Safest Countries to Travel for Citizens of Saudi Arabia

1. What is the current safety rating for Saudi Arabia according to international travel advisories?

As of July 2021, the current safety rating for Saudi Arabia according to international travel advisories is level 3: Reconsider Travel. This means that travelers should carefully consider the risks and take precautions when visiting Saudi Arabia, as there are ongoing security concerns and potential threats.

2. What factors may have influenced this safety rating?
There are several factors that may have influenced this safety rating for Saudi Arabia, including:

– Ongoing regional conflicts: Saudi Arabia is located in a region that has been plagued by ongoing conflicts, such as the war in Yemen and tensions with neighboring countries like Iran and Qatar. This can create an unstable and potentially dangerous environment for travelers.

– Terrorism threats: In recent years, Saudi Arabia has experienced several terror attacks targeting both foreigners and locals. These attacks have been carried out by extremist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

– Restrictions on women’s rights: Despite recent efforts to improve gender equality in the country, women still face significant restrictions on their rights and freedoms in Saudi Arabia. This can make female travelers feel unsafe or uncomfortable visiting the country.

– Stringent laws and regulations: Saudi Arabia has strict laws governing behavior, dress codes, and social interactions. Foreigners can be at risk of facing legal repercussions if they violate these rules.

– Limited freedom of expression: The government controls all media outlets in the country, restricting freedom of speech and limiting access to information. This can make it difficult for travelers to obtain accurate information about potential risks or dangers in certain areas.

– Customary practices/cultural norms: Some customs and cultural norms in Saudi Arabia may be unfamiliar or even offensive to foreign visitors. These cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings or discomfort for travelers.

Overall, these factors contribute to a varying level of safety concerns for travelers visiting different regions within Saudi Arabia. It is important for visitors to carefully research their destination and follow local laws and customs to stay safe while traveling in the country.

2. Are there any specific safety concerns for citizens of Saudi Arabia when traveling abroad?

As with any country, it is always important to research the safety and security situation of the destination you are traveling to. Some specific concerns for Saudi Arabian travelers may include:
– Discrimination or prejudices: Depending on the destination, there may be incidents of discrimination or prejudices against individuals from certain countries or cultures. It is important to research the cultural norms and attitudes towards Saudi Arabians in the country you are visiting.
– Political tensions: It is important to be aware of any political tensions between your home country and your travel destination. This can help you avoid potentially dangerous situations and navigate through any potential difficulties.
– Travel restrictions: Some countries may have specific travel restrictions or visa requirements for Saudi Arabian citizens. It is essential to research this information before planning your trip to avoid any issues at the airport or when entering the country.
– Health risks: As with any international travel, it is important to research any potential health risks in your destination. This may include vaccinations, food and water safety, and availability of medical facilities.
– Terrorism and crime: Unfortunately, terrorism and crime can occur in any country, including those that are generally considered safe. Be aware of any potential threats or high-risk areas in your destination, and take necessary precautions such as avoiding large crowds or public transportation during peak hours.
Additionally, it is always recommended to register with your home embassy or consulate while traveling abroad so they can assist you in case of an emergency.

3. How do crime rates in Saudi Arabia compare to other popular tourist destinations?

Crime rates in Saudi Arabia are generally considered to be lower than other popular tourist destinations. According to the 2020 Global Peace Index, which ranks countries based on their level of peacefulness and safety, Saudi Arabia was ranked as the 137th most peaceful country out of 163 countries. This is lower compared to other popular destinations such as Spain (30th), Italy (39th) and France (66th). Additionally, according to the Numbeo Crime Index 2020, which measures crime levels in cities around the world, Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, was ranked as the 139th safest city out of 323 cities worldwide. This is also higher than many popular tourist destinations such as Paris (68th), Rome (76th) and Barcelona (107th).

4. Are there any known natural disasters or extreme weather events that could affect travelers in Saudi Arabia?

There are a few natural disasters and extreme weather events that could potentially affect travelers in Saudi Arabia:

– Sandstorms: Sandstorms, also known as haboobs, are common in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the central and western regions during the summer months (June-September). These storms can reduce visibility severely and disrupt travel plans.
– Flash floods: These can occur suddenly during heavy rains, which mainly occur between November and April. Flash floods can cause road closures, disrupt transportation, and make certain areas inaccessible.
– Heatwaves: Saudi Arabia is known for its hot and dry climate, with temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer months. Travelers should take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.
– Earthquakes: Saudi Arabia is located on several fault lines and has experienced earthquakes in the past. While they are not common, there is still a risk of earthquakes occurring.
– Red tide: The Arabian Gulf may experience red tide algae blooms from time to time. These can cause respiratory problems for people with allergies or asthma.

