Saudi Arabia is the largest sovereign state in the Middle East. The economy of the country is one of the top twenty economies in the world, which is fuelled by enormous revenues from oil exports that boomed during the 1970s and the ‘80s. Saudi Arabia has the second-largest proven petroleum reserves and is the largest producer of petroleum in the world.
Although tourism in Saudi Arabia still revolves around religious pilgrimages, most recently, there has been significant growth in the leisure tourism sector as well. Based on the data collected by the World Bank, close to about 19.3 million people visited this destination in 2018, making it the world’s 13th most visited country.
Famous places like the Rub’ al Khali desert, Al-Masmak Fort and The Mecca and Medina attract millions of tourists every year, but the stringent laws of the country have made it a lesser preferred location for spending a leisure holiday. However, the country does manage to protect its tourists and give them a chance to experience the real gems of Saudi Arabia.
If you are planning to make a trip, here are a few things to keep in mind while travelling to Saudi Arabia:
- Attire: It is one of the most important concern for tourists. The women, especially in Saudi are required to cover all parts of their body; a conservative dress form is an absolute essential. The color red is forbidden on festivals.
- Prohibitions: Pornographic images, images of other religions or any public display of another religion is prohibited. In case you are found guilty, it could lead to a severe fine or even imprisonment.
- Photography: Photography and cameras are not permissible in many tourist places. These warnings should be taken seriously.
- Passport and other official documents: The paperwork is an absolute essential, hence, ensure that you carry all your documents and produce them if and when asked.
- No Night life: Alcohol, parties, drugs and clubs are all banned in Saudi Arabia. The police are very stringent about late night outings.
- Entertainment: Playing music in public is permitted.
- Visa: Visa application usually takes a long time due to strict background check and verification requirements.
It is extremely important that you take all the safety measures and abide by the laws while travelling in Saudi Arabia, since the government takes the case of even a small mishap very seriously. Every offence has a punishment in Saudi and a slight doubt on any tourist can result in immediate deportation. Journalists or writers visiting the country for professional purposes are usually not granted access as they are deemed suspicious by the government.
Essentials to carry and avoid while visiting Saudi Arabia:
- Passport: carry your passport with you always to avoid immediate deportation.
- Work Documents: Your purpose of visit has to be justified officially through paperwork.
- Travel Insurance Policy: A travel insurance policy is a must when travelling abroad in order to safeguard oneself in case of any unforeseen emergencies
- Do not carry any documents, items/products that promote negative religious sentiments
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