Electrical current is 220 volts, 60Hz. Three-pin, flat-bladed plugs are in use, in addition to round/flat-bladed two-pin plugs, as well as flat-bladed two-pin plugs with a third, round pin for grounding.
The Saudi currency is the Riyal (SAR), divided into 100 halala.
Foreign currency can be changed at banks and exchange bureaux.
Banking hours are generally Saturday to Wednesday from 8am to 12pm.
Some banks also choose to open again later in the afternoon and
stay open into the evening, from 5pm to 8pm. All major credit cards
are accepted at shops, hotels, and restaurants in Saudi Arabia.
ATMs are widely available.
Currency Exchange Rates
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.Language:
|SAR 1.00 =
Arabic is the official language in Saudi Arabia, but English is widely understood.
Entry requirements for Americans:
US citizens require a passport and visa to enter Saudi Arabia,
and must be valid for the duration of their stay.
Entry requirements for UK nationals:
British passport holders require a passport that is valid for a
minimum of six months from the date of arrival, and a visa to enter
Entry requirements for Canadians:
Canadians require a passport that is valid for a minimum of six
months from the date of arrival, and a visa to enter Saudi
Entry requirements for Australians:
Australians require a passport that is valid for a minimum of
six months from the date of arrival, and a visa to enter Saudi
Entry requirements for South Africans:
South Africans require a passport that is valid for a minimum of
six months from the date of arrival, and a visa to enter Saudi
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals:
New Zealanders require a passport that is valid for a minimum of
six months from the date of arrival, and a visa to enter Saudi
All visitors require a visa to enter Saudi Arabia, and visas are
only granted to those with sponsorship in the country. Tourist
visas are hard to get, granted only to selected groups on a limited
basis. Everyone who enters the Kingdom should have a valid passport
with at least six months validity in addition to the appropriate
visa and a return ticket, with all necessary documents. Muslim
women entering the Kingdom alone must be met by a sponsor or male
relative and have confirmed accommodation for the duration of their
stay. Entry may be refused to any visitor arriving in an
intoxicated state, men wearing shorts, women in tight clothing or
with legs and arms exposed, and to couples displaying affection in
public. There are special requirements for pilgrims undertaking the
Hajj or visiting holy sites. It is strongly recommended not to hold
passports containing any Israeli visa or stamp when entering or
transiting Saudi Arabia as entry may be refused.
Anyone arriving in Saudi Arabia from a country infected with
yellow fever requires a vaccination certificate for entry. People
travelling to perform Hajj and Umrah are required to be inoculated
against meningitis before travel and must present a vaccination
certificate on arrival. A meningococcal vaccine is recommended for
all travellers. Respiratory infections are common among pilgrims
during the Hajj and Ramadan season. Not compulsory, but definitely
advisable, is vaccination against hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid
There is a malaria risk in the south and parts of the western
region of the country and visitors should take advice on
anti-malarial precautions at least four weeks before leaving; an
outbreak of cerebral malaria has occurred in Jizan. Rift Valley
Fever has also occurred, mainly in the Jizan area. Dengue fever has
Food poisoning is a risk outside the good hotels. Visitors
should only drink bottled water. The standard of medical care and
facilities in Saudi Arabia is high, but treatment is expensive,
therefore health insurance is strongly advised for all
Service charge is usually included in bills at hotels. Elsewhere
a tip of 10 percent can be offered for services rendered. Taxi
drivers can be given 10 percent of the fare.
Conditions in Riyadh are typically dry and hot, but the city
does receive about four inches (102mm) of rain a year, most of it
falling between January and April. In summer, hot winds can send
temperatures soaring up to 113°F (45°C). In winter it can
be surprisingly chilly, dropping down to 50°F (10°C), and
at night temperatures can plunge below freezing. The best months in
Riyadh, when days are pleasantly tolerable and nights are cool, are
between October and April.
Travel safety in Saudi Arabia is a concern. The US and British
authorities believe terrorists may be planning further attacks
against Westerners and in places associated with Westerners in
Saudi Arabia following incidents in which foreign nationals were
killed. Aviation interests remain a possible terrorist target.
Attacks in the past have included kidnappings, targeted shootings,
and bombings of shopping areas, government offices and car bombs.
All travel within 60 miles (100km) of the border with Yemen due to
the clashes along the Saudi-Yemeni border.