It’s always advisable to monitor local weather reports and follow any instructions from authorities if any of these events occur.

5. Is terrorism a major concern for tourists visiting Saudi Arabia?

Yes, terrorism is a major concern for tourists visiting Saudi Arabia. The country has experienced multiple terrorist attacks in the past, including bombings and shootings targeting both civilians and security forces. The presence of terrorist organizations such as ISIS also poses a significant threat to the safety and security of visitors in the country. Saudi Arabia has taken measures to combat terrorism, but it is still important for travelers to remain vigilant and follow safety guidelines recommended by their government.

6. Are there any regions or neighborhoods within Saudi Arabia that should be avoided by tourists due to safety concerns?

There are no specific regions or neighborhoods that should be avoided by tourists due to safety concerns in Saudi Arabia. However, all travelers should exercise caution and stay informed about current events and local regulations. It is recommended to avoid areas near the country’s borders and to avoid large demonstrations or other public gatherings. Tourists should also adhere to dress code guidelines and refrain from any behavior that may be considered offensive or disrespectful in accordance with local customs and laws.

7. How prevalent is street crime and pickpocketing in popular tourist areas of Saudi Arabia?

There is very little street crime and pickpocketing in popular tourist areas of Saudi Arabia. The country has strict laws and a strong security presence, which helps to deter criminal activity. Additionally, the majority of visitors to Saudi Arabia are usually accompanied by tour guides or local hosts, further reducing the likelihood of becoming a victim of street crime or pickpocketing. However, travelers should always exercise caution and remain vigilant in crowded places, particularly around markets and shopping areas where pickpocketing may occur.

8. Are tourists targeted for scams or frauds in certain parts of Saudi Arabia?

Tourists are generally not targeted for scams or frauds in Saudi Arabia. However, as with any destination, it is important for tourists to always be aware of their surroundings and to exercise caution. As a precaution, it is recommended that tourists avoid giving personal information or financial details to strangers, and always purchase services or goods from reputable vendors. It is also advisable to only use official taxis and avoid street vendors offering deals that seem too good to be true.

9. Is public transportation safe and reliable for travelers in Saudi Arabia?

The reliability and safety of public transportation in Saudi Arabia can vary depending on the specific mode of transportation and location. Major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam have efficient and modern public transportation systems, including buses and metro trains. These modes of transport are generally considered safe for travelers.

However, in more remote or rural areas, public transportation may not be as well-developed or reliable. In addition, some forms of public transportation, such as taxis or buses operated by private companies, may have less stringent safety standards.

Overall, it is recommended that travelers exercise caution when using public transportation in Saudi Arabia and familiarize themselves with any potential risks before using a particular mode of transport. It may also be helpful to use reputable companies or services when possible to ensure a safer and more reliable experience.

10. What emergency resources are available for tourists in case of an accident or health issue while traveling in Saudi Arabia?

In case of an accident or health issue while traveling in Saudi Arabia, tourists can access the following emergency resources:

1. Emergency hotlines: The most important number to remember in case of any emergency is 999, which is the general emergency number for all types of emergencies. You can also call 911 for police assistance and 997 for the fire department.

2. Tourist Police Hotline: For any tourist-related incidents or concerns, tourists can also contact the Tourist Police Hotline at 930.

3. Tourist Information Centers: There are several Tourist Information Centers located in major cities and airports in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, and Madinah. These centers provide information about tourist attractions and offer assistance during emergencies.

4. Hospitals and Clinics: The Ministry of Health (MOH) provides a list of public hospitals and clinics throughout the country on their website. These facilities offer medical care and emergency services to everyone, including tourists.

5. Private Healthcare Facilities: In addition to public hospitals and clinics, there are also many private healthcare facilities throughout Saudi Arabia that cater to expats and tourists. They usually have English-speaking staff and offer quality medical care for a fee.

