Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the largest Arab state in Western Asia by land area (approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula) and the second-largest in the Arab world (after Algeria). It is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast, Yemen in the south, the Red Sea to the west and Arabian Gulf to the east. Its population is estimated to consist of 16 million citizens and an additional 9 million registered foreign expatriates and 2 million illegal immigrants.[11]

 

 Lodging

Saudi Arabia includes international chains such as Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Le Meridien, Sheraton, and Westin.
 
You can get preferential rates with Hotels. For detailed information about the recommended hotels, rates and booking procedures please check: Hotel Information and Reservation.

 

Temperature

The city of Jeddah is located on the west coast of the Kingdom (latitude 29.21 north & longitude 39.7 east), in the middle of the eastern shore of the Red Sea south of the Tropic of Cancer. To the east are the plains of Tihama, which are considered the low heights of the Hijaz region. Jeddah is directly affected by the climate of the geographic location which means high temperatures and humidity during the summer. These temperatures are around the early the 40s, when the city falls under the influence of a low seasonal zone with a solid and warm air mass. Humidity reaches its highest levels in summer because of the high temperature of sea water and it is lower in winter due to the impact of the moderate air mass associated with high pressure. During the month of December, the temperature in Jeddah ranges from a low of 20 Co to a high of 35 Co.

 

Language

Arabic is the official language; English is widely spoken in urban areas.

 

 

Religion and Traditions

Saudi Arabia is a modern nation that adheres to Islam, honours its Arab heritage and tradition, and presses vigorously forward in the service of Islam while securing the welfare of its people. Religious and social traditions should be respected, in particular in holy cities (Mecca and Madina) and mosques.
Everything in Saudi Arabia is regulated by the five daily prayers. All shops and offices close during each prayer for a period of at least 20-30 minutes. However, shopping malls, hospitals and airports do stay open (but with all shops inside the shopping malls closed) and taxis and other public transport continue to run normally.
Arab traditions also play an important role in Saudi life. Saudi traditions are rooted in Islamic teachings and Arab customs, which Saudis learn about at an early age from their families and in schools. These age-old traditions have evolved over the millennia and are highly regarded. They include generosity and hospitality, which every Saudi family offers to strangers, friends, and family. The simplest expression of hospitality is coffee – its preparation alone is an intricate cultural tradition, and it is often served in small cups along with dates and sweets. Another gesture of hospitality is the burning of incense (oud) to welcome guests.

 

Restrictions

Forbidden items include alcohol, narcotics, weapons, ammunition, pork and pornography. Prescription drugs must be documented. Makkah and Madinah hold special religious significance and only persons of the Islamic faith are allowed entry.
However, you will find shisha cafes and a large variety of coffee shops such as: Java Lounge, Vertigo, Starbucks, Mugs & Beans, Costa Coffee and Second Cup. Non-alcoholic beer is available in restaurants as are non-alcoholic cocktails and other drinks.

 

Dress code

Both men and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs. Women are required to wear an abaya or modest clothing when in public.

 

Currency

Saudi Riyal (SR) pegged to U.S. dollar ($1=SR3.745); bank notes, in Arabic and English, in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 riyals; coins in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 halalahs, with 100 halalahs equal to one riyal; metric system in use. Saudi regulations require those travelling to or from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to declare all currency, negotiable instruments or precious metal in an aggregate amount exceeding 60,000 Saudi Riyal [U.S. $16,000] (or the equivalent in another currency) to Saudi Customs.

 

Credit Cards

Credit cards and traveller's cheques are widely accepted, especially in main cities. Check with your bank for information on automated banking machine (ABM) services. You can also check the VISA ATM locator page or the MasterCard ATM locator page for the addresses of ABMs around the world. Verify with your financial institution whether your bank card can be used with ABMs abroad. Some countries use chip and/or personal identification number (PIN) technology for credit cards. Check with your bank to find out if your credit card will be accepted abroad.

 

Business hours

Fridays and Saturdays are the public holidays days in KSA.
 
Public Sector
7:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m
 
Private Sector
Morning: 8:00a.m to 12 p.m Afternoon: 4:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m Thursday: (morning shift only)
Banks
8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
Shopping Stores
Weekdays: 10:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m Friday:4:00 p.m to 10 p.m

 

Communications and Internet Hotspots:

Wire services, dailies, magazines, radio and television are generally available.The Hotspot is a service through which high-speed internet is provided on air using a wireless Broadband technology, so that the Public can access Internet using their laptops or wireless phones equipped with WiFi technology or any other device that can penetrate such wireless connection. Such a service has been provided in more than 2000 locations all over Kingdom where users can be on a constant connection with Internet wherever they are depending on the WiFi Technology.
Such hot spots are occasionally available at restaurants, train stations, airports, libraries, hotels, hospitals, cafes, book stores, petrol stations, giant stores and other public areas in addition to most universities and schools.

 

Local transportation

The recommended methods of transportation are taxis. The GACA has kindly made arrangement for transfer of ICAN2012 participants from Jeddah airport to their hotels on their arrival and departure.

 

Time zone

Greenwich Mean Time plus three (GMT+3) = Eastern Standard Time plus eight (seven during Daylight Savings Time).

 

Health

Proof of yellow fever or polio vaccinations may be required. Do not rely on your provincial or territorial health plan to cover costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad. Out-of-country health care can be costly, and your health plan may not cover any medical expenses abroad. Carry details of your insurance with you while travelling.

 

Safety

The Saudi Arabia Kingdom is considered to be a safe country overall. It is however advisable to take out travel insurance and to take normal precautions to safeguard yourself and your valuables.

 

Useful Phone Numbers

Country code: +966
Jeddah area code: -2
Fire: 998
Police: 999
Ambulance: 997

 

Tipping

Tipping is generally not required.

 

Electricity

220 Volts and 110 Volts are available in Saudi.