#TheSoloDrifter in Saudi Arabia | Sharqiyah Sojourn: Discovering Saudi’s Eastern Charms

Nestled along the shores of the Arabian Gulf, Sharqiyah, the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia, boasts a tapestry of rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture awaiting the intrepid traveler. From the bustling metropolis of Dammam to the tranquil oasis of Al-Ahsa, this region beckons with its diverse array of tourist destinations.

Embark on a journey with me as we delve into the enchanting sights, sounds, and flavors that define Sharqiyah’s tourism gems, each offering a unique glimpse into the soul of this dynamic region. We will unveil the secrets of Sharqiyah’s hidden treasures, where every moment is an invitation to explore, discover, and be mesmerized by the beauty of Eastern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia Travel Guide
Al Bahah
Asir Region
Hejaz, including Jeddah

What to know about the Eastern Province

  1. Saudi Arabia’s largest province by area.
  2. Acts as a major platform for most of the kingdom’s oil production and exports. 
  3. The region borders, from north to south, the countries of Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
  4. The governorates are Ahsa (Capital: Hofuf), Dammam, Khobar, Qatif, Hafar al-Batin, Jubail, Khafji, Ra’s Tanura, Abqaiq, Na’iriyah, Qaryat Al Ulya.

As of this writing, I have only been to Ahsa, Dammam, Khobar and Jubail. For now, that is the focus of my blog. If you are recommending a place or if you want to take me there, feel free to message me in any of my social media pages.

What to know about Khobar

  1. Khobar is part of the ‘Triplet Cities’ area, or Dammam metropolitan area along with Dammam and Dhahran, forming the residential core of the region.
  2. Khobar is considered a resort town as its southern suburbs of the city face the Half Moon Bay and host several beaches and beach resorts. 
  3. People from the neighboring GCC states and from the rest of the country visit the city to do activities such as fishing, scuba diving, water sports, and shopping.

What to know about Jubail

  1.  It is home to the largest industrial city in the world.
  2. It is also home to the Middle East’s largest and world’s fourth largest petrochemical company SABIC.
  3. Comprises the Old Town of Al Jubail (Jubail Balad), which was a small fishing village until 1975, and the Industrial Area. Jubail Industrial City is the largest civil engineering project in the world today.

What to know about Dammam

  1. Dammam is the capital of the Eastern Province.
  2. Known for being a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry.

What to know about Al-Ahsa

  1. Named after Al-Ahsa Oasis, it is the largest governorate in the Eastern region.
  2. In Classical Arabic, ‘Ahsa’ means the sound of water underground.
  3. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2018.
  4. It has one of the largest oases in the world with world-renowned date palms.
  5. It has become the first city in the Persian Gulf region to be listed under the UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the fields of crafts and folk art.
  6. In 2019, Al-Ahasa was selected as the Arab Tourism Capital.

Transportation and connection

  1. Dammam’s King Fahd International Airport, the largest airport in the world in terms of land area, serves as the primary hub for the entirety of the Eastern Province. Other airports in the province include Ahsa International Airport and Qaisumah-Hafr Al Batin Airport. Saudi Aramco has a separate terminal at the King Fahd International Airport for their employees and aircraft with scheduled flights to Shaybah, Yanbu, Jeddah and other sites where the company is active.
  2. Intercity bus services are operated in the province by the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company (SAPTCO).
  3. The Saudi Arabian railways lines in the Eastern Province – two lines, one passenger, which runs from Dammam to Riyadh via Abqaiq an Hofuf, and the other freight, which runs directly from Dammam to Riyadh.
  4. Highway 95 (Route 5M) connects Khafji on the Kuwaiti border in the north to the Ramlah border station on the Omani border in the south via Jubail, Ra’s Tanura, the Dammam metropolitan area, the Salwa border station on the Qatari border and the Batha’ border station with the United Arab Emirates.
  5. Highway 40 (Route 80M) connects Bahrain and Dammam via King Fahd Causeway over the Persian Gulf and onward to Jeddah on the Red Sea via Riyadh, Ta’if and Makkah.
  6. Highways 605, 610, 613, 614, 615, 617 and 619, known locally by other popular names, connect the Greater Dammam area to Ra’s Tanura, Jubail, the King Fahd International Airport, Abqaiq and Hofuf.

