While many tourists seek something similar to Western nightlife on their vacations, others prefer more authentic, local customs when they travel. The Riyadh nightlife provides a quiet but entertaining glimpse into the actual culture of this region.
Riyadh focuses more on restaurants and hotels where families and singles can gather to socialize. There are no bars, clubs, or discotheques like some might find in more Western countries. However, drinks and coffee are available along Tahlia Street, where they have numerous coffee shops and restaurants that cater mostly to singles.
Shopping is one of the main activities for travelers who like to stay up late. The most popular shopping mall is Faisaliyah, but there are several others that have plenty to offer. Extra is another worthwhile mall that has a large collection of electronics. Kingdom Tower has a floor for women only. Sahara is also worth a visit, as is the computer souq in the southern back streets of Olaya.
Beyond coffee and shopping, the biggest parties can be found by invitation only. As Riyadh has a strict environment, many visitors put together closed-door events that you have to gain access to by way of a friend or colleague.
These are often official receptions to celebrate national events or to greet official visitors, but there are also live music concerts, personal birthday parties, and even “secret” dance parties.
Anglo-American societies in Riyadh like to arrange balls claiming appropriate dress codes; the music played, however, is not ballroom music. Instead, it is often a mix of worldwide party music, provided by a local DJ. There, the guests dance and play games.
In most cases, you will need to have invitation letter to be allowed to enter, as security won’t permit uninvited guests to come in. In some other cases, your name may be listed, and you can gain access at the door. Other parties send invitations via email, and you can print out your letter to bring to the party.
These events are good opportunities to meet new people, explore new cultures, and start new friendships.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about nightlife in Riyadh.