Madain Saleh, require permits.The family were sheikhs of Nejd, the area around Riyadh, but were driven out by a neighbouring dynasty, hiding with their relatives, the emirs of Kuwait.Even government publications avoid pictures of people and often resort to mosaicing out faces if they have to use one!Once this invitation is secured and certified, the actual process of issuing the visa is relatively fast and painless, taking anything from one day to two weeks.Saudi Arabia by car.
This can lead to major problems.Preference is usually given to male teachers, and previous ESL work experience may be required.English is unlikely to be spoken by the police, even in big cities, so try to use the waiting time to arrange a translator.In the foothills of the Hejaz lies the holy city of Makkah, and approximately 400 km north of Makkah in an oasis between two large lava fields lies the other holy city of Madinah.On trains between Riyadh and Damman, business class is slightly less extravagant as it has an extra class, delightfully named Rehab, which compares to business on other services.Most popular in the south near the Yemeni border.If you are considering travelling to Bahrain, virtually all businesses in Bahrain will accept riyals, but the dinar is not as easily convertible in Saudi Arabia.
Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.There are few desert dune bashing tour operators, if any, but ATV rentals are often found along the roadside on the outskirts of major cities and expats often arrange convoy trips into the desert.This is by far the most restricted group.My Kingdom will survive only insofar as it remains a country difficult to access, where the foreigner will have no other aim, with his task fulfilled, but to get out.Car rental is available and gasoline is some of the cheapest in the world.
Pharmacies are widely available and prescriptions are not required for most medications.LGBT activities are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and they are punishable by death.Hotels of all types are available throughout the Kingdom.There are no official churches in Saudi Arabia of any kind.The eastern crossings to Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE are heavily used, all others rather less so.Saudi Arabia and the following are the most anticipated providers:Bolt.
Confusingly, the exact rules and their enforcement vary greatly both with time and from region to region, with the Nejd region around Riyadh being the most strict, the Eastern Province being the least strict, and the Hejaz around Jeddah being somewhere in the middle.Nationals of Israel will be denied visas, although merely being Jewish in and of itself is not a disqualifying factor.GDP comes from the private sector.VOX Cinemas and AMC Cinemas.Also, it is expected to serve Qurayyat next to the Jordanian border on 2021.
During Ramadan, visitors are required to abide by the restrictions of the fasting month, at least in public: no eating, drinking or smoking during the daylight hours.Tuwaig escarpment, a narrow plateau running 800 km from north to south.Anyone who brings pork or eats it in the kingdom will be punished with fines and a jail sentence.During the Hajj, numerous charter flights supplement the scheduled airlines.The stuff is emphatically to be avoided.Getting a work visa is considerably more complex, but usually your employer will handle most of the paperwork.
Haramain Highspeed Railway operates its own website.HotelsSingle women no longer require written permission to be allowed to check in, provided they have their own ID cards.Westerners in particular continues to simmer.In addition to the obvious legal risk, there is a risk of inexpert distilling making it downright poisonous.Saudi sandwich chain, founded in 1988.Some remote areas, notably around the Iraqi and Yemeni borders, are restricted military zones.
So, should it be your fault the Police will ask you to pay an amount to the other party, but you are not obligated to do so.Many people understand and speak some English, although markedly less well than in, say, the UAE or Qatar.Expect significant variations in the English spellings of place names in schedules and even road signs: Al Wajh and Wedjh are the same place.Western families driving through on a valid transit visa are generally waved through the customs inspection with a cursory glance.There are quite a few jobs for expatriates in Saudi Arabia.Day, Christmas or even birthdays, causing all cards of any sort to disappear from bookstores.Many large cities have public parks and small zoos.
Women not accompanied by their families.The small number of Saudi Arabian Christians meet in Internet chat rooms, and foreign Christians may meet at church meetings held at one of several embassies after registering and showing their passport, to prove foreign nationality, or by private assemblies in school gyms in gated communities on Aramco grounds.The second prayer is dhuhr, held after true noon in the middle of the day.Similarly, promoting an interpretation of Islam other than Wahhabism is a crime in Saudi Arabia.Muslims to enter these cities.Single men are not allowed in family areas: family beaches are partitioned from the bachelor beaches, for example.
