Al Madinah is the second most important Islamic pilgrimage destination after Makkah. It holds a significant place in the annals of Islam since this is the city where the Prophet Muhammad and other early Muslims migrated to in order to escape their oppressors in Makkah. While the Prophet was in this city, he received and recorded numerous verses of the Quran as well.
Pilgrims to Makkah would do well to take a side trip to Al Madinah since it is only a few hours away from the holy city by car or bus. There are also several 5-star hotels in Al Madinah where travellers can check in to rest and relax after exploring the city.
What to Bring
To experience a stress-free and enlightening visit to Al Madinah, both well-travelled and first-time visitors should bring the following:
- Thawb or abaya and a light jacket or sweater
A thawb is the best garment for men to wear in Al Madinah and other places in Saudi. Since it is loose, the air flows well underneath and is effective in keeping the wearer cool even under hot weather conditions.
Women are expected to wear an abaya. Because of this, ladies need to pack several of these garments. Female visitors also need to wear a hijab or headscarf while out in public.
A light jacket or sweater would be useful when entering air-conditioned malls, restaurants, and other establishments. These additional pieces of clothing are also necessary when visiting Al Madinah in November and December. The weather can be nippy during these months, especially early in the morning and late at night.
- Comfortable shoes
Many of Al Madinah’s tourist attractions can only be reached by foot. As such, it is important to pack one or two pairs of comfortable shoes, such as athletic or gym shoes which are ideal for walking.
With these types of shoes, visitors can stay comfortable the whole time they are exploring Al Madinah.
- Sun protection essentials
To avoid getting sunburned, bring a bottle or two of sunscreen with a high SPF. Bring a hat and a pair or two of sunglasses as well for even better protection from the sun.
- Tissue and wet wipes
Due to the hot weather in Saudi Arabia, staying outside for long periods of time can cause visitors to sweat profusely. Tissues and wet wipes will be handy in helping hot and tired visitors feel refreshed and clean quickly.
Wet wipes are also great for wiping and sanitizing the hands when there is no bathroom in sight.
- Fanny pack
A fanny pack or waist pouch is just the right bag size to keep all valuables safe. It is convenient to bring around anywhere since it is small. Moreover, it is easy to protect this type of bag from pickpockets and thieves; simply place it in front of the body where it can easily be seen.
- Prescribed medications
Travellers with health conditions must make sure to bring the medication prescribed by their doctors. It is best to bring a medical certificate and the actual prescription since some medications will be checked at the airport or at immigration.
In addition, it is best to bring some over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers and anti-diarrhoea and anti-nausea medication to avoid discomfort and prevent symptoms from worsening.
- A camera
A visit to Al Madinah would not be complete if there are no photos of all the timeless, scenic sights the city has to offer. A camera is necessary for taking these photos. A smartphone would work as well; it can be more convenient since it is not as bulky and heavy as a camera.
However, it is important to remember that visitors are not allowed to take pictures of the following:
- Government buildings
- Military installations
- Muslim women
Before taking photos of the holy places to visit in Al Madinah, be sure to check first if it is all right to do this.
- A Quran
Although there are many copies of this holy book in mosques and blessed places in Al Madinah, visitors are advised to bring a small copy which can fit in the fanny pack. By doing so, travellers won’t always have to search for the nearest available copy; they can read the Quran anytime they desire to.
It is also best to plan an itinerary when visiting Al Madinah. With this in hand, visitors will be sure they won’t miss any of the grand and timeless sites and sights this holy city is known for.
Amjad Irshaidat is the Country General Manager – Saudi Arabia for Shaza Hotels. The 5-star Shaza Hotel in Al Madina combines sophistication and location in effortless style, with each suite being, by intention, an emphatic expression of generous warmth and Eastern hospitality.