Visitors who choose to risk entering the country should ensure
they have individual security arrangements, remain vigilant, keep a
low profile, and avoid public gatherings. Visitors should be
particularly alert in public places frequented by foreigners such
as shopping malls, restaurants, and hotels and in the desert
Pilgrims are increasingly being targeted by pickpockets in Mecca
and Medina and are advised to take care of personal possessions. In
recent years pilgrims have died due to overcrowding and stampedes
at events during Haj. Religious police patrols rigorously enforce
codes of behaviour and dress prescribed by Islamic law and visitors
should respect these.
Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is
strictly enforced. No alcohol, pork products, or religious books
and artefacts not related to Islam are permitted in the country.
There are no bars in Saudi Arabia, and alcohol is served nowhere to
anyone of any religious persuasion.
Dress should be conservative at all times, and women should take
particular care not to offend. Visitors are advised to familiarise
themselves with behaviour and dress codes before entering the
country. Homosexual behaviour and extra-marital sexual relations,
including adultery are illegal and can carry the death penalty. It
is also illegal to be transgender.
Photography of local people, government buildings, military
installations, and palaces is not allowed. Religious customs should
be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating,
drinking, and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as
it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. The right hand should be
used for everything, including eating and the giving and receiving
of things, as the left is considered unclean. It is illegal to hold
two passports, and second passports will be confiscated if
discovered by immigration authorities.
If you are looking to do business in Saudi Arabia, prepare
yourself for a unique experience. The Saudi corporate world is
perhaps the most foreign of any of the Gulf nations, and in all
likelihood you are going to have to remain flexible and to learn
new skills, in order to make a real success of your time in the
country. It is vitally important to understand that Saudi society
is underpinned by fervent belief in the tenets of Islam.
The business culture of Saudi Arabia is prototypically Arabic,
in that a great emphasis is placed on personal relationships
between business associates - Saudi businessmen will always prefer
to do business with people they are familiar with, or people who
they feel they can trust, so it is worth putting in the time and
effort to cultivate business relationships. In Saudi Arabia,
business meetings will most likely be lengthy, and subject to
numerous interruptions and personal digressions. You will be judged
on your conduct in meetings, so treat them as necessary parts of
the relationship-building process.
Despite the heat, business dress in Saudi Arabia is strictly
smart, formal and conservative, especially for women, who must take
extreme care not to wear anything too revealing. The official
language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic, though English is widely spoken
and widely understood in the business world. Hours of business are
generally from 8am to 12pm, and then 3pm to 6pm, from Saturday to
The international dialling code for Saudi Arabia is +966. Mobile
telephone coverage is extensive, even in remote parts of the
country. Internet facilities are available in most towns and
Travellers to Saudi Arabia do not have to pay duty on
600 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 500g tobacco, perfume or cultured
pearls for personal use, or goods up to the value SAR3,000. Duty is
payable on cameras and other electronic goods, and refunds on these
are available if the articles are re-exported within 90 days.
Strictly prohibited are pork, narcotics, alcoholic
drinks, anti-Islamic goods and publications, gambling devices,
weapons and ammunition, explosives, fireworks, unlabelled
medication, goods which prominently display flags of another
country, goods bearing names and pictures of celebrities, wild
animal hides, counterfeit money. Other prohibited items include
formula milk, natural sand, and natural pearls.
History: A chronology of key events in the history of Saudi
1871 - The Ottomans take control of the province of Hasa.
1891 - The Al Saud family are exiled to Kuwait by the Rashidi
1902 - Abd-al-Aziz Bin-Abd-al-Rahman Bin-Faysal Bin-Turki
Bin-Abdallah Bin-Muhammad Al Saud (often known as Ibn Saud) takes
control of Riyadh bringing the Al Saud family back into Saudi
1912 - The Ikhwan (Brotherhood) is founded based on Wahhabism;
it grows quickly and provides key support for Abd-al-Aziz.
1913 - Hasa is captued from the Ottomans by Abd-al-Aziz.
1921 - Abd-al-Aziz takes the title Sultan of Najd.
1924-25- The Kingdom of Hijaz, home to the Muslim holy cities of
Mecca and Medina, is captured.
1926 - Abd-al-Aziz is proclaimed King of the Hijaz in the Grand
Mosque of Mecca.
1928-30 - The Ikhwan turn against Abd-al-Aziz due to the
modernisation of the region and the increasing numbers of
non-Muslims. They are defeated by Abd-al-Aziz.
