Saudi Road Trip
Replies: 68 - Last Post: Feb 29, 2012 5:43 AM Last Post By: carracar
Nov 7, 2011 7:20 PM
Nov 7, 2011 10:00 PM
On October 9, 2011 you wrote:
Since you have already flown to KSA, we would love to hear about your trip:
- How was it going through passport control on arrival?
- Did you rent a car in the end, or try it with public transport?
- How bad are Saudi drivers?
- Which sites did you visit?
- How was the food?
- At what type of accommodations did you stay?
Nov 8, 2011 8:46 AM
47Hi Emmeff. Your request is clear, but unfortunately unreasonable. You might think that this information can not be used to identify me, but it easily can. Let's say that I post the city where I obtained my Saudi visa. Innocent, yes? Think again. Someone here can easily call up the consul there and make up a story about the Swedish citizen who recently obtained a visa and ensure that I will never again be able to visit the country. Far-fetched? Not so! This is pretty much exactly what happened to me on this board earlier this year. I hope that you understand.
I have shared my story with several trusted people by PM.
Nov 8, 2011 9:02 AM
48Hi a1! Glad to hear from you!
Nov 8, 2011 2:14 PM
OK. Leave out that detail and answer my other questions, please.
Jan 26, 2012 4:47 AM
50I wish instead of writing so much stuff that can be found in any guidebook, you wrote about the ONE IMPORTANT THING that can't be found elsewhere.
I am trying to have friends visit me but, unfortunately, it seems that tourist visas are close to impossible.
I also don't fully understand the purpose of going against local customs and perhaps laws, and insisting in visiting places at the wrong times when there are specific times for single men to go. Does it occur to you that people, including women that go during the family time might feel uncomfortable with your presence?
One year ago, I checked the Yemen thread and found invaluable information (links to travel agencies in Yemen) that allowed me to finally get a visa (which I had been trying to get for almost 2 years!) and go. I found a few travelers there who had also trying to get it to no avail, until they learned about and contacted the travel agencies.
So... the thread was extremely helpful. You don't have to give us any information. No need to specify your nationality.
In fact, you only have to worry if your visa was issued in a "non-kosher" way. Even that would be helpful, because your exception would confirm the rule that tourists can't get visas. We would understand that you got it through connections, etc.
If, on the other hand, you got your visa by a one of the listed options, there should be nothing to worry about. As i see it, the only option for someone who is not a resident or going to work here, would be to get a student visa... not sure if you could, for example, come to study Arabic and get the visa that way... but the requirements are many... unlikely to be done in a short time.
Lastly, the Consulate's website does remind us:
"Visitors to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia must abide by the country’s Islamic laws and regulations and respect its society’s values and traditions".
Hope to get some kind of constructive answer.
Jan 27, 2012 10:45 PM
The fact that Ad-Diriyah is currently closed you can not find in any guidebook I know of. You can't even find it online! Nor that it will remain closed for many years to come.
Do you know how hard it is for a single guy to get around in this country? Bachelors are VERY restricted: many attractions have limited opening hours, are closed certain days or even closed altogether. The fact that you as a tourist can neglect these regulations makes a lot of difference from a planning perspective.
I doubt very much that women feel uncomfortable in my presence. In fact, a substantial number of women can testify to the complete opposite.
Jan 27, 2012 11:49 PM
Jan 30, 2012 2:47 AM
Lordy. Try Wikitravel, for starters.
A strange statement. Saudi women are what you'd call "VERY restricted." Bachelors are restricted from some malls and shopping centers at certain hours of the day in some parts of the country (especially in the conservative central and northern provinces). Otherwise, they do pretty much what they want. Indeed, in the very narrow world of Saudi entertainment, there are far more venues (e.g. hookah cafes and inexpensive Arab restaurants) that are open exclusively to men than there are places where they aren't allowed to go at certain times.
However, #51 needn't be concerned. Westerners who visit "family" malls during hours that are off-limits to bachelors aren't really breaking any laws. Rather, a different set of rules apply. Saudis are unselfconscious about double or triple or quadruple standards: one set of rules for ordinary Saudis, another set for elite Saudis, yet another for Westerners, and another for Asian laborers. No Saudi woman would be the least bit likely to be alarmed by the mere presence of a foreigner as she floats around a mall like a little black cloud. Approximately 100,000 Westerners work in KSA, and they're as used to us as we are to them.
Jan 30, 2012 9:18 AM
The blurb on wikitravel about Ad-Diriyah being closed was added on Dec 27, 2010 and has not been changed since then (see wiki history). It tells us the place was closed one year ago, but we don't know if it's open yet. This blog says it was closed in 2008 and would remain closed for at least 3 years. That was pretty much all I could find before I set off on my odyssey. As far as I can tell, the information I am giving in this thread can not be found anywhere else on the web. Ad-Diriyah is closed at least until end of 2014, but my guess, based on the lofty plans they have for the place and what little have been done since 2008, is it'll remain closed until 2016.
Jan 30, 2012 1:11 PM
55No doubt humanity should be grateful to you for your minor clarification of the (in KSA, generally well-known) fact that Ad-Diriyah is still closed, and for your personal wild guess about how long it will remain so.
However, posters like #50 and #51 could be forgiven for thinking your refusal to answer the one question they are actually interested in remains utterly craven.
Feb 11, 2012 10:19 AM
Well well Zashibis. It just so happens that on the night of Jan 22, the Kingdom experienced an extreme cold spell, and Riyadh consequently froze over (reached -1c/30f).
source1 source2 (King Khaled is in Riyadh)
If you are a man of your words, I believe you owe me an apology now. That's all I'm asking for. I will then honor my word as promised, and we can finally close this issue.
Feb 26, 2012 9:55 AM
57Well that was a waste of time!
It can't be said that we didn't try...
Your descriptions of life here, are as nonspecific as you can get. I don't know what you are trying to prove. Getting a Saudi visa does not make you a better or worse human being. You are not cooler because you got one or uncool because you can't get one.
What is not cool, is your refusal to be part of the community, to help fellow travelers, instead digressing into endless diatribes about your Mastercard or debit cards....
I have no idea how you were made an "arbiter" of the US section of the LP thread, and hope you have given more constructive advise there.
Even if you share the information now, you have failed to assist many people who could have gone since your original posting and now.
That includes me. My stay here is about to end, and I was unable to find out any way to get a visa for friends to visit me.
Aaanyway. My visa expires in 3 months. I would like to return with friends, but one needs a visa.
Here is the main reason why I doubt that your trip went on as you say: you claim to be an experienced traveler in the Middle East. No person with even a modest amount of travel here, would be unaware of the travel policies in Saudi Arabia, and buy a ticket without thinking twice.
I once hosted a couple of Danish girls who were traveling to India, and they just showed up to the airport in Copenhagen, without a visa. Obviously, they were not allowed to travel. They did not know that India asks for a visa to almost all nationalities, including practically all European countries.
Your ticket buying experience reminded me of them.
Edited by: mateluna
Edited by: mateluna
Feb 26, 2012 10:07 AM
Feb 26, 2012 7:55 PM
Yes, as Carracar can testify, my contributions to the US section have been quite significant over the years.
As I explained in posts #44 and #40, the information is sensitive, but any poster who wants it and agrees to not share it can PM me and I'm happy to talk. Several posters have done so already.
I was aware of the visa policy, but I was also aware of the fact that I would get around it. I do a lot of traveling and often buy tickets without thinking twice as I enjoy the spontaneous aspect of it, plus I often don't have time to plan until I'm about to leave or already there.
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