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Must-know tips before travelling to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is home to stunning UNESCO sites, namely Ah-Ahsa Oasis (the world’s largest oasis) in Jeddah. The rock art that’s 10,000 years old in the Hail region and the archaeological sites of Al-Hijr. Before you travel, please be informed that the Saudi Arabian government has closed the two holiest shrines to the foreigners. You could refer back to this article once the travel ban is lifted! This historical gem has its great cultural stories and like any other countries have its norms, here are some you should know about:

Local Dressing

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The men and women in Saudi Arabia dress in cultural wear, abaya for women and thobe for men, which is a type of Arabic dress. As an Islamic nation, dressing respectfully in non-form-fitting clothes is essential. Bear in mind that clothing for women should cover the shoulders and knees, and men should wear long trousers or pants too.

Community Activities

Source: Flickr

As a Saudi visitor, being mindful of local activities is a great way to show respect toward Arabic culture. There isn’t any nightlife or alcohol involved on a day-to-day basis. Instead, you’ll find locals in nearby mosques, local markets, or eateries.

Interestingly, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has made some revolutionary changes. He has launched an Ithra centre in Dammam and several cinemas in Riyadh and Jeddah, which are huge steps for entertainment in Saudi Arabia.

Photography Bans

Source: PxHere

As tourists, it’s common to snap photographs of the gorgeous landscape or building. You might think twice before doing this in Saudi Arabia. Locals are suspicious of pictures, and there’s a national ban on photographing government buildings, mosques, and palaces.

Be extremely respectful when it comes to photographs, if you’d like to take some portraits, please ask. Otherwise, a local could sue you for harassment. Unless you’re a journalist on an official assignment who needs a camera for work, we advise against bringing a camera. Even then, journalists need to get a special allowance.

Pokemon Toys

Source: Flickr

The popular Pokémon toys are not an acceptable item to carry in Saudi Arabia. The nature of its cartoons and toys have questionable evolution theories that do not align with Islamic beliefs, hence the ban.

Though seemingly innocent, you might want to double-check and leave your fan merchandise at bay when in Saudi Arabia. 

Rules for Women

Source: Flickr

Saudi laws require a mahram (a male or female, blood-related “guardian”) for women when travelling in public, therefore travellers should follow this rule. The ideal mahram would be her husband. Pro tip: Remember to bring your marriage license with you as officials may query on this at times.

It’s an uncommon practice for women to enter public places alone too. Ensure you have male accompaniment for societal and safety purposes.

Worship in Silence

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As an Islamic nation, religion and worship are close to their hearts. As a sign of respect, do not worship other religious gods in public as it a form of rule-breaking in society.

To avoid misunderstandings, we recommend keeping all other forms of religious prayers and practices to yourself when in the country.


Source: Needpix

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