Riyadh Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Discussion in 'Africa & Middle East' started by Dave Marsh, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. Dave Marsh

    Dave Marsh New Member

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    Before you go

    If your passport shows you have travelled to countries such as Israel or Iran then you will need a second passport.

    Business travel requires your hosts to obtain a letter of invitation, you then use this to get a visa.

    Tourism is rare, and visas would be obtained with the aid of your tour company.

    Do not assume anything, if you take prescription drugs check, it may be legal here but could put you in prison there.

    Do not carry items that may upset the authorities. Anything that is offensive to the citizens or their faith may get you into serious trouble.

    So drugs, alcohols, pornography, media either against Saudi Arabia or pro unfriendly countries or alternative beliefs should not be anywhere near you.


    I get sent the cheapest way, but I have travelled with Saudia Airlines (at least one plane had a Mosque built into it). Also Istanbul, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi (remember in Saudi they don't like the Flintstones, but Abu Dhabi do).


    Women change into the obligatory black robes before immigration.

    I have never really understood this. There are queues for Residents, people who are using their visa for the first time (even if you have previously visited on a previous visa) and people who have used their visa before.

    The queue for first timers is the longest and slowest, but every time some nice man tells me I can move to a faster queue, but don't try this until you are told.

    To the hotel

    Taxi? Arrange for your hotel to send a car to collect you else you will be lucky not to get ripped off.

    Driving? Oh the joys of car hire, when you eventually get your car it will probably be dirty, don't worry about fuel, a tank full will probably be less than £5.

    I hope you arrive at unsocial hours because driving in Saudi is nuts, and accidents are common. Tow trucks wait at certain areas ready for the next accident. You cannot comprehend the level of driving until you experience it.

    Research, recently there was an initiative to cut down accidents at traffic lights, you can turn right on a red 3 seconds after the car in front did. Some people just turned without waiting, quite a few foreigners in jail on that one because it was mandatory.

    Sat Navs are hit and miss because there are often service roads parallel to the main road, it is not always clear which one you should be on until it is too late.

    Taxis to anywhere but the airport can be awkward. Many taxi drivers are illiterate, some roads have different local names to what is on your map. It is common for your cab to stop and start asking other drivers how to get to where you want to go.

    When you are at your hotel, if you do not have a car you will find you are almost trapped in a block. Main roads have view pedestrian crossings, drivers rarely slow down for pedestrians.


    Read the local English language newspaper to find out prayer times. The restaurant entrances are shut during prayers, but often if you get there early you can eat whilst the prayer times are on.

    Curries & Chinese food (often in the same restaurant) cheap and plentiful. There are 2 entrances 'family' (if your wife is with you) or singles (for single men). Most shopping malls have food courts with a good selection to chose from, again different seating sections. A good meal at these places should be less than £10.

    More expensive restaurants are available. Kebab (nothing like a UK kebab much better) or American chains (burgers/pizzas etc) These might cost a bit more.

    Make sure you always have some bottled water with you.


    Beware of electrical goods, I bought a nice looking multi socked extension lead that had sockets that took UK/US/EU plugs, but on inspection it used wire that I would describe as suitable for a door bell.

    Shopping malls are of a high standard, you can use them as an air conditioned oasis.


    Again read your papers, I left once when there was an amnesty to let illegal immigrants leave, the queues for exit control were mad. Once airside women can wear western dress.

    To get the best out of your trip make sure you research before you go.
    tommy777 likes this.

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