Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Use Normal Level of Caution

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab country of the Middle East located north of Yemen and south of Iraq and Jordon. It borders on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The estimated population is 26 million people. The government of Saudi Arabia is an Islamic absolute monarchy, with the king as chief of state and prime minister. Saudi Arabia's economy is dominated by oil exports that account for more than 90 percent of all exports and about 75 percent of government revenues.

The Kingdom is sometimes called “The Land of the Two Holy Mosques” since it is the location for the two holiest cities in Islam, Mecca and Medina. In 2010, approximately three million people participated in the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the holy places of Islam. The resulting crowded conditions can spread diseases quickly, and the potential for accidental injury is a serious concern. The government of Saudi Arabia requires additional health measures for participation in the Hajj, including meningococcal, polio, and influenza vaccinations. Pilgrims are screened for other diseases, such as dengue fever, meningococcal meningitis, and yellow fever.

The extreme heat and extensive walking involved in the pilgrimage can also cause heat stroke and heat cramps as a result of dehydration.

This country was essentially closed to outsiders for centuries. Today tourism is mainly connected with the religious pilgrimages and brings in about 12 million visitors overall annually.

Currency SAR: Saudi Riyal
Language Arabic
Capital Riyadh
Recent Alerts 2
Latest Alert June 05, 2017 - Middle East countries sever diplomatic ties with Qatar affecting travellers

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Saudi Arabia. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Malaria

The World Health Organization states that there is a limited malaria risk from September to January along the southern border with Yemen. There is no risk in Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Riyadh, and Ta'if.

Meningitis

There is a risk of meningitis during the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah). All pilgrims, including infants and children, are required to provide proof of vaccination with a quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine, received no more than 3 years and no less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Saudi Arabia through contaminated food or water. Infection can still occur at tourist destinations and resorts.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in Saudi Arabia.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Saudi Arabia, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Leishmaniasis

Sporadic cases of leishmaniasis occur in Saudi Arabia and is usually more common in rural than urban areas. The risk of acquiring leishmaniasis is increased in travellers who spend time outdoors in rural areas and at night, when sand flies typically feed.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever outbreaks have occurred in Saudi Arabia, and the risk to travellers is significant.

Rift Valley Fever (RVF)

Sporadic outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) occur in Saudi Arabia.

Yellow Fever

There is no risk of yellow fever transmission. However, this country requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers 1 year of age and older arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in this country. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Saudi Arabia.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Meningitis Vaccine

Travellers participating in the Hajj, including infants and children, are required to provide proof of vaccination with a quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine, received no more than 3 years and no less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

The yellow fever vaccination is not recommended for this country. However, this country requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers 1 year of age and older arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Saudi Arabia.

Anti-malarial Drugs

The World Health Organization recommends atovaquone- proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. Drug resistance to chloroquine is present. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends steps to avoid mosquito bites.

Safety and Security in Saudi Arabia

Emergency Numbers

999

Personal Safety

The crime rate in Saudi Arabia is low and most travellers do not experience security problems. However, petty crime, such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, or other theft can occur in any crowded area or tourist destination. Always be alert to your personal safety. Keep valuables secured and out of sight. Safeguard your important documents, such as your passport. Avoid walking alone at night.

Reports of pickpocketing and other theft have increased in Makkah and particularly in the regions of the Grand Mosque and in Medina.

Do not take photographs at the Holy Mosque at Makkah or at the Prophet’s Mosque at Medina.

Areas To Avoid

Do not travel to areas within 30 kilometers of the border with Yemen.

Extreme Violence

There is an ongoing general threat of terrorism. Saudi Arabia has experienced terrorist attacks in the past, however, Saudi authorities continue to take action successfully against terrorist groups. Travellers are advised to be alert to personal security and safety, especially in areas frequented by tourists. Avoid large crowds and large gatherings in public. If you encounter large groups or demonstrations, have an exit route. Identify safe places, such as hospitals, police stations, etc.

Political Unrest

Although public demonstrations are illegal in this country, demonstrations can occur. In any country, avoid public gatherings or protests since even peaceful demonstrations can escalate into violence.

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