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Saudi Arabia - Traveling

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Entry requirements

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

Taxis services are available from all main airports to the traveler's destination. The fare should be negotiated in advance. Service taxis which are shared by people charge fare equivalent to buses.
Buses operated by Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) are comfortable and usually follow schedule.
Maps of urban networks: Maporama

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

Taxis remain the most suitable means of transport for foreigners. They are regulated by government.
Airlines
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
NAS Air Low cost Yes No
Saudi Arabian Airlines Major Yes Yes
Al Khayala Major Yes No
Jazeera airways Low cost Yes Yes
Sama Airlines Low cost Yes No

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: Disobeying traffic signals and driving beyond speed limits is common practice. These are also the main reasons for high rate of traffic accidents. Within cities taxi or renting a car is highly recommended. Most road signs are in Arabic, though, many of them are in English too.
Road maps: PlacesOnLine
Find an itinerary: Live Search Maps

Visiting

Different forms of tourism

Historical:

Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities of Islam are the most important part of historical tourism in the country.  
Jeddah is home to numerous historical landmarks and buildings such as: the Old Jeddah Wall and Gates, the old quarters, historical mosques.

Cultural:

Islam is the focus of Saudi Arabian culture. Festivals and Events are an integral part of Saudi Arabian culture. These celebrations highlight the customs and traditions in the country and give a beautiful perspective to this wonderful land.

Nature:

Witness the astonishing landscape and wildlife of the Asir, a range of coastal mountains and the only part of the kingdom where there is significant wild vegetation. View a picturesque settlement of fishermen and weavers on Tarut Island. It is also the site of the oldest town on the peninsula.

Religious:

- Al-Masjid al-Haram (The Holy Mosque), Mecca
- The Ka'ba and Black Stone, Mecca
- The Prophet's Mosque, Medina
- Floating Mosque of Jeddah, etc.

Thermal:

Though thermal energy is the main source of power in Saudi Arabia, there are no natural hot springs. However few hotels provide hot spring spas.
For more details, visit Saudi World.

Beach:

Some prominent beaches are Durrat Al-Arus, Shums, Bait Albahar, Salhia and Al Nakeel.

Winter sports: None
Outdoor activities: People also show a lot of interest in activities like scuba diving, windsurfing, and sailing, Golf, horse and camel racing. Do watch the King's Camel Race which takes place in April or May during the national Heritage and Cultural Festival at Jenadriyah.
Shopping: Saudi Arabia has a blend of traditional open air markets and modern air conditioned shopping plazas and malls to choose from. If open air Souk is a great place to bargain then the Saudi malls offer the popular international brands. The shops are closed on Fridays and during prayer times.

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: - A certificate of vaccination against Meningococcal Meningitis, for people travelling for HAJJ.

- Children between 3 months and 2 years of age must be given two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine.

- Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travelers arriving from an infected area.

- Tetanus vaccine is required

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. So it is advised to take necessary measures.
Moreover there is a risk of malaria throughout the year in most of the Southern Region and in certain rural areas of the Western Region, except for Mecca and Medina. Therefore it is advised to use prophylaxis.

For further information on sanitary conditions: Saudi Customs

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Riyadh (GMT+3)
Summer time period: None
Climate:

Saudi Arabia has a desert climate. Topography plays an important role in making the climate of Saudi Arabia so varied. In Jeddah it is warm for most of the year. Riyadh, which is inland, is hotter in summer and colder in winter, when occasional heavy rainstorms occur.

Though average rainfall is less than 5 inches, in the Asir highlands it may exceed 10 inches. Great temperature extremes ranging from as low as freezing point in winters to 50 degrees Celsius in summers.

Frequent sand-laden winds blow from the northern deserts, for days at 25-30 miles an hour.

Eating

Food specialties: Saudi food is often strongly flavored and spicy. The most common meats are lamb and chicken, beef is rare and pork is proscribed under Islamic law. The main meat meal of the day is lunch. Some of the popular culinary specialties of Saudi Arabia are:
- Pitta bread accompanies every dish;
- Rice, lentils, chick peas and cracked wheat are also common;
- Kultra is popular for lunch;
- Kebabs served with soup and vegetables;
- Mezze.
Drinks:

Consumption of alcohol is prohibited and Arabic coffee and fruit drinks are popular alternatives.
Gawha, the ritual of serving coffee, is an important part of Saudi culture.

Dietary taboos: Alcohol, pork and some birds are prohibited by the religion which is followed very rigorously by the Muslims.

Speaking

Getting some knowledge: Visit the following sites: Speak7; Learn Arabic.
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