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38

Here how it goes: After you pass the passport control desk, you will pass the customs desk. The guys at the customs desk will scan the luggage, if they found books or CDs they might ask you to show them. If they do not like them from the cover, they will take the books and/or CDs and give you a slip. The books will be sent to a department where they will ...


33

TL;DR: It's complicated, but in practice, yes, building snowmen is still allowed for everybody. A fatwa is not a law, it's a ruling by an Islamic scholar that's technically only binding on the person who issued it, not all Muslims in Saudi Arabia, much less all people there. This particular fatwa does not appear to originate from the Permanent Committee, ...


28

Yes, visiting Saudi Arabia is probably more difficult than anywhere else in the world, but it's not impossible by any means. First up, if you're a citizen of a Gulf Cooperation Council country, the answer is easy: you don't need a visa to travel to Saudi Arabia. If you're not, you have four (well, three) choices. Actual tourism visas have been suspended ...


20

First of all, Saudi is a normal working environment. You can say it is different but surely it is normal :) Do not believe CNN or any western media regarding Saudi. They simply exaggerate things to the maximum which will give a bad first impression that will be stuck for a long time. People are touchy. Saudi men do shake hands all the time and it is ...


17

A fatwa is not a legal opinion, it is a religious opinion and it only sometimes has to do with the law. This distinction is important if the country's legal system follows the Sharia, and typically in those cases, the rulings are done by a central committee (as in Saudi Arabia) and not just any goof with mouth. In Saudi, there have been some insane ...


17

No, driving for women in Saudi Arabia is not allowed regardless of the nationality. What bothers me is, there is no clear rule in Saudi regarding driving for women, it is just not allowed! someone came up with this idea years ago and this idea still rules! that's why the police gets confused when they have a case about this, they do not know what to do! ...


17

Sorry, you can't. Women under 45 are not granted pilgrimage visas unless they travel with a male guardian, and even if you're over 45, you need to travel with a group. Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to the US: 4) All women are required to travel for Hajj with a Mahram [male guardian, see Wikipedia]. Proof of kinship must be submitted with the ...


16

I was raised and spend 18 years of my life in Madinah which is the second holy city for Muslims and it is so close to Makkah (A.K.A. Mecca). These two cities have similar rules and mostly all pilgrims visit Madinah either before or after Hajj so I am answering this out of personal experience and observation and not influenced by the western media. Short ...


10

There is an interesting 2000 article in Travel & Leisure, an American magazine, on the first non-religious tourist visas that were being issued around that time. Prince Khalid al-Faisal, the popular governor of Asir province whose recent poetry reading in Jordan drew 10,000 people, told me in an interview that "twenty years ago tourism was almost a ...


9

Preface: I'm not a designer or a clotheshorse so these descriptions may be a bit rough Abaya just means "cloak"; there are many kinds of abaya, just like there are many kinds of jackets/coats. Just like most other things, the interpretation of the abaya varies differently from one region to the next. For example in the UAE abayas have large flowing sleeves ...


8

Apparently there's no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But it's forbidden. Two years ago, Manal al-Sharif decided to encourage women to drive by doing so -- and filming herself for YouTube. Hear her story of what happened next in Manal al-Sharif: A Saudi woman who dared to drive.


8

Women who live in compounds can usually drive on the compound, Aramco. Women can also drive offroad so long as no one official is about. But if you are caught the police will take you in. I'm not sure what the punishment is, one of my friends (A Saudi) was detained until her father came to pick her up and she was made to sign a statement that she would not ...


8

Yes you can, a few years ago Saudi Arabia began to allow this and now people on Umrah/Hajj visas can visit any place in Saudi Arabia and it is not limited to Makkah and Madinah only as it was before. Just make sure to carry your Hajj/Umrah visa with you.


8

The visa fee is one hundred and eight U.S. dollars ($108.00) for U.S. passport holders; for non-U.S. passport holders the fee is fifty-four U.S. dollars ($54.00) for a single entry and one hundred and thirty-four U.S. dollars ($134.00) for multiple entries. Requirements of travel visa is here Requirements of family visa is here


7

While this Saudi Airlines page says: If the infant reaches the age of 2 years prior to their return journey, they must pay the applicable child fare, taxes, fees and charges for that part of the journey. In reality things are different, as long as the ticket is issued then it is ok and no one checks and the system only checks the date of the infant as ...


