Saudi Arabia Business Travel Guide

Saudi Arabia Flag

The Saudi Arabia Business Travel Guide provides travellers with resources and tools to assist them on their business trips. The travel guide contains facts on Saudi Arabia, visa information, business customs, useful tips and other resources. A good understanding and appreciation of other cultures, languages, customs and etiquette can be of great importance to business travellers and give a real advantage to ensuring a successful business trip.

Saudi Arabia is located on the Arabian Peninsula, it is the largest state in the Middle East and the second largest state in the Arab world after Algeria. south east Asia, it is a sovereign city state and island country located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. The country has a high income economy with a number of business opportunities, the largest sectors of the economy include oil exports and tourism. It is a member of the G20, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), United Nations, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Major trading partners include Japan, China, South Korea, UK and USA. Saudi Arabia borders with Iraq and Jordan to the north, Kuwait to the north east, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the east, Yemen to the south and Oman to the south east.

The country includes deserts including the Arabian Desert, caves, semi-desert areas and shrub lands along with coastline. Famous attractions include the Hijaz and Sarawat Mountains, Red Sea diving, Al-Ula, Medain Saleh, King's Fountain, Jeddah, Kingdom Tower, Riyadh National Zoo and Riyadh National Museum.

Saudi Arabia Guide

Quick Facts on Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Travel Advice
Visa Requirements
Business Customs and Etiquette
Travel Advice and Tips
Public Holidays
Saudi Arabia Map
Saudi Arabia Weather & Climate

Quick Facts on Saudi Arabia

Country: Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

Capital: Riyadh

Currency: Saudi Riyal (SRIs)

Population: 28.7 Million (UN, 2012)

Area total: 2,000,000 sq km

Languages: Arabic (Official), English (business)

Time Zone: GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Electricity: 110-220V 50Hz

Dialling Code: 966

GDP: USD 748.4 billion (World Bank, 2013)

Religion: Predominately Muslim

Political System: Monarchy

Internet Domain: .sa

Saudi Arabia Travel Advice

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers travellers useful advice when travelling to Saudi Arabia. You can find more information on entry requirements for Saudi Arabia, advice on local laws and customs, health considerations, useful tips on safety and security and the address and contact details of the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia. The information is updated on an ongoing basis making it a good resource for both business and leisure travellers when searching for the latest travel advice and information on Saudi Arabia. For more information please see: Saudi Arabia Travel Advice

Visa Requirements

All visitors apart from citizens from the GCC states are required to have a valid visa before they enter the country. Visa requirements are subject to change with changes in requirements and rules for further information please see: Saudi Arabia Embassy UK

Business Customs and Etiquette

Business meetings should be made in advance, business dress is conservative, it is recommended that both men and women dress conservatively. The usual greeting for meetings is with a handshake, business cards are exchanged afterwards, given they are usually given to all at the meeting make sure you have plentiful supply. Punctuality is important for meetings but do not be surprised if the hosts are running late, when in the meeting there may be interruptions. Business is done with people that are trusted and with whom a good business relationship has been established, this can take time to build up.

Meetings may involve a lot of small talk about one's family and general chat before getting done to business matters. There may be some tough negotiations before arriving at the agreed price. Businesses are on the whole run in hierarchical structures and quite bureaucratic thus it can take a long time to reach decisions, patience will be needed here.

Personal space is deemed as less important than is the norm in most western countries, do not be alarmed if you feel people in your personal space. Many business people speak English, interpreters are available if required.

Travel Advice and Tips

Most trips to Saudi Arabia each year for both business visitors and tourists go ahead without incident. Saudi Arabia has a relatively low crime rate, on the whole it is a safe place to visit. However you should be aware of petty theft and robbery especially in crowded areas, ensure that your valuables are put away from public view. There have been isolated attacks on foreigners and you should exercise caution bearing in mind the political and social situations in the country and region.

You should remain vigilant at all times and be aware of your surroundings and environment. It is advisable to be aware of public holidays and religious ones, businesses may be closed or operate for lesser hours during these periods. During Ramadan, eating, drinking, chewing and smoking in public are not permitted.

Travel Checklist: See our Holiday & Travel Checklist containing useful tips and reminders to ensure you have everything you will need on your trip.

Travel Vaccinations: It is recommended to check with your GP to get the latest travel health advice on whether you require any travel vaccinations up to eight weeks before you travel. For more information and advice on travel vaccinations please see the NHS Fit for Travel website.

Tipping: If service charge is not included usually around 10%

Hours of Business:

For Businesses:
08.30 to 12.00 then 14.30 to 19.30 Saturday to Wednesday

For Shops
08.00/08.30 to 12.00 then 16.30 to 21.00/22.00 Saturday to Thursday (closed Friday, some may open in late afternoon).

For Banks:
08.30 to 12.00 then 17.00 to 19.00 Summer
08.30 to 12.00 then 16.30 to 16.30 Winter

NOTE: During Ramadan opening hours are subject to change. Opening times are subject to variation based on season and location in the country.

Public Holidays

Public Holidays (2015):

July 18: Eid Al Fitr
September 23: National Day
September 23: Eid al Ada

NOTE: During Religious festivals government offices and businesses may be closed for up to 10 days.

Saudi Arabia Map

Riyadh Map, Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia Weather & Climate

Saudi Arabia's location and geography gives it a desert climate, characterised by hot, sunny and dry weather for most of the year. The capital Riyadh experiences a very hot and dry summer with temperatures regularly in excess of 40 °C, it is cooler during the winter months (November to February), temperatures are around 20-25 °C making it much more pleasant to travel.

The best time to visit is in early spring or late autumn when the temperatures are pleasant away from the excessive heat of the summer.

Lightweight cotton and linen clothing can be warn for most of the year; can get very hot and humid in summer, plenty of hydration, sunscreen and sun hat are needed. There are heavy rainstorms in Riyadh occasionally in the winter months, rain wear with water proof clothing is useful at that time of year.

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Disclaimer: The information given in on this website is given in good faith and to the best of our knowledge. If there are any discrepancies in no way do we intend to mislead. Important travel details and arrangements should be confirmed and verified with the relevant authorities.
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