The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not open for travel until 2019, making it a less popular destination compared to other Middle Eastern countries. With the government’s efforts to attract more visitors, it removed entry requirements last year, becoming the 11th country in the world to do so. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry is still at an early stage.
Saudi Arabia is located in Western Asia and covers most of the Arabian Peninsula. It is next to the United Arab Emirates and offers various tourist attractions for visitors. However, before traveling, tourists should consider the following:
1. Visa Requirements: Tourists must obtain a visa before their trip to Saudi Arabia. The visa can be obtained through the Saudi Arabia eVisa portal, where applicants should fill in an electronic application form and provide necessary documents.
2. Dress Code: Saudi Arabia has a strict dress code that should be respected by all visitors. Women are required to wear an abaya, a full-length cloak, and cover their hair, while men should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
3. Alcohol and Food Restrictions: Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country, and the consumption and sale of alcohol are strictly prohibited. The country also has strict food regulations, with pork and its by-products being banned.
4. Cultural Sensitivities: Visitors should be mindful of Saudi Arabia’s cultural sensitivities. Public displays of affection, public consumption of food and beverages during Ramadan, and taking photos of government buildings, like mosques and palaces, are considered unacceptable.
5. Weather Conditions: Saudi Arabia has a desert climate, with temperatures reaching up to 50°C during the summer months. Visitors should travel during the cooler months, which usually begin in November and end in February.
Despite the restrictions, Saudi Arabia is home to several tourist attractions, including historical landmarks, beautiful natural scenery, and modern architecture. This includes:
1. Mada’in Saleh: Mada’in Saleh is an archeological site located in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, and was once home to the Nabataean Kingdom. The site contains several tombs and temples carved out of the rock, similar to the famous Petra in Jordan.
2. The Red Sea Coast: The Red Sea Coast has several beautiful beaches and is an excellent destination for water sports enthusiasts. The region also has several coral reefs, making it a great spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
3. Al Wahbah Crater: The Al Wahbah Crater is a volcanic crater located in the middle of the desert and is a popular hiking destination. Visitors can also camp overnight and stargaze in the desert.
4. The Edge of the World: The Edge of the World is a viewpoint located on a 1,500-foot cliff near Riyadh. Visitors can take in panoramic views of the desert landscape and can also go hiking and picnicking in the area.
5. King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is a modern architectural masterpiece and a cultural center located in Dhahran. It has various exhibitions, a library, a cinema, and a theater.
In conclusion, Saudi Arabia is a unique tourist destination with strict rules and regulations that visitors should respect. However, the country offers various attractions for tourists, from ancient ruins to modern architecture. As the tourism industry continues to grow, Saudi Arabia is expected to become a more popular destination in the future.
Frequent Questions and Answers:
1. How do I apply for a visa to Saudi Arabia?
You can apply for a visa through the Saudi Arabia eVisa portal, where you need to fill in an electronic application form and provide necessary documents.
2. What is the dress code in Saudi Arabia?
Visitors should respect Saudi Arabia’s strict dress code, with women wearing an abaya, a full-length cloak, and covering their hair, while men should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
3. Can I consume alcohol in Saudi Arabia?
No, the consumption and sale of alcohol are strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia.
4. What is the best time to visit Saudi Arabia?
Visitors should travel during the cooler months, which usually begin in November and end in February, as Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with high temperatures during the summer months.
5. What are some popular tourist attractions in Saudi Arabia?
Some of the popular tourist attractions in Saudi Arabia include Mada’in Saleh, The Red Sea Coast, Al Wahbah Crater, The Edge of the World, and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture.