brown high rise buildin
a view of a city from the top of a building
brown concrete building under blue sky during daytime

Is Saudi Arabia Safe?

Saudi Arabia is generally safe for tourists, but there are some risks to consider. Petty crime is relatively low, but terrorist attacks have occurred, particularly in the Eastern Province. Cultural sensitivity is crucial - dress modestly, respect religious customs, and avoid public displays of affection. Transportation is reliable in cities, but road safety is a concern due to reckless driving. Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance and research your destination thoroughly before visiting.

Download Vigilios

Your Pocket-Sized Travel Safety Guide

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store

Safety & Security

Saudi Arabia is generally safe for travelers, but there are some risks to be aware of.

  • Petty Crime: Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching occur, especially in crowded areas. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.
  • Terrorism: The threat of terrorism exists, though incidents targeting foreigners are rare. Avoid crowded public places and follow local news for updates.
  • Civil Unrest: Protests and civil disturbances can occur, though foreigners are typically not targeted. Avoid demonstrations and monitor local media.
  • Scams: Be wary of common scams like overcharging by taxis or vendors. Only use licensed taxis and agree on fares beforehand.
  • Disputes: Respect local laws and customs to avoid disputes. Public displays of affection and criticism of the regime can lead to confrontations.

While Saudi Arabia has low crime rates overall, exercising caution and being aware of your surroundings is advisable, especially in major cities. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs to avoid inadvertently offending cultural norms.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Saudi Arabia should be aware of certain health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has modern medical facilities in major cities, some remote areas may lack adequate healthcare services.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including those for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, and rabies. Yellow fever vaccination may be required for some travelers.

  • Foodborne and Waterborne Diseases: Exercise caution when consuming food and beverages, especially from street vendors. Stick to bottled or purified water.

  • Heat-Related Illnesses: Saudi Arabia has an extremely hot and dry climate. Stay hydrated, limit outdoor activities during peak heat hours, and wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.

  • Respiratory Illnesses: Air pollution, dust storms, and sandstorms can exacerbate respiratory conditions. Carry necessary medications and avoid exposure when possible.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Diseases like dengue fever, malaria, and leishmaniasis are present in some regions. Use insect repellent and wear protective clothing.

  • Animal-Related Risks: Rabies is a concern, especially in rural areas. Avoid contact with stray animals and seek immediate medical attention if bitten or scratched.

It's advisable to purchase comprehensive travel insurance and carry a first-aid kit. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice based on your travel plans and medical history.

Natural Disasters

Saudi Arabia is located in an arid region with a hot desert climate, making it relatively less prone to natural disasters compared to other parts of the world. However, travelers should still be aware of the following potential risks:

  • Sandstorms and Dust Storms: These can occur frequently, especially during the summer months, reducing visibility and causing respiratory issues. It's advisable to carry protective gear and stay indoors during severe storms.

  • Flash Floods: While rainfall is scarce, sudden heavy downpours can lead to flash floods, particularly in urban areas with poor drainage systems. Exercise caution when driving or walking during heavy rain.

  • Earthquakes: Saudi Arabia lies within a seismically active region, and minor tremors are not uncommon. However, the risk of a major earthquake is relatively low compared to neighboring countries.

  • Extreme Heat: The desert climate can bring extremely high temperatures, especially during the summer months. Travelers should take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as staying hydrated and limiting outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day.

While natural disasters are not a major concern in Saudi Arabia, it's still advisable to stay informed about weather conditions, follow local advisories, and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.


Public transportation in Saudi Arabia is generally safe and reliable, but there are some important considerations for travelers. The major cities have extensive bus networks and taxis are widely available. However, women are required to use segregated sections on public buses and taxis.

  • Riyadh Metro: The new Riyadh Metro system offers a modern and efficient way to get around the capital. It has dedicated women-only sections.

  • Taxis: Taxis are plentiful but can be expensive for longer journeys. It's advisable to insist on using the meter. Ride-sharing apps like Uber are also an option in major cities.

  • Road Safety: Driving standards and road conditions can be poor outside major cities. Reckless driving, unmarked hazards, and stray animals pose risks. Travelers should exercise extreme caution if self-driving.