What to do

Khobar Corniche night walk

If you ask me if I have a “best” friend in Saudi, I actually have. Our hobby is chatting together, while walking here. Omar is like a brother to me.

The Khobar Corniche is a 16-km stretch of parks, divided into two parts, the South Corniche and the North Corniche. The Khobar Water Tower is situated on a man-made peninsula in the northern reaches of the Khobar Corniche. It has been called the Eastern Province’s “top tourist attraction”. There are multiple coffee shops and restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating as well as shopping centers. The entire corniche has multiple restaurants that offer local food as well as a number of diverse cuisines from all over the world. 

A tranquil space for cozy lifestyle at Ajdan Walk

The bustling Ajdan Walk enjoys a unique location on Prince Turki (Corniche Road) in Khobar. It features the first food village in the eastern province with many leading international food brands located in and around Boulevard Street.

Get a full view of Half Moon Bay Beach in Khobar

The beach has acquired that name from its shape that resembles half of the moon and the length of the beach is 700 kilometers, and it is a special place for recreation and it is known for fishing by its locals.

Witness Saudi’s artistry via Ithra

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra)—meaning “enrichment” in Arabic—was built as part of Saudi Aramco’s vision to be an ambitious initiative for the public. Ithra is the Kingdom’s leading cultural and creative destination for talent development and cross-cultural experiences.  The pillars include culture, creativity, community, art, and knowledge. With the visionary platforms and key pillars, Ithra continuously offers inspiring workshops, performances, and events.

The Ithra Museum is home to five galleries dedicated to contemporary Middle Eastern Art, Saudi culture, Islamic art, the natural history of the Arabian Peninsula and Archive gallery. Ithra also has its own Children’s Museum which features different attractions and activities. Ithra Theater has established itself as Saudi Arabia’s premiere theater program and venue for cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary productions.

Its Library is one-of-a-kind. If you are amazed with Qatar and South Korea‘s, then Ithra should be in your bucketlist.

Thinking of joining some activities? Ithra has an Idea Lab. Its Cinema presents local talent, thrilling films, and talks for moviegoers and film buffs. Ithra’s Energy Exhibit shares the journey behind oil extraction and energy resources.

That does not stop there! It has also Ithra Academy which offers courses on literature, art & design, science & technology, creative leadership, film & performing arts, and music.

I bet just reading this, you’re quite tired. Ithra’s restaurants and cafes serve the flavors of the world. In the Plaza, throughout the Center, and during its special events, Ithra’s dining experience fuels its visitors during their trip.

Family time at Jubail’s Banana Beach

Omar is from Industrial Jubail. If you think of Jubail, you may think of a small city. But do not underestimate it. There are a lot of activities it has to offer. Let alone the Banana Beach speak for itself. Coffee, booths, games, kid’s zone, prayer area – name them! They are all in one location. Not to mention the beach view and the water activities.

Marina boating in Al Jubail

 Marina Boating Fanateer offers exciting boat trips, providing a refreshing experience in the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The trips are available at reasonable prices starting from 20 Saudi riyals per person. In addition, there are group trips on large boats, accommodating up to 11 people, starting from 200 Saudi riyals for half an hour. 

If you are looking for a not-so-crowded boating activity, a fishing pier behind Boudl Al Jubail Hotel offers you yacht and other boating experience (e.g. paddle boat). Prices range from SAR75 to SAR120.

Making move at The Move Center in Al Jubail

The integrated complex offers a wonderful selection of restaurants, cafes, shopping stores, a cinema with a waterfront view, and a game room, to give you everything you desire during your visit. It also offers multiple shopping destinations, and a food experience with delicious international flavors. The Move Center also includes a swimming beach with a stunning view of the Arabian Gulf, and pedestrian bridges for movement around the complex, creating a unique destination where you can find everything you desire.