1932 September - The areas controlled by Abd-al-Aziz are unified
under the name Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Abd-al-Aziz is
1933 - King Abd-al-Aziz's eldest son, Saud, is named crown
1938 - Oil is discovered and production begins under the
US-controlled Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company).
1953 November - King Abd-al-Aziz dies and is succeeded by Saudi
Arabia profilethe Crown Prince Saud. The new king's brother Faisal
is named crown prince.
King Saud deposed
1960 - Saudi Arabia is a founding member of Opec (Organisation
of Petroleum Exporting Countries).
1964 November - King Saud is deposed by his brother Faisal.
1970 - The OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) is
founded in Jeddah.
1972 - Saudi Arabia gains control of a proportion (20%) of
Aramco, lessening US control over Saudi oil.
1973 - Saudi Arabia leads an oil boycott against the Western
countries that supported Israel in the October War against Egypt
and Syria. Oil prices quadruple.
King Faisal assassinated
1975 March - King Faisal is assassinated by his nephew and
succeeded by his brother Khalid.
1979 - Saudi Arabia severs diplomatic relations with Egypt after
it makes peace with Israel.
1979 - Extremists seize the Grand Mosque of Mecca; the
government regains control after 10 days and those captured are
1980 - Saudi Arabia takes full control of Aramco from the
1981 May - Saudi Arabia is a founder member of the GCC (Gulf
King Khalid dies
1982 June - King Khalid dies of a heart attack and is succeeded
by his brother, Crown Prince Fahd.
1986 November - King Fahd adds the title "Custodian of the Two
Holy Mosques" to his name.
1987 - Saudi Arabia resumes diplomatic relations with Egypt,
severed since 1979.
1990 - Saudi Arabia condemns Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and asks
the US to intervene; it allows foreign troops, the Kuwaiti
government and many of its citizens to stay in Saudi Arabia but
expels citizens of Yemen and Jordan because of their governments'
support of Iraq.
Saudi attacks Iraq
1991 - Saudi Arabia is involved in both air attacks on Iraq and
in the land force that went on to liberate Kuwait.
1992 March - King Fahd announces the "Basic System of
Government" emphasising the duties and responsiblities of a ruler.
He proposes setting up a Consultative Council (Majlis
1993 September - King Fahd decrees the division of Saudi Arabia
into thirteen administrative divisions.
1993 December - The Consultative Council is inaugurated. It is
composed of a chairman and 60 members chosen by the king.
1994 - Islamic dissident Osama Bin Laden is stripped of his
King Fahd ill
1995 November - King Fahd has a stroke. Crown Prince Abdullah
takes on the day-to-day running of the country.
1996 February - King Fahd resumes control of state affairs.
1996 June - A bomb explodes at the US military complex near
Dhahran killing 19 and wounding over 300.
1997 July - King Fahd increases the members of the Consultative
Council from 60 to 90.
1999 October - Twenty Saudi women attend a session of the
Consultative Council for the first time.
2001 March - Several British workers are arrested in Riyadh
after a series of blasts in which a British and an American
national are killed.
Relations with US
2001 11 September - 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in attacks
on New York and Washington are Saudi nationals.
2001 December - King Fahd calls for the eradication of
terrorism, saying it is prohibited by Islam; government takes the
unprecedented step of issuing ID cards to women.
2002 February - British man arrested in Riyadh after the March
2001 bombings claims the Saudi authorities tortured him and forced
a confession. The man, Ron Jones, had been released after being
allowed to retract his confession.
2002 May - Revised criminal code includes ban on torture and
right of suspects to legal representation, but rights campaigners
say violations continue.
2002 November - Saudi foreign minister says his country will not
allow the US to use its facilities to attack Iraq, even in a
2003 April - US says it will pull out almost all its troops from
Saudi Arabia, ending a military presence dating back to the 1991
Gulf war. Both countries stress that they will remain allies.
2003 May - Suicide bombers kill 35 people at housing compounds
for Westerners in Riyadh hours before US Secretary of State Colin
Powell flies in for planned visit.