7

First, it will not be "straight and easy": the Middle East is full of unstable countries, underdeveloped infrastructure, political and diplomatical issues between neighbor countries and bureaucracy. But it can be interesting to travel these routes and discover less-traveled places and meet locals nevertheless. From Europe to the Middle East The first part ...


7

Unfortunately for someone trying to travel between Istanbul and Mecca, the Ottoman-era Baghdad and Hejaz (Damascus-Mecca) railways are no longer in operation. Even assuming you are Muslim and can legally visit the city of Mecca, an overland trip between Istanbul and Saudi Arabia is not practical at this time due to the civil war in Syria and instability in ...


6

Growing up in Saudi Arabia and now living in Kuwait, I can corroborate what @MeNoTalk has said, and will add the following: All road signs are clearly marked in English and Arabic. Make sure you carry with you the identification documents for your hajj hamla (caravan). English is not an issue when walking around the Haram, as most shopkeepers will speak ...


6

The phone should still work as long as it didn't die in the meantime - but you can try that out at home. The question is more whether the sim card still works. I assume it won't. In most countries sim cards expire if you don't use them. Sometimes after 3 months, sometimes after 3 years, so after 7 years it very likely did. So even if the phone still works, ...


5

I didn't realize that seat belt laws in Saudi Arabia are nothing close to what they are here. So why would they care about car-seats? Here's what I ended up doing: Mini-Bus: Our travel agent sent us a mini-bus (local school bus), which is somewhat safer (and slower) than a traditional taxi. This covered two trips (to Mecca, and to the airport) Coach Bus: ...


4

Iran is the safest way in Middle East when you want to avoid Iraq, Syria and Israel. As I said in my answer to Quickest way from London to Dubai without flying?, there is a direct train from Istanbul to Tehran. From there, you can go to Bandar Busher by bus, then take a ferry to Dammam. Finally, you can take a bus to go to Mecca.


4

Wikitravel mentions one budget hotel, the Al Jazeera Hotel: Al Jazeera Hotel, Al Bathaa Street, +966 1 2863863. Good value hotel on main street, offering singles/doubles from SR60/120. This works out at about AUD$18 a night at the current exchange rate. In addition, as Michael mentioned there are hostels. The Saudi Arabia Youth Hostel Association ...


4

As @Vence commented, a letter from your employer will be more than enough for the embassy/consulate. If that money will be cashed to you enough time before your flight then you can deposit it in your bank account and attach the bank statement to your visa request. Both of these scenarios will grant you the visa.


4

I will give you general role about fatwas. Anyone can give a Fatwa in Islam :) The person who gives fatwa has to prove his fatwa with some kind of proof. Even given proof doesn't mean the fatwa needs to be followed. That's why you can find strange fatwa from time to time. Even Saudi's and Muslim in general laugh about some fatwas. Fatwa almost means ...


4

To answer your first question, yes they do random checks on laptops and disks, but this is rare. In my last 15 years I only had it once. They suspected some CDs on me and checked them, they also opened my laptop and searched for photos! That's it. They are usually targeting porn content. Regarding the internet access, no, there is nothing that will surprise ...


3

You will need to show visa documentation to board the flight to Canada. Assuming the rest of your family is traveling on your Pakistani passports and if your Iqama status is noted in those passports, the airline may wish to see his Pakistani passport as well at check-in to make sure he is documented to leave. But they should accept his US passport as proof ...


3

Here is the cheapest way to be something like backpacker in Saudi Arabia. I did it before couple of years :) You should have membership of the "Saudi Arabian Youth Hostels Association" The membership is for 200 Riyal=53 dollar for a whole year. (There is no other options only whole year). You can have it if you are older than 15 years. And you can ...


3

The Saudis are less concerned about anti-"religious" books per se, than about anti-Muslim books. The greatest danger lies with anything that is anti-Mohammed, or anti-Islam, or even anti-clergy (religious men). If they are "anti-religious" in the sense of being anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, or pro atheist, the Saudis might not care. On the other hand, ...


3

You were refused under Paragraph 4.2 of the rules which means they do not believe you are a genuine visitor. The paragraph having to do with booking.com is their way of saying that you did not study the guidance and hence possibly do not understand the rules. And by extension, people who do not understand the rules are likely to violate them. The ...



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