Is traveling in the Arab world safe

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Current

The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and impairment of public life.

Before unnecessary, tourist trips toSaudi Arabia becomes currently warned.

Epidemiological situation

Saudi Arabia is classified as a risk area. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide current and detailed figures.

entry

Entry of people from 20 countries - including Germany - is prohibited until further notice. This also applies to travelers from third countries who have stayed even temporarily in the countries listed below in the 14 days prior to their intended entry into Saudi Arabia (including transit travelers).

Travelers from the following countries are affected:

Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Japan, USA, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa.

Only Saudi nationals, health workers and diplomats with their families are exempt from the entry ban, for whom a domestic quarantine of 14 days generally applies. At the moment, this also means that Iqama holders residing in Saudi Arabia and holders of visitor visas are not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia from these countries.

The country lists can be adjusted at any time without informing the Foreign Office.

The following applies to entry from other countries:

All travelers who are not Saudi Arabian nationals must present a negative PCR test upon entry, which is not older than 72 hours at the time of departure. With effect from May 20, 2021, travelers must enter a seven-day institutional quarantine when entering Saudi Arabia. On the first and on the seventh day after entry, they must undergo further PCR tests. If both results are negative, the institutional quarantine ends on the eighth day. Children under eight years of age are exempt from the obligation to test. The institutional quarantine takes place in the city of arrival. Airlines that offer flights to Saudi Arabia must ensure that their passengers are quarantined in one of the institutional quarantine facilities; the costs are borne by the travelers themselves.

The following groups of people are exempt from institutional quarantine:

- Saudi Arabian citizens, their spouses, children as well as staff accompanying them and Iqama owners, provided they have been vaccinated at least once, 14 days have passed since their first vaccination or have recovered from COVID-19 for less than six months and are immune according to Tawakkalna status are.

- Travelers from other countries who are fully vaccinated and received the final dose more than 14 days ago. Vaccination records of those entering the country must be certified by the official health authorities of the country that carried out the vaccination. Travelers must have their vaccination certificate with them for the entire duration of their stay.

- Flight attendants, health workers, official delegations, travelers with diplomatic visas, as well as accredited diplomats and family members in their household.

In addition, travelers must have (travel) health insurance that also covers a COVID-19 infection. This does not apply to citizens of Saudi Arabia, residents of Saudi Arabia and citizens of the GCC countries. Health insurance should cover outpatient treatment, hospital stays, emergencies and institutional quarantine for up to 14 days.

Transit and onward travel

Airport transit is generally possible, but not for people arriving from certain countries, see entry.

When leaving the country, the regulations of the destination country apply.

Travel connections

Travel connections to and from Saudi Arabia are currently restricted.

Restrictions in the country

In Saudi Arabia there is a ban on gathering for groups over 20 people. Restaurants and leisure facilities are closed again for the time being. Temperatures may be measured and the use of the Corona app "Tawakkalna" may be checked when entering shops and authorities.

Hygiene rules

In addition to using the “Tawakkalna” app in public spaces, there is an obligation to wear mouth and nose protection, to wash hands regularly and to maintain social distance.

  • Follow the developments on the news.
  • If you want to leave the country via Bahrain, please note that the Bahraini entry regulations can change at any time and you should find out more from the Bahrain representative before you start your journey.
  • Make sure you comply with the AHA regulations and also follow the instructions from local authorities. High fines can be imposed if the hygiene regulations are violated.
  • Find out more about other measures taken by the Saudi Arabian government on the Riyadh Embassy website.
  • Stays in foreign countries can currently affect the possibility of entering other countries. Therefore, find out about the current regulations on entry, transit and quarantine in the respective travel countries via the travel and safety information before starting any trip.
  • When returning to Germany, please note the valid entry restrictions such as registration, proof and, if applicable, quarantine regulations, inquire about the current conditions of carriage at the relevant company or your tour operator, and if you are entering from a risk area, contact the health department of your residence or travel agency Place of residence. Further information is available in our continuously updated info box on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.

security

We strongly advise against traveling to the border area with Yemen, the Najran, Asir and Jazan provinces.

Travel to Qatif District in the Eastern Province is not recommended.

terrorism

The security situation in Saudi Arabia is still characterized by the possibility of terrorist attacks. Most recently, on October 29, 2020, a security guard in front of the French consulate general was attacked with a knife in Jeddah and, on November 11, 2020, two people were slightly injured in an explosives attack on an event organized by France to commemorate the end of the First World War.
Although the Saudi security forces have achieved remarkable success in the fight against terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAH) and ISIS, the threat of terrorist attacks remains high.
There have been multiple attacks in the past targeting security forces, government buildings and Shiite institutions, in which Saudi security forces were killed.

