Saudi Arabia

Is It Safe to Travel to Saudi Arabia?

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.

Source:eturbonews.com

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Source:middleeasteye.net

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Source:elledecor.com
  1. 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.
  2. Gender bias: Any homosexual relationship is banned in Saudi Arabia. Hence, visitors should be careful about their sexual preferences in the country.
  3. Narcotics: Consumption or trading in drugs involves death penalty. A local form of alcohol named alcohol is strong, but illegal.
  4. 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.

USA Loses Credibility Due to Foreign Policy Double Standards

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The American leaders are promoting their country as the example of how a country should behave in the world, but the reality is completely different. While the US has been overthrowing some repressive rulers, they have allowed the others to keep their positions and called them their friends and noble members of the Free World. Names that pop up include Shah of Iran, Nicaragua’s Somoza family, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, to name a few. This hypocrisy lives on, and it appears that will continue to be a dominant part of the US foreign policy.

The value United States practices and those that they preach are vastly different, and that gap can be seen in the Middle East. Recently, the United States harshly criticized Iran and Syria because of their domestic and foreign policy and while some of those criticisms are valid, the others are not so much. Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Iran’s government broke numerous international laws and violated human rights on many occasions, but sometimes officials from America are quiet and to make matters worse, the US is the one committing such crimes.

Source:dailytimes.com.pk

After the reported use of chemical weapons by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Trump called him to be an exceptionally vile enemy. He used Twitter, as always, to say that Assad is “an animal” and to justify the use of airstrikes on Syria, Trump wrote: “[The incident confirmed] a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime. The evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.” He was also quick to criticize Russia and Iran for the support and sponsorship of such a man. He said: “To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”

According to Daniel Larison of TAC, Trump should be the one who knows the answer to this question. He acknowledged: “Trump should know the answer since he just hosted one of the chief architects of the war on Yemen that the U.S. has backed to the hilt for the last three years. Britain welcomed the Saudi crown prince earlier on, and France just hosted him in the last few days. All three have been arming and supporting the Saudis and their allies in Yemen no matter how many atrocities they commit.”

It appears that the United States spread not only peace and democracy around the Middle East, but also chaos and war. They have funded Saudi Arabia and provided intelligence in their attacks on Yemen, which besides other devastating events triggered cholera epidemic which affects regular people. However, it doesn’t end here, and Washington would have a hard time washing their hands after everything they have done. Evidence has emerged that the Saudi forces have used white phosphorous munitions which cause severe burns on the victims and the supplier is no other than Washington.

Source:ceftus.org

To show that America is a hypocritical country, we have to go north and visit another US ally – Turkey. When Russia annexed Crimea, the United States was first to react, but they did nothing when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and occupied the northern part of the island. They sort of criticized Turkey for the invasion, but as the time passed by, the US officials became more and more disinterested. Instead, they pressured Cyprus to accept the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which was established by Ankara. The sanctions were imposed initially, but they were soon lifted, which was an embarrassment. This mild reaction from the US repeated when Turkey sent their troops to northern Iran and northern Syria as well.

Source:thenation.com

We are moving on. The next stop is Iran. The United States keeps criticizing Iran for repression and their domestic conduct, and they are joined by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the US allies. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is the first one to verbally attack Iran for repression. After demonstrations emerged in several parts of the country, Haley used the opportunity to speak up: “The Iranian regime’s contempt for the rights of its people has been widely documented for many years.” She added that America stood “unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation.”

Her facts are way off. Let’s be clear on something. Iran’s political system differs from the Western democracy, but that doesn’t mean that it is repressive. Of course, there are some matters which can be improved and dealt with, but this country is way more open than Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The candidates for office which are considered “unacceptable” are excluded from the race by Guardian Council, but the Iranian election are quite open, and people have a chance to vote for a candidate they like. More often than not, two candidates have very contrasting views on the matters regarding Iran, and President Hassan Rouhani managed to win electoral mandate over his opponent in May 2017. Why is Saudi Arabia America’s ally when the laws in this country are too strict, and inequality and repression are pouring out of its borders?

Source:presstv.com

The Saudi royal family is condemning any attempt at creating an opposition. People who criticized regime have often been imprisoned and sometimes even beheaded. According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia is at the bottom when it comes to respecting human rights. For instance, the government has just allowed women to drive and this was considered to be a radical reform. The similar things happen in Egypt where speaking against the regime could mean losing your head. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi put thousands of his political opponents behind bars, and hundreds were killed. Where is the United States in these countries? Why aren’t troops sent to free the people who don’t have the rights they deserve?

The United States, with President Trump in the oval office, is aware of what is going on, but they refuse to react. These are brutal atrocities, committed by the US allies, but just because they are allied countries, they would go unpunished. The US is even selling weapons to such countries, aiding their repression and attacks on other states in the region. This leads us to the conclusion that the United States don’t care at all about freedom around the world. Now, we understand that this is no fairytale and to get rid of some enemies the United States needs to unite with the countries which are drastic in their laws to strengthen the position in the Middle East.

What bothers us is that the officials are not frank with the United State citizens. Instead of explaining that these decisions are made for the interest of the US, they are presenting one side of the story. Is it possible that they are afraid of how the public would react in such case? For once, the United States need to be honest in their intentions, and these do not include the rights or welfare of the people who live in the Middle East. No matter what the politicians say, the foreign policy of Washington indicates otherwise, and we must not turn a blind eye.

Source: theamericanconservative.com

Saudi Arabia Supports US in Pressuring Qatar to Deploy Troops to Syria

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Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir bashed its neighbors in Qatar on Tuesday, saying that they have to provide troops for the Syrian campaign in lieu of Americans withdrawing from the country.
“Qatar has to pay for the U.S. military presence in Syria and send their military forces there before the U.S. president withdraws his protection to Qatar,” al-Jubeir said.

His statement came just days after US and French presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron issued a joint statement calling for Middle Eastern countries to pick up the tab for Syrian redevelopment and put boots on the ground inside the war-torn country. Trump remains determined to withdraw 2,000 US military personnel currently in Syria and has reached out to “countries that are in the area, some of which are immensely wealthy” to fill the gap.

Source:jpost.com

Qatar seems to be reluctant to fulfill President Trump’s request, which has caused some backlash both from Washington and Riyadh. “Send its military forces (to Syria) before the U.S. president cancels U.S. protection of Qatar, which consists of the presence of a U.S. military base on its territory,” Saudi minister al-Jubeir said.
The base in question is Al-Udeid air base near Doha, which is currently holding some 10,000 servicemen and is the largest US base in the Middle East. The home of US Central Command, Al-Udeid is vital to the American operations in the region. There are pressures from both US military and Qatar government to make the base a permanent fixture, something the State Department strongly opposes.

Losing the base would be disastrous to Qatar, currently under sanctions from most of its neighbors. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Yemen embargoed the country last year, after accusations of supporting terrorism, something Mr. Trump agrees with. If Americans leave, Qatar will find itself in a very hostile environment, without much to defend itself with. That is why it is most likely to accept sending its soldiers to Syria, despite the reluctance.

Source: telesurtv.net