Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies approximately
868,730 square miles (2,250,000 square kilometers)—about
four-fifths of the Arabian Peninsula—and is
bordered on the west by the Red Sea and on the east
by the Arabian Gulf. Neighboring states are Jordan,
Iraq and Kuwait on the north; Bahrain, Qatar and the
United Arab Emirates on the east; Yemen and the sultanate
of Oman on the south.
Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled
by a king chosen from and by members of the Al-Saud
family. The king rules through royal decrees issued
in conjunction with the Council of Ministers, and
with advice from the Consultative Council. Members
of both councils are appointed by the king. Islamic
law (sharia) is the basis of the authority of the
monarchy and provides the foundation of the country's
customs and social practices.
Over one billion people from a vast range of races,
nationalities and cultures across the globe—from
the southern Philippines to Nigeria—are united
by their common Islamic faith. About 18 percent of
Muslims live in the Arab world.
Five Pillars of Islam
These core beliefs and practices are the framework
for Muslim life.
Faith: Muslims believe that there
is no God but God and that Muhammad is his messenger.
Prayer: Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca five
times a day, at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset
Zakat or alms-giving: Muslims are required to give
a portion of their wealth to the needy.
Fasting: During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic
year, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking
and sex from dawn to dusk in order to subjugate the
passions and purify one’s being to come closer
Hajj or Pilgrimage: The annual pilgrimage or hajj
to the holy city of Mecca is an obligation only for
those who are physically and financially able to perform
Weather conditions in Saudi Arabia vary almost as
much as the terrain, but overall, the climate of the
Arabian peninsula is largely characterized by aridity
The average national rainfall in Saudi Arabia is 2.76
inches annually, but extremes are possible. The Empty
Quarter may record no rainfall at all for several
consecutive years and snow has been recorded in the
north of the Kingdom. The rainy season extends from
November through May, with the mountainous ‘Asir
region being an exception, where summer monsoon rains
result in an annual rainfall of 12 to 14 inches.
Shamal is the common Arabic term for sandstorms which
can reach high velocities and reduce visibility to
zero, closing airports and harbors. There are two
shamal seasons: the first season extends from late
spring to early summer, and the second, from late
fall to early winter. The highest velocities generally
occur in early afternoon and usually drop in the late
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia experiences disparate
extremes of these two measures. In the interior, the
air is dry while on the coasts, summer humidity is
excessive, particularly at night. In summer, temperatures
in some areas may reach 122° F (50° C) in
the shade, but in the spring, the days are balmy and
the nights are clear. In winter, temperatures drop
below freezing in the central and northern regions
and snow sometimes falls in the mountains, the northern
plateau, and even in the capital, Riyadh.
Currency: the basic monetary unit is the Saudi Riyal
(SR) and is printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10,
20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. The coins are called halalah
and are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 100.
One riyal consists of 100 halalah.
Major credit cards are widely accepted
in Saudi Arabia.
Visitors are expected to abide by the customs and
traditions of the Kingdom. One of the most important
customs is dressing modestly. Work attire for men
usually consists of casual slacks and sport shirts
in pullover and button styles. Work attire for women
ranges from business-like (dresses/suits, dress blouses
with skirts or slacks) to more casual (cotton blouses
with skirts or slacks). In general, however, the emphasis
is on conservative casual wear.
Shorts and tight-fitting or transparent
articles of clothing are unsuitable. It is not advisable
to openly wear religious jewelry outside shirts or
on open necks.
Women should take care to appear
modestly dressed at all times when in local Saudi
Arabian towns. Long, loose-fitting dresses with conservative
necklines and fully covered arms are acceptable, as
are loose-fitting slacks with long tunics or jackets
worn over blouses that cover the hips.
Saudi Arabia is on GMT+3, or Greenwich Mean Time plus
Discretion should be used at all times when taking
photographs or using a video camcorder. Scenic photography
is generally accepted, but taking pictures of individuals,
especially of Saudi Arab women, without requesting
their permission can lead to problems. Taking pictures
of government installations, mosques, company installations,
less modern structures and at the airport is prohibited.
The regular work week is from Saturday to Wednesday.
Thursday and Friday are the weekend, with Friday as
the traditional Muslim day of rest.
Every foreigner, prior to arrival in the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia, is required to have an entry visa stamped
in his/her passport by an embassy or consulate of
Assistance is provided to Consultants
and Vendor Representatives traveling to the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia by AL-SANEA.org, requests must be
initiated through their proponent.
Help is provided to complete the
proper forms and to guide the person through the visa
application process, but applicants must bear in mind
that AL-SANEA.org does not issue visas: it can only
help people with the process.
- Each visa applicant must fill
out a visa application form.
- Each visa application must
be accompanied by a passport which must be valid
for at least six months from the date of submitting
the visa application to the consulate.
- Each visa applicant must provide
two passport sized photos (color or black &
white). A visa application will not be processed
without these photos.
- Consultants and Vendor Business
Visas : The consultant or vendor representative's
employer should also supply the employee with a
letter certifying that the employee is going to
Saudi Arabia to perform services for the desired
company and that the company will be financially
responsible during his/her stay in Saudi Arabia.
- Applications must be submitted
to the Saudi Arabian Consulates in worldwide or
based on the individual place of residence.