Local laws require men and women to dress modestly covering shoulders and knees in public, avoiding tight-fitting clothing or clothes with profane language or images. It is not mandatory for female travellers to wear the traditional robe or abaya. Information on important laws and etiquette around dress codes is available to visitors on the Visit Saudi website. As of June 2018 women are legally able to obtain a licence to drive a car, motorbikes and scooters.
Local laws and customs - Saudi Arabia travel adviceSaudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. In 2023, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 22 March and finish on 21 April. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Saudi authorities advise that it is respectful to avoid eating or drinking in public during the day at this time. See Travelling during Ramadan.
Binoculars should not be brought into Saudi Arabia and may be confiscated at the port of entry. Posting material (including videos and photographs) online that is critical of the Saudi government, or appears to abuse/ridicule/criticise the country or its authorities, may be considered a crime punishable under Saudi law.
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You should seek guidance from the local authorities on how to apply for a local licence. Homosexual or extra-marital sexual relations, including adultery, are illegal and can be subject to severe penalties. It’s also illegal to be transgender. Transgender people travelling to Saudi Arabia are likely to face significant difficulties and risks if this is discovered by the authorities. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel. Penalties for the possession of, or trade in alcohol are severe. Both result in prison sentences. Do not arrive in Saudi Arabia under the influence of alcohol.
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With the launch of the tourist e-visa on 28 September 2019, Saudi Arabia announced new regulations related to public conduct and decency. Men and women are required to refrain from public displays of affection, and avoid using profane language or gestures. Taking pictures or recording videos without permission is not permitted. Visitors to Saudi Arabia should familiarise themselves with public decency laws.
If you bring medication with you, carry a doctor’s prescription. Importing pork products is forbidden. The possession of pornographic material, or of illustrations of scantily dressed people, especially women, is prohibited. Electronic devices may be screened by customs officials on arrival and departure. The punishment for smuggling drugs includes the death penalty. Photographing government buildings, military installations, and palaces is not allowed. You should avoid photographing local people.
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