Recent developments in Saudi Arabia make the dream of touring the kingdom more viable than it has ever been. Announcements made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s administration are bringing the much-needed changes.
Vision 2030 reforms program is turning the kingdom into an attractive destination. Lifting and easing the strict regulations that affect foreigners significantly increases the ease of touring Saudi Arabia.
Here are a few essential tips that should make your trip to Saudi Arabia enjoyable
Safety First: Is Saudi Arabia safe?
Traveling to Saudi Arabia is safe. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state. The kingdom relies on Sharia Laws for its rules and policies. You must be familiar with Sharia laws to avoid getting into trouble. Some things that may be legal in your country may be illegal in Saudi Arabia.
Be mindful of others in your activities. Saudi Arabia also scrutinizes foreigners before permitting them to tour the country. Background checks and scrutiny of the purpose of travel ensure that travelers pose no threat.
The general police enforce laws. Mutawa, a group of officers and volunteers that enforces Sharia law on behalf of the royal family, assists the public police. Those that breach Saudi Arabia’s laws face going to jail, being flogged, deported, or hanged.
Respect the Islamic religion while in Saudi Arabia. Muslims pray five times daily. At these times, everything closes except taxis, public transport, airports, and hospitals. The police and mutawa hassle anyone that loiters during prayer times. If you are not a Muslim, stay in your hotel during these times.
Avoid criticizing the royal family or the Saudi government. Condemning them publicly or in social media can cause you problems with the police or mutawa. Respect the Saudi flag to avoid problems.
Locals in Saudi Arabia are welcoming and hospitable. They are respectful, and they will have no problems with you if you respect them and their beliefs. Avoid public display of affection and dress responsibly at all times.
Do not photograph local women, especially without their consent. Locals will occasionally invite you to shared meals. Do not turn down any food or gifts they offer since it is disrespectful.
Saudi Arabia allows non-Muslims to practice their religions in private. You can also travel with your religious items like a Bible or crucifix, but for personal use only.
The locals may offer you gifts or food. Accept and consume them with your right hand. If you visit a local’s home, always remove your shoes.
You may enter the house with them if the homeowner insists that you do. Sit on the floor in traditional Majlis (sitting room having floor cushions). Learning local greetings is courteous.
Restrictions on Alcohol and Drug Usage
Personal smuggling or the use of drugs is illegal in Saudi Arabia. Those guilty of these offenses are subject to punishment that includes hanging.
Alcohol is illegal across the country. The local brew, Arak, is illegal and has a high alcohol content level. It may have dangerous impurities like methanol. The alcohol laws are lenient in residential compounds of foreigners as the civil police ignore these areas.
Safety Tips for Women Travelers
The Crown Prince announced that women are free to choose whether to wear a hijab (headscarf) of abaya (a long, loose robe). This announcement signified a change from the law that always required women to wear them. If you choose not to put on these items, ensure your clothes are loose and long.
You should have a sponsor. The sponsor should meet you upon arrival in Saudi Arabia. Those without one can face delays or denial of access to the country. The sponsor usually holds your passport while you get an Iquama (residency permit). This document is for your daily travels.
Saudi Arabia is opening up its sites for tourists. The country has a lot to offer visitors. From World Heritage Sites to the elegant coastal cities along the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia is an excellent tourist destination. These tips should help you make the most of your trip to Saudi Arabia without getting into trouble.
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