6. Travel Insurance: It is highly recommended for tourists to purchase travel insurance before visiting Saudi Arabia. This will cover them for any accidents or health issues that may arise during their trip.

7. Embassy/Consulate Assistance: In case of a serious emergency where immediate evacuation or assistance is required, tourists can contact their respective embassy or consulate for help.

8. Local Contacts: It is always helpful to have local contacts who can assist you in an emergency situation. This could be your tour guide, hotel staff, or a friend living in the country.

9. Mobile Apps: There are various mobile apps available that provide information on nearby hospitals, pharmacies, emergency numbers, etc., in case of any medical emergencies.

10. Good Samaritans: The people of Saudi Arabia are known for their hospitality and are always willing to help in case of an emergency. Do not hesitate to ask for help from locals if needed.

11. Have there been any recent political tensions or civil unrest that could potentially impact the safety of travelers in Saudi Arabia?

There have been no recent political tensions or civil unrest in Saudi Arabia that would significantly impact the safety of travelers. However, travelers should always follow the advice and guidance of local authorities and avoid areas where protests or demonstrations are taking place.

12. Does the government of Saudi Arabia provide support and assistance for its citizens traveling abroad?

Yes, the government of Saudi Arabia provides support and assistance for its citizens traveling abroad through its embassies and consulates in various countries. They offer services such as visa processing, emergency assistance, and legal aid to Saudi citizens in foreign countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also has an online portal where citizens can register their travel plans and receive updates on any advisories or warnings related to their destination. Additionally, the government provides a free SIM card to Saudi nationals traveling abroad, allowing them to make international calls at discounted rates.

13. Are LGBTQ+ travelers generally safe and accepted in Saudi Arabia, or are there potential risks to consider?

LGBTQ+ travelers may not be safe and accepted in Saudi Arabia due to the conservative social and legal environment. Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and can result in severe punishments, including imprisonment and/or corporal punishment. There is a significant risk of discrimination, harassment, and violence for LGBTQ+ individuals in public spaces.
Additionally, there are strict laws regarding dress code, public displays of affection, and same-sex relationships that LGBTQ+ travelers should be aware of before visiting Saudi Arabia. It is important to research local laws and customs and exercise caution when traveling as an LGBTQ+ individual in Saudi Arabia. It is also advisable to avoid discussing one’s sexual orientation or identity while in the country. Overall, it is essential for LGBTQ+ travelers to be mindful of their surroundings and adhere to local laws while traveling in Saudi Arabia.

14. Are vaccinations recommended or required for visitors to enter Saudi Arabia?

Yes, certain vaccinations may be recommended or required for visitors to enter Saudi Arabia. Depending on the length of stay and the purpose of travel, travelers may be required to show proof of vaccination or provide a valid international certificate of vaccination at the entry point. The Saudi Arabian government currently requires all visitors to have proof of vaccination against polio. It is also recommended that travelers be up-to-date on routine vaccines such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), and influenza. Additionally, it is strongly recommended that all visitors receive a vaccine for meningococcal disease before entering the country. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or visit a travel health clinic prior to your trip to ensure you are up-to-date on all necessary vaccines for Saudi Arabia.

15. How do laws and regulations regarding drugs and alcohol differ from those of the visitor’s home country while in Saudi Arabia?

Under Saudi Arabia’s strict laws and social norms, the consumption and possession of drugs and alcohol is strictly forbidden. This applies to both visitors and residents in the country, regardless of their nationality.

Visitors are subject to the same laws and regulations as locals and may face severe penalties for violating them. The legal consequences for drug offenses can range from imprisonment to the death penalty. Consuming alcohol is also punishable by imprisonment, fines, or deportation.

In contrast, many countries have more lenient laws regarding drugs and alcohol, some even legalizing or decriminalizing certain substances. Visitors should be aware that these laws do not apply in Saudi Arabia, and they must abide by the country’s strict rules while they are there.

It is also worth noting that some prescription medications may be considered controlled substances in Saudi Arabia, so it is important to research and fully declare any medications being brought into the country.

16. Is it common for visitors to encounter discrimination based on race, religion, or nationality while in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, it is possible for visitors to encounter discrimination based on race, religion, or nationality while in Saudi Arabia. Despite efforts to promote tolerance and equality, discrimination and prejudice can still occur in various areas of society.

