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Saudi Arabia Travel Guides

The Basics:


125 volts, 50Hz, but 215 volts, 60Hz in some (more remote) areas.


Arabic is the official language in Saudi Arabia, but English is widely understood.


Service charge is usually included in bills at hotels. Elsewhere a tip of 10% can be offered for services rendered. Taxi drivers can be given 10% of the fare.

Safety Information

Travel safety in Saudi Arabia is a concern. The US and British authorities believe terrorists may be planning further attacks against Westerners and in places associated with Westerners in Saudi Arabia following recent incidents in which foreign nationals were killed. Aviation interests remain a possible terrorist target. Attacks in the past have included kidnappings, targeted shootings and bombings of shopping areas, government offices and car bombs. Visitors who choose to risk entering the country should ensure they have individual security arrangements, remain vigilant, keep a low profile and avoid public gatherings. Visitors should be particularly alert in public places frequented by foreigners such as shopping malls, restaurants and hotels and in the desert outside Riyadh. Pilgrims are increasingly being targeted by pickpockets in Mecca and Medina and are advised to take care of personal possessions. In recent years pilgrims have died due to overcrowding and stampedes at events during Haj. Religious police patrols rigorously enforce codes of behaviour and dress prescribed by Islamic law and visitors should respect these.

Local Customs

Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced. No alcohol, pork products or religious books and artefacts not related to Islam are permitted in the country. There are no bars in Saudi Arabia, and alcohol is served nowhere to anyone of any religious persuasion. Dress should be conservative at all times, and women should take particular care not to offend. Visitors are advised to familiarise themselves with behaviour and dress codes before entering the country. Homosexual behaviour and adultery are illegal and can carry the death penalty. Photography of local people, government buildings, military installations and palaces is not allowed, and women are not permitted to drive. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. The right hand should be used for everything, including eating and the giving and receiving of things, as the left is considered unclean. It is illegal to hold two passports, and second passports will be confiscated if discovered by immigration authorities.




Saudi Arabia has a good telephone network. The country code is +966 and the outgoing international code 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Riyadh. Mobile telephone service providers operate GSM 900 networks, and there are Internet facilities in most cities.

Duty Free

Travellers to Saudi Arabia do not have to pay duty on 600 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 500g tobacco; or perfume or cultured pearls for personal use. Duty is payable on cameras and other electronic goods, and refunds on these are available if the articles are re-exported within 90 days. Strictly prohibited are food products and carbonated water, animals and birds and palm trees or derivatives thereof. Other prohibited items include alcohol, firearms, drugs, pork products and natural pearls. Luxury NEWS >