UK Customer Services0330 880 3600
Open Mon - Fri 8:30am - 6pm.
Sat 8:30am - 4pm.
(Calls may be monitored or recorded)
Contact details can be found in your policy documentation
Available 24 hours a day, every day
Region: Middle East
Full Name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Capital City: Riyadh
Language Spoken: Arabic
25 00 N, 45 00 E
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m highest point: Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m
total: 4,431 km border countries: Iraq 814 km, Jordan 744 km, Kuwait 222 km, Oman 676 km, Qatar 60 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,458 km
frequent sand and dust storms
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper
arable land: 1.67% permanent crops: 0.09% other: 98.24% (2005)
desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills
Saudi Arabia has a desert climate. In Jeddah it is warm for most of the year. Riyadh, which is inland, is hotter in summer and colder in winter, when occasional heavy rainstorms occur. The Rub al Khali (?empty Quarter?) seldom receives rain, making Saudi Arabia one of the driest countries in the world.\nRequired clothing\nTropical or lightweight clothing.
time difference: UTC+3
27,019,731 note: includes 5,576,076 non-nationals (July 2006 est.)
0-14 years: 38.2% (male 5,261,530/female 5,059,041) 15-64 years: 59.4% (male 9,159,519/female 6,895,616) 65 years and over: 2.4% (male 342,020/female 302,005) (2006 est.)
total: 21.4 years male: 22.9 years female: 19.4 years (2006 est.)
2.18% (2006 est.)
29.34 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
2.58 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
-4.94 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.33 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.13 male(s)/female total population: 1.2 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
total population: 75.67 years male: 73.66 years female: 77.78 years (2006 est.)
4 children born/woman (2006 est.)
Men should wear suits for business meetings and formal social occasions. Appointments are necessary. Visiting cards printed in English with an Arab translation are usually exchanged. The official language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic, but English is widely used in business and on signs and notices, making it easy for the non-Arabic speaker to live and work in the Kingdom. Modern Saudi Arabia has adopted many of the business methods and styles of the West, but some differences remain. Most important is that business will only be conducted after a degree of trust and familiarity has been established. Considerable time may be spent exchanging courtesies, and several visits may be needed to secure business. Business visitors should arrange their itineraries to allow for long meetings, as traditional Saudis often maintain an "open office" in which they will sign papers, take telephone calls, and converse with friends or colleagues who drop by. Tea, soft drinks, and traditional Saudi coffee are usually offered. One to three cups of Saudi coffee should be taken for politeness, after which the cup should be wiggled between thumb and forefinger when returning it to the server to indicate that you have finished. Office hours are typically 0900-1300 and 1630-2000 Saturday to Thursday (Ramadan 2000-0100), with some regional variation (eg Dhahran offices: 0700-1130 and 1300-1430 Saturday to Wednesday). Government office hours are 0730-1430 Saturday to Wednesday. Saudi companies usually close for two hours in the afternoon and remain open through the early evening. Note: Prior to the execution of a final contract, some business persons and contract employees of Saudi companies have obtained an independent translation of the Arabic-language contract, to ensure a full understanding of all terms, limits and agreements, because the Arabic version usually governs under Saudi law. Settlement of disputes depends on the type of agreement and the agency involved. If the Saudi party in a business dispute files a complaint with the Saudi authorities, Saudi law permits barring the exit of the foreign party from the country until the dispute is settled. Travelers to Saudi Arabia should note that there is evidence that hotel rooms have been monitored in Saudi Arabia and should be discreet in discussing sensitive business matters.
Crime is generally not a problem for travelers in Saudi Arabia. However, private Saudi citizens who perceive that conservative standards of conduct are not being observed by a foreigner may harass, pursue, or assault the person. The occasional burglary is the only common criminal activity that occurs in the kingdom that is likely to affect expatriates, and is usually traced back to household help or temporary workers who have been in the house recently. Assault and robberies are extremely rare. Nevertheless, serious crime in Saudi Arabia does occur from time to time as Saudis and foreign workers have been beheaded for rape and other major crimes. Civil unrest and disorder in this tightly regulated society are virtually unknown. If you should need to contact the police, they can be reached at 999. However, the caller should have an Arabic speaker available to translate, as English skills among the rank and file police officers are rare.
Four and five star hotel accommodations are readily available in the major business centers, and many of the better restaurants are located in the hotels. Accommodation is generally easy to find, except during the pilgrim season when advance reservations are recommended. Housing for expatriate employees residing in the Kingdom is usually provided by the employer or through a housing allowance given to the employee. The major cities offer a wide variety of houses and apartments for rents considered high by U.S. metropolitan standards. Most Western expatriates live in housing compounds that provide additional services such as cable television, recreation facilities, childcare, limousine services for women (who are not allowed to drive in the Kingdom), and security.
A sophisticated telecommunications network and satellite, microwave and cable systems span the country. Full telephone IDD service is available. The country code is 966 and the outgoing international code is 00. Major hotels provide fax facilities. Modern communication facilities are available including telephone, fax, telex, and courier services. In addition, a number of agreements have already been signed between various U.S. Internet service providers and Saudi companies to launch the service in Saudi Arabia. Use of private satellite communication transponders is not allowed. Facsimile machines are heavily utilized in the conduct of business. A cellular phone system based on the GSM standard is operational, while radiophones are restricted. The Government is embarking on a large-scale telecommunication upgrade program, and the shortage is expected to be resolved by the end of 2002.
is 125/215 volts AC, 50/60Hz. Electricity 127/220 volts AC, 60Hz.
Local food is often strongly flavored and spicy. The most common meats are lamb and chicken, beef is rare and pork is proscribed under Islamic law. The main meat meal of the day is lunch. Foreign cooking is on offer in larger towns and the whole range of international cuisine, including fast food, is available in the oil-producing Eastern Province and in Jeddah. Things to know: Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the fasting hours of Ramadan will incur strict penalties. Restaurants have table service. There are no bars. Alcohol is forbidden by law, and there are severe penalties for infringement; it is important to note that this applies to all nationals regardless of religion.
? The staple diet is pitta bread (flat, unleavened bread) which accompanies every dish.
? Rice, lentils, chick peas (hummus) and cracked wheat (burghul) are also common.
? Kultra (chicken or lamb on skewers) is popular for lunch.
? Kebabs served with soup and vegetables.
? Mezze, the equivalent of h?rs d?oeuvres, may include up to 40 dishes.
? Arabic cakes, cream desserts and rice pudding (muhalabia). National drinks:
? Arabic coffee and fruit drinks are popular alternatives to alcohol.
? Alcohol-free beers and cocktails are served in hotel bars.
The practice of tipping is becoming much more common and waiters, hotel porters and taxi drivers should be given 10 per cent.
Apart from restaurants and hotels there is no nightlife in the Western sense.
Restricted entry (a) Holders of an Israeli passport or passports with Israeli stamps in them. (b) Passengers not complying with Saudi conventions of dress and behavior, including those who appear to be in a state of intoxication, or who display inappropriate affection (especially between men and women) will be refused entry (see Social Conventions section). (c) There are special regulations concerning pilgrims entering Saudi Arabia. Contact the Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy) for further information. Note (a) Unaccompanied women must be met at the airport by their sponsor or husband and have confirmed onward reservations as far as their final destination in Saudi Arabia. If met by a sponsor, it is worth noting that there are restrictions on women traveling by car with men who are not related by blood or marriage. However, it is acceptable for women visiting for business purposes to be accompanied and met at the airport by male business partners: further enquiries can be made at the Information Center or Embassy. Women and under-aged children should be accompanied by a Moharram (close male family member). (b) No foreign passenger who is working as a domestic servant in Saudi Arabia should be transported to Saudi Arabia unless holding a valid non-refundable return ticket.
A passport valid for six months at time of entry is required by all except Muslim pilgrims holding Pilgrim Passes, tickets and other documents for their onward or return journey and entering the country via Jeddah or Medina - although sufficient evidence of Muslim faith must be provided (eg religious authenticated certificate). All passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the estimated stay in Saudi Arabia.