  • Women Drivers: While women are now permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia, cultural attitudes may make some male drivers less accommodating on the roads.

  • Public Transport Etiquette: Modest dress is required when using public transport, especially for women who should cover their hair. Eating, drinking and playing music loudly are generally frowned upon.

Cultural Norms

Saudi Arabia is an Islamic monarchy with a deeply rooted traditional culture. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and religious practices to avoid causing offense. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Code: Dress modestly, covering your shoulders, knees, and avoiding tight or revealing clothing. Women should wear an abaya (a long, loose robe) in public places.

  • Public Behavior: Public displays of affection between non-married couples are strictly prohibited. Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands or kissing, in public areas.

  • Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours out of respect for those fasting.

  • Religious Sites: When visiting mosques or other religious sites, follow the dress code and remove your shoes before entering. Non-Muslims may have restricted access to certain areas.

  • Photography: Obtain permission before taking photographs of individuals, especially women. Avoid photographing government buildings, military installations, or other sensitive areas.

  • Gender Segregation: Some public spaces, such as restaurants or transportation, may have separate sections for men and women. Respect these arrangements.

  • Alcohol and Drugs: The consumption and possession of alcohol and drugs are strictly prohibited and can result in severe penalties.

  • Business Hours: During prayer times, many businesses and attractions may close or have reduced hours of operation. Plan your activities accordingly.

By respecting local customs and traditions, you can ensure a more enjoyable and culturally enriching experience while traveling in Saudi Arabia.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Saudi Arabia are generally reliable, but may have limitations in remote areas. The availability and quality of services can vary across the country.

  • Emergency Response Teams: Major cities have well-equipped emergency response teams, including ambulances, fire brigades, and police units. However, response times may be slower in rural or remote regions.

  • Medical Facilities: Saudi Arabia has modern hospitals and clinics, particularly in larger cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. However, facilities in smaller towns or villages may be more basic.

  • Tourist Assistance: While there are no dedicated tourist assistance services, the Saudi government has established a Tourist Security Force to assist visitors in emergencies. They can provide guidance and support, but may have language barriers.

  • Private Services: Many hotels and resorts offer private emergency services and medical facilities for their guests. These services are generally reliable but can be expensive.

  • Communication Challenges: Language barriers and cultural differences can sometimes hinder effective communication with emergency services, especially in rural areas or for non-Arabic speakers.

It's advisable for travelers to research emergency services in their specific destination, carry travel insurance, and familiarize themselves with local emergency procedures before their trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Saudi Arabia safe for tourists?

Saudi Arabia is generally safe for tourists, but it's important to respect local customs and laws. Dress modestly, avoid public displays of affection, and be mindful of cultural norms. Stick to well-traveled areas, and exercise caution, especially in remote regions.

Is Saudi Arabia safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should take extra precautions in Saudi Arabia. Dress conservatively, covering your head, arms, and legs. Avoid being alone in isolated areas, and consider hiring a local guide. Women are required to have a male guardian for certain activities.

Is Saudi Arabia safe for families?

Saudi Arabia can be a suitable destination for families, but parents should be mindful of cultural norms. Children should dress modestly, and public displays of affection should be avoided. Alcohol and pork products are prohibited, so plan accordingly.

Is Saudi Arabia LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and the LGBTQ+ community faces discrimination and harsh penalties. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples are strictly prohibited. Exercise caution and discretion.

Do you need a visa to go to Saudi Arabia?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Saudi Arabia. Citizens of the United States, Canada, and the European Union can obtain a tourist e-visa online. However, visa requirements vary, so check with the Saudi embassy or consulate before traveling.

Can you drink tap water in Saudi Arabia?

Tap water in Saudi Arabia is generally not safe to drink. Bottled or filtered water is recommended for drinking and brushing teeth. Avoid ice cubes made from tap water and be cautious when consuming food and beverages prepared with tap water.

What is the currency in Saudi Arabia?

The official currency in Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Riyal (SAR). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it's advisable to carry cash for smaller purchases and in remote areas.

Download the App

Map, Insights & Support - Vigilios is your Personal Safety Companion

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store QR LinkApp Store
Google Play QR Link
Coming soon to Android
Google Play