The capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is the largest city on the Arabian Peninsula and the third largest city in the Arab World. This rapidly growing center of finance is the political and administrative core of the Saudi government. The streets are busy and often lack sidewalks, so we recommend some the more designated places for running included in this guide to running in Riyadh. Note also two huge projects underway that will dramatically improve the running scene in Riyadh: a $19 billion King Salman Park, which when completed in 2024 will be the largest urban park in the world, as well as a 135 km ‘Sports Highway‘.
The best places to run in Riyadh are on some designated pedestrian pathways, where runners can get in a short run or take on several laps. Some of the best pathways can be found at King Fahad Medical City, King Abdullah Park, Prince Sultan University, and Al-Nahda Park. For a longe run, the two best bets are the paths and sidewalks in the Diplomatic Quarter (Al Safarat), and the dirt trail along Wadi Hanifah. The many sidewalks of King Saud University are also good bets. It can also be a unique and dramatic experience to go for a run in the desert. We recommend hiring a guide for this.
Important Notes: Given the extreme heat in Riyadh, it’s wise to hydrate, wear sun protection, and run early or late to avoid the extreme temperatures. Visitors should also respect cultural norms in regards to modest attire — men should wear tops (not vests) and shorts that go down to the knees. This Runner’s World article is a helpful guide in terms of women running in Riyadh, though the regulations continue to change. Finally, in terms of transport, there is currently no public transportation system in Riyadh, though a cross-city metro system is under construction.