Required by all except the following:
(a) nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Yemen;
(b) transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft within 18 hours, provided holding valid onward or return documentation, not leaving the airport and making no further landing in Saudi Arabia (except those traveling on Saudi Arabian Airlines who are permitted to make a second stop, and except nationals of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria who always require a transit visa);
(c) holders of re-entry permits and ?Landing Permits? issued by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see Passport/Visa Information).
Family Visit: US$67 Business: US$67 ; US$165 (multiple-entry). Work: SAR50 (approximately US$17 ), if paying at Embassy. Please consult the Consulate to confirm the exact amount as fluctuations occur due to exchange rates. Residency: US$17 Transit: US$17 Pilgrim (Ummra): no charge (one to three months for a maximum of 30 days).
(a) The Pilgrim (Ummra) visa can only be obtained through an authorized 'Ummra Agency', appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Check with Embassy for a full list of appointed agents. Administrative fees may apply. (b) Transit passengers who stay in the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah Islamic Port or Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina for over 24 hours can perform Ummra or visit a Holy Mosque, provided they withhold a signed agreement with one of the appointed Ummra agencies.
The visa stay period starts from the first day of entry into Saudi Arabia within the visa?s valid dates. Ummra visas are valid for 30 days for stays of up to two weeks.
Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy); see Passport/Visa Information. Travelers are advised to apply well in advance. Hajj or Umrah visas are only available from the Consulate through an authorized travel agent. People visiting the Consulate directly for Hajj or Umrah visas will not be successful.
Family/Residency: (a) One application form. (b) One passport-size photo affixed to application form. Children traveling on parents' passport must have photos affixed on passport and endorsed by relevant authorities with photos attached on application form. Copies of birth certificate and marriage certificate of all accompanying children and spouses are also required. (c) Passport valid for at least six months. (d) Prepaid, self-addressed, recorded delivery envelope, if applying by post. If applying by post from Ireland (Rep), enclose a minimum of nine coupons. (e) Fee (payable in cash, by postal order or by banker?s draft only). (f) Medical report, authenticated by the UK Foreign Office (for persons over 15 years of age). Applicants from Ireland (Rep) should legalize their medical report at the Irish Foreign Office in Dublin. (g) A copy a of marriage certificate showing the visitor is married to the person working in Saudi Arabia whom they intend to visit. These documents must be legalized through the British Foreign and Common Wealth Office or the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. Business: (a)-(e) and, (f) Letter of invitation from Saudi host company endorsed by Saudi Chamber of Commerce (original and copy). (g) Letter from company or organization in own country. Work: (a)-(d) and, (e) Letter of introduction from Saudi sponsor and copy of the employment contract. (f) Copies of academic qualifications and work experience in the field of job applied for. (g) A visa authorization letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supplied by the Saudi Arabian employer. (h) Letter of No Objection if previously employed in Saudi Arabia. (i) An amount equivalent to SAR50 deposited at the Consulate?s cashier desk. Pilgrim: (a)-(d) and, (e) Airline ticket with confirmed booking (both ways). The point of entry and departure must be Jeddah or Medina. (f) Meningitis immunization certificate with validity for more than three years and vaccination issued no less than 10 days before traveling. A Yellow Fever certificate may be required, if traveling from an infected area. (g) ID card must be worn on wrist band and luggage must be clearly labelled: 'PILGRIM'. (h) Letter of approval issued by Saudi Ministry of Hajj, confirming that the authorized UK travel agent, tour operator and charities, through which the application for Hajj was submitted, have completed the necessary requirements regarding their pilgrims. (i) Proof of conversion to Islam may have to be submitted. Transit: (a)-(e) and, (f) Airline ticket reservation showing proof of leaving Saudi Arabia within 48 hours and visa valid for next destination if applicable.
(a) An Exit Permit is required for most nationals, requiring a passport-size photo and must be issued by the Chief of Police (usually processed within three days after application). It is advised to enquire at the nearest Embassy for further information. (b) There are further requirements for Ummra applications, but these must be submitted by the endorsed travel agent or tour operator.
At least two days. At least one week if applying by post. For information on processing time for all other types of visa, contact the Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy).
Test required for anyone applying for work or residency permit
SAR50. Children, Hajj and Ummra pilgrims and passengers accompanying human remains are exempt.
