Abstract:Travel to Riyadh takes a lot of planning, especially if you are a woman, even more so if you are a woman travelling alone. Saudi Arabia is a conservative Islamic country, and women are expected to be covered from head to toe whenever in public. This requirement is not something that you can get aroun...
Travel to Riyadh takes a lot of planning, especially if you are a woman, even more so if you are a woman travelling alone. Saudi Arabia is a conservative Islamic country, and women are expected to be covered from head to toe whenever in public. This requirement is not something that you can get around. Mutawwa, or religious police, are especially vigilant in Riyadh. Be sure to wear shapeless ankle-length long sleeve dresses whenever outside; the full-length black Abaya is preferred. Although not required, in order to be less conspicuous, women will want to wear a headscarf as well. If you choose not to wear one, be sure to carry one at all times, as you may face harassment otherwise. In addition, women are forbidden from traveling alone and must have a sponsor in order to travel to and within Saudi Arabia. Driving and riding bicycles on public roadways is strictly forbidden for women.
The US Department of State currently suggests against any non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia. Terrorist attacks, especially against Westerners and Western interests have occured in the past; most recently an attack against the US Consulate in Jeddeh resulted in a number of injuries and significant damage to consulate facilities. If you still choose to travel to the region, be sure to register with your country's embassy upon arrival.
Keep a copy of the front page from your passport, any tickets, and any other important information in a location separate from the originals. You may also consider leaving a copy of these pages with someone back at home, whom you can contact if necessary if you get into trouble abroad. These copies will come in handy if you are a victim of theft.
The latest travel warnings for Riyadh and Saudi Arabia can be found on the US Department of State Consular Information sheet for Saudi Arabia.