Stay safe in Saudi Arabia
Realistically speaking, the greatest danger to a visitor to Saudi Arabia is fatal driving – drive or carefully select your driver and fasten your seat belt.
A low-level insurrection, directed against foreigners in general and Westerners in particular, continues to bubble. The wave of violence in 2003-2004 was put down by brutal crackdowns by the Saudi security forces. There have been no major attacks in cities for several years. Security remains strict and it is advisable not to attract too much attention to yourself. Foreigners have their presence at their embassy or consulate login . Emergency alert systems using email and cell phone messaging are maintained by many governments for their migrant workers.
Four French tourists who are part of a larger group camping in the desert were shot dead by terrorists near Madain Saleh in early 2007 . Because of this, police escorts are mandatory – which can be an interesting experience, but can also be boring. Restrictive problems – are sometimes travel outside of large cities in regions such as Abha , Najran and Madain Saleh provided .
While Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest crime rates in the world , there is a background level of nonviolent opportunistic theft such as pickpocketing and purse theft. Lock the doors and keep your valuables with you.
Saudi society strives to keep men and women separate, but sexual harassment – whining, ridiculing, and even obeying – is widespread. Interrupting or just asking the stalker Anta Muslim out loud ? (“Are you a Muslim?”) Will usually be enough to scare them.
Violations of Saudi law can bring a visitor into contact with the local police and judiciary. The Saudi judicial system is notoriously harsh, leaving no room for maneuver for non-Saudis, and embassies can only provide limited help in these situations.
|Drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia carries the death penalty.|
Stay healthy in Saudi Arabia
There are no major health risks when traveling to Saudi Arabia: the water is generally potable and the food is generally, but not always, hygienic. No vaccinations are required for general travel to the Kingdom, but a full set of vaccinations is required as an entry requirement for pilgrims joining the Hajj and its exceptional concentration of pilgrims from all over the world.
Smoking is the only sin the mullahs don’t want to ban yet, and as a result everyone smokes everywhere: hotel lobbies, airport lounges, food courts in shopping malls, drivers in their taxis, etc. If this is a problem, be sure to ask about non-smoking rooms in hotels.
The Kingdom has a large national health system, but the services in this program are fairly simple. Private hospitals are often run with the participation of foreign partners. These installations range from fairly rudimentary to very advanced and very expensive. Pharmacies are widespread and most drugs do not require a prescription. Psychotropic drugs are strictly controlled and are only available in government pharmacies.
Bottled water is readily available and, as they say, more expensive than gasoline.