Visiting this desert kingdom was not that easy in the past, especially for women. But, since 2018, Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to visitors from all over the world. So, yes, nowadays, not only Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca are welcomed, but pretty much everybody. Visitors are now able to get a glimpse of the Arabian culture first-hand. For instance, tourists are now allowed to participate in the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, check out Saudi's Edge of the World call Jabal Fihrayn, or visit a manicured old city called Diriyah. However, if you decide to visit this kingdom, there are some rules you will have to follow. Thus, here is what you need to know in order to prepare for your vacation in Saudi Arabia which is definitely one of the best holiday destinations for 2020.
Saudi Arabia is a desert country. Thus, when packing for your vacation, your first choice will probably be to pack summer dresses, if you are a woman, or shorts and t-shirts if you are a man. Wrong! Dressing like this is not allowed in Saudi Arabia. There you will have to respect Saudi's strict dress codes.
For instance, women must wear an abaya in public. An abaya is a full-length garment that covers your outfit completely. You can also wear a headscarf too if you want to show respect to the locals and their culture. When it comes to men, they must follow the dress code as well. Wearing shorts and tank tops is prohibited. Men should always wear full-length trousers and shirts. Again, bear in mind that these rules apply to everybody, both locals and tourists!
However, even if these rules sound scary at first, you will soon see that the locals here are generous, welcoming and as interested in your culture as much as you are in theirs. Thus do not hesitate to visit the desert kingdom. If you do, you will fall in love with the people's hospitality and the mesmerizing palaces. Who knows, you might even decide to move here.
Women must practice modesty at all times!
Social customs in Saudi Arabia are quite different from what you are used to. Like with everything, there are rules that must be followed. If you want to greet somebody, the safest way is to put a hand on your heart and say 'hello'. It is considered impolite to shake hands and kiss in public. Moreover, when you talk with locals, stand close to them as a sign of respect. You should never back away while somebody is talking to you, as that is considered an insult.
And, if you happen to travel with your spouse or partner, remember that public displays of affection between individuals of opposite sexes, like holding hands, hugging and kissing, are strictly forbidden. As you can see, social customs are very strict and quite different from what we are familiar with. Thus, bear that in mind before you start packing your bags for a vacation here. However, if you plan on staying here for a longer period of time, make sure to learn all the appropriate behavior patterns, as well as to call a reliable local moving company like fourwinds-ksa.com to help you with your relocation.
Be Careful When Taking Pictures
If you are vacationing in Saudi Arabia, you have probably already packed your camera, right? Yes, that is allowed, but you must be careful when taking pictures. Some places must not be photographed. For instance, it is forbidden to take pictures while you are at the airport. Also, it is forbidden to take pictures of palaces, government buildings, and military installations.
And, probably the most prohibited thing is taking pictures of Muslim women. If you do, you can get into a lot of trouble. Prepare well before you start this trip. Plan your itinerary beforehand and check where and when can you actually take pictures. Or, simply leave your phone at the hotel, and enjoy Saudi Arabia to the fullest, as it truly is one of the most amazing places you must visit before you die.
Before you take your camera out, know the photographing restrictions in Saudi Arabia.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
As previously mentioned, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is predominately a desert country. This means that you should prepare for extremely high temperatures during the day and lower temperatures during the night. So pack light but full-length clothing items, but throw in a jacket or two for those chilly nights.
If you plan on traveling to Saudi Arabia during the period between November and February, you should also be aware that rains and floods are very common. Of course, the weather conditions will largely depend on where you are, as Saudi Arabia is a vast country. Thus, do your homework before traveling to Saudi Arabia, check the weather conditions and pack accordingly.
Always check the weather before coming to Saudi Arabia.
Travel in Groups
Yes, visitors are now allowed and getting a visa for entering Saudi Arabia is now easier, but most laws and regulations stayed the same. Thus, if you want to vacation here, you will first need to apply for a visa. But, the only way to get a tourist visa is if you show some evidence that you are traveling to Saudi Arabia with an organized group, that is, that you are coming with a tour group or a group of people of four and more. Traveling alone is not allowed. Moreover, if you want to travel with your partner, you might have difficulties getting a visa if you are not married. Single women must also have a sponsor if they wish to travel across the country, due to cultural and political rules.