Enjoy Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country that occupies most of the Arabian peninsula, and has both Persian Gulf and Red Sea coast lines. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with restrictive Islamic law.

In Saudi Arabia, the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina are situated. They are goals for pilgrimage that every physically and financially able adult Muslim should make at least once (Hajj). Special Hajj visas are issued for this purpose. The areas of Mecca and Medina are for Muslims only. Saudi Arabia has some of the most restrictive travel policies in the world, and advance visas are required for all foreigners who want to enter the country.
Getting here
Guided tours are perhaps the only way to visit Saudi Arabia as a tourist. Residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations are not subdued to these restrictions; western visitors arrive to this country mostly on business visas, which require an invitation from a local sponsor approved by the Saudi Chamber of Commerce. Visitors to Saudi Arabia are required to respect local conventions, in particular regarding Islam, especially obey restrictions during Ramadan.

Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam has international airports, many foreign carriers serve the country, as well as Saudi Arabian Airlines. One can also fly to nearby Bahrain and take a bus to Dammam.

Getting Around
The area around Mecca and Medina is off-limits to non-Muslims; and Muslims on Hajj visas are prohibited from leaving the area and transit points. Many archaeological sites around the country, even National Museum in Riyadh, require permits. Airplane and bus are the best choice while travel within the country. Car rentals are for male over 21 year of age only. Renting a car is not recommended due to high rate of accidents on the road and risk for foreigners involved in traffic accident to be exposed to the exceptionally punitive Saudi legal system. Taxi is a good choice of transportation within the cities.

Things to Do
Desert excursions, scuba diving on Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast, amusement parks (often indoor) are located mostly near malls or beaches. Horseback riding and camel riding is provided also by many expensive hotels.
Time zone: GMT+3.
Currency: Riyal (SAR).
Climate: Desert and very dry, with sandstorms. Hot days (up to 55C/130F) and cool nights; Eastern mountains are cooler.

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