30 Charles Street, London W1J 5DZ, UK
Visa section: 30-32 Charles Street, London W1J 5DZ, UK
Tel: (020) 7917 3000.
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 0900-1600, Fri 0900-1500.
Consular section: Mon-Thurs 0900-1130 (visa applications); 1400-1530 (passport collection), Fri 1330-1430.
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA
Tel: 337 4076 (information section) or 944 3126 (visa section).
There is a continuing high threat of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. It is believed that terrorists are planning further attacks, including against Westerners and places associated with Westerners in Saudi Arabia.
Travelers choosing to travel to, or remain in, Saudi Arabia should take all necessary steps to protect their safety and should make sure they have confidence in their individual security arrangements. Travelers should maintain a high level of vigilance, particularly in public places.
Travelers should remember that Islamic law is strictly enforced in Saudi Arabia.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:
Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR) = 100 halala; 5 halala = 20 qurush. Notes are in denominations of SAR500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 25, 10, and 5 halala, and 10, 5, 2 and 1 qurush.
Free import and export of both local and foreign currency. Import of Israeli currency is prohibited.
Sat-Wed 0800-1200 and 1700-2000; Thurs 0800-1200. Money-changers stay open longer.
Most foreign currencies can be exchanged at commercial banks and money-changers, which stay open longer.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are all widely accepted. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.
Widely accepted although they can be hard to change. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Saudi Riyal, Euros, US Dollars or Pounds Sterling and to carry the purchase receipt.
|City/Region||City/Area code||Followed by|
|Abha||(0)7||+ 7 digit subscriber nr|
|Dammam||(0)3||+ 7 digit subscriber nr|
|Hail||(0)6||+ 7 digit subscriber nr|
|Madinah||(0)4||+ 7 digit subscriber nr|
|Makkah||(0)2||+ 7 digit subscriber nr|
|Riyadh||(0)1||+ 7 digit subscriber nr|
Good quality care is available in the larger hospitals in the cities
Supplies of international medications are generally available from both the hospitals and private pharmacies in Saudi Arabia
Blood supplies are considered safe and screened to international standards
Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in several hospitals and health centers in Saudi Arabia.
Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution; avoid freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.
AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. (Reports indicate that the Saudis routinely test blood donations for AIDS.) Dust is a year-round problem and an aggravation to allergy sufferers. Snakes are seldom seen, but are occasionally found, along with scorpions.
Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Meningitis: Saudi authorities require that those who participate in an annual pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj or Umra) have a certificate of vaccination against meningococcal meningitis issued not more than 3 years and not less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Department of State indicates that it is reasonable for travelers to Mecca, Medina or the Jeddah area during the Hajj period to consider immunization. Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to vaccination. Protection may be less effective for infants and children aged 3-23 months than it is for persons aged 2 years and older. Polio: A one-time booster dose is recommended for travelers who have previously completed a standard course of polio immunization. Refer to CDC guidelines for vaccinating unimmunized or incompletely immunized persons. Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to vaccination; however, if protection is needed, either IPV or OPV may be used, depending on preference and time available. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.
Insect-borne illness: these do not generally pose widespread hazards to the traveler. Leishmaniasis (cutaneous) - occurs Leishmaniasis (visceral) - occurs Malaria - occurs Tick-borne relapsing fever - occurs Typhus (including murine and tick-borne) - occurs Food-borne and water-borne illness: pose a major hazard in most areas. Brucellosis - prevalent Cholera - occurs Dracunculiasis - occurs Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) - occurs Hepatitis - common Schistosomiasis - occurs Taeniasis - occurs Typhoid fever - common Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported. Polio is still considered a possible risk, although cases have rarely been reported in recent years. Influenza risk extends from November to April north of the Tropic of Cancer and throughout the year south of that. Meningococcal meningitis - occurs (meningococcal vaccine is recommended for persons undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage). Trachoma and animal rabies may be problems.
