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Travel Advice for Saudi Arabia

Almuslim Travel Guide

Basic assessment

Because of the complex circumstances in the Middle East, the security situation can change suddenly. The armed conflict in Yemen is having a major impact on the security situation in the Saudi Arabia border areas with Yemen.

Occasionally, however, missiles with a range of several hundred kilometers reach Saudi Arabia. For example, in June 2019, one person was killed and several people were injured in drone attacks on the international airport in Abha (south-west). There are also repeated rocket attacks on Riyadh and other cities that have so far been thwarted by Saudi air defenses. However, there is a risk of personal injury and damage to property from falling wreckage. Please also note the chapter specific regional risks.

Traveling to Saudi Arabia involves certain risks.

Since November 2020, sea mines have repeatedly damaged ships in Saudi waters in the Red Sea.

There is a risk of acts of terrorism across the country. They are primarily aimed at the security forces and the Shiite community. Assassination attempts against western foreigners, their places of work and residence, as well as against western institutions in general cannot be ruled out. Gunfire exchanged as the security forces pursued the terrorist groups.
Among other things, the following attacks were carried out:

Before and during your trip, find out about the current situation in the country and pay more attention to your personal safety: Strictly comply with the safety regulations of the police and those responsible for security in airports, public facilities, hotels and residential areas. Be discreet. Respect local regulations, which also apply to foreigners, regardless of religion. Above all, ensure that your behavior cannot be interpreted as contempt for local customs.

Specific regional risks:

The description of danger zones is approximate; Risks cannot be confined to precisely defined areas.

Eastern Province: There are political and religious tensions between the Sunni government and the predominantly Shia population of this province. Politically and religiously motivated rallies and unrest keep happening, particularly in the Al Qatif district. There are also armed attacks against the security forces. There is a risk of unexpectedly getting into a gunfight. Tourist and other non-urgent travel to al Qatif district is discouraged. Before traveling to the rest of the Eastern Province, check with the local authorities for the current security situation. Avoid rallies of any kind as violent clashes with security forces are possible.

Border area with Iraq: The unstable situation in Iraq affects the security situation in the Saudi Arabian border areas with Iraq. Travel to the border area with Iraq is not recommended. Border area with Yemen: The armed conflict in Yemen is having a major impact on the security situation in the Saudi Arabian border areas with Yemen. There are regular rocket and mortar fires from Yemen, which have repeatedly claimed lives and injuries in Saudi Arabia. Travel to the border area with Yemen is discouraged, including the cities of Najran and Jizan.

Special Legal Provisions:

The legislation is based on a strict Islamic legal concept and on rigid moral concepts. Offenses are consistently prosecuted and punished much more severely than in Switzerland. Among other things, the following are punishable:

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offensive behavior in public, e.g. caresses between adults the insult to Islam and to the political and religious leadership. Avoid making controversial political statements that affect the host country or region in public and on social media

criticism of the justice system:

Photographing government buildings and military facilities. Corresponding information boards are usually written exclusively in Arabic script. If in doubt, ask local security guards for permission or refrain from doing so Admission. Importation, possession, trade and consumption of alcoholic beverages
Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the day during Ramadan participation in demonstrations same-sex acts, extramarital relationships, and extramarital pregnancies and births. In the case of sexual offenses, the victim must prove, depending on the circumstances, that they did not violate the law themselves

Admission.

Importation, possession, trade and consumption of alcoholic beverages
Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the day during Ramadan
participation in demonstrations
same-sex acts, extramarital relationships, and extramarital pregnancies and births. In the case of sexual offenses, the victim must prove, depending on the circumstances, that they did not violate the law themselves

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Importation, possession, trade and consumption of alcoholic beverages
Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the day during Ramadan
participation in demonstrations
same-sex acts, extramarital relationships, and extramarital pregnancies and births. In the case of sexual offenses, the victim must prove, depending on the circumstances, that they did not violate the law themselves

There are import restrictions or import bans for numerous products. Note the information from the Saudi authorities:
Saudi Customs

Violations of the Narcotics Act are punished with long prison sentences, even with the smallest amounts and with any type of drug. Even the death penalty can be imposed.

The prison conditions are significantly tougher than in Switzerland.

Drivers who are involved in a traffic accident resulting in injuries or death are not allowed to leave the country during the investigation/trial in case of doubt. In the event of financial disputes, the police may also be able to prevent foreigners from leaving the country until the matter has been settled.

Cultural specifics

Saudi Arabia is a conservative Arab/Muslim country. Adhere to the strict code of conduct, adapting dress and behavior to local customs, religious and national sensibilities. Find out more about the rules of conduct and the exact regulations from travel guides, your travel agency or on site. Remember that there are special rules and regulations to be observed during Ramadan.
Ask permission before photographing people.
Visit Saudi Arabia: Public Decorum Charter

natural risks

When it rains heavily, dried-up creek beds (wadis) can turn into raging rivers in a very short time. In addition, Jeddah, Riyadh and other cities have repeatedly been hit by severe flooding, which has also resulted in deaths and injuries.

Heed weather forecasts and warnings and instructions from local authorities.

Medical supplies

Medical care is basically guaranteed. Hospitals require an advance on costs or a financial guarantee statement before treating patients.

If you are dependent on certain medications, your first-aid kit should contain an adequate supply. Please note, however, that many countries have special regulations for taking drugs containing narcotics (e.g. methadone) and substances used to treat mental illnesses with you. If necessary, inquire directly with the responsible foreign representation (embassy or consulate) before departure and consult the Travel links section, where you will find further information on this topic and on travel medicine in general. Doctors and vaccination centers provide information about the spread of diseases and possible protective measures.

special instructions

Individual areas may only be visited with a special permit. The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Bern provides information.

You are obliged to be able to identify yourself at all times with your passport (or a photocopy of it, which also includes the visa).

Useful addresses

Emergency call police: 999
Emergency call ambulance: 937

 

Umrah is resumed After 18 months.

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