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The old town of Jeddah.It is against the law to be accompanied anywhere by a woman who is not your wife or a family member, and religious police pay particular attention to interracial couples.It is not uncommon for the traffic police to resolve the incident there and then by determining the guilty party and deciding compensation.Gyms, pools and spas are generally restricted to men only, but some female facilities are available.Asir Southwestern highlands with a temperate climate and strong Yemeni influence.
Zam zam water is available throughout the Western Region and at all airports.Arabian Desert makes up most of the country.If you have a work visa, exit visas are required to leave the country.ShopsUsually allow all visitors.There are no railways connecting Saudi Arabia with other countries, although in the North, you can still find bits and pieces of the Hejaz Railway that once led to Damascus.As of 2021, there are signs that segregation is being phased out as part of the reforms being implemented by the government, as most restaurants nowadays are mixed and do not have separate seating areas for both sexes.
Unemployment among young Saudis is a serious problem.Those not listed must apply at an embassy or consulate and provide additional documentation: proof of accommodation, proof of employment, proof of a return ticket, and a bank statement.Raising a ruckus or simply loudly asking the harasser anta Muslim?It is largely made up of barren volcanic rock, especially in the south, and sandstone in the north, but it is also interspersed with ancient lava fields and fertile valleys.Although Skype is also allowed, the Saudi government has banned smartphone app Viber.If you have an accident, or otherwise attract police attention, the consequences might be serious indeed.Most of the shops are open as well, and the cool of the evening makes it a pleasant time to shop.
If you are not prepared to accept several limitations on your behaviour and freedom of expression, you should not travel to Saudi Arabia.Video games are an eternal obsession of Saudi youth, and one which is capitalized upon rather well by local retailers.Access to car rentals is limited to persons 21 and older.Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world.Eating is one of the few pleasures permitted in Saudi Arabia, and the obesity statistics show that most Saudis indulge as much as they can.The biggest danger a visitor to Saudi Arabia faces is dangerous driving.Muslims usually make the effort to go to the mosque.
Aziz Ibn Saud and a few dozen lads rode out to raid their home territory.The service to Eritrea has stopped running.Contracts will usually include accommodations, airfare, and health care.In fact, many local youths celebrate it more zealously than either Islamic Eid.The area united under him became known as Saudi Arabia.The Empty Quarter has the most stunning scenery, and requires the most preparation.
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Airlines from Muslim countries are flying in many loads of pilgrims, and do not want to go back empty.Desert excursions are particularly popular with the native Arabs.To get a working visa, you must have a Saudi sponsor.Saudi Arabia are often regaled with tales of beheadings, amputations and whippings, the full harshness of Saudi law is reserved for the likes of drug smugglers.Degree and a TESOL certification.The best known sites in Saudi Arabia are likely the two holy cities of Islam; Mecca and Medina.Western visitors to Saudi arrive on business visas, which require an invitation from a local sponsor which has been approved by the Saudi Chamber of Commerce.
They are quite good value, if the sparse schedules match your plans.Although, in theory, the muttawa must hand a detainee over to the police before interrogation, and cannot implement judicial punishments like whipping without a trial, reports of abuse and even deaths in muttawa custody are still alarmingly common.Prayer times change daily according to the seasons and your exact location in the Kingdom.Chicken or mutton cooked with rice in a pot suspended above a fire.Few local products are of interest to tourists.
Saudi Arabia is served by the national airline Saudia.Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite.The main topographical features are as follows:The Sarawat or Sarat mountain range runs parallel to the Red Sea coast beginning near the Jordanian border until the southern coast of Yemen, gradually increasing in height southwards.Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia.Horseback riding, camel riding, etc.
In July and August, in particular, all who can flee the country and work slows down to a crawl.CoffeeshopsMostly men only, although a few have family sections.Saudi Arabia, made with basmati rice, meat, vegetables and spices.These facilities range from fairly rudimentary to very advanced and very expensive.Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk.While partly due to Saudi reluctance to take many types of work, it is also true that Saudi citizens are forced to compete with multitudes of imported labor, which is often much cheaper than that of the locals.There are few activities for just couples or singles.
