visiting saudi arabia as a woman

Jean Mann has been a writer and editor for more than 30 years. In their eyes, Wahabism is a few steps ahead than Salafism when it comes to conservatism, meaning that it is really extreme, a term usually used to designate Islamic terrorists. Overcoming culture shock as a woman in Saudi Arabia. Industry-wise, the sole company that employs female engineers is Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world. I strongly recommend World Nomads for the following reasons: CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE QUOTE FROM WORLD NOMADS, If you want to know more options, read how to find the best backpacking insurance. To avoid problems, it is essential to know what to wear in Saudi Arabia and, more importantly, what not to wear.. Everything in moderation and the laid back lifestyle will have you a lot of time to contemplate what really matters to you. Some public spaces are segregated by sex – You will figure it out by yourself but some restaurants or cafés are still composed of two areas: men and family section. This kind of segregation is slowly disappearing, especially in Jeddah and Riyadh. I have added a note in the respective section with a link to your blog. if y'all have any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Arabic is the official language. There is a large Shia population, as well. How to deal with women in Saudi – Now that every day you see more and more women working in public spaces, you are likely to talk to quite a few Saudi women who wear the niqab. For example, Jeddah to Jizan via Abha is around 900km and if you want to go to Al-Ula, then you have to go back to Jeddah and Al-Ula is another 670km (one way). If you have a larger budget, all cities are filled with good accommodation options, especially in Jeddah and Riyadh, where you can find the most luxurious hotels. If you are self-driving for long distances, most small towns you pass by will also have budget apartment-hotels which are always clean, at least in my experience. If you are planning to visit or go and live in Saudi Arabia, don't stress too much about what to wear while in KSA. Women visiting Saudi Arabia should cover their shoulders and knees in public. Check:Somaliland travel guideEritrea travel guide. You will always have a lot of “me time” since there aren’t too much of distraction around. Eating like them is a sign of respect but if you are struggling, you can always help yourself with a spoon. You can even exchange Indian and Pakistani rupees and other Asian currencies, as there is a large Asian population living in Saudi. READ THIS: I got a lot of reactions to this video. Arab Fashion Week was female-only by necessity, so the clothing could be freely modelled and the audience could remove their abayas. I’m an American but live in Israel. On Friday, everything is closed until Asr prayer, which is around 4 or 5pm – Not everything will be closed but some restaurants may open in the morning. From Eritrea to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan, Joan Torres has been traveling to some of the most off the beaten track destinations on Earth since 2014. With that announcement, adventure-seekers and culture lovers had the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia for up to 90 days at a time. Couchsurfing in Jeddah and Riyadh is really easy, and I assume in other big cities as well but I couldn’t find a couch in Jizan and Abha. Moreover, because of this censorship and, since there is no freedom of speech, the Government reserves the right to monitor your internet activity. Find what to do today, this weekend or in December. www.5kitahaber.com. Typically, Saudis are so easy to recognize because they wear the thawb, which is the white traditional dress. Unfortunately, they stopped issuing visas… Perhaps, they will renew the process in winter. Business happens at a much slower pace with a huge emphasis on … Cross my finger, in a few years time we will be seeing hundreds of thousands of tourists to experience Saudi Arabia…and we will be glad to welcome you all. When I finally reached Jizan, I decided not to hitchhike anymore. Man and woman in traditional Arab clothing in Riyadh. I was one of the first Americans to visit under the Electronic Visa program, and as a woman traveling alone, I was curious but also cautious about visiting this country. Hey Graham, for some reason I had missed this comment. Positive and negative. Men and women who aren’t family related can hang out together, in public – Some years ago, you couldn’t go to a restaurant or a café with a friend from the opposite sex but now you can do it normally, like in any other country. I paid 395SR (105USD) for the Formula-E ticket and 640SR (170USD) for the e-visa. Help!!! It features 111 ancient monumental tombs Credit: get Another very cool canyon outside of Riyadh – Can you travel to Saudi Arabia, A man reading the Quran is Jawtha Mosque, the second mosque the prophet Mohammed ever prayed at, in Hofuf, east of Saudi Arabia – C. A Saudi man – Can tourists visit Saudi Arabia? Type here..Am so much happy for the wonderful information you give out about the culture and law operating in Saudi Arabia God bless, my dream is to be in Arabia one day not just for anything but to understand the language of Arabia to promote and advance the level of my education even if am to get someone who I will work with in any of his local company , May Allah help us all. And second of all, don’t trust the judgment from someone who has traveled to Saudi Arabia for business because he hasn’t seen much beyond the office, the fancy restaurant, and the hotel. Weekend falls on Friday and Saturday – This is not different than many Muslim countries. The vision 2030 will have the world see a modern, welcoming, more hospitable and economically stronger Saudi Arabia. Until recently, women visiting Saudi Arabia were expected to wear an abaya (an ankle length robe) and hijab (a headscarf). Distances are huge. Full sleeves on both arms, chest is completely covered and am working on both legs. That being said, after visiting all around the country for a little bit more than two weeks, I have compiled this comprehensive guide that contains plenty of tips and everything you need to know to travel to Saudi Arabia, one of the least visited destinations in the world. If you are sharing a meal with more traditional people, try to always eat with your right hand. Foreign women can travel around the country independently, and alone – I have already lost count of all the women who asked me if they can go there by themselves. Then, I tasted one or two different local dishes in some houses and the rest was all Indian food. You can find plenty of hotels in Booking.com, CLICK HERE TO FIND THE BEST HOTELS DEALS ON BOOKING.COM, Remember to get your Saudi guidebook – CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES ON AMAZON. Men will come up to you and see you as a free ticket to sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a level 4 Travel Health Notice for Saudi Arabia due to COVID … Did you check my itinerary? Before, the only way to travel to Saudi was on a business visa, via a strong local connection who could sponsor your visit or by getting a pilgrimage visa to visit Mecca and Medina (only for Muslims). A very weird rule. Saudi Arabia was unified in 1932. All air and sea points of entry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar were cut on 6 June 2017. Hi, we are Belgian citizens and got our visa very easy online through http://www.visitsaudi.com Seriously, it is not even close to what you may think. If you don’t comply with these requirements, you may face penalties. It would be different from being a man, indeed, but it is definitely legal. Seriously, after all my years of travels, I can now confirm that Saudi people are the most insane people on wheels. It’s an arbitrary decision that some freedoms (like the freedom to verbally bully people online or to operate grisly slaughterhouses) are “forward” while the prohibition of others (like wearing shorts in schools or in public) is “backwards.”. Please update your information given. You may need to update the part of the post about men wearing shorts, because that’s now illegal in public (unless you’re at a pool or a gym) pursuant to a new public decency law and you could get fined for it. How many days you need, maybe 3 days in Jeddah, 3 days Abha & Jizan, 2 days in Al Ula + traveling time. Falconry is also a very big deal in Saudi – Travel Guide to Saud Arabia. Every day more speed cameras and signalling on changing lanes has become much more of a thing. Any public display of affection is considered offensive. It’s disappointing to read people from other cultures with other worldviews speak of different dress codes as “going backwards.” Even if it’s a Western value that more dress code freedom is “moving forward,” speaking about this kind of value as if it were a moral fact others are obliged to recognize is very often counterproductive. Thank you for the clarification. By the way I am a filipino expat in this country. Very nice article. If so, can you go in from one country and then out to another country? Hotels – Prices start at 25-30USD but, on the bright side, budget hotels are usually apartment-hotels with a kitchen and, for just a few more USD, you could have a 3 or 4-bedroom apartment, so if you are a family or travel with more people they are a great value for money. The continued presence of terrorist groups, some of which have been affiliated with al Qaeda, have posed an ongoing security threat to all Westerners since 2001. I respectfully disagree. , Your email address will not be published. Is it still available? In October 2019, Saudi Arabia modified its policy for the tourists, and announced that it will allow foreign men and women to share hotel rooms without proving they are related. So, what’s it like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia? My question is, can we sleep on a hotel together? You won’t find Wi-Fi in the cheap cafés but most malls or Western-Style cafés have public Wi-Fi. Hope this was useful. Outside of Riyadh, on the way to the Edge of the World – T. Get this epic travel guide to Saudi Arabia! Yeah, Saudi is expensive indeed, but there are ways to get around. From a legal point of view, I doubt you need to be covered but yeah, if you do, you will definitely avoid continuous stares. Reuters/Faisal Nasser In a famous September 2018 case, an Egyptian man was arrested in Saudi Arabia for having breakfast with an unmarried woman in the family section of a restaurant and posting a video of it to social media. I had some really good experiences but, at the same time, I had not so good experiences. The country is quiet, slow paced, and friendly. Wearing shorts doesn’t produce any harm to anyone. Women visiting Saudi Arabia will no longer need to wear an abaya. JEDDAH: When I first tried to rent a car in Saudi Arabia, in the morning women were allowed to drive for the first time, I was told I couldn’t without a Saudi license, but one day, “Insha’Allah.” Today, it was easy, and I became the first foreign woman to rent a car from Budget in the Kingdom. Most women work in either education or the medical field. They believe they need to wear it as much as men believe it. Questions about personal freedoms immediately come to mind, such as whether women drive, whether they have to 'cover up' and whether it's safe. I hitchhiked from Riyadh to Jizan. Whereas I fully understand their point, I think that their argument is quite simplistic and it just lets you see one tiny side of the whole picture. I was totally unaware that Saudi Arabia has so much To offer the adventure crazy traveler. The rest of the borders, however, are currently closed: Yemen, due to the ongoing conflict; Qatar, due to their current diplomatic issues; and Oman, due to it being under construction. Yes, you can, as long as you are 25 years old or more. All EU countries within Schengen zone + Andorra, Monaco, United Kingdom and Ukraine, Brunei, China, Canada, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, United States. Thanks a lot. Asking people to cover up is not harming anyone, it is just asking that people remain respectful of their culture and the prevailing religion there. You might have some leeway if you’re a white foreigner, though. A few days after, I met Ibrahim, a real Saudi from Abha. A Saudi woman pushes a stroller carrying her children in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 27, 2017. Wonderful article! For the first time in its history, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that will be opening its doors for tourism by issuing an electronic visa for visitors coming from 49 countries. Moving to a Middle Eastern country will certainly be a culture shock for someone from a Western society, especially with the gender segregation and traditional culture. Please come on, don’t compare wearing shorts with bullying people online. These resorts aren’t open yet - why else would I visit Saudi Arabia? Westernized Saudi men usually shake hands with other men, and some Saudi men will shake hands with Western women. We’ll just have to respectfully disagree. They are actually not allowed to go into a bank without a man accompanying them. These are the prices of the most typical things: Something you need to know: Saudi Arabia is the least walking-friendly place I have ever been to. Travel to Saudi Arabia is about to become much easier with the introduction of the online Saudi Arabia visa.. I would happily wear a thawb or kandoora but I hope it would not be seen as mockery. Most Saudis follow a branch of Islam named Wahhabism, which is characterized for having the most conservative interpretation of Islam and the law of Saudi Arabia strictly follows it. Before visiting Saudi, I was traveling in Oman for 1 month. I ask the Embassy of Saudi arabia here in Addis Ababa but the Answer is No They say to me if you have family only you can visit they say to me. That being said, here is what you need to know regarding moving around the Kingdom: Public transportation in Saudi cities is awful and, except in some parts of Jeddah, you must drive with your own car or by taxi. Saudi Arabia announced new penalties for abuse against women on Wednesday that include imprisonment and hefty fines for any physical, psychological, or sex The tourists visiting the country will be obliged to follow the regulations that Saudi Arabia has mentioned on its travel website. For me, this was one of the most surprising things about the country. Hopefully this doesn’t sound like a silly question, but it is a concern for me. Women are separated from men from the moment they arrive, queueing in a separate – and usefully much shorter – line for passport control. I strongly recommend you look for the best deals on Rental Car, a search engine that shows you the best available options in each country and city. While many Westerners don’t see any problem with people wearing whatever they want, other cultures don’t agree. stay bless people of whole Saudia Arabia (both Hijaz and Najd), amen! Saudi Arabia is a common travel destination, particularly for those on a religious pilgrimage. It was too intense. (Photo: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images ). And does this visa have limit country? When we apply for the VISA, do we have to tell them where we are going to sleep or can we couchsurf ior choose a place as soon as we arrive? By the way, most rental companies won’t rent you a car if you don’t have an international driving license, so remember to convert it before leaving your country. Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country with a well-developed infrastructure. Saudi Arabia has not just suddenly transformed, no matter what the under-informed believe. Avoid summer, late spring and early autumn, as during day time, temperatures average 40-45ºC. Read: How to find the right VPN for Saudi Arabia. Like in any country, there are loads of awesome people and, like in any off the beaten track Muslim country, most of them are extra-nice with foreigners. Women should cover shoulders and knees in public, but do not need to wear traditional clothing. i am saudi girl, i don't know some answers from some people sound like ages ago, what i am trying to say there are some things a woman should do and expect but come on it is not a jungle or something people are quit open than before. Hey Todd, are you asking whether wearing tattoos are illegal or not in KSA? In order to enjoy the country, renting a car is crucial. And it is going to be a positive change. You probably could’ve guessed that Saudi Arabia is an… interesting place for female travelers. And here you can find all my articles and guides to the Middle East. Just arrived in Country number 71, and cant wait to see what adventures await for me in the Kingdom. Abdullah taught me many interesting things about Saudi culture, especially their interpretation of Islam. I spent the whole day with them. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions. Jeddah, definitely, and then Riyadh, where you can do a a few day trips t natorual places nearby. First of all, you can’t judge a country by the inhabitants of a several-million people city. As per terrorism threat, I will not deny the fact that there have been some one-off terrorist attacks but even UK travel advice says that, except for the areas close to the Yemeni border, all Saudi Arabia is safe to visit. i need answer to make some business decisions. With my Spanish passport, the visa was valid for 30 days and it allowed me to travel anywhere but Medina and Mecca. i mean, i am not against any family, nor I am talking about near past history, yet Saudi people really love others, they also deserve rightly representations one day. Visiting Saudi Arabia as a tourist. Your experiences are very welcome . Remember that, in Saudi, the internet is censored and, if you want to access blocked sites, you will need a VPN. Is it ethical to visit Saudi as a tourist? They were as hospitable as any Muslim man I had met before and the only difference is that I didn’t see their faces. It was an enriching experience. On one occasion, I refused to continue with a man because I was seriously afraid of dying. Yes, it is OK, as long as you have valid visas for your next country. Do you like extreme destinations? This means that their penal code includes some very hardcore punishments such as public beheading or getting flogged. Our media doesn’t really do justice to Saudi people, as they portray them as religious fanatics who force women to submit to their Sharia rules. Once visa is issued for you, you can enter Saudi Arabia. Thanks for all this. Hi Nayef, I delete all links posted because many of them end up being 404, which is not good for my SEO. All that says is that a majority of people in a culture feel some way. Thank you so much for this! He leído que obtuviste una sim Card en KSA. I agree with what you wrote above in your blog, “This is their country and we are not here to judge.” So I was disappointed to read the judgment of the Saudi culture as (moving) “backwards” because it has different dress code rules than our cultures do. Women can't open bank accounts on behalf of their kids without their husband's permission. Need to know about Israeli passport stamps in 2020, How to find the best VPN for Saudi Arabia in 2020, 25 Best places to visit in the Middle East in 2020, Places to visit in Saudi Arabia – 15-day itinerary, https://againstthecompass.com/es/viajar-a-arabia-saudita/, https://againstthecompass.com/en/places-visit-saudi-arabia-itinerary/, 50 Useful tips for traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan, A guide to the Karakoram Highway – From Pakistan to China, Tips and how to travel to Saudi Arabia in 2020, How to travel to Syria in 2020: Everything you must know, It is the only company that offers an unlimited budget policy, very useful for Saudi Arabia, It provides coverage for pretty much any nationality, It covers a wide range of adventure activities, Saudis are racist to anyone who is not from the Gulf, Budget Hotel – Double room from 100 to 150SR (26 to 40USD), Breakfast in Indian-run café – 5 to 10SR (1.30 to 2.60USD), Breakfast in local Saudi eatery – 10 to 15SR (2.60 to 4USD), Lunch in Indian-run restaurant – 10 to 15SR (2.60 to 4USD), Lunch in local Saudi eatery – 15 to 20SR (4USD to 5.30USD), Lunch in mid-range restaurant – From 30-35SR (8-9USD), Short taxi ride in Riyadh – 15 to 25SR (4 to 6.60USD). Really love that one day, all those misconceptions about Saudi people also removed, and I wish they also get their true representatives one day. We have reviews of the best places to see in Saudi Arabia. Other countries limit harmful speech freedoms, something many US citizens find unforgivable. You should appreciate that no Muslim would refer to themselves as a Wahabi as it is an insulting term, albeit deserving for some more extreme believers. In the past for sure (even though they could be kind of flexible with resident expats). but the problem is I can not go back to Saudi. They choose to wear it because they think that this is the right thing to do because the Quran says so. I've obtained my visa and will be staying in Saudi Arabia for three months, from February 27-May 24. 24. When I was exploring the southern part of the country and was walking around the souk with my big backpack, people were asking me if I was carrying a parachute and one even said if it was an inflatable boat. Big hug all the way from Ouarzazate. i was told i may not be allowed in during the period of hajj. Moreover, many Saudis are crazy drivers, more than in any other country I have been to. During the last couple of years, a lot of their super strict Islamic laws have been softened or, at least, they have become more flexible. Recently, women are able to drive, cafes can have live performances in the form of bands or theatre. It was the first time in the Netherlands someone asked me: “Do you have your headscarf and your male guidance with you?” Sure, all arranged… What did I get myself into?! If you are a foreign woman, they will definitely be extra nice to you and, if you are on the countryside, expect them to invite you to their house. So yeah, the idea of having international visitors who are not expats or workers is still a concept they aren’t familiar with. Women in Saudi often wear open shoes while others are more comfortable in a set of trainers. You don’t mention it in visa info section and couldn’t find it online. I am living in Saudi Arabia and know most of the things you said, So, I know most of the information you expressed in your blog. It is slowly opening its door for the outside world for them to know more about saudi arabia and its rich cultural heritage and religion. It took me 3 days to get to Jizan (1100km). As a Saudi I felt offended. Required fields are marked *. Saudi Arabia has been leading coalition air strikes in Yemen since 2015, following a request for support from President Hadi to deter continued Houthi aggression. Female tourists in Saudi Arabia no longer need to wear an abaya. In Saudi Arabia, if a woman doesn't make coffee for her husband, it is grounds for divorce. Thank you. 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