Here are the top 7 safety tips for travel in Saudi Arabia:
- Unless prior and clear permission is granted do not openly photograph or film any buildings that belong to the royal family. Taking photographs of local people – especially Saudi Arabian men – without their permission is illegal. Avoid taking any photographs of women. Under the public code of conduct, it is a punishable offense. Always work to seek permission prior to taking any photographs or make people aware that it is happening.
- Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. While non-Muslims are welcome and permitted to practice their religion in private spaces, preaching in public forums or on social media platforms is prohibited. Malicious propaganda against the country, government, and religion is a severe offense.
- The sale, purchase or consumption of alcohol and drugs is illegal in the country. Saudi Arabia is a very conservative, Islamic country and is home to what is considered the holiest city in Islam – Mecca. Because of this, the Kingdom has always followed the Islamic laws very strictly and enforced it on their people. Alcohol is completely banned in Saudi Arabia. This includes consuming, importing, brewing, and selling alcohol. Officially, there is no way that you are able to get hold of alcohol in Saudi Arabia. It has been reported before that people have even been arrested for just smelling like alcohol. Locals and expats often travel to Saudi’s neighboring country Bahrain if they want to drink or go clubbing. It is, however, illegal to bring any alcohol over the border or to cross the border while being intoxicated.
- Local laws require men and women to dress modestly covering shoulders and knees in public, avoiding tight-fitting clothing or clothes with profane language or images. It is not mandatory for female travelers to wear the traditional robe or abaaya. Shorts below the knee are acceptable within the hotel. ETS would recommend wearing lightweight trousers around the city. Men should wear conservative clothes that are not compromised of any gold coloring or items made of silk. These things are considered not appropriate for a man.
- Public displays of affection are not consistent with local culture and visitors should also avoid using profane language or gestures.
- When visiting Riyadh, stay away from Deera Square on Friday afternoon’s as this is when most of the public executions take place. Foreigners are not welcome at these times.
- Use a trusted secure transportation company in Saudi Arabia, and always wear a seatbelt. Saudi Arabia is rated as one of the most dangerous countries for traffic crashes.
It is important to remember that thousands of business travelers and tourists travel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia every year without incident. The risks are extremely manageable and as long as basic security precautions are taken by everyone within the group the chances of falling victim to an incident are reduced.