AIDS: According to the Department of State, testing is required for applicants for residency/work permits only. Contact Saudi Arabia's embassy for details. Cholera: None. (According to the Saudi Embassy, pilgrims applying for visas for the Hajj are required to provide proof of a cholera vaccination. This requirement is in excess of what the Saudi government has reported to WHO; however, there is every indication that it is a legitimate requirement with which pilgrims participating in the Hajj should comply. Persons visiting Saudi Arabia for other purposes are not affected by this requirement.) Identification: All pilgrims are required to carry an identity card, together with a wristband containing personal identification data, nationality and the name of the guide in charge of the rites he performs. In addition, information regarding any special medical condition, e.g., diabetes, epilepsy, allergies, high/low blood pressure, should also be included in case of emergency. Meningitis: Those who participate in an annual pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj or Umra) are required to produce a certificate of vaccination against meningococcal meningitis issued not more than 3 years and not less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia. Yellow fever: All travelers arriving from a country, any part of which is infected with yellow fever, are required to produce a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate.
No recent disease outbreaks
|Al Hamadi Hospital||East of Oloya Main Street North of Real Estate commercial center Riyadh 11534|
|Al Mishari Hospital||Omia Street Riyadh 11564|
|Alamana General Hospital||PO Box 311 Al Khobar|
|Alawi Tunsi & Brothers Hospital||Al-Aziziyah Area Mecca|
|Al-Mobarak Hospital||Al-Mobarak Area King Faisal Road Riyadh|
|Al-Osrah International Hospital||Orayja Area Bilal Bin Rabah Street Riyadh|
|Dallah Hospital||PO Box 87833 Riyadh 11652|
|Dr Erfan & Bagedo Hospital||19 Prince Said Street Jeddah 21452|
|Dr Ghassan N Pharaon General Hospital||Prince Sultan Street Zahra District Jeddah 21412|
|Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Mishari Hospital||11564 Olaya South of Al-Akaria Center P.O. Box 56929 Riyadh 11564|
|Dr. Al Harbashi Clinics||P.O. Box 43366 Riyadh 11561|
|Dr. Bakhsh Hospital||PO Box 6940 Jeddah 21452|
|Dr. Gassan N. Pharaon General Hospital - Yanbu||Malakia Area Yanbu|
|Dr. Gassan N. Pharaon Hospital - Khamis Mushyat||P.O. Box 761 Khamis Mushyat|
|Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital||P.O. Box 2537 Jeddah 21461|
|GNP Polyclinic||Prince Fouaz Street Malaz Area Riyadh|
|Jeddah Clinic Hospital||Al-Kandara Airport Street Jeddah|
|King Fahad National Guard Hospital||Riyadh 114 26|
|King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre||Prince Abdullah Road Jeddah 21499|
|Kingdom Hospital||Araby Street Riyadh 11671|
|New Jeddah Clinic||Madinah Road Falasteen Square Jeddah 21472|
|Saad Specialist Hospital||P.O. Box 30353 Prince Faisal Bin Fahad Street Al Khobar 31952|
|Saudi German Hospital||Al Zahara District 4 Batterjee Street Jeddah 21461|
|Soliman Fakeeh Hospital||Hall Street Al Hamra district Jeddah 21461|
Saudi Arabia has a very tightly-controlled media environment and criticism of the Government, the royal family and religious tenets are not really tolerated - although there are signs of an increasing tolerance emerging. The state-run Broadcasting Service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (BSKSA) is responsible for all broadcasting in the kingdom. The Minister of Culture and Information oversees radio and TV operations. Viewers in the country's east can pick up TV stations from more liberal Gulf neighbors. The Government blocks access to websites that it deems offensive.
Press: Saudi newspapers are created by royal decree, and there are 10 dailies and dozens of magazines. Pan-Arab papers, subject to censorship, are available. Newspapers tend to follow the lead of the state-run news agency on whether or not to publish stories on sensitive subjects. The main newspapers include Al-Jazirah, Ar-Riyadh and Okaz. English-language dailies include Arab News, Riyadh Daily and Saudi Gazette.
TV: The state-run Broadcasting Service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (BSKSA) is responsible for all broadcasting in the kingdom. It operates four TV networks, including the news channel al-Ikhbariya.
Radio: Private radio and TV stations cannot operate from Saudi soil. Saudi Radio is state-run.