You can find additional details relating to safety and security in our Travel Advisory and Alerts and the website of the U. Crime in Saudi Arabia has increased over recent years, but remains at levels far below most major metropolitan areas in the United States. See our webpage on help for U. Instances of domestic violence can also be reported to the police.
When reporting domestic violence, it is imperative to get a case reference number as all Saudi social and legal assistance is tied to this case number. It is also a good idea to document any injuries and obtain a copy of any medical reports. Please see our page for U. Citizen Victims of Crime. You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned, subject to corporal punishments, or even executed. Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs in Saudi Arabia are severe.
Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, and deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking is death. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website. If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.
Embassy or Consulate immediately. In the case of dual nationals, the Saudi Government may recognize only the nationality of the document used to enter the Kingdom.
Suspects may be detained without charges or legal counsel and with limited access to a consular officer for months during the investigative stage of criminal cases. See our webpage for further information. Islam is the official religion of the country and is present in all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia. See our Hajj and Umrah Fact Sheet.
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Same-sex sexual relations, even when consensual, are criminalized in Saudi Arabia. Violations of Saudi laws governing perceived expressions of, or support for, same-sex sexual relations, including on social media, may be subject to severe punishment. Potential penalties include fines, jail time, or death. Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is generally found in the United States. Saudi law does not prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and there is no legislation requiring public accessibility.
Newer commercial and government buildings, however, often include such access. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, there are numerous government-sponsored centers for people with disabilities. Note that Saudi Arabia has limited infrastructure to care for those with mental disabilities. Women Residents and Travelers: Married women, including non-Saudis, require their husband's permission to depart the country, while unmarried women and children require the permission of their father or male guardian.
Children visiting their fathers in Saudi Arabia, even when there is a custody agreement, can be prevented from leaving unless the father consents. This is true even if the child is an American citizen. Foreign mothers of Saudi children, regardless of marital status, may apply for five-year permanent residency permits without the need for a sponsor.
To do so, they must prove maternity and that they are or were legally married to the Saudi father. If a foreigner and a Saudi living in Saudi Arabia divorce, Saudi courts rarely grant permission for the foreign parent to leave the country with the children born during the marriage, even if he or she has been granted physical custody. Also see our travel tips for Women Travelers. The Arabic text of a contract governs employment and business arrangements under Saudi law.
Verbal assurances or side letters are not binding under Saudi law. In the event of any contract dispute, Saudi authorities refer to the written contract. Teaching English in Saudi Arabia: English teachers comprise a large segment of the U. In recent years, increasing numbers of American teachers have experienced contractual and other problems. Dozens of teachers have complained about arbitrary dismissals, difficult living conditions, salary arrears, unwanted reassignments, restrictions on their movement, and inability to leave the country.
Prospective teachers in Saudi Arabia should vet their potential employer and carefully review their employment offer as well as the detailed information found in our Guide to Teaching English in Saudi Arabia. Prospective teachers should also take care to make sure that they obtain the appropriate work visa prior to coming to Saudi Arabia.
Such visas do not grant the applicant the right to work or to reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Foreign employees must leave the country soon after dismissal or face deportation proceedings.
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Dismissed employees have little, if any, recourse or grounds for appeal and the Embassy and Consulates General cannot interfere in private commercial disputes. Standards of Conduct and Religious Police: In most areas of Saudi Arabia, and particularly in Riyadh and the central part of the Kingdom, women wear a full-length black covering known as an abaya , and cover their heads.
Men should also dress conservatively, and not wear shorts in public or go without a shirt. Many areas of life in Saudi Arabia are segregated by sex to ensure that unrelated men and women have no possibility of mingling a punishable crime. Some mutawwa try to enforce this by asking for proof that a couple is married or related. Women who are arrested for socializing with a man who is not a relative may be charged with prostitution.
Some restaurants, particularly fast-food outlets, refuse to serve women who are not accompanied by a close male relative. In addition, some restaurants or cafes do not have a "family section" in which women are permitted to eat. The Saudi government does not permit photography of governmental facilities such as military bases and government buildings nor military, security, or police personnel. The Saudi government is also sensitive to photographs that may be perceived as portraying the country in an unfavorable light. This policy can include photos of mosques, impoverished areas, the local population, and traditional souks markets.
Be aware of local sensitivities whenever you are taking pictures in public. Citizens have been routinely detained for violating these policies.
Embassy and Consulates General are unable to intervene if a violation of law occurs. The Hajj and Umrah: Medical care varies greatly in quality, and high profile cases of medical malpractice and errors have occurred. Consult your regular physician if you are considering serious medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.
See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. If you are covered by Saudi insurance, be sure to read the fine print: For example, some local policies may not supply coverage for accidents that occur while engaging in adventure sports, such as riding quad vehicles in the desert, that are a common past-time for expats. If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure the medication is legal in Saudi Arabia.
Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U. Medicare does not apply overseas. For further health information, go to:. Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in Saudi Arabia can be hazardous due to speeding and aggressive driving, lax enforcement of traffic regulations, and a high volume of traffic.
With a valid visitor visa and U. Police may detain you if you cannot produce these documents. Although a September royal decree announced that women would be allowed to drive in the future, as of the date of this document, only males are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. See the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior website for further information. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior. Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page. Mariners should also review U. Subscribe to get up-to-date safety and security information and help us reach you in an emergency abroad.
Check passport expiration dates carefully for all travelers!
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