  • Pay particular attention to busy locations, mosques, energy infrastructure facilities, and shopping malls.
  • Keep yourself informed of the current threat situation through the media.
  • Please note the worldwide safety information.

Domestic situation

Since the end of March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been participating in an international coalition to support the Yemeni government against rebels and, as part of this coalition, is also flying air strikes in Yemen. As a result, tensions on the Yemeni-Saudi border have intensified and there have been repeated individual, localized fighting.

In the south-west of the country there have been repeated rocket, drone and artillery attacks from Yemen since the beginning of the conflict. Military facilities in the provinces of Najran, Asir and Jazan are particularly affected, as are civil infrastructure.
The capital Riyadh was the target of missile attacks on January 23 and 26, 2021 and most recently on February 27, 2021.
In addition to the provinces of Jazan, Najran and Asir, Mecca and Riyadh have also been sporadically targeted by rocket and drone attacks. In view of the increased range of the missiles and drones used, attacks on other provinces and on important infrastructure facilities cannot be ruled out.

  • Find out about the local media.
  • Stay in safe shelters in the event of a missile attack.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions of local security guards.

crime

The crime rate has risen slightly recently, but is at a comparatively low level. A few cases of carjacking and theft have been reported in Riyadh.

  • Keep your money, ID, driver's license, air tickets and other important documents safe.
  • Be particularly vigilant in large crowds and watch out for your valuables.
  • Be skeptical of unfamiliar e-mails, profit notifications, offers and requests for help from alleged acquaintances. Do not disclose any data about yourself; if necessary, make sure yourself personally or contact the police.

Nature and climate

There is a predominantly desert climate, with high humidity near the sea.

Heavy rainfalls on dry ground between November and February can lead to floods, storm surges and traffic obstructions.

  • During this period, follow the weather forecast e.g. from Arab News or Saudi Gazette in English.
  • Always observe prohibitions, information signs and warnings as well as the instructions of local authorities.

Travel info

Infrastructure / traffic

Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.

There is a domestic flight network and rail (between Riyadh and Dammam, Riyadh / Al Qassim / Hail / Sakaka and Jeddah / Mecca / Medina) and bus connections. So far, there is little public transport in the cities, only taxis and rental cars.
The land, air and sea borders with Qatar have been reopened since February 2021. The condition of the roads is very good in the cities and between large metropolitan areas. Signs are often in Arabic. The traffic conditions require a high level of attention and caution.

The Saudi Arabian authorities expressly forbid trips to the desert (crossing the Rub al-Khali desert) out of concern for safety. The country's tourist infrastructure is still under construction. Modalities of visiting sights and historical sites can change at short notice. If you have any questions, travelers can contact the General Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, which has offices in all provinces.

The Ministry of Haji provides information for pilgrims.

Driving license

The international driving license is required and is only valid in conjunction with the national German driving license.

Special instructions on how to behave

The previously existing strict clothing and behavioral regulations based on the conservative Wahabi understanding of Islam have been redesigned in the course of the opening of the country to tourists and supplemented by a general law on public order. Although wearing an Abbaya (black full-body cape) should no longer be an obligation for women, the prevailing social rules in Saudi Arabia should be observed.

  • Avoid flashy clothing and the display or even distribution of Christian religious symbols.
  • Avoid large crowds and gatherings, especially after Friday prayers (Muslim weekend).

Ramadan

During the fasting month of Ramadan, restrictions in everyday life (e.g. during the day restaurants outside the hotels being closed, reduced working hours at the authorities) and increased sensitivity in religious matters and with respect to adherence to Islamic traditions can be expected. Even if the fasting rules only apply to Muslims, non-Muslims should also be careful not to offend any religious feelings.

  • Avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public during the day if possible.
  • As a woman, continue to wear an abbaya in public during this time.

LGBTIQ

Homosexual acts are prosecuted in Saudi Arabia and are not socially acceptable either.

Legal specifics

The barely codified Saudi Arabian criminal law is based on the Islamic Sharia of the local interpretation with the well-known penal sanctions that may extend to flogging and other corporal punishment and amputations. Possession of drugs and alcohol is a criminal offense, and drug possession can be punished with the death penalty.

Prostitution and homosexual acts in Saudi Arabia are punished at the discretion of the judge with imprisonment and / or beatings, and the death penalty can be imposed if necessary.

