People hardly care where they go, when the travel bug bites them. The urge to travel is the only feeling that makes sense then. Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of tourists flocking here on a yearly basis.
If you want to travel to Saudi Arabia, you will need to a visa and passport. Click here to find out how to get a visa to travel to the country of Saudi Arabia.
Generally, Saudi Arabia is safe for tourists. However, they need to keep certain rules and social customs in mind. The local residents of Saudi Arabia are particular about certain social customs and religious rituals. Tourists are safe as long as they do not violate the norms. Many ardent travellers are curious to know whether it is safe to travel to this country because of the strict rules and policies present here. Let us find that out. The points which all the travellers need to follow during their trip to Saudi Arab are as follows:
- Coffee and Incense: The citizens of Saudi Arabia serve coffee, when the meeting is about to end. So, the visitors should take the hint when they are served a steaming mug of It is a signal that they should enjoy the coffee and end the meeting. It is an indirect way of saying goodbye. The hosts may even light up an incense stick to signal the end of a business-related conversation. That will be your cue to get up and leave.
- Adhere to the dress code: Men should be cautious to keep their legs and shoulders fully covered. It implies that vests and shorts are banned in public. The dress code for ladies is even more stringent. A popular proverb says, “When you are in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Tourists need to follow the proverb as long as they stay in Saudi Arabia. Female tourists are expected to wear an abaya over their normal attire, when they visit any religious place. People can wear any type of shoes. However, it is mandatory to remove the shoes, before you enter any religious place, like a mosque.
Women are free to wear jewellery of any design, but the design should not include any religious symbol. They are also allowed to put on makeup, only if it is not too loud or bright. Tight clothes or skinny jeans are frowned upon. Men need to avoid wearing multiple rings or bracelets. Any dark coloured suit and a tie may be worn over a dress, when they go to work. Only wristwatches and wedding rings are considered to be appropriate ornaments for men. Headgear or scarves are not compulsory for ladies. Tourists may get severely punished for violating the dress code. Female tourists may not walk around public places in shorts.
- Cultural Norms: The Arabic community is hospitable by nature. They are curious about the tourists. As a result, they extend tokens of hospitality to the tourists. A tourist will be considered rude if he or she declines an offer. It is quite normal for an Arab person to share a mug of coffee with a tourist. However, the tourists should be careful and always eat with their right hands.
The Arab community considers it an insult to their native culture, if the visitors eat with their left hand. They even need to hold the coffee mug with their right hands. The Arabs may even offer a small gift to a tourist. The visitors should accept the gift, so that they do not hurt the sentiments of the hosts. The natives of Saudi Arab encourage questions about their culture and country. However, it is best to steer clear of political or religious topics.
All the stores and commercial departments like cafes close five times every day, at the time of Namaz. The visitors need to plan the trip accordingly. They cannot follow their religious rituals in public. Most of the public places will have separate entrance and exit for men and women. The visitors need to follow the rules.
Affectionate gestures to the partner, in public are frowned upon. The visitors may follow their religious norms, but practising any religion other than Islam in public is strictly banned. The visitors are not even allowed to propagate their religion in social media, from Saudi Arabia. Many Christian visitors wear a cross as a bracelet. Many Hindu visitors wear earrings or necklaces carrying the symbol of “Om.” They need to take such religious ornaments off, when they visit Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, the natives may interpret such ornaments as preaching their own religion.
- Social norms: The tourists must remove their shoes at the entrance, when they are invited to a typical Saudi home. The concept is that shoes defile the house. Hence. they are best left outside the house. There is no danger of the shoes getting stolen because theft is a criminal offence in all Middle-Eastern countries. A male tourist should never initiate a handshake with a female member of a Saudi Arabian family.
The tourists may be welcomed into a traditional sitting room, with cushions littering the floors. It signifies that the tourists need to sit on the floor. They are not allowed to buy, sell or consume alcohol within the country. It is mandatory to seek the permission of locals while photographing them. Otherwise, the natives may take offence.
- Mind what you say: The visitors may be punished for passing derogatory comments against the king or prince of Saudi Arabia. Disrespecting the national flag of the country is also a punishable offence. A tourist may be subjected to a public flogging even for a slip of tongue about the country on any social media platform. In some cases, the visitors may be deported too.
- Gender bias: Any homosexual relationship is banned in Saudi Arabia. Hence, visitors should be careful about their sexual preferences in the country.
- Narcotics: Consumption or trading in drugs involves death penalty. A local form of alcohol named alcohol is strong, but illegal.
- Personal identification: Visitors need to carry their identification proof with them as long as they are in Saudi Arab. The government reserves the authority to get the id proof checked at a moment’s notice. Lack of an identity proof may entail severe consequences.
Conclusion: The tourists may feel free to contact their local embassy for any confusion or trouble. However, the general perception is that the natives of Saudi Arab go to any extent to cooperate with tourists.