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The city of Yanbu is divided into two large areas, separated by a short and sparsely populated expanse of desert. To the south is the industrial city and the royal commission, home to many expats working in the petrochemical industry. In the northern part, which is largely untouched by the large industry just a short distance away, are the downtown area, the port, the airport and many beaches. A traveler's instincts might be to avoid the southern area, but that could be a big mistake, as it features some interesting urban developments, ample green spaces and plenty of high-end establishments for fine dining and classy shopping not to be missed. The north, however, showcases the old city's charm and the wonderful scuba diving that draws so many savvy visitors in search of adventure.
Being a largely industrial city, one would perhaps be surprised by the abundance of serene parks and relaxing beach-side walkways. The people of Yanbu really take advantage of the outstanding city planning that has accompanied the city's rapid growth, well aware of just how special their beaches and green spaces are. Yanbu's beaches are the city's greatest draw, boasting some of the best dive spots in the country.
Eating out is a favourite pastime in Saudi Arabia, and they certainly know how to indulge. Yanbu is home to a huge variety of cuisines, ranging from local specialties to Chinese and Indian dishes and even some Mexican options. Fresh local ingredients are often used to make tasty and very filling meals with wide varieties of flavours.
Escape the oppressive heat of the industrial Yanbu by visiting one of the many modern and sleek cafes spread out throughout the city. They are a great way to relax and people watch while enjoying some hot coffee or tea. Many places roast their own beans and offer great desserts, as well.
The cultural environment in Saudi Arabia is highly conservative. Religious law forbids the sale or consumption of alcohol throughout Saudi Arabia, so there are no bars or nightclubs. Instead evening social activities are centred on shopping or dining out in one of the city’s many restaurants or cafés whilst indulging in a delicious mocktail (a mix of fresh fruit juices) or strong Arabic coffee.
Much of Saudi Arabia's social life revolves around shopping as a family, an activity where everyone can participate. It is very common for families to visit one of the many large shopping centres and spend the whole day browsing, enjoying some refreshments and escaping the intense heat in the air-conditioned malls. But be sure to head to some of the smaller markets for more traditional and authentic shopping experiences, as well.
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