One particular area where discrimination may be encountered is in the workplace. Non-Saudis, particularly migrant workers, may face unequal treatment and limited employment opportunities compared to their Saudi counterparts.

Religious minorities, such as Shia Muslims and non-Muslims, may also face discrimination in daily life due to the country’s strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. For example, non-Muslims are not allowed to publicly practice their religions and may face harassment or even arrest for doing so.

Additionally, racial and national origin discrimination may be evident in social interactions and services. Some reports suggest that expatriates from certain countries (such as South Asian countries) often experience discriminatory treatment at restaurants and hotels.

It should be noted that Saudi Arabia has laws against discrimination and authorities have taken measures to address these issues. However, it is important for visitors to be aware of potential discriminatory attitudes or practices and exercise caution when interacting with locals or navigating certain situations.

17. Are there certain cultural norms or customs that visitors should be aware of to ensure their safety while traveling through Saudi Arabia?

Yes, there are several cultural norms and customs that visitors should be aware of to ensure their safety while traveling through Saudi Arabia:

1. Respect for Islam: Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country and observing the Islamic faith is strictly enforced. Visitors should be respectful of Islamic customs and refrain from any actions or behaviors that may be considered offensive or disrespectful.

2. Dress Code: The dress code in Saudi Arabia is conservative, with women required to wear an abaya (a long robe) and cover their hair with a scarf when in public. Men are also expected to dress modestly, with no visible tattoos or excessive jewelry.

3. Public Displays of Affection: Physical contact between unrelated men and women is not acceptable in public places. It is advisable for couples to avoid showing affection or holding hands while in public.

4. Photography: Taking photographs of government buildings, military installations, and local people without their permission is prohibited and could result in arrest or detention.

5. Ramadan restrictions: During the holy month of Ramadan, non-Muslim visitors are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours. Many restaurants and cafes will be closed until after sundown during this time.

6. Alcohol and Drugs: The consumption, possession, or trafficking of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Saudi Arabia and can result in severe penalties.

7. Gender segregation: Some public places such as restaurants, cafes, parks, beaches have separate areas for men and women. Visitors should respect these gender segregation rules.

8. Friday prayer: Friday (Jummah) is the most important day of prayer for Muslims in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques during this time.

9.Etiquette during business meetings: Business meetings follow strict protocols based on mutual trust between parties involved which forms an integral part of the relationship-building process particular formalities exist when a visitor initiates meeting discussed below:
– Meetings often start with friendly small talk which allows participants to get comfortable and know each other, this could relate to family, travel or topics in the news.
– Business card exchange is considered a standard practice. A business card should be presented with both hands and take your time reviewing it before putting it away politely in a suitable space.
– Handshakes are carried out on separate gender lines – women might need to offer their hand first as women often do not shake hands between genders.
– Punctuality, while appreciated but is not paramount for meetings. Be prepared as well for meeting delays or cancellation without any reason from attendees’ perspective without impact your business interests.

10. Traffic safety: Saudi Arabia has strict traffic laws and regulations that must be followed at all times. The roads can be very busy and chaotic, so visitors should exercise caution when walking or driving.

11. LGBTQ+ rights: Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and could result in severe penalties, including imprisonment or the death penalty.

12. Avoid discussions on sensitive topics: It is advised to avoid discussions on sensitive topics such as religion, politics, and the royal family to avoid offending anyone or getting into trouble.

It is always best to research the cultural norms and customs of a country before visiting to ensure a safe and pleasant experience.

18. What precautions should solo female travelers take when visiting Saudi Arabia, if any?

1. Follow the country’s dress code: Solo female travelers should make sure to follow the conservative dress code in Saudi Arabia by covering their hair and wearing an abaya or a loose, long-sleeved garment over their clothing.

2. Be aware of cultural norms: It is important to be mindful of cultural norms and customs in Saudi Arabia. This includes avoiding physical contact with men, not making extended eye contact, and speaking softly and respectfully when around men.

3. Book accommodation in safe areas: When booking accommodation, make sure to choose a reputable hotel located in a safe and secure area.

4. Arrange transportation with reputable companies: When traveling within the country, it is recommended to arrange transportation with reputable companies such as Uber or Careem rather than using public transportation.

5. Carry identification at all times: Make sure to carry your identification documents such as your passport at all times while traveling within Saudi Arabia.

