Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia, biggest country in the Middle East, and it’s also the biggest and most urban city in this country.
And despite it has all virtues of any other similar cosmopolitan capital in the world, it is still very conservative, with strict religious views and laws.
Women are expected to be covered from head to toe whenever in public, and demeanors of its residents are under a close eye.
Most forms of entertainment are banned here, so it’s mainly considered a business destination. There are few sights of interest, but with its brutal climate, it isn’t a destination coveted by tourists.
Though it’s so strict, and the tourists aren’t too common in Riyadh, English is spoken by most Saudis and you can find many of the dressed in westernized clothing.
Warnings & Dangers in Riyadh
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Riyadh is mainly safe but there are extremely unsafe areas, as in most major cities of the world. Some of the biggest concerns for tourists in Riyadh should be disrespecting their moral codes, as this is followed with severe punishments.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Reckless drivers are a major concern in Riyadh. Accidents on the road occur frequently. The roads outside of Riyadh vary in quality from well maintained to extremely poor. Vessels operating in the Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman are at a risk of a pirates' attack.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Pickpocketing is relatively common in Riyadh despite the constant presence of police on the streets. Pickpockets are especially active during pilgrimages. Avoid wearing purses and keep your money in a hidden place, not easily accessible by pickpockets. Also be wary of people trying to distract you, it might very well be a way to take your money.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
As for natural disasters in Riyadh, you can expect extremely high temperatures, reaching as high as 50C. This is why it is highly recommended that you always carry water with you and maintain hydrated. Sandstorms and thunderstorms are also common.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Muggings or kidnappings might be a concern, though generally they aren't common in Riyadh.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Terrorists are extremely likely to try and carry out attacks in the capital of Saudi Arabia. The main threat comes from Daesh that were formerly referred to ISIL. Remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Except for credit card frauds, expect virtually no scams in the territory of Riyadh.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There are some risks for women traveling to Riyadh, especially if they're not respecting their codes of morality, like wearing an abaya at all times. Apart from that, women should apply basic precaution measures.
So... How Safe Is Riyadh Really?
Probably the main concern for travelers in Riyadh is the situations they can get themselves into in cases of disrespecting Islamic codes of morality, which are definitely a lot stricter than anyone outside of UAE can imagine.
What you may see as minor or non-relevant, may get you into serious troubles.
What you may see as minor or non-relevant, may get you into serious troubles. Women, for example, whether local or foreign, need to wear an abaya, a long and loose black robe.
And even though a head scarf is usually enough for foreign women, you are advised to at least bring one with you.
Another strict law in Riyadh prohibits all LGBT activities in the country. Anything LGBT related is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
It is, in fact, one of the least homosexual friendly countries in the world.
For first offences you can get prison sentences of several months to life, and physical punishments like whipping/flogging, chemical castration, torture, vigilante killings and public execution.
Second offences invariably lead to an execution. If you’re a member LGBT community, you are advised to stay out of Saudi Arabia.
As far as crime is concerned, the biggest danger for tourists in Riyadh is the Fahateen: bad drivers. You have to be very careful when picking your drivers and always wear a seatbelt.
Riyadh has one of the lowest crime rates in the world as the police are regularly present on the streets, but there’s always a small degree of petty theft like pickpocketing and purse snatching.
- Visas - All nationals are required to get a visa in order to enter Saudi Arabia. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six-month from your planned date of return from Saudi Arabia. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Saudi Riyal is the official currency of Riyadh. Airports offer the best exchange rates, and ATMs are widespread throughout the country. Credit cards are accepted in most establishments.
- Weather - Riyadh has a desert climate, characterized by extremely high temperatures, exceeding 50C. Period from June to September is the hottest period of the year.
- Airports - King Khalid International Airport is an international airport serving Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. It is located 35 kilometres north of Riyadh.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Riyadh, since it covers not only medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.