Saudi Arabia is located in the middle east just west of the country of Oman, that shares borders with Iraq and Yemen.
Known as the birthplace of Islam, the country has a long and detailed religious heritage and is the home of Mecca, a place to which all able-bodied Muslims must attempt pilgrimage, though even if you aren’t making the pilgrimage, there is much you can do and many reasons to travel there.
Now should you ever find yourself travelling to Saudi Arabia outside of the Hajj pilgrimage then here are a few things you should know.
When to travel
Travel times are important to remember during the year in order to meet with the least disruption possible and to ensure you aren’t struck with the hottest weather.
Firstly, as a Muslim country, Saudi Arabia takes part in the yearly fasting during Ramadan. As visitors to the country, you would be expected to take part in this as well. That means no food or water during fasting periods, although some hotels may be able to discreetly provide for some visitors. This is the same for all religious periods such as prayer times. You are expected to honour and observe them, so make sure you know when they are.
Also, take care to remember the temperatures that Summer can reach. Average days between April and September can soar to 45 Degrees Celsius. Always make sure you take basic suncare and hydration into account if you find yourself out in this heat. Make sure to pack accordingly to keep yourself safe from the sun.
What to take (or not)
Saudi Arabia’s law is determined by Islamic Sharia Law. This means that there are very strict limitations on what can be carried around on your person or imported into the country. These articles include certain video games and movies, alcohol, most drugs, pornography and adult material, and even pork and non-Islamic religious material.
A good idea to implement is that if you are uncertain that what you carry on your person is un-Islamic, or may be questionable at all under the law, then don’t carry it. This may seem extreme but when you consider the penalty for some of these articles is death, then you would be wise not to take the risk.
How and where to travel
There are many places to travel to in Saudi Arabia but Always be aware of the limitations of where you both can and can’t travel.
This applies to both groups and individual travellers. Women may not travel alone without a chaperone in pretty much most of the country. Some areas do allow this so ensure you check to prevent any harassment from locals or even law enforcement.
Some areas are also deemed “family only”, thus preventing solo male travellers from even entering entire buildings due to this limitation.
Due to potentially armed unrest in certain areas of the country your local government may issue travel warnings within specific areas.
Always check for the right Visa
Historically and currently Saudi Arabia can be a difficult country to enter, with restrictions on countries you cannot enter from, even if you visited them years ago.
As such strict Visas are in place to limit those who can enter the country and how long for. Restrictions apply to those who are travelling alone, from certain countries and to make some matters even more complex, Visas are also required to EXIT the country if you are there as a student or worker.
Make sure you do as much research as possible and fill out your applications with as much detail as required as Visas can be rejected for even simple mistakes.