The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, though a large proportion of these have either business or religious concerns.
Tourism in the usual sense barely makes an inroad into this rich, conservative country that bridges Asia and Africa.
Occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula, and bordered by no less than eight Middle Eastern states, Saudi Arabia manages to maintain its highly controlled religious society alongside the progressive changes brought about by its booming oil industry.
Saudi Arabia is the spiritual centre of Islam and Mecca, and the sacred city of Medina attracts hordes of pilgrims every year, who enter using special religious visas.
This oil-rich nation also attracts sponsored business visitors and our business travel agency for Saudi Arabia can help you navigate the red tape and enjoy a successful visit.
Despite Saudi Arabia’s conservative culture, its cities are far from parochial backwaters. The capital Riyadh is a modern, bustling commercial centre that contains some excellent hotels and some truly breathtaking sights, such as the Al Faisaliah golden geodesic dome, which is one of the tallest buildings in the Middle East. The true spirit of the city, however, is to be found in the souks (markets) where lively vendors sell everything from carpets to camel milk.
Sightseeing in Saudi Arabia is inevitably a rather formal and regulated affair, but sites such as the ruins of 15th-century Dir’aiyah – the nation’s first capital – and the perfectly preserved ancient city of Jeddah are well worth the extra effort required.
Whilst you are visiting places outside the capital, a trip to the world’s largest camel market in Buraydah makes for a fascinating day out immersed in Bedouin culture.
Saudi Arabia has a typical desert climate: you can expect swelteringly hot days and cool, sometimes chilly, nights. This is one of the driest countries in the world, so whatever else you expect from your visit, do not include rain!
Summers can be extremely hot with average temperatures rising as high as to 36 degrees Celsius (96 degrees Fahrenheit). It is cooler in the higher inland areas, and January in Riyadh averages only 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), but the coastal cities are humid and hot year-round. Sandstorms can blow anywhere in the country and are difficult to predict: they can last for days.
Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia, and the most common tongue you will hear in the streets. However, English is also widely spoken: it is taught as a second language in schools, and is commonly used in business.
All visitors require a visa to enter Saudi Arabia, and visas will only be granted to those with sponsorship in the country. Everyone who enters will need a passport that is valid for at least six months, in addition to a return ticket. It is strongly recommended to ensure that your passport does not contain an Israeli visa or stamp.
Regulations for women travellers are cumbersome: you must be met by a sponsor or male relative and have proof of confirmed accommodation.
Entry may be refused to any visitor appearing intoxicated, wearing shorts or, for women, in tight clothing or with legs and arms exposed.
Please check the rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
Saudi Arabia’s strategic position, both geographically and culturally, at the centre of the Arab world has made it a difficult, and potentially risky, place to visit for Westerners.
In particular, terrorist threats should be thoroughly researched prior to your travel.
Religious police patrols rigorously enforce codes of behaviour and dress prescribed by Islamic law, which visitors should of course respect.
For all your high-end, bespoke leisure and corporate travel needs to Saudi Arabia, please contact our Travel Managers on 0203 535 9290 or email@example.com today.
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