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Saudi Arabia country information

Saudi Arabia map
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Area: 2,149,690 sq km
Population: 27,601,038
Population density: 11 per sq km
Capital: Riyadh
Passport & Visa
Passport Required?
British Yes
Australian Yes
Canadian Yes
USA Yes
Other EU Yes
Visa Required?
British Yes
Australian Yes
Canadian Yes
USA Yes
Other EU Yes

Passports

A passport valid for at least six months at time of entry is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above, except Muslim pilgrims holding Pilgrim Passes, tickets and other documents for their onward or return journey and entering the country via Jeddah or Medina - although sufficient evidence of Muslim faith must be provided (eg religious authenticated certificate).

Passport Note

Restricted entry: (a) Holders of passports with Israeli stamps or an Israeli birthplace in them have, on occasion, been refused entry/visas. (b) Passengers not complying with Saudi conventions of dress and behaviour, including those who appear to be in a state of intoxication, or who display inappropriate affection (especially between men and women) will be refused entry. (c) There are special regulations concerning pilgrims entering Saudi Arabia. Contact the consulate (or consular section at embassy) for further information. (d) Women and under-aged children should be accompanied by a Moharram (close male family member). Unaccompanied women must be met at the airport by their sponsor or husband and have confirmed onward reservations as far as their final destination in Saudi Arabia. If met by a sponsor, it is worth noting that there are restrictions on women travelling by car with men who are not related by blood or marriage (women are not permitted to drive). However, it is acceptable for women visiting for business purposes to be accompanied and met at the airport by male business partners: further enquiries can be made at the information centre or embassy.

Visas

Required by all nationals referred to in the chart above except the following:
(a) transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft within 18 hours, provided holding valid onward or return documentation, not leaving the airport and making no further landing in Saudi Arabia (except those travelling on Saudi Arabian Airlines who are permitted to make a second stop;
(b) holders of re-entry permits and 'Landing Permits' issued by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visa Note

(a) The Pilgrim (Ummra) visa can only be obtained through an authorised 'Ummra Agency', appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Check with embassy for a full list of appointed agents. Administrative fees may apply and further requirements for Ummra applications must be submitted through an endorsed travel agent or tour operator. A list of endorsed agencies is available from the embassy website. (b) Transit passengers who stay in the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah Islamic Port or Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina for over 24 hours can perform Ummra or visit a Holy Mosque, provided they withhold a signed agreement with one of the appointed Ummra agencies. (c) Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements. (d) An Exit Permit is required for most nationals, requiring a passport-size photo and must be issued by the Chief of Police (usually processed within three days after application). It is advised to enquire at the nearest embassy for further information. (e) Visa dates correspond to Hijra months, not Gregorian months - check dates carefully.

Visa Restrictions:
The government of Saudi Arabia refuses admission and transit to nationals of Israel; and might not accept other passports containing Israeli stamps or visas.

Types of Visa and Cost

Family Visit: 39 (single-entry). Business: 39 (single-entry); 96 (multiple-entry). Work: 10. Residency: 10. Transit: 10. Pilgrim (Ummra): no charge, although the agency may charge an administrative fee (one to three months for a maximum of 30 days).

Validity

The visa validity starts from date of issue. The visa stay period starts from the first day of entry into Saudi Arabia within the visa's valid dates. Ummra visas are valid for 30 days for stays of up to two weeks.

Applications to:

Consulate (or consular section at embassy). Travellers are advised to apply well in advance. Hajj or Ummra visas are only available from the consulate through an authorised travel agent. People visiting the consulate directly for Hajj or Ummra visas will not be successful.

Working Days Required

At least two working days. At least one week if applying by post. For information on processing time for all other types of visa, contact the consulate (or consular section at embassy).

Note tour.tk: We have met a Japanese cyclist that cycled through Saudi Arabia on a transit visa. He entered from Yemen and exited in Jordan. He was a man... Transit visas are only issued if you can prove that there is no other way to get to where you want to go, than by travelling through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Otherwise you have to book a tour and be in a group of minimum four people.
Getting there

Getting There by Air

The national airline is Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV) (website: www.saudiairlines.com ).