Satellite TV and downloading entertainment from the Internet is thus very popular.The heavy presence of iron oxides gives the sand its distinctive red appearance.Also exempt from visa requirements are foreigners transiting through airports for less than eighteen hours, but many other entry requirements, such as the dress code and restrictions on unaccompanied women, still apply.Internet cafes abound in major Saudi cities, and many shopping malls feature a gaming parlor or two.However, the law changed in June 2018, and women are now allowed to drive in the kingdom, albeit only with permission from their male guardian.Internet censorship in Saudi Arabia might not be as strict as other countries in the Middle East.While all this legally applies to foreign women as well, in practice foreign women are not restrained by their families in the way that Saudi women are, and can have considerable leeway if they choose to take it.
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Saudis, and embassies can provide only limited help in these situations.Slow, uncomfortable and not particularly cheap, these are of interest primarily if you need to take your car across.Foreign currencies are generally not accepted by merchants.Religious items for religions other than Islam, including Bibles, crucifixes and any religious literature, are forbidden, although these days items for personal use are generally ignored.Private hospitals are often run with the participation of foreign partners.Asir region cooler yet.
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Automobile crossings exist on nearly all the borders, although those into Iraq are closed.Aljouf with two trips a day.Women, be they local or foreign, are all required to wear an abaya, a long and loose black robe.Saudia has a reasonable safety record, but many of their planes are on the old side, and the quality of service, inflight entertainment, etc.Highway quality is highly variable, except highways that connect major cities, which are generally excellent.However, it is relatively easy to obtain a transit visa to drive through Saudi if you are in an adjacent country legally, and demonstrate the need to drive through Saudi to another adjacent country.
Riyadh, but much of the surrounding territory.Stamps for postcards to anywhere in the world cost SR4.Women are expected to be accompanied by a male relative in public, although single women may be admitted into family areas.It is advisable to buy tickets in advance as the trains are often sold out.Its top layer is made of limestone and bottom layer of sandstone.
The country strongly enforces a very strict interpretation of Islamic law, even though minor relaxations have been adopted in the last few years, the most notable one being allowing women to drive.Saudi Arabia has some of the most restrictive travel policies in the world, and advance visas are required for all foreigners desiring to enter.Visitors to Saudi Arabia are required to respect local conventions, in particular regarding Islam.The National Museum in Riyadh issues these free of charge, but you should apply at least a week in advance.Saudi Arabia is one of three countries named after their royal families, along with the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Virtually all Gulf airlines and most major European airlines fly into Saudi.Men not accompanied by their families.The vast majority will allow single women into the family section.No vaccinations are required for general travel to the Kingdom, but for pilgrims joining the Hajj and its extraordinary concentrations of pilgrims from all corners of the globe, a comprehensive series of vaccinations is required as a condition for entry.These are strictly a male domain.Saudi law, regardless of whose fault it actually is.Business, tourism, transit, or Hajj visas do not require exit permits.
WARNING: Drug trafficking is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and is punishable by death or whipping.Photography is probably the easiest way for a visitor to inadvertently get into trouble.Women should keep in mind that under Saudi law, four independent male witnesses are required to testify in order for someone to be convicted of rape.After evening prayer, though, all the restaurants in the bazaar open up and do a roaring trade until the small hours of the morning.Although the niqab is the norm for Saudi women, women from outside the country are allowed to wear a hijab.Online tickets are available for all services.
Qatif in the eastern provinceexpat compounds generallyGenerally, the Mutawwa rarely enter hotels, if ever.After dhuhr, people head for lunch, while many shops choose to stay closed and snooze away the heat of the day.The red sand dunes outside Riyadh.Prohibited sites of course include pornographic websites, and sites that contain homosexuality, illegal gambling, and criticisms against their religion and government.Your best bet is gift shops in major hotels.IWD is not country, group or organization specific.
