With a variety of picturesque landscapes, cultural pilgrimages, and potential employment opportunities located in Saudi Arabia, some people wouldn’t think twice about taking the trip to the Middle East. In fact, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the United Kingdom estimates that there are around 2.4 million Muslims in Britain alone, which tie the two countries both economically and culturally. However, due to recent amendments to visa and immigration laws, it may be harder than you’d think to make a trip overseas as a UK citizen.
It is important to check with visa and immigration companies either online or via phone prior to planning a trip to Saudi Arabia. According to an article published on February 28, 2014 by FOX News, Saudi Arabia made the list of the eight most difficult places to attain a visa for travel. Based on your reasons for travel outside of the UK, there will be multiple fees and specifications necessary to cover before getting the “okay” for entry.
All visitors require a visa to enter Saudi Arabia, and work visas are only granted to those with sponsorship in the country. Due to pricing and strict regulations, tourist visas are hard to get, but not impossible. Upon entering Saudi Arabia, travelers should have a valid passport (with a minimum of six months validity), a proper visa for their purpose of travel, and valid documentation (which includes a return ticket, medical records of meningitis vaccinations and physical examination records for employment purposes).
Despite the fact that many Muslims from around the world participate in the pilgrimage to Mecca known as Hajj, there are necessary visa requirements for visiting such holy sites. The Pilgrim visa may only be obtained through a travel agency, which should be validated by an Embassy to ensure credibility.
If you are a citizen from or have traveled to a country deemed hostile by Saudi Arabia, this will affect your ability to obtain a visa for entry. It has been known that some Arabic countries refuse visas and entry to Israeli citizens or individuals who have visited Israel. You can find more information about these and other facts to consider before traveling here.
Along with the tensions between Saudi Arabia and neighboring Middle Eastern countries, cultural differences are necessary to keep in mind before planning your departure. Saudi Arabia is a conservative country that emphasizes a certain level of decorum targeting female travelers. There are cultural laws in place that restrict visas for female travelers entering Saudi Arabia. Women under 30 years old must travel with either their husband or brother and are also required to leave at the same time with these companions.
It is possible to be refused entry into the country should any traveler arrive intoxicated, wearing revealing clothing (shorts for men and tight clothing for women) or engage in public displays of affection. Additionally, men and women are only given a visa to travel together if they are married with an official marriage license or are traveling with a group of four or more individuals. As you prepare for your trip abroad, please note that it is not tolerated for an unmarried couple to travel alone together in Saudi Arabia. Breaking any of these cultural practices will increase the chances of punishment, which may include imprisonment.
Keep in mind that visas for Saudi Arabia may take months to process and so it is advised to plan accordingly. It is always important to remember that passport and visa regulations may change at any time; therefore, travelers are encouraged to check their entry requirements and laws with their national embassy or consulate prior to departure.
To learn more about visas and entry into Saudi Arabia, please read:
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