Sighting at Dareen Hills Park in Al Jubail

Take a long walk, breathe in the fresh natural air, and enjoy the warm sun rays in the afternoon. You can sit and relax on the grass, have a drink, or bring a mat and sit to socialize with friends and family and enjoy the beach view and the soothing sounds of the waves. Dareen Hills Park is characterized by its pleasant atmosphere, refreshing breeze, and stunning nature, covered with vast green spaces overlooking the seaside, making it an ideal daily destination.

Oasis and caves: a perfect road trip

The natural oasis of Al-Ahsa, whose area exceeds 85 square kilometres, reveals geographical artifacts that are full of details of its unique terrain and the diversity of its environment, including caves, mountains, plains and springs, to be deservedly included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2018.

Al Qarah Mountain, which is also known as “Jabal al Qarah” and “Al Shaban Mountain,” is known for its fascinating and unique caves that were formed due to the dissolving process of water-soluble rocks, the collapse of the upper rock layers as a result of abrasion, and earthquake fissures.

Other things to do

There are some places I haven’t visited yet (including below places which are listed on VisitSaudi) and as I told you, I only have visited few cities in the Eastern region. I wish to explore them as I continue to navigate Sharqiyah. If you recommend places or wish to take me there, I am more than happy to see them. Feel free to message me.

Exploring Al Jubail beaches

Jubail Beach, Al Jubail Corniche, Youth Beach, Fanateer Beach and Dareen Beach. Name them! Include Al Nakheel Corniche in the list. Al Nakheel Corniche includes a park characterized by comfortable green spaces for the eyes, areas for children’s entertainment, service kiosks, public facilities, as well as artistic sculptures that greet you at the entrance of the Corniche

Crease Archaeological Tower in Al Jubail

Crease Tower is a mud tower that tells the story of glory preserved in the memory of history. It is located in the western part of Al Jubail. The reason for building the tower was to protect the well located next to it, called Crease Well, as well as to protect the coastal cities and villages, especially after the Battle of Siblah.

A journey of learning at Scitech Center

Sultan bin Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center (SciTech) is located on Khobar Corniche. It was established in 2000 to be a global scientific center that helps researchers, students, and enthusiasts in the fields of science and technology. The center welcomes visitors daily in the morning from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and in the evening from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, except on Fridays when it only opens in the evening.

Tour of the Heritage Village in Dammam

The Heritage Village in Dammam is the name of the place where you can meet the past of Saudi Arabia and the heritage of its regions.

Shopping in Dammam’s Love Market

Located in the heart of the city, Share Al Hob is known locally as the Love Market for the jewelry shops that ring its outer streets. Couples come here to choose bridal and anniversary gifts from the glittering window displays, bargaining with the shopkeepers who hover in doorways and vie for attention. Entry is free, and the souq is open daily from 4:00 pm to 1:00 am.

Takyt Bahar in Dammam

A collection of restaurants and cafes that directly overlook the beach of Dammam, Takyt Bahar is characterized by its beautiful and diverse seating arrangements that preserve the beach sand and its natural atmosphere, where its Bohemian-style seats provide a unique atmosphere and feeling. Ticket prices start from SAR15.

House of Allegiance in Al-Ahsa

The House of Allegiance is a historical and cultural landmark in the center of Al-Ahsa. It is one of the most important monuments that changed the course of the city’s history. The building witnessed the Bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) to King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and was named Bayt Al-Bay’ah (House of Allegiance) for this reason. The museum is open for visitors from Saturday to Thursday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Handcraft Castle in Al-Ahsa

Handcraft Castle is one of the most important landmarks in Al-Ahsa, with its traditional heritage character. This is why it was included in the Creative Cities Network of UNESCO in the craft and folk-art creative field.

The Touristic City of Jawatha in Al Hofuf

Jawatha is located in the northeast of Al Hofuf, and it is a tourist city to be a distinctive destination that includes historical monuments, popular markets, and enjoyable activities. It welcomes visitors daily from 8:00 am to midnight. Jawatha is a historic area rich in monuments, as it was one of the first places to settle in the Eastern Province before Islam. In the touristic city of Jawatha, you can enjoy paragliding shows, karting, paintball, amusement parks, and boating on the lake. You can also go shopping at Hajer Traditional Souq, which contains popular stores designed with a style that imitates the old construction of Al-Ahsa. The city also includes various restaurants and cafes, such as Hakookah Restaurant, which serves Kuwaiti cuisine, and Om Ali Restaurant, which offers fresh traditional baked goods.

