Security at the airport in Saudi Arabia has significantly increased within the last several years and if you have travel plans, you should be aware of what to expect before you visit Saudi Arabia as well as once you arrive at the airport. Something that you must know, as a foreigner traveling to Saudi Arabia, you must plan your trip in advance to ensure that you have your visa. People who are citizens of Israel or anyone that has an Israel stamp on their passport is not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. For those planning to go to Saudi Arabia, here are a few things that are important to know before you book your flight.
When it is time for you to board your flight, be sure to have your visa with you. You cannot travel to Saudi Arabia without a visa.
Women traveling to Saudi Arabia must be met at the airport by a male companion. This can be a husband, relative or a friend who will be sponsoring the woman in the country. If a male is not at the airport to meet the woman, she must remain at the airport until one arrives. If a woman is leaving Saudi Arabia, a male relative, husband or sponsor must accompany her to the airport or she will not be permitted to board her plane to leave. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, so having a male to drive or using public transportation will be necessary to leave the airport.
Saudi Arabia has stringent rules regarding items that are not allowed into the country. Customs will check your bags thoroughly to ensure that you have not attempted to bring items including alcohol, pornography or pork products into the country. These items are not allowed and they will be taken if found. Other forbidden items include:
- Narcotics (Some may be brought if a valid prescription accompanies them)
- Hazardous Chemicals
- Natural Pearls
- Walkie-Talkies/Short Wave Radios/Transmitters/Other Communication Equipment
- Frog Meat
- Gambling Games
- Medicine Without Prescription (Diabetic medications and supplies are allowed when a prescription is with the items)
- Military Uniforms
- Jewelry and Gemstones
- Ivory or Fur
- Excessive Amounts of Money (If you have more than 60,000 SAR, it needs to be checked through customs)
You can only bring pets to Saudi Arabia if they fall under specific categories.
- Dogs may be permitted only if they are seeing-eye or hearing dogs or if they are guard dogs only. If your pet falls into one of the approved categories, they must be accompanied by a statement from the veterinarian and you must possess a certificate showing this.
- Cats are permitted if they have two veterinarian certificates and they have had their shots within the last year before the flight.
Pet owners must obtain permission to bring the pet from the embassy of Saudi Arabia and it is not easy to gain permission to bring a pet.
Bibles and Religious Items
People may bring one Bible for personal use only. Those found bringing large numbers of Bibles or other religious items will find that they will be confiscated as they will be suspected of bringing the items into preach, which is against the law.
Laptops and Cameras
You can bring laptops, tablets, cameras and CDs or DVD into Saudi Arabia. If you plan to do so, it is best to keep these items packed together for inspection. Be sure that you do not have any pornographic material on anything and you may want to know that scantily clad photographs and other things that are not deemed as pornography in many countries may be considered pornographic by the official who checks your bags.
Airport Arrival and Security
This will be the most important part of your journey to Saudi Arabia and most likely, you will fly into Riyadh King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) as it is the largest airport in the country and the one that most people fly into. Once you enter the airport, you will need to go directly to the passport check-in where, if you are fortunate, the line will be short and you can move through quickly. On most days of the week, however, the lines do not move quickly and you may find that you will wait for several hours.
After you have your passport checked, you will begin to see just how security works at the airport in Saudi Arabia. You will find that there are many armed security guards who will most likely be watching closely as passengers arrive. Due to the rules for women needing a male companion, women may be more closely scrutinized than men but this is only because the security personnel is checking to see if a male companion is there to greet them or has accompanied them on the flight.
Luggage Check out
Once you have left the passport line, you will then proceed to check out your luggage. All luggage will be examined and X-rayed once it is off the plane. If you are not a Saudi citizen, the security guard will most likely check your luggage very closely to sure that you have nothing that is listed as forbidden.
Security at the airport is very strict due to threats of terrorism and guards will be thorough when checking luggage. As a visitor to the country, you may even be interested in either hiring private security bodyguards for yourself or using security features like alarms or security locks on your luggage or at your new home in Saudi Arabia.