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People tend to think of Saudi Arabia as an expanse of scorchingly hot desert punctuated with oil wells, and for most of the time in most of the country, they are right.Shopping mallsAllow all visitors, but often with evenings and weekends reserved for families and single women only.Saudi Arabia, the country is your oyster.The punishment will be worse for the man than for the woman.The exclusion zone is well signposted.As strict Wahhabi belief prohibits making images of any living creature and Saudis place a high value on privacy, do not photograph any Saudi men without permission and do not even point your camera in the general direction of women, period.Nearly all road signs are in English as well as Arabic, although the vast majority of speed limit signs use only Arabian numerals.
Larger businesses will accept all cards, however most smaller businesses accept debit and credit cards but some will refuse if the amount is little.Mail coming in to the country from overseas is notoriously unreliable.Tuwaig range and its immediate vicinity are dotted with a constellation of towns and villages.Saudi law prohibits women from mingling with unrelated men.Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, even though petty crimes like pickpocketing and purse snatching exist.Confusingly, each railway is operated by a different company.
However, if they catch people involved in smuggling or distilling booze in quantity, then expat or not, Saudi law applies.Houthi rebels in Yemen, there are occasional ballistic missile attacks against major Saudi cities and infrastructure.Carpets are a favorite purchase, most of these coming from nearby Iran.Jeddah has a number of dive operators.Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400, 000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its sand for the liberation of Kuwait the following year.Stories abound of things arriving months after they were sent or never arriving at all.Foreigners living in Saudi Arabia can often get sensational discounts on outbound flights during the Hajj.
RestaurantsSeparate sections for families and men.The really important rules to beware of are enshrined in written Saudi law, with criminals subject to the full strength of the infamous Saudi penal system.Maghrib prayers are held at sunset and mark the end of the work day in much of the private sector.Passenger ferries run once a week or less from Egypt and Sudan to ports in western Saudi Arabia.Four French tourists, part of a larger group that had been camping in the desert, were shot and killed by terrorists near Madain Saleh in early 2007.
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However, there are important reasons to think twice about car rental.Saudi government through Saudi embassies around the world in cooperation with local mosques.Muslim pilgrims throng during the Hajj.In a government effort to minimize smoking in major cities like Jeddah and Riyadh, establishments that offer shisha are either banished to the outskirts of towns, or offer exclusive outdoor seating arrangements.Computers, VCR tapes and DVDs have all been seized from time to time for inspection by the authorities.Only then can any damage to the car be repaired, as insurance companies will not pay for any body work without this report.
Smaller hotels will only accept cash, normally in advance.This is because social sites such as Facebook and Twitter are not banned in the country.There is also one secular holiday: Unification of the Kingdom Day, on 23 September.There are branches of DHL, FedEx and UPS operating throughout the kingdom, so a good rule of thumb is to have anything important sent through those channels.Saudi security forces and there have been no major attacks in the cities for several years, security remains tight and it is prudent not to draw too much attention to yourself.Main article: Arabic phrasebookArabic is the official language of the Kingdom.Like most of the Middle East, the weekend in Saudi Arabia is Friday and Saturday, with Sunday a normal working day.
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Riyadh, Buraydah and Al Qurayyat near the Jordanian border.Bills come in values of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 riyals, with two different series in circulation.All major languages are spoken in the markets of Makkah.Psychoactive medications are tightly controlled and available only through government pharmacies.Because Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country, pork is definitely taboo.Many residents prefer to buy drinking water from purification stations.You cannot get an exit visa without a signature from your employer, and there have been cases of people unable to leave because of controversy with employers or even customers.
Saudi authorities practice zero tolerance and make no distinction between alcohol and soft or hard drugs.Abha, Najran and Madain Saleh.Jeddah in particular has lots of carpets, many brought by pilgrims who sell them there to help finance their trip to Makkah.Saudi Arabia is still largely a cash society.Accidents are common, and if a visitor is involved in one, they would be exposed to the extremely punitive Saudi legal system; see elsewhere on this page for the warnings about that.There are several services daily at a cost of SR60 or 6 Bahraini dinars, and the trip across the King Fahd Causeway takes around 3 hours on a good day; see Bahrain for details.