Signs of dissent
2003 September - More than 300 Saudi intellectuals - women as
well as men - sign petition calling for far-reaching political
2003 October - Police break up unprecedented rally in centre of
Riyadh calling for political reform. More than 270 people are
2003 November - Suicide attack by suspected al-Qaeda militants
on residential compound in Riyadh leaves 17 dead and scores
2003 November - King grants wider powers to Consultative
Council, enabling it to propose legislation without his
2004 February - Stampede at Hajj pilgrimage leaves 251 dead.
2004 April - Four police officers and a security officer killed
in attacks near Riyadh. Car bomb at security forces' HQ in Riyadh
kills four, wounds 148. Group linked to al-Qaeda claims
2004 May - Attack at petrochemical site in Yanbu kills five
foreigners. Attack and hostage-taking at oil company compound in
Khobar; 22 people are killed.
2004 June - Three gun attacks in Riyadh within a week leave two
Americans and a BBC cameraman dead. The same week, a US engineer is
abducted and beheaded, his filmed death causing revulsion in
America. Security forces kill local al-Qaeda leader Abdul Aziz
al-Muqrin shortly afterwards, but an amnesty for militants which
follows has only limited effect despite a fall in militant
2004 December - Attack on US consulate in Jeddah; five staff and
four attackers are killed.Two car bombs explode in central Riyadh;
security forces kill seven suspects in a subsequent raid.
2005 February-April - First-ever nationwide municipal elections.
Women do not take part in the poll.
2005 1 August - Saudi royal court announces death of King Fahd.
He is succeeded by the former crown prince, Abdullah.
2005 September - Five gunmen and three police officers killed in
clashes in the eastern city of Dammam.
2005 November - World Trade Organization gives the green light
to Saudi Arabia's membership following 12 years of talks.
2006 January - 363 Hajj pilgrims are killed in a crush during a
stone-throwing ritual in Mecca. In a separate incident, more than
70 pilgrims are killed when a hostel in the city collapses.
2006 February - Government says it has foiled a planned suicide
bomb attack on a major oil-processing plant at Abqaiq.
2006 June - Six men allegedly linked to al-Qaeda are killed in a
shootout with police in Riyadh, the latest of several incidents
involving Islamist militants.
2006 October - Saudi Arabia moves to formalise the royal
succession in an apparent bid to prevent infighting among the next
generation of princes.
2006 December - Britain halts a fraud investigation into the
Al-Yamamah defence deal with Saudi Arabia.
2007 February - Four French nationals are killed in a suspected
terror attack near the north-western ruins of Madain Saleh, which
are popular with tourists.
2007 April - Police say they have arrested 172 terror suspects,
some of whom trained as pilots for suicide missions.
2007 July - Religious police are banned from detaining suspects.
The force has come under increasing criticism for overzealous
behaviour after recent deaths in custody.
2007 September - Saudi Arabia, Britain agree a deal for 72
Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets.
2007 October - Royal decree orders an overhaul of the judicial
2007 December - Authorities announce arrest of a group of men
suspected of planning attacks on holy sites during the Hajj
2008 April - British High Court rules British government acted
unlawfully in dropping corruption inquiry into the £43bn
Saudi Al-Yamamah defence deal.
2008 July - British House of Lords reverses High Court decision
and says their government acted lawfully in dropping investigation
into the Al-Yamamah defence deal as the Saudis had threatened to
withdraw cooperation with London on security matters.
2008 December - Saudi Arabia and Qatar agree final delineation
2009 February - Interpol issues security alerts for 85 men
suspected of plotting attacks in Saudi Arabia, in its largest group
alert. All but two are Saudis.
2009 April - Saudi Arabia says it has arrested 11 al-Qaeda
militants who were allegedly planning attacks on police
installations, armed robberies and kidnappings.
2009 June - US President Barack Obama visits Saudi Arabia as
part of a Middle East tour aimed at increasing US engagement with
the Islamic world.
2009 July - A court issues verdicts in the first explicit
terrorism trial for al-Qaeda militants in the country. Officials
say 330 suspects were tried, but do not specify how many were found
guilty. One is sentenced to death.
2009 August - Saudi Arabia says it has arrested 44 suspected
militants with alleged links to al-Qaeda.
2009 November - Saudi troops move to enforce buffer zone in
northern Yemen after becoming involved in border clashes with
2010 October - US officials confirm plan to sell $60 billion
worth of arms to Saudi Arabia - the most lucrative single arms deal
in US history.
2010 November - Officials announce arrest of 149 militants over
past eight months, most of them allegedly belonging to
2010 December - Diplomatic cables revealed by whistle-blowing
website Wikileaks suggest US concern that Saudi Arabia is the
''most significant'' source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups
2011 February - King Abdullah announces increased welfare
spending, as unrest continues across Arab world.