Photographing security devices, vehicles or people from the security area can lead to arrest. People should not be photographed without being asked. There is an express ban on photography in and around the two holy mosques. In principle, it must be expected that unauthorized photography will result in the confiscation of the camera and films or memory cards.

Money / credit cards

The national currency is the Saudi riyal (SAR). Credit cards are widespread and they can also be used to pay very small amounts. Cash can be withdrawn from ATMs using debit and credit cards. It is still advisable to bring euros and US dollars with you.

Entry and customs

Entry and transit regulations may currently differ due to measures to contain COVID-19, see Current.

Entry and import regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without notifying the Foreign Office beforehand. You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information going beyond this information on the entry and customs regulations for importing goods directly from the representatives of your destination country.
You can find the customs regulations for Germany on the website of German customs and via the “Customs and Travel” app, or you can inquire about them by telephone.

Travel documents

Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Temporary passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Provisional identity card: No
  • Children's passport: Yes

Comments / minimum remaining validity:

Travel documents must be valid for at least six months at the time of entry or the application for a visa.

visa

German citizens need a visa to enter Saudi Arabia.

At the end of September 2019, Saudi Arabia started introducing a tourism visa for travelers from all over the world. German citizens can apply for this visa electronically as an eVisa or alternatively apply for it upon arrival.
In many other countries, the visa is issued by the Saudi Arabian diplomatic mission. Inquiries and system failures should be expected in the introductory phase.

Since the end of 2018 it has been possible to apply for a visa in individual cases for specially selected sports or cultural events.

Business travelers generally need a letter from their company that is certified by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) or the Chamber of Crafts in Germany, and an invitation letter from the Saudi partner certified by the local Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia. You can also submit the consent of the Saudi Investment Promotion Agency (SAGIA) instead.

If necessary, SAGIA can also issue a visa. This is also possible from third countries.

For multiple entries, an annual visa can be issued to business people, investors and company representatives who want to visit their Saudi Arabian business partners. According to the Saudi Arabian embassy, ​​business people include company owners, chairmen of the board, members of the board of directors, company representatives and general directors. This regulation applies to both men and women. No invitation from a Saudi Arabian company is required for these individuals.

Special entry visas are issued by the Saudi authorities for small and large pilgrimages. During the pilgrimage period, special health and hygiene regulations apply to the entry of pilgrims (see medical information). However, with these visas it is not possible to travel outside of Mecca and Medina or to get married, for example.

Regarding the question of entering Saudi Arabia with a passport that contains an Israeli entry stamp, please contact the Saudi Arabian embassy in Berlin directly.

An HIV test is required and carried out when a long-term (work) visa is applied for. If the HIV test is positive, the visa will not be issued.

starting work

In individual cases it has happened in member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council that resident German nationals were prevented from leaving the country. A frequent reason are differences of opinion under labor law, which cause the employer ("sponsor") to ask the competent authorities to impose measures relating to residence law i. S. to request a “travel ban” outside of court proceedings. Failure to meet financial demands by the employee has also led to the refusal to leave the country in the past. It is therefore recommended to find out about the current legal situation before commencing an employment relationship or starting business activity.

Minors

There are no known special regulations for the entry of minors.

Notes for dual nationals

Travelers (including underage children) who, in addition to German citizenship, also have Saudi Arabian citizenship (for example, through descent from a parent with Saudi Arabian citizenship) are treated exclusively as citizens of Saudi Arabia in accordance with general international practice in Saudi Arabia . People with such dual nationality are subject to the Saudi Arabian laws without restriction as soon as they are in Saudi Arabia (including family law provisions). According to local law, underage children (under 21 years of age) are not allowed to leave the country without the consent of their (Saudi Arabian) father.
Consular help from the German embassy in Riyadh is usually not possible for this group of people.

Import regulations

Import or export of cash, convertible funds, precious metals and gemstones: these must be declared before entry if their total value exceeds 60,000 Saudi riyals (approx. 12,000 euros). For this purpose, a customs declaration ("Declaration Form") from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance must be filled out at customs (details of travel reasons, personal data, type and amount of the imported values).

The importation of drugs, weapons, alcohol, pork and pornographic material is strictly prohibited.

The illegal importation of even small amounts of drugs, including Captagon, can face the death penalty. Any representation of physical freedom, including on DVDs and CDs, is regarded as pornographic material.

The importation of Bibles, Korans and religious writings can lead to considerable difficulties and confiscations at the border.

Pets

The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Berlin should be contacted for information on the importation of pets. Basically, a veterinary certificate about vaccinations against all possible diseases and a good state of health is required, which must be certified by the embassy.

health

Current

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease COVID-19, which is triggered by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a pandemic.

