Safety Tips in Saudi Arabia

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Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Saudi Arabia

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    Always ask for a Permission: sneak pics

    by Manyana Updated Mar 4, 2007

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Saudi society is conservative and private. Men or women prefer to head a private life almost in everything.
    So if you want to take a picture in public, avoid taking pictures of people unless if you ask for their permission.
    If you are teaching at school or college and planning to have a field trip, make sure to have parents' permission even for 20-year-old students.
    I'm not trying to get you obsessed, but always ask for a permission.
    Once I was at Jeddah's corniche taking picture of the seaside. Then a woman was partially yelling, 'No picture, No picture'. Although she was fully covered, she felt uncomfortable. So I explained that I was taking picture of the sea. goodness as if i was stealing or 'killing' pics!
    The picture displayed shows no people but I was asked to stop shooting. well, you'll definitely end up with pictures zoomed out and butts without faces,lol.

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    saudi society

    by TomorrowsAngel Updated Sep 18, 2003

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    KSA is probably the most conservative society in the world. And social life here is determined according to Islamic beliefs.
    Everything closes for prayertime - 5 times a day. And men and women are strictly segregated in all forms of public life.
    Women cannot drive, and local women cannot travel intercity/internationally without permission from a male relative.

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    censorship

    by TomorrowsAngel Written Sep 18, 2003

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    The Ministry of Information keeps a tight rein on the media and all publications entering the Kingdom. Any reference to Christianity or Judaism is strictly expunged: if a photograph appears in a newspaper or magazine that shows a cross or a star of David, it is obliterated with an opaque black marker. The same thing goes for any exposed flesh above the ankles or below the neck (think CD inserts and underwear labels even). Bare shoulders will even be blacked out. Any article appearing in a news magazine that is critical of Saudi Arabia, for example, will be similarly obliterated. for example, regularly, issues of Time magazine are banned from the import.

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    photography

    by TomorrowsAngel Written Sep 18, 2003

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    Photographers must be exceedingly circumspect in where they aim their cameras. I've never had any trouble, but if you do, you run the risk of having your film/memory stick or camera removed!
    You're in the most danger if you try to shoot women. I have photos of Saudi women on this site, this has gotten lots of people in hot water.
    Similiarly, it 's best to avoid photographing government buildings of any kind. The same goes for airports, too, of course, though I've covertly taken photos at airports out of aircraft windows and not been caught!

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  • Crazy Car Drivers

    by Manyana Written May 24, 2005

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    Saudi Arabia or the Gulf area is considered to be no.1 in car accidents in the world. Actually, car accident is among the top 5 causes of death in Saudi.
    Usually teenagers have got their own cars and can speed up to 200KM. Taxi drivers also are well-know for their higher possibility of having car accidents than other drivers.
    Also because 75%of the land is desert, on the highways connecting cities, usually camels cross the street and increase car accidents on the highways.
    At least, five car accidents occur in Jeddah every week. This is one city. What about the whole Kingdom?
    Besides, most people have no car insurance and if you by an accident their cars, you'd pay for it.
    Always watch out

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  • For visitor women

    by Manyana Written May 16, 2005

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    - Clothes: In public, visitor women should wear the black abaya (cloak like) as soon as they arrive in Saudi Arabia. You just ask any local and they direct you to an abaya's shop. It is a must. Also it would be more favored if you cover your hair, but it's not necessary to foreigners since local women do it and other cover their faces as well.
    - Transportation: women are not allowed to drive cars. Get a private driver and rent a car, or better to have a deal with a taxi. Public transportation like buses are rarely available for women and if they are, they suck. However, you can travel domestically by an airplane with no problem.
    - Restaurants: most restaurants have single and family sections. If you are a single woman or married, you should go to the family section since you're considered a family.
    - Sports Activities: In public, they're available only for men; jetski, swimming, golfing, soccer and so on. In private places, they're available for both and other times it's separate. So always ask where women can work out.

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    Car accidents!

    by DunaKal Updated Oct 19, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Driving in Saudi Arabia requires lots of skills,although there are many traffic lights,stop signs,and wearing the seat belt is a must,yet Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates for car accidents!
    Sadly most car accident are fatal.(although drivers arent drunk!)

    I`m writting this after coming from my best friend`s funeral,she died at age of 31 from a car accident along with her 17 years old niece
    (God bless their souls)Sigh*

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  • For visitor men

    by Manyana Written May 16, 2005

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    - Clothes: In public, always dress decently, long sleeves and long pants unless in beaches or so. You don't wanna gain attention. Trust me at this.
    - Restaurants: most restaurants have single and family sections. If you are a single man, you should go to the single section which is only for single men, unless you're accompanied by a girlfriend or sister, you can act family now:^D

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    Due to the recent events....

    by shelnlin Updated Aug 31, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Due to the recent bombing in a Residental compound in Riyadh and the with the war on Iraq being so close to Saudi, many expats are now considering leaving the Kingdom and are returning back to their native Homelands because things have got alot worse since these terrible incidents.

