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Drive just a few hours west of Medina to the port of Yanbu, which is really two distinct cities. The new city to the south is known for its oil refineries and industrial plants, whereas the old town to the north is an ancient spice route staging post where T.E. Lawrence — the British military officer famous for his role in the Great Arab Revolt — lived in a typical Hijazi building at some point between 1915 and 1916. You’ll find many of the attractions in the historical area around the harbor, which comes alive at night. Join locals eating Red Sea-caught fish while overlooking the water. Discover the nearby glowing lanes of the recently restored Souq Al Lail (night market), originally open late to serve fishermen. Local dates and green mulkhiah leaves are among the produce sold.

When in Yanbu, go and explore

Discover Radwa Mount

To the northeast of the city, Radwa Mount is a colossal icon that stands 2,282 meters tall. Throughout the years, its jagged peaks and curious red color have inspired many Arabic poets, including Hassan Ibn Thabit, one of the sahaba, or companions, of the Prophet Muhammad. Radwa is the highest point in the Al Nakhil range, which is known for its honey and wild nature, with wolves, lynx, tigers and ibex roaming the landscape. There are regular tours from Yanbu to explore this place of poetic beauty.

Visit the Home of T.E. Lawrence

Surrounded by evocatively crumbling coral-stone buildings, the home where T.E. Lawrence, author of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and inspiration for Lawrence of Arabia, once lived has been restored as a museum to the British officer’s remarkable story. The young Lawrence lived here in 1915 and 1916. Locals had left the house to decay, fearing it was haunted. Now renovated, it is a place to soak in the story of a complex man who changed the Arab world forever.

Explore Red Sea Diving and Waterfront Activities

You can enjoy some of the best diving in Saudi Arabia in the warm, rich waters off Yanbu, and a handful of dive centers in the city cater to underwater adventurers. Even in winter, the water in this part of the Red Sea never drops below 20 degrees Celsius. Popular sites include Seven Sisters, best-known for its hammerhead sharks, though tiger sharks and tuna are often seen around the walls of coral too; Abu Galawa, a paradise island surrounded by coral grottoes, sharks and schools of barracuda; and the wreck of the SS Iona, now a beautiful living reef. Prefer to stay above water? Head to Yanbu Waterfront for fishing and bird-watching — it’s a great place to introduce young travelers to wildlife observation.