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Riyadh and Saudi Arabia

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defurax

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I have to go to Riyadh for 5 days. I have never been to Saudi Arabia. It is quite hard to get an idea of how things are like in reality by reading only various Government travel advisory. I will be staying in a very high end hotel (looks like 6 stars to me :cool: ) in the city.
Should I just stay in my hotel all week? Or venture out? And if so alone or with a driver?
 

dmitri

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If the hotel is top shelf like you said, they should be able to provide a driver and car service, and if not recommend a reliable company to use. If you have no plans to go back definitley have a look around to tick it off your bucket list.

cheers
 

casanovawa

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I hve to say Saudia Arabia is not high on my list of places to visit and if I never set foot in the place I wouldn't lose any sleep over it...

Good luck whilest there, let us know what you end up experiencing, but me personally I probably wouldn't bother venturing too far from the hotel...
 

defurax

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The hotel website recommends to visit these 4 attractions:

AREA ATTRACTIONS



Masmak Fortress


The Masmak Fortress in the heart of old Riyadh. The Masmak Fortress is a 19th century mud fortress at the heart of Al-Bathaa, Riyadh's old quarter.


Al-Thumairi Gate


It is a historical gate that was once part of nine gates that lead into the city. They were torn down in 1950, and now the slick restored gate is situated across the street.


National Museum/Al-Murabba Palace


The National Museum of Riyadh is a landmark structure in the skyline of Saudi Arabia. It gives an insight into the history of Saudi Arabia. The National Museum is spread over 17,000 meters of land close to the King Abdul Aziz Historic Center.


Al Dir'iya


Al Dir'iya is a historic oasis located on the banks of Wadi Hanifa that had attracted urban settlements since time immemorial. Al Dir'iya’s land occupies the fertile curve of Wadi Hanifa on the outskirts of Riyadh, the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



Anyone here has visited any of these sites?
 

wandering_fred

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If I recall correctly there is an escarpment not that far from the city that would be of interest to the more geologically minded. I avoided the benefits of the city itself though I suspect it has built up quite a bit in the 25 years since I was there. But even then the airport was not a difficult transit.


Happy wandering

Fred
 

RooFlyer

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Been a while since I was there, but I recall Riyadh as being a very sterile city, but with some weird architecture. You won't be visiting many pubs :shock:

I visited Masmak Fortress and Al diriya, the latter was pretty run down, but I trust improved by now. Both interesting, though.

Hotels there tend to be complete little universes, but do get out and about. As dmitri said, hotel car and driver is the go.

When I was there, the AusTrade guy who we met told us the Golden Rule of taking pictures in the Kingdom: don't take pictures of anything anyone might want to bomb in a war. That is, any infrastructure, government buildings, etc. We got away with some, but there are plenty of armed police and military types about!
 

Danger

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I'm booked to go to Jeddah as part of a oneworld Explorer fare. Sadly, I didn't do my research. Saudi doesn't have a tourism industry and as such does not provide tourist visas. You must be a relative of a citizen or travelling on business to be allowed into the country.
 

defurax

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I'm booked to go to Jeddah as part of a oneworld Explorer fare. Sadly, I didn't do my research. Saudi doesn't have a tourism industry and as such does not provide tourist visas. You must be a relative of a citizen or travelling on business to be allowed into the country.
I think you can only get a transit visa. Hopefully you can reroute your flights without penalty (I'm not familiar with Explorer fare).
 

Danger

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I would have liked to have gone to Jeddah although I note both AA and BA have waivers applicable at the moment for travel to Saudi.

I'm looking at re-routing which will cost me $125. I've looked at the transit visa and that will be the last resort as it does not allow you to exit the airport. I would have approximately 11 hours on the ground in AUH after flying in on BA and out on an AA EY award, without lounge access for the great majority of the day.
 

Danger

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I think you can only get a transit visa. Hopefully you can reroute your flights without penalty (I'm not familiar with Explorer fare).
I re-routed, now flying to Kuwait instead. AA waived the USD125 change fee due to a previous debacle on this ticket.
 

defurax

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I re-routed, now flying to Kuwait instead. AA waived the USD125 change fee due to a previous debacle on this ticket.
I had no idea how strict the visa system is in the KSA. The organisation inviting me is dealing with the letter of invitation and other visa related matters, but it seems that even then I will have to visit an approved travel agent here in Australia who will be sending 5-10 documents to Canberra. Seems like it's easier to become a citizen of some countries than to get a 5 day business visa for Riyadh.:shock:
 

casanovawa

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Seems like they don't want foreigners there and I am more than happy to oblige them, I hope we make it just as difficult for them to come here as well...
 

Danger

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Seems like they don't want foreigners there and I am more than happy to oblige them, I hope we make it just as difficult for them to come here as well...
And their embassy in Canberra is useless. I've emailed them several times over the past six weeks and twice left voice messages. Not one response.
 
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DrA

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Some years ago, I was sent to SA on a consulting job. Someone, somewhere along the line, while making my travel bookings had neglected to realise that I was female, and had everything down as Dr A. Upon landing in Riyadh, I'm sure you can imagine the clusterf*** that eventuated. I was on a plane back out within 24 hours.

That being said, I don't think it's a bad place. I just think it's an almost impossible environment to work in as an unmarried western woman.
 

defurax

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. Upon landing in Riyadh, I'm sure you can imagine the clusterf*** that eventuated. I was on a plane back out within 24 hours.
You mean your male guardian didn't show up? :shock::p
I'm surprised they managed to get you a visa, your passport ID page must indicate your gender.
 

DrA

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You mean your male guardian didn't show up? :shock::p
I'm surprised they managed to get you a visa, your passport ID page must indicate your gender.
In hindsight, yes. The visa actually seemed fairly straight forward from my perspective. I gave someone the information and they arranged it for me. It was more the fact that I couldn't do anything once in the country. The company who wanted the work done outsourced all of the arrangements for me to get there, and hadn't actually realised I was female. It's not actually impossible for an unaccompanied woman to get a business visa to SA, if the sponsor company has a very good reputation.
 

cmon0005

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Watch the movie Wadjda it will give you a good idea how the society runs. It's actually quite a good movie. It was on Qantas's in flight entertainment under world cinema. First film shot in KSA with a female director.
 
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