6. Avoid walking alone at night: It is best for solo female travelers to avoid walking alone, especially at night time.

7. Stay connected with family or friends: Keep your loved ones informed of your itinerary and check-in with them regularly to let them know you are safe.

8. Avoid discussing sensitive topics: As a foreigner, it is best to avoid discussing sensitive topics related to politics or religion while in Saudi Arabia.

9. Use caution when taking photographs: Before taking pictures of people or landmarks, make sure it is allowed and ask for permission if necessary. Taking photos of government buildings is prohibited.

10. Respect religious beliefs and practices: In Saudi Arabia, Islam is the state religion and Islamic practices are deeply ingrained in everyday life. It’s important for solo females travelers to respect these beliefs and practices when visiting religious sites or attending events.

11. Carry a scarf or shawl: It may be useful for solo female travelers to carry a scarf or shawl with them at all times in case they need to cover their head while in public.

12. Avoid traveling during Hajj or Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, many businesses and restaurants may have limited operating hours, and during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, there may be increased security measures in place, making it best to avoid traveling to Saudi Arabia during these times.

13. Be cautious when accepting invitations: While it is not uncommon for locals to extend invitations to visitors, solo female travelers should use caution when accepting these invitations and ensure that they are safe and appropriate.

14. Research current events and local laws: Stay informed about current events and local laws in Saudi Arabia before your trip, as some activities or behaviors that may be normal in other countries could be considered illegal in Saudi Arabia.

15. Stay abreast of travel advisories: Check with your government’s official travel advisory website for updated information on safety and security in Saudi Arabia before your trip.

16. Have a plan for emergencies: Be prepared for emergencies by keeping a list of emergency contacts with you at all times and registering with your embassy or consulate while in Saudi Arabia.

17. Consider hiring a guide: If you are unfamiliar with the country or its customs, consider hiring a reputable guide who can help navigate cultural differences and ensure a safe trip.

18. Trust your instincts: As always, trust your instincts while traveling. If something feels unsafe or uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation.

19. Do local authorities recommend any specific measures or precautions to take to ensure personal safety while visiting Saudi Arabia?

The following measures and precautions are recommended by local authorities in Saudi Arabia to ensure personal safety while visiting the country:

– Always carry a copy of your passport and valid visa with you at all times.
– Avoid public displays of affection, especially between unmarried couples, as it is considered illegal in the country.
– Dress modestly and respectfully in public, especially when visiting religious sites. Women should wear loose-fitting clothes that cover their arms and legs, and a headscarf when entering mosques.
– Follow all local laws and regulations, including those related to alcohol consumption, photography, and social media usage.
– Be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially during the month of Ramadan when fasting is observed by Muslims.
– Do not engage in any political activities or discussions while in the country.
– Keep your valuables secure at all times and avoid carrying large sums of cash or expensive jewelry with you.
– Exercise caution when participating in adventure or extreme sports activities and always follow safety instructions from trained professionals.
– Stay informed about current events and security conditions in the country through reliable sources of information, such as your embassy or consulate.

It is also recommended to familiarize yourself with the emergency numbers for police (999), ambulance (997), and fire (998) services. In case of emergency situations, it is important to stay calm and follow instructions from local authorities.

20. Are there any ongoing conflicts or tensions between Saudi Arabia and its neighboring countries that potential visitors should be aware of before traveling?

Yes, there are ongoing conflicts and tensions between Saudi Arabia and its neighboring countries that potential visitors should be aware of before traveling. These include:

1. Yemen: Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a military intervention in Yemen since 2015, supporting the Yemeni government against Houthi rebels. The conflict has resulted in a humanitarian crisis and sporadic cross-border attacks, making travel to areas near the Yemeni border unsafe.

2. Iran: Saudi Arabia and Iran have a long-standing rivalry over regional influence, fueled by religious and political differences. This has led to increased tensions and occasional diplomatic incidents between the two countries.

3. Qatar: In 2017, Saudi Arabia, along with three other Arab states, imposed a blockade on Qatar due to its alleged support for terrorism and close ties with Iran. Although the blockade has since been lifted, relations between the two countries remain strained.

4. Iraq: While relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq have improved in recent years, there are still occasional border clashes and disagreements over regional politics.

Travelers should always stay informed of current events and consult their government’s travel advice before visiting potentially volatile regions near Saudi Arabia’s borders with these neighboring countries.