Since the end of January there has been an outbreak of bird flu in Sudair and Riyadh, affecting several hundred thousand birds. No cases have occurred in humans so far, but transmission to humans is possible, see the Avian Influenza leaflet.

  • Avoid contact with poultry. However, there is no risk of infection when consuming cooked or fried poultry dishes.
  • Please also note the information published by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

In January 2019, WHO declared delaying or skipping vaccinations as a threat to global health. In particular, the lack of vaccination against measles poses a high risk when the number of cases increases internationally.

  • As part of your travel preparations, check your and your children's vaccination protection against measles and have this supplemented if necessary.

Specific health recommendations regarding pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia can be found in the leaflet Hajj and Umrah.

Vaccination protection

No compulsory vaccinations are required for direct entry from Germany.
When entering from a yellow fever area or staying for more than 12 hours in transit through a yellow fever area, all persons over the age of twelve months must provide evidence of a yellow fever vaccination. Saudi Arabia itself is not a yellow fever infection area

All travelers arriving from a poliomyelitis endemic area must provide evidence of a polio vaccination administered between 12 months and four weeks prior to entry. Travelers from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Syria, Somalia and Yemen will also receive a dose of oral polio vaccine when entering Saudi Arabia.

Specific vaccination regulations regarding pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia can be found in the leaflet Hajj and Umrah.

  • Make sure that you and your children have the standard vaccinations according to the Robert Koch Institute's vaccination calendar up to date.
  • Hepatitis A is recommended as travel vaccination, and hepatitis B, meningococcal disease (ACWY) and rabies for long-term stays or special exposure.
  • Please note the instructions for use and help for the indication in the travel vaccination recommendations leaflet.
  • The DTG offers up-to-date, detailed travel vaccination recommendations for specialist groups.

The vaccination regulations for travelers from certain countries can change at short notice, so it is recommended to consult the respective embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Dengue fever

Dengue viruses become diurnal on the west coast, including the port city of Jeddah Aedes- Mosquitoes transmitted. The disease is usually associated with fever, skin rash and pronounced pain in the limbs and is increasingly affecting travelers as well. In rare cases, especially in children, serious complications, including possible death, occur. Overall, however, complications for travelers are rare. There is neither a vaccination nor chemoprophylaxis nor a specific therapy against dengue fever, see also information sheet on dengue fever.

  • To avoid dengue fever, protect yourself consistently against mosquito bites as part of exposure prophylaxis, especially during the day.

Chikungunya fever

In Saudi Arabia, Chikungunya fever has so far been detected in Jeddah. Chikungunya viruses are diurnal Aedes- Mosquitoes transmitted. The disease is characterized by a high fever and possibly prolonged joint and muscle pain. The symptoms can often not be clearly distinguished from other mosquito-borne diseases. Chikungunya fever does not always heal without consequences, and there are seldom long-term rheumatoid-like symptoms. There is neither a vaccination nor chemoprophylaxis nor a specific therapy, see also the information sheet on Chikungunya fever.

  • To avoid Chikungunya fever, protect yourself consistently against mosquito bites as part of exposure prophylaxis, especially during the day.

malaria

Malaria is caused by crepuscular and nocturnal anophelesMosquitoes transmitted. If left untreated, the dangerous one in particular is Malaria tropica often fatal in non-immune Europeans. The disease can break out weeks to months after your stay in the risk area, see also the Malaria leaflet.

  • If you develop a fever during or even months after a corresponding trip, see the doctor as soon as possible and inform him about your stay in a malaria area.

There is a minimal risk all year round in the southwestern provinces of Asir, Jizan and Najran (P. falciparum 97%, P. vivax 2%). The cities of Jeddah, Riyadh, Mecca, Medina and Tarif are malaria-free.

To avoid malaria in the areas mentioned, protect yourself consistently against insect bites as part of exposure prophylaxis. You should pay particular attention to the following points:

  • Wear light-colored clothing that covers the body (long trousers, long shirts).
  • Repeatedly apply insect repellent to all exposed parts of the body during the day (dengue) as well as in the evening and at night (malaria).
  • If necessary, sleep under an impregnated mosquito net.

HIV / AIDS

There is a fundamental risk of HIV transmission through sexual contact, drug use (unclean syringes or cannulas) and blood transfusions. However, HIV infections are very rare in Saudi Arabia.

  • Always use condoms, especially on casual acquaintances.

Diarrheal diseases