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Jeddah is 5 hours 50 minutes, to Riyadh is 6 hours 25 minutes, and to Dhahran is 6 hours 45 minutes. From New York to Jeddah is 13 hours and to Riyadh is 16 hours.

Main Airports

Riyadh (RUH) (King Khaled International) Airport is 35km (22 miles) north of the city. Prepaid taxis are available for transport to the city. Facilities: Car hire, bureau de change, duty-free, restaurant and snack bar.

Dhahran (DHA) (Al Khobar) Airport is 13km (8 miles) southeast of Dhahran (journey time - 15 minutes).

Jeddah (JED) (King Abdul Aziz) Airport is 18km (11 miles) north of the city (journey time - 30 minutes). To/from the airport: Taxi and limousine services are available for Mecca, Medina and Taif. Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shopping, car hire, restaurants and tourist information points.

Dammam (DMM) (King Fahd International) Airport is 30km (19 miles) northwest of Dammam (journey time - 45 minutes). To/from the airport: Taxis are available from outside the airport. Facilities: Duty-free shopping, gift shop, restaurant and cafe.
Departure Tax
SAR50. Infants, Hajj or Umrah pilgrims and passengers accompanying human remains are exempt.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Dammam (Gulf), and Jeddah and Yanbu (Red Sea).

Getting There by Road

The principal international routes from Jordan are Amman to Dammam, Medina and Jeddah. There are also roads to Yemen (from Jeddah), Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. A causeway links Al Khobar with Bahrain. There are regular international buses between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
Cycling & Maps
Cost of living
Saudi Arabia: all prices in Saudi Arabian Riyals (SAR)
drinks and snacks

food: local markets; restaurants; and stores

water (mineral)
juice
soft drink (can)
soft drink (bottle)

1 litre
1 litre
300ml
1 litre
2.00
4.00
tba
2.70

bread loaf-white
bread loaf-whole grain

700g
750g
1.25
2.50
local market food

cheap local resatarant
pizza-takeaway
one serving
one serving
one serving
med
tba
tba
9.00-15.00
tba
   
tea
coffee (cafe / bar)
Nescafe instant
coffee-ground
25 bags
per cup
125g
500g
4.00
4.50-6.00
4.00
15.00
rice (white)
pasta
eggs
tinned tomatoes

kg
500g
per dozen
250g

3.00
2.40
9.00
2.00
milk
yoghurt / curd
cheese
Magnum icecream
1 litre
200g
kg
each

4.60
1.15
17.00
tba

potatoes
onions
tomatoes
green beans
kg
kg
kg
kg
3.70
2.70
3.00
4.20
chips
salted peanuts
dried apricots
200g pack
kg
kg
tba
tba
tba
apples
oranges
bananas
kg
kg
kg
5.80
4.80
4.50
cornflakes
chocolate

biscuits-plain
biscuits-chocolate
375g pack
100g block

200g pack
200g pack
8.00
2.20

2.50
3.50+
pineapple (can)
oil (corn)
500g can
500ml
3.00
3.80
peanut paste
jam
500g jar
400g jar
tba
6.50
 
accommodation personal
budget city hostel
mid-range city hotel
60/100 single/double
160/200 single/double

deodorant - roll-on
soap
shampoo
toothbrush
toothpaste
disposable razor
toilet paper

50ml
150g bar
200ml
each
100ml
5 pack
each
8.50
1.50
7.50
tba
4.00
8.00
tba
camping


tba

internet 3.00-4.00 per hour

* tba = price to be announced
* January 2009: at time of writing 1.00 USD = 3.75 SAR
all prices have been taken from internet resources such as wikitravel, hostel world, leading supermarket chains, travel blogs, forums and of course our own travel experiences and purchases of everyday products in food markets, bazaars and local shopping facilities. They are only an indication and designed to give you a general impression of the cost of living in Saudi Arabia. Items are geared towards the budget conscious traveller with an occasional craving for a bit of luxury.
Accommodation
Food & drink
Bike shops
Climate
climate chart Riyadh
Road distances
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