Travel Advice for Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
Capital: Riyadh

Time Zone GMT + 3
Telephone
Services
Country Code: 966
IDD: International Direct Dialling is available
Outgoing Code: 00
Emergency
Telephone
Numbers
Not present.
Tourist
Information
Saudi Hotels and Resort Areas Co (SHARACO) PO Box 5500, Riyadh 11422, Saudi Arabia. Tel: (1) 465 7177 Fax: (1) 465 7172.
Passport
Information
Valid passport required by all except Muslim Pilgrims holding 'Pilgrim Passes', tickets and other documents for their onward journey entering the country via Jeddah or Dahran. All passports must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended period of stay. Return Ticket required. Requirements may be subject to short-term change. Contact the relevant authority before departure.
Visa
Information
Visa should be obtained in advance of travel and are required by all except: Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and holders of re-entry permits issued by the Saudi-Arabian government.
Health
Information
Polio, Typhoid: Vaccination recommended.
Malaria : Exists in the falciparum variety throughout the year within certain areas. Cerebral malaria has been reported in the Jizan area.
Yellow Fever: A vaccination certificate is required from all travellers arriving from countries where any parts are infected.
Other Health Risks: Rabies, Bilharzia, Meningococcal Meningitis.
Food
& Drink
Water is untreated and not safe to drink. Avoid dairy products as they are not pasteurised. Fruit and vegetables should be peeled before consumption.
Currency Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR) = 100 halalah.
All major credit cards are accepted. Travellers cheques in, preferably, US dollars are accepted.
ATM availability: Over 1 000 locations.
Cost of
Living
Generally expensive and prices increase by 25% during the summer months and hotel charges double in Medina and Mecca during the pilgrimage season. Cheap accommodation and food can be found by the budget traveller.
Languages Arabic. English is spoken in business circles.
Weather Desert climate. Jeddah is warm most of the year. Riyadh is hot in the summer and cooler during the winter. This is one of the driest countries in the world.
Electricity 125/215 volts AC, 50/60 Hz.
Post Airmail to Europe takes up to 1 week.
Transport FLIGHTS: There are 19 domestic airports and flying is the most convenient method of travelling around the country.
ROAD: The system is continually being updated and expanded, however standards of driving are erratic and many driving offences carry an automatic prison sentence.
TAXI: Available in all centres but are very expensive. Few have meters and fares should be agreed in advance.
CAR HIRE: The major international companies have agencies in Saudi Arabia. Minimum driving age is 25.
DOCUMENTATION: A national driving licence is valid for up to 3 months. An IDP with translation is recommended.
Special
Information
Because of the situation of global and regional insecurity at present, travellers should exercise extreme caution and make only necessary journeys to this country. If you intend to travel depite this advice you should be aware that dress codes and behavioural codes are strictly adhered to. Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. Non-political criminal activity is minimal, mainly due to the strict implementation of Saudi law. Extreme care must be taken when driving as the blame for accidents may be apportioned in an unexpected basis which may appear to be 'wrong' to western visitors. Visitors should be aware that innocent contact with veiled women can be misinterpreted. In view of three car bombings targeting British nationals towards the end of 2000 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice [FCO] should be reviewed before any travel plans are confirmed.