Saudi Arabia

Home to Islam’s holiest cities of Makkah and Madina, Saudi Arabia offers a unique opportunity to visitors to explore the authentic traditions and culture of Arabia. Home to 18 million people with a presence of expatriates from various nationalities, the Islamic country offers sunshine all the year round, places of natural beauty and a rich mix of history and culture dating back to thousands of years.

 

Visa Restrictions

 

Comparatively, the authorities maintain a conservative policy in allowing foreigners, including Muslims to explore the vast country. Muslim pilgrims and residents have to follow certain conditions for travelling within the country. Tourist visas are rarely issued. The best way to get into the Islamic country is by invitation of a Saudi national or company, or, if you’re a Muslim, on a pilgrimage to one of the holy cities.

 

The Gulf Nationals are allowed entry to Saudi Arabia without a visa. The kingdom is working on a new program called “Umra Plus” tourism that will allow pilgrims to extend their stay in the kingdom to visit certain areas that were previously inaccessible to them.

 

Cultural Do’s and Don’t

 

The holy country of Saudi Arabia has several restrictions for the foreigners as it practices Islamic principle strongly. There are other social and cultural restrictions – no short dresses are allowed, no mixing of unrelated men and women. For the time being, the experience of visiting Saudi Arabia includes conforming to its norms. No alcohol, pornography or proselytizing materials can be taken into the country.

 

Saudi Arabia follows an austere version of Sunni Islam and religious police patrol the streets to ensure adherence to Islamic Shariah, including a total ban on alcohol and certain types of music, books, literature, films, videos and photographs which are believed as vulgar and provocative. Men have to dress modestly and women have to cover their clothing with a loose black garment, called ‘Abaya’. In restaurants and public places, the authorities observe strict privacy policy, segregating single men and families into separate sections.

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Tourism

 

The world’s leading oil exporter has many tourist destinations. The country’s capital, Riyadh, is a modern oil booming city with lot of high rising buildings. Makkah and Madina cities are strictly off limits to non-Muslims. Nearby Jeddah, the major Red Sea port city, gives a unique insight of culture and history of the West of Saudi Arabia.

 

If there is one highlight to be visited in the Kingdom, it is Mada’in Saleh, about 400 km North of Medina towards Jordanian border. It is the home of approximately 140 magnificent tombs of Nabataean origin, compared to Petra in Jordan, yet located in a different type of setting.

 

Terrain and Climate

 

About half of the Middle East’s largest country consists of uninhabitable desert. There are no permanent rivers or lakes whatsoever and the average temperature in July is about 40ºC.

The whole of the Middle East is tilted, so the southwest of Saudi Arabia has mountains as high as 3000 meters while the east has lowlands. The mountain area has the greenest and freshest climate especially compared to the deserts of the east.

General 
LanguageArabic, English
Time ZoneAST(UTC +3)
Dialing Code00966
Electricity127/220V, 60 Hz
Major CitiesRiyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Makkah, Madinah
CurrencySaudi Riyal
ClothingVery conservative dressing; women have to wear an Abaya in public places, whereas men should not wear shorts in public.
 

Health Related

 
Mortality Rate3.34 deaths/ 1,000 population
Life ExpectancyM 72/ 76 F
Patient: Physician ratio750: 1
Hospitals JCI accredited34
Recommended VaccinationsHepatitis A, Influenza, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Rabies, Diphtheria-tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Varicella, Measles, Meningococcal and Yellow fever.
Other InfectionsRespiratory Infections, Brucellosis, Onchocerciasis, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Plague, Foot-and-mouth disease, HIV
 

Tourism Related

 
Population27,136,977
Global Competitiveness4.95
Tourism Competitiveness3.9/7
GDP/Capita17,700
Health and Hygiene3.8/7
Safety and Security4.9/7
Air Transport Infrastructure3.6/7
Tourism Infrastructure4.1/7
Cultural Infrastructure1.4/7
Visa Requirements125/133
Reliability of Police Services45/133
Physician Density72/133
Hospital Beds75/133
Quality of Air Transport Infrastructure47/133
International Air Transport Network54/133
Quality of Roads37/133
Hotel Rooms39/133
Tourism Openness105/133
Attitude of Population Towards Foreign Visitors124/133

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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