-only section. With luxury labels, Mall of Dhahran is so vast it’s often used for morning walks during the hot summer months.
Shops close for around 10-20 minutes during prayer times. If you’re in a shop during one of these times, you’ll be asked to leave. In the mall, the shops shut, but you can wait in the corridors. In a supermarket or a large store like IKEA, you’ll have to stay inside until the staff re-appear.
Top souvenirs from Al Khobar
Culture & Nightlife in Al Khobar
Al Khobar may not have bars and clubs, but that doesn’t mean sitting indoors all evening twiddling your thumbs. You can catch an Arabian Gulf sunset at the Corniche or Half Moon Bay, then bask in the suddenly cool weather with a waterfront stroll.
Shopping is a popular way to while the evening away, and Al Khobar’s souqs and malls come alive at night. Bargaining is expected in small shops, as long as it comes with a friendly manner and a smile. When you’ve reached your window-shopping limit, >Mall of Dhahran has an indoor ice rink and arcade games.
The city holds its annual AlAl Khobar Festival in January, with fireworks on the waterfront, folklore performances, acrobatic shows and sporting events.
Contemporary art galleries in Al Khobar
Leisure in Al Khobar
Al Khobar’s Corniche is packed with waterfront parks and promenades, ideal for casual walks or more rigorous exercise. Early morning and, more commonly, late afternoon, are popular times to go. During the heat of the day, many retreat to Mall of Dhahran or Al-Rashid Mall, both of which have kid-friendly entertainment.
Al Khobar’s excellent road connections make it well-placed for day trips to nearby areas.
Day trips from Al Khobar