Don’t let the descent fool you. Flying across the Najd desert plateau, one would be forgiven for wondering, why here? The climate is dry, and dust storms can kick up a blinding fit. Closer in, however, and you’ll soon see date palms and shrubs spotting the landscape. The name Riyadh, in fact, comes from the Arabic for gardens (rowdah), and lies atop an area where several underground riverbeds converge, resulting in a natural oasis that has long drawn traders and nomads alike.