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Nejd The central highlands centered on Riyadh, the birthplace of the Saud family and the most conservative part of the country.The only significant exception is citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations.Hajjis and those on transit visas are prohibited from traveling freely throughout the kingdom, and during Hajj season getting a visa of any kind tends to be more difficult.The eastern province is largely barren except that it contains two oases resulting from springs of ancient fossil water.As it turned out, the invaders had been ruling badly, so many locals joined them.Turaif District in Diriyah.
Finding restaurants that serve actual Saudi cuisine is surprisingly difficult, although many larger hotels have Arabic restaurants.An unofficial ban of Westerners may still apply.However, anything that hints of proselytism is treated very harshly, and the muttawa often bust illicit church assemblies and the like.This applies to citizens of Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.East of the Hejaz lies the elevated plateau known as Najd, a sparsely populated area of desert steppe dotted with small volcanic mountains.Dammam service, for example, costs SR60 and takes around 6 hours.
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Locally grown dates are of high quality, and religious paraphernalia is widely available, but almost exclusively imported.Everything in Saudi Arabia is regulated by the five daily prayers.There are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.After fajr, some people eat breakfast and head to work, with shops opening up.Large gold and jewelry markets are prominent in all major cities.Works in Dammam, Jazan, Jeddah, Medina and Riyadh.See the Hajj article for details.
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Local calls are under SR0.Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country.Saudi Arabia during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.Islamic, assume that it is: it would probably be best not to bring it with you to the kingdom.Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi community, which serve up large thali platters of subcontinental fare for under SR10.
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TerrainSaudi Arabia covers approximately four fifths of the area of the Arabian Peninsula, which can be described as a rectangular plateau gradually sloping eastwards till reaching sea level at the Persian Gulf.The country has some of the highest accident rates in the world.Quranic forms of scripture in public.Saudi Arabia for the nightlife.The winter can also bring rains to all or most of the country, although in many years this is limited to one or two torrential outbursts.
Visa restrictions:Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel.Saudi Post has a good network of post offices around the country, but offices are closed Thursday and Friday.Larger, more expensive hotels are abundant in all major cities.New customers are generally not allowed to enter until after prayer is over.Khobar and Manama, Bahrain.South services, private sleeper cabins are also available at a premium.Unlike other businesses which kick out their customers at prayer time, most restaurants will let diners hang around and eat behind closed doors through the prayer period.
Google, Skype, Wikipedia, and all major webmail providers are accessible.IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people.There are no major health risks for traveling in Saudi Arabia: water is generally drinkable and food is usually, but not always, hygienic.Within cities, taxis are the only practical means of transportation.There are numerous dialects spoken around the country, but the most important are Hejazi Arabic, originating from the Hejaz around Jeddah and the effective lingua franca, and Najdi Arabic, spoken in the Nejd around Riyadh.Under the rules of segregation, all people are divided into three groups:Families.
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Video game shops are ubiquitous in all of the major cities.The riyal is divided into 100 halalas, which are used to mark some prices, but, in practice, all payments are rounded to the nearest riyal and odds are you probably will never see any halala coins.Money changers can be found in souks, but are rare elsewhere.Public observance of religions other than Islam is a crime in Saudi Arabia.Foreigners should register their presence with their embassy or consulate.Do not drink and drive is good advice anywhere, but especially in Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah affected by major flooding in January 2011 and some cases of dysentery reported.ATMs are ubiquitous, although those of many smaller banks do not accept foreign cards; Samba, SABB and ANB are probably your best bets.Middle East in 1933.First class on a Saudi trainThe railway network in Saudi Arabia used to be underdeveloped, but there has been a major push to expand rail coverage.Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.These events can be a bit rare, however, so plan in advance.Notoriously, Saudi Arabia used to ban women from driving on public roads.
As one moves further south towards Yemen, the barren landscape gradually gives way to green mountains and even woodlands, the result of being in the range of the monsoons.After a rainy season, these barren, rocky steppes can yield lush meadows and rich pastures.Standardized throughout the country, metered fares start at SR5 and tick up at SR1.Drivers typically tend to attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence.However, some Filipino workers report the presence of churches inside some gated communities.In 1999 the government announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company.
All restaurants in the Kingdom are closed during the day, and while some offices stay open with limited hours, the pace of business slows down to a torpor.Saudi Arabia has 4 international airports at Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah, and Dammam.