Where to stay

I have two favorites so far.

Boudl Al Jubail

If you want a sea view, then this is for you. Amongst all apartment hotels I tried in Saudi Arabia, this is one of the best. They offer you different kinds of rooms with different views. Price depends on that. For me, I was able to get an executive suite with sea view at SAR489. It includes a spacious living room, a kitchen and a big bedroom with a balcony.

Hilton Garden Inn Al Khobar

If you want to be at the center of everything, this hotel is a go to. It’s between Al Khobar and Dhahran, and near Dammam. Per night price is around SAR360 and you can have breakfast. They have spacious rooms.

Other hotels

Other top tourist recommended hotels in Khobar are Carlton Al Moaibed Hotel, Sofitel Al Khobar The Corniche, Movenpick Hotel Al Khobar, Crowne Plaza Al Khobar, Habitat Hotel All Suites Al Khobar, Mercure Corniche Al Khobar, Kempinski Al Othman Hotel Al Khobar, Le Méridien Al Khobar, Grand Hyatt Al Khobar Hotel and Residences, and Warwick Al Khobar Hotel.

You can find luxury hotels in Dammam like Holiday Inn Resort, The Sheraton Dammam Hotel, Braira Dammam Hotel, Naviti Warwick Dammam, Novotel Business Park Dammam Hotel and The Wyndham Garden Dammam Hotel. You may also try Normina Hotel Apartments, Watheer Hotel Suites, Golden Tulip Corniche Dammam, Golden Garden Al Corniche, Boudl Corniche Hotel, and Sendan Residences Hotel.

If you are looking for a resort, Hadab Resort, Golden Tulip Al Dana Resort, and Al Dana Beach Resort can be some of your options.

In Al Ahsa area, Intercontinental Al-Ahsa can be one option for a luxurious stay. If you are looking for a heritage stay with a modern touch, Al Koot Heritage Hotel maybe considered. Budget hotels are Coral Al-Ahsa Hotel, Lily Hotel Suites, Al-Ahsa Grand Hotel and Suites, and Al Nakhla Aparthotel. Top View Serviced Apartments are located 2 km away from Ain Najm Park, one of the most famous hot springs for therapy in Al-Ahsa. The apartments offer a view of the entire city and the Abu-Ghanima mountain. If you are looking for a luxurious atmosphere, the Garden Plaza Hotel offers balconies and Jacuzzi tubs and is located on a busy street near many services.

There are local accommodation providers in Sharqiah, I recommend browsing Darent, Gathern and HiHome.

Where to eat

Taya Restaurant

If you are looking for a perfect family dining, this restaurant is a must visit with its sumptuous dishes yet affordable. Most of the favorite restaurants I visited in Eastern region, I am with Omar. Here, I realized that he is a heavy eater. Imagine us ordering umali, mixed grill platter, calamari, biryani, baked mac and sizzling prawns. Prices are reasonable fro, SAR40 to SAR120. This is located at Fanateer, Al Jubail.

Villam’s Cafe & Restaurant

One of the best trendy restaurants in Industrial Jubail is this restaurant located at Fanateer. You’ll be surprised how they are innovating their dishes and drinks there from Avocado Benedict to Ebreeq Karak. Prices range from SAR 10 to SAR100.

Patio Mall

Mostly, if not all, establishments here in this Khobar place are restaurants. During my first visit here with Omar, we tried Aghatti Restaurant where we had tea. They offer lunch and dinner at above average prices.

Methods Coffee

It’s a favorite go-to of every young Saudi in the Eastern region. It has branches in Khobarm Jubail and Al Ahsa. It’s cozy place and ambience are reasons why youngsters frequent here,

The Town

Dubbed as the best burger in town, truly it is a remarkable one with its big-sized burgers and affordable sides. Prices range from SAR30 to SAR50. This is located in Al Khobar.

