Five historically and architecturally significant Saudi Arabian locations appear on the UNESCO World Heritage listing, among which are the two most important Islam pilgrimage sites. The country, surrounded by the Red Sea in the West and the Persian Gulf in the East, has three cities with populations of over one million people: Riad, Jeddah and Mecca.
Saudi Seasons is an initiative launched by the Saudi Tourism and National Heritage Commission. 11 festivals are planned in various Saudi regions in 2019.
The initiative is planned and directed by different interconnected Saudi authorities, under the leadership of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi Seasons initiative has opened the way for Saudi Arabia to achieve high-level tourist activities in the country. The initiative’s first season, held in 2019, shed light on the Saudi heritage and culture. Consequently, the Season will take place in different Saudi cities with unique and diverse cultures.
The Titan Series Saudi Arabia will be one of the international activities with the Hail region’s festival, known as Hail Season (22nd of December to 10th of February).
Country practical guide
- Official name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Type of regime: Monarchy (Saud dynasty).
- Administrative capital: Riad.
- State religion: Sunni Islam.
- Head of state and of the Government: His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
- Crown Prince: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
- Area: 2,250,000 km2 (4 times larger than Spain).
- Population: 33,000,000 inhabitants / Density: 15.5 inhabitants/km2.
- Time zone: GMT +3.
- Arid climate: high temperatures during the day and intense temperature drops at night (between -5 and 0°).
- Variety of terrains:
- In the West: Red Sea coastline / canyons (with an altitude of up to 2000 m in the North).
- In the East: rocky and sandy plains / natural oil deposits.
- In the South: Rub al-Jali desert (650,000 km2) / almost entirely sand.
- 57 % men and 43 % women.
- 65 % of the population is under 26 years of age.
- Between 30 % and 40 % of the population in the main cities speak English.
- 13 % to 23 % increase in sports practice.
- Soccer is the most popular sport, followed by motor sports, basketball, boxing, tennis and wrestling.
- Everyone (men and women) can travel and shop freely.
Before travelling to Saudi Arabia, it is important to keep in mind the following aspects of its local culture:
- The import and consumption of alcohol, of pork products and the trafficking and consumption of drugs are strictly prohibited and subject to legal proceedingss.
- Imported cultural products (DVDs, books, etc.) must comply with local decency laws (not contain explicit material).
- Men: long pants are compulsory, may be worn with a t-shirt.
- Women: the abaya (long black traditional covering) is not compulsory in public areas, as long as clothes are modest.
- In the cities:
- Everyone (men and women) can move freely through the cities.
- Participants can visit the cities safely.
- Speed limit: 140 km/h on large highways / 120 km/h on smaller roads / 100 km/h along urban roads.
- Vehicles drive on the right, the use of seatbelts is mandatory and the vehicle must possess the relevant insurance.
- In practice, driving can be dangerous.
- Everyone (men and women) can drive freely throughout the country.
- The standard greeting is a handshake.
- Tipping is not mandatory, but it is recommended to tip around 10% in restaurants and taxis.
- Currency: Saudi Riyal (SAR).
- 1 EUR = 4,2 SAR.
- 1 USD = 3,7 SAR.
- US Dollars and Euros are not accepted as payment (there are many currency Exchange agencies).
- Extensive use of credits cards.
- An exceptional cultural and natural heritage:
- Ad-Dirriyah ruins.
- Cave paintings in the Ha’il region.
- The City of Jeddah.
- Al-Hijr (Al-Ula) archaeological site.
- Al-Ahsa oasis.
- Free access to social networks everywhere. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries with the largest percentage of social network users in the world.
- Occasionally, WhatsApp calls may be blocked, but calls through Skype, Facetime and Hangout work perfectly.
- Extensive use of mobile devices to watch videos and TV.
- Free access to internet, but some websites are blocked as they go against local customs (explicit content).
- Local SIM cards can be purchased in the country.
- Road network.
- Road network in very good condition; very well-connected in the majority of large cities.
- Public transport in cities, but it is not reliable.
- Taxis/Uber/Careem in all cities.
- Distance between main cities
- Jeddah-Riad: 950 km by car (~9h10’).
- Jeddah-Neom: 970 km by car (~9h30’).
- Main airports in Jeddah and Riad.
- From Madrid and Barcelona: ~8h flight.
- National airline: Saudia.
- National flights especially safe.