Saudi Arabia recently opened its doors to travelers beyond Muslim pilgrims who visit for the annual hajj. Foreign travelers have been delighted to journey across the land that promises modern megastructures and ancient ruins.
It is indeed a dynamic tourist destination. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia boasts endless dunes, dramatic mountains, and beautiful oases. The land is blessed with the coral-filled coast of the Red Sea toward the west and undulating dunes unlike anywhere in the world. Saudi Arabia offers an eclectic mix of ancient history and stone dwellings as magnificent as Petra in Jordan. As you’re planning for your exciting adventure to Saudi Arabia, remember to purchase travel medical insurance or travel insurance to stay covered in case of any unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries.
On March 5, 2022, Saudi Arabia rescinded most of their restrictions related to COVID-19. Visitors are no longer required to quarantine upon arrival if they are fully vaccinated, and no longer need to take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival.
However, unvaccinated travelers may still be required to complete a mandatory quarantine, and all visitors are required to purchase insurance that can provide coverage for the treatment of COVID-19.
Things to Do for Travelers in Saudi Arabia
- Visit Mecca: Mecca is considered to be the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. It is a popular destination for Muslim pilgrims as part of the hajj, as well as for other tourists. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter the city of Mecca or the area around the legendary Kaaba stone. But the surrounding area is peaceful and enchanting for first-time visitors.
- Riyadh’s Kingdom Centre Tower: The most iconic symbol of Saudi Arabia is the Kingdom Centre, which is also a very popular destination among travelers. It is home to an observatory that is situated at a height of 992 feet (about 300 meters) above the ground. It has become the country’s most popular selfie spot thanks to the amazing 360-degree view from the top of the observation tower.
- Rub’ al-Khali: A major part of Empty Quarter, or Rub’ al-Khali, belongs to Saudi Arabia. It’s an open landscape with just sand. It also forms the common border between Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, and Yemen. A variety of activities like camel safaris and driving 4X4s through the dunes are popular tourist attractions. You may need a travel guide to help you maneuver through the dunes.
- The Lost City of Mada’in Saleh: Just like the Lost City of Petra in Jordan, Saudi Arabia has a city similar in design and origin. The Lost City of Mada’in Saleh dates back to the Nabatean Kingdom in the first century AD. Although the destination remains low-profile among travelers, it is very peaceful and quiet. You can enjoy the breathtaking architecture and ruins that create a great backdrop for pictures.
- Red Sea Scuba Diving: Saudi Arabia is way more than just a land of deserts. The country has incredibly long coastlines along both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The coastline along the Red Sea is home to some of the best snorkelling and scuba-diving destinations in the world. Chances are that you will not encounter much crowd in Boiler Wreck and Allah’s Reef.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in Saudi Arabia
- Scorpions: When traversing around the desert to view dunes or through the Empty Quarter, you might encounter poisonous scorpions. Scorpion stings are considered to be fatal most of the time if immediate medical care is not provided. Hire a travel guide who is well-versed with the conditions of the desert.
- MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome): Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is very prominent in Saudi Arabia. A very high number of cases are reported every year, and there is no medication or vaccine for it. When in the country, try to avoid direct contact with camels, as they are considered to be the prime carriers. Also, avoid touching products contaminated with camel secretion.
- Extreme Weather: Saudi Arabia is seriously hot in summers and extremely cold in winter. Temperatures soar above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) and can cause sunstrokes and seizures. Sandstorms and dust-storms occur very frequently, affecting sight and respiration when caught up in the middle.
- Insect-borne diseases: Malaria is present in western Saudi Arabia and claims thousands of lives every year. The presence of chloroquine-resistant strains has been reported throughout the country. Other insect-borne diseases like leishmaniasis and dengue are also common in the country. Use insect repellent, take anti-malarial medication, and ensure insect-free accommodations to be on the safer side.
- Food and water: Saudi Arabia has a plethora of water and food-borne diseases. Any source of drinking water besides bottled water can’t be trusted. Diseases like rabies, brucellosis, and hepatitis are very common. Avoid undercooked or raw food when traveling outside. Boil or chemically purify water before consumption.
Saudi Arabia Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
Medical facilities in the capital city, Riyadh, and Jeddah are excellent. Some of these facilities are even better than the ones in the U.S. and Europe. However, treatment in these facilities can be very costly. Most hospitals require you to deposit cash before admission. Travel medical insurance is a must-have for travelers as it saves a huge amount of money.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Saudi Arabia?
It is mandated by law for every overseas traveler to buy travel medical insurance for Saudi Arabia that can cover the treatment of COVID-19. If you don’t have a policy, you may buy it from the airport or the flight centers within minutes, but it is better to buy in advance as you have time to research and buy a better policy. Your travel medical insurance should provide coverage for medical evacuations and repatriations. To stay ahead of the situation, buy travel medical insurance for Saudi Arabia.
Why buy travel medical insurance for Saudi Arabia?
Most medical facilities are of a very high standard in major cities and urban areas. In smaller cities and towns, hospitals have a more deteriorated quality and may only do routine procedures. In case of a serious injury or illness, you may need to be transported to the major hospitals. Medical evacuations and repatriations have been previously required by travelers. Buying travel medical insurance can mitigate these costs.
Saudi Arabia Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
Just like most countries in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia is vying with terrorism, too. Terrorists can strike anywhere at any time. Tourist locations, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities tend to be prime targets. Abrupt tensions may also arise between security forces and the insurgent groups. This is the most common reason for cancelling trips or delaying trips to Saudi Arabia. Buy travel insurance as a safeguard against all the related costs if you have to cancel for a covered reason.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for Saudi Arabia?
Terrorists have conducted destructive and lethal attacks against infrastructure and rendered life uncertain. Hotel bookings or activities tend to get canceled without prior notice as hotels shut down due to security reasons. With such unpredictability in the air, as well as weather conditions like sandstorms that last for hours, you may have to cancel or delay your plans.
What all is covered under trip cancellation insurance for Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia has the biggest and one of the busiest airports in the world. The labyrinth of tunnels and terminals has led to many travelers missing their flight or losing their baggage. Trip cancellation insurance for Saudi Arabia usually provides coverage for:
- Cancellation of the trip for a covered reason
- Emergency medical evacuation or assistance service
- Trip interruption due to a covered reason
- Missing a connecting flight to the destination
- Lost and missing baggage
- Hotel cancellation due to security reasons
Again, all policies are different. The covered reasons for trip cancellation are listed in your insurance policy’s certificate wording. Be sure to read the fine print ahead of time so you know what will and won’t be eligible for coverage.
Before You Travel to Saudi Arabia – Do This
- Consult your doctor about pre-existing breathing problems and allergies, as sandstorms are very common.
- Be well-versed with the local laws and customs, as Saudi Arabia is a conservative country, and something as simple as PDA (public display of affection) may land you in jail or cause a heavy fine.
- Pack insect repellent, as mosquitos are considered to be very dangerous.
- Buy travel insurance for peace of mind against any eventuality. Compare your options and pick the plan that best fits the needs of this particular trip.