Saudi Arabia is a desert country encompassing most of the Arabian Peninsula, with Red Sea and Persian (Arabian) Gulf coastlines.
The biggest country of the Middle East is not a classic travel destination and is one of the world’s most difficult places to visit.
The country has some of the most restrictive travel policies in the world and advance visas are required for all foreigners desiring to enter.
Most tourism still largely involves religious pilgrimages.
However, for those who manage to get in, Saudi Arabia offers archaeological sites, rich heritage, access to the Red Sea and its coral reefs and of course, Mecca and Medina the most sacred destination for Muslims.
Before considering a trip, there are a few things to be aware of.
Saudi Arabia has a long list of local restrictions that also apply to any visitor regardless of its religion. Some of these restrictions are:
- The public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal. There is a dedicated religious police patrolling in the streets, so watch out!
- It is illegal to bring in/and to consume alcohol or any kind of drugs.
- It is illegal for women to drive.
- Women must cover up (full length cloak and in most areas, headscarf).
- Saudi law prohibits women from mingling with unrelated men.
- Non Muslims are not allowed to enter Mecca (regardless if male or female).
- Photographing government buildings, military installations, and palaces is not allowed. You should also avoid to take photos of local people.