Gioelia Cremeria Al Khobar

Spain’s gelateria has reached Khobar. Perfect both for summer and winter, Gioelia offers a variety of flavors with Instagrammable look.

Fishawi Cafe

Another favorite spot for me and Omar is this cafe in Dammam. In the area, there are also a lot of coffee shops to try.

I actually tried a lot of restaurants but these were the memorable ones. If you are interested to feature your favorite restaurant coffee shop here (and perhaps, I may have visited that already), let me know so that I can consider them adding here.

As I write my journey through the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia, I am struck by the vast richness of its tourism offerings. Amidst whispers of boredom from some locals, I’ve come to realize that it takes a keen eye and an adventurous spirit to uncover the true essence of this remarkable region. Through sharing my experiences, I hope to inspire others to delve into the hidden gems and undiscovered wonders of Sharqiah. With eager anticipation, I look forward to returning to the embrace of one of Saudi Arabia’s warmest and most hospitable communities, ready to embark on new adventures and forge unforgettable memories.

Saudi Arabia Travel Guide
Al Bahah
Asir Region
Hejaz, including Jeddah



Website | Facebook | Instagram | X | YouTube

Website | Facebook | Instagram | X | YouTube

Ajdan Walk
Website | Instagram | X | Tiktok



Website | Facebook | Instagram | X | YouTube

Hilton Garden Inn Al Khobar
Website | Facebook | Instagram | X


Villam’s Cafe & Restaurant

Taya Restaurant
Facebook | Instagram

AGHATTI Restaurant
Twitter | Instagram

Methods Coffee
Website | Instagram

2230 Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Road, Olaya, Al Khobar 34445
+966 55 019 9393

Fishawi Cafe

The Town

About the Author

Paul Michael Jaramillo
Paul Michael JaramilloChief Executive Editor
PJ is a CPA, writer, storyteller, environment and youth advocate. As a writer, his articles on national development were published in a Spanish newspaper and local news network Rappler. As a storyteller and environment advocate, his documentary films on mining and environment were featured by ABS-CBN News and GMA News. He launched his career as a CPA at KPMG in the Philippines in late 2015. He started his professional journey as an external auditor of a global workspace provider (the largest audit client of KPMG in the Philippines), global bank, leading MFCG in the Philippines and a number of shared service centres. As an auditor, his team won the KPMG Asia-Pacific Data & Analytics Challenge and coached the Philippine team that placed third to the KPMG GlobalRunner Cup. More than two years later, he led KPMG in the Philippines’ Network of Audit Innovators and Data & Analytics Champions and its academic arm, while serving as a member of the KPMG Asia-Pacific Audit Digital Transformation Workstream. He served as a member of the Audit Methodology Group and Root Cause Analysis Team of KPMG in the Philippines. He was a regular training facilitator of KPMG on audit methodology, innovation, data and analytics, professional standards and regulatory updates. He also served as a coach for newly promoted supervisors. PJ was also the Firm’s System of Quality Management Implementation Manager and a Workforce of the Future Champion. He was also a Sampling Specialist of the Firm. In 2019, PJ was a member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)’s Technical Working Group on Audit Methodology. PJ led in developing some of the innovative solutions of KPMG in the Philippines. Above all, PJ is a people investor. He invests on people who have potential and talents. That makes him a coach and mentor to some young professionals in the profession and served as a People Committee member of KPMG in the Philippines. He leads advocacy projects that help communities. He produces vlogs thru his YouTube channel, PJspirations which features stories of different individuals. As a volunteer, he is the Academic Master and Head Coach of PREMIER International Learning and Development Center, which provides coaching, mentoring, training and learning programs and platforms that promote growth and development in every individual’s life and career. He is also with the Middle East and Caspian regions of KPMG as a member of its Professional Practice group and Audit L&D for the Saudi Levant Cluster, providing subject matter knowledge and guidance on audit methodology, and learning and development programs to its offices. He is a proud Ilocano and a graduate of Northwestern University.

He also conducts #IamRemarkable sessions, a program initiated by Google for women and underrepresented groups.