    At present my I am staying put but are remaining calm and careful whenever I go out during the evenings or during the day. So far Al Khobar has not had any attacks but we must be alert and be mindful that an attack is quite likely and that we are possible targets because we are Westerners.

    The best thing one can do in circumstances like this is remain calm, register with your local Embassy and try to go about your everyday lives as best you as you can. If you are uncomfortable about the situation then you best bet is to leave and go home.

    If you feel that you want to stay on and see it through to the end of your contract (like we are) keep up to date with your Embassy and read all the warnings they have issued on their website, watch CNN or BBC World, Sky News UK and be cautious.

    Don't let the Al Qaeda rule your life!

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    A Rehab Country

    by DunaKal Updated Jun 10, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    if you`re trying to quit on drinking,,Saudi Arabia is the place!!!
    Alcohol is forbidden in Islam and it`s not served almost anywhere in Saudi Arabia.

    yet many embassies has alcohol beverages...they have a certain licence for it...otherwise you will not be allowed to bring your own alcohol beverage at all.

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  • Basic Rules for Surviving in the Kingdom

    by Bullzeye Written Oct 2, 2007

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    Dress like the locals. If possible, buy your Saudi clothes online and wear them out of the airport. Abaya with hijab headscarf for women (and a niquab veil if you think you can take it, though it's not legally mandated), thawb with keffiyeh/agal headdress for men.

    Act like the locals. Women: driving, riding a bike, or going anywhere unescorted by your HUSBAND (note: not boyfriend/fiance) or an immediate male family member is against the law. Sucks if you're a single woman, which is an excellent reason for single women not to go to the Kingdom. The Mutaween religious police are the ones who check this stuff; I've personally witnessed them walking around demanding Western couples for proof that they are married or related. These are the same cats that blocked a bunch of schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in 2002 because they weren't wearing their abayas and hijabs...Fair warning. Do what it takes to make them happy...follow 10-feet behind your husband when he walks, especially if he's talking to another man, don't speak unless addressed, and avoid eye contact with other men. These concepts may be pretty draconian, but sticking out like a sore thumb in The Kingdom is a very, very bad idea (for several reasons). It's better just to play the game.

    In public: avoid speaking about Islam, Mohammad, the Kingdom, the al-Saud family, or anything else controversial. People get offended easily over there, and it's against the law to speak ill of any of the above. Don't profess other religions, either. That's against the law. Don't sing or dance; it's immodest, and against the law. Basically, act like you're in church any time you're in public: quiet and respectful. Don't take photos of women (even your wife!) on the street; it's considered highly immodest for a woman to have her picture taken, and anyone nearby will go batshit. Learned this one the hard way. When in doubt, ask someone very respectfully and they'll tell you. In this place, it's much better to ask permission than forgiveness.

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    Leave The Porn Behind

    by clws Written Sep 12, 2005

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    Porn is also forbidden in Saudi Arabia. And be warned, that what they consider porn, may not be what you consider porn. A movie with a woman in a bikini can be considered porn here. You will be fined for it.

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  • Stay Away from Deera Square on Friday afternoons

    by Bullzeye Updated Oct 2, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I almost forgot: Stay away from Deera Square in the old section of Riyadh on Fridays from the end of midday mosque service until the "asr" mid-afternoon prayers. The expats call it "chop chop" square for a reason. There's always a big crowd to watch the beheadings and they're all hopped up from a long and fiery sermon...the Mutaween is, of course, all over the place, and if they notice you're a Westerner, they'll push you up to the front so you can see Sharia justice in action...sometimes several times over. And it's not always a beheading, sometimes it's a teenage girl being stoned to death. Did I mention they won't let you leave till it's over?

    I suspect most of them just like to watch us filthy infidels throw up on their shoes.

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  • Never drink Tap water

    by Manyana Written Oct 22, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    saudi, generally, has a long battle with water shortage. although there is one giagantic water refining factory by the western coast, the water usually remains semi-filtred and not quite clean and not suitable for drinking. when you turn on the tap at first, it will pour rusty or yellowish water, even though it becomes clear in a few moments later.

    so be warned, NEVER drink from the tap. always have a sealed bottle of water with you.

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    Don't talk to the women

    by american_tourister Written Mar 31, 2008

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    This is a segregated society and women are separate from men. If you see a woman don't stare and don't try to make conversation. If she asks you a question or otherwise engages the conversation then it is OK but other wise you run the risk of getting in trouble with the religious police.

    Women cannot go outside unless they wear the black abaya. I took this candid photo on day when walking in Khobar. I took a risk doing so even though the shot is from behind but I could not resist. These two were out just strolling along but they were having a very animated conversation as they wnet.

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