2011 March - Public protests banned, after small demonstrations
in mainly Shia areas of the east. King Abdullah warns that threats
to the nation's security and stability will not be tolerated.
2011 June - Saudi women mount symbolic protest drive in defiance
of ban on female drivers.
2011 September - King Abdullah announces more rights for women,
including the right to vote and run in municipal elections and to
be appointed to the consultative Shura Council. A woman is
sentenced to 10 lashes after being found guilty of driving, in the
first legal punishment for violating the ban on women drivers. King
Abdullah overturns the sentence.
2011 October - Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al Saud is named as
the heir to the throne, after Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al
2011 December - US confirms major sale of fighter jets to Saudi
2012 April - Fifty men suspected of links to al-Qaeda go on
trial. Charges include the 2003 bombing of an expatriates'
2012 June - Crown Prince Nayef dies, succeeded by more liberal
defence minister, the 76-year-old Prince Salman. Saudi Arabia
agrees to allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for
the first time, against the background of speculation that the
entire Saudi team might be disqualified on grounds of gender
2012 September - Human-rights activists Mohammad al-Qahtani and
Abdullah al-Hamid go on trial, the former charged with setting up
an unlicensed organisation.
2013 February - King Abdullah swears in 30 women to the
previously all-male Shura consultative council - the first time
women have been able to hold any political office.
2013 October - Saudi Arabia turns down a non-permanent seat on
the UN Security Council, accusing the world body of double
standards for what the kingdom sees a failure to act on Syria,
where it staunchly backs the rebels. Amnesty International accuses
Riyadh of failing to improve its human rights record following a
critical report by the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, and of
having "ratcheted up" repression instead.
2014 February - New anti-terrorism law introduced which
activists say will further stifle dissent.
2014 March - Saudi Arabia designates several Islamist groups as
terrorist organisations and bans funding or support for them. The
groups include the Muslim Brotherhood, the Al-Nusra front and the
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
2014 September - Saudi Arabia and four other Arab states take
part together with the United States in air strikes against Islamic
State militant strongholds in Syria.
2015 January - King Salman ascends throne after King Abdullah
2015 March - Saudi Arabia launches campaign of air strikes
against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
2015 April - In a major generational shift, King Salman appoints
his nephew, Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, as crown
2015 May - Two suicide bomb attacks on Shia mosques in Eastern
Province kill at least 25 people, claimed by Saudi branch of
Islamic Group Sunni extremist group.
2015 September - Hundreds die in stampede near Mecca during
annual Hajj pilgrimage, days after 109 people perished when a crane
collapsed at the Grand Mosque, raising further concerns about
safety standards during these mass events.
2015 November - Women stand in municipal elections for first
time, 20 are elected.
2016 January - Crowds in Tehran set Saudi embassy alight in
protest at execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, which also
prompted Shia demonstrations in Iraq and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia
breaks off diplomatic relations with Iran.
2016 April - Egypt promises to hand two Red Sea islands to Saudi
Arabia, sparking unrest among Egyptians. Government approves a plan
for far-reaching reforms to diversify the economy away from
2016 June - A United Nations report accuses the Saudi-led
coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen of killing and injuring
hundreds of children.
2016 July - The Islamic State group is accused of a series of
bombings, including one close to the Prophet's Mosque in Medina -
the second most sacred site in Islam.
2017 August-October - Houthi rebels in Yemen carry out rocket
attacks into Saudi Arabia as Saudi-led coalition increases bombing
of rebel-held territory in Yemen.
2017 February - The Saudi Stock Exchange and a major bank name
women as their chief executives.
2017 June - Saudi Arabia sparks a diplomatic crisis by leading
an air, land and sea blockade by Arab countries, in an attempt to
get Qatar to cut its alleged connections with terrorism and
distance itself from Iran.King Salman names his son Mohammed bin
Salman first in line to the throne.
2017 September - Ban on women driving formally lifted, although
they won't be able to drive until 2018.
2017 November - Purge of the kingdom's political and business
leadership in an apparent move by the heir to the throne to
consolidate his hold on power.
2018 March - A missile launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels is
intercepted over Riyadh, but resulting fragments kill a man.
2018 April - Public cinema returns, almost 40 years after it was
banned as un-Islamic.
Source - BBC News
© 2017 BBC