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 ...
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, ...
There are no such temples in Saudi Arabia - source: 26+ years of living there.
There are way more Christians in Saudi Arabia than Buddhists - but there are no churches in Saudi Arabia either.
It is enshrined in the law - which states that all people are free to practice their religion in private only. Public houses of worship for other religions are not ...
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 ...
Realistically, you probably can't - at least, not at the moment.
Saudi Arabian visas are incredibly difficult to get. As you've said, there is no Tourist visa, and presumably you don't qualify for a Hajj visa (and even if you did, they only allow entry to specific areas and on specific dates - you can't travel within the country).
In general, the only ...
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! ...
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.
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 ...
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 ...
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 "fatwas"...
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 ...
TWOV (Transit without visa) via Saudi Arabia:
Passengers transiting through Dammam (DMM), Jeddah (JED) or
Riyadh (RUH) with a confirmed onward ticket for a flight to
a third country within 12 hours. They must stay in the
international transit area of the airport and have documents
required for the next destination.
I do ...
You have applied for entry clearance twice and have been refused both times. Your refusal notices are very helpful in composing an answer...
1- Is it wise to reapply for third time by providing the required evidence. A friend of mine told me that it is useless as their comments are baseless and they simply dont want to issue me the visa. I dont think that ...
Saudi vision 2030, which is a nationwide vision of the future of Saudi Arabia mainly about finding other sources of income beside oil, has tourism as one of the items. It's coming for sure but when, no one knows yet. I have spent some time trying to get an expected date for this, with no luck.
All the official sources just list it as one of the items. ...
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 ...
In addition to the "better safe than sorry" case, I finally found a link which makes it explicitly clear:
Prohibited (also for transit passengers): alcoholic beverages,
firearms or other lethal weapons; drugs of narcotic nature (except
medicines for ...
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 ...
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 ...
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.
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
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.
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 ...
Non-muslims are allowed to enter Saudi Arabia freely.
However, they are prohibited from entering two areas:
The entire city of Makkah.
The city of Medina, except for the outskirts (most notably, the area around the airport and its surroundings). They are strictly prohibited near the center of the city, near the areas of the Prophet's Mosque. There is a ...
A transit visa is indeed possible (they are issued all the time to commercial vehicle drivers and third country nationals), but recently they have stopped issuing them for non-nationals - and issue them on a case-by-case basis.
By national I mean citizen of the destination country; for example an Egyptian national traveling by road from UAE to Egypt.
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 ...
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 ...
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 of ...
If you already have a multiple entry visa for Saudi; just go to any Waseet agent (they are handling the Saudi Embassy visa process).
You'll find them in Hawally behind the Nugra Complex (North).
You'll need to bring:
Visa for Bahrain
Passports of your family members.
Pictures (blue background)
Cash (as they don't take cards, but there is an ATM in the ...
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: ...