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Saudi Arabia

Safety and Security in Saudi Arabia

■ Crime

Due to strict control police and law enforcement, Saudi Arabia is actually one of the safest countries in the world. However they are cases of attacks targeting foreigners and westerners in particular by armed groups in the desert, so the best is to simply register your presence at the consulate or the embassy and to stay within safe areas.
Women should be aware that sexual harassment is common, even by officials so it is better to be always accompanied by a man. In fact, as a woman, it is safer never to travel alone.

■ Emergency services

Emergency numbers are as follow : 999 for the police, 998 for firefighters and 997 for an ambulance. You will normally be able to talk with an English speaking staff. The best thing to do is to spot the nearest hospital or dispensary as soon as you arrive in the country. You can also ask your consulate or embassy if you need help or if you want more information.
As for health insurance, you will find many international companies specialized for Saudi Arabia. Usually, a monthly coverage cost about 50 USD.

■ Political situation

Saudi Arabia is an hereditary monarchy. The king is head-of-state, prime minister and chief of the government and of the armies.

■ Short trip

It might be interesting to go take a look at the big cities in Saudi Arabia. You can also go ride a camel and biking in the desert. Given the size of the country, planes seem like a good mean of transportation. You can also choose to take the bus ; there are several bus companies with well-equipped and comfortable buses, but they are rather slow. The train is not a reliable option due to the bad rail network. You can rent a car, but keep in mind that driving will be your most lethal enemy there. The traffic is chaotic and deadly accidents are very frequent. You can drive with a US, UK or international license up to three months and then you have to take the Saudi driving exam. Note that women are not allowed to drive, regardless of their nationality.
Travelling agencies recommend the following destinations : Dammam, Masmak Fortress, Mecca, Jeddah, Qatif, Riyadh…

■ Mobile phone networks

There are three mobile operators in Saudi Arabia : Al Jawal, Mobily and Zain (Vodafone Network). The coverage is generally good and the prices are affordable. You can sign a contract with one of these operators but the cheapest solution might be to buy a prepaid sim card (the start price is about 75 SAR).

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