Saudi Arabia is a monarchical country located on the Arabian Peninsula in southwestern Asia. As an independent state, Saudi Arabia appeared on the world map on September 23, 1932. Saudi Arabia is known in the world as the largest oil exporter, occupying a leading position in terms of total oil production and export. It was oil, which provides 75% of the country’s budget revenues, that turned the once backward country into a modern and economically developed state. Politically, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. The country is ruled by a king who has almost unlimited power. Saudi Arabia is also known as the “land of two mosques”. It is here that the two largest Muslim shrines are located – the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Geography of Saudi Arabia
According to listofusnewspapers, Saudi Arabia is located in the southwestern part of Asia and occupies about two-thirds of the Arabian Peninsula with the offshore islands of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia shares borders with countries such as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, and Oman. The area of the country is about 2 million square kilometers, which is about a third of the United States of America. Approximately 90 percent of the entire territory is occupied by desert, as well as mountains and foothills.
The area of Saudi Arabia is 2,149,000 km2. sq., occupies the 12th place in the world in terms of area.
The national currency is the Saudi Riyal (SAR).
The official language is Arabic.
Visa to Saudi Arabia
To visit Saudi Arabia, citizens of Russia and the CIS countries must obtain a visa without fail. Visas can be issued of the following types: transit, work, student, business, guest. Tourist visas are not provided. They also issue group visas for organized groups carrying out the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca. The pilgrimage tour can only be organized by a company that has the appropriate accreditation in Saudi Arabia. To obtain a transit visa, the following documents will be required: – a foreign passport, while the validity period must be at least six months from the date of the intended entry into the country; – a questionnaire filled out in Russian or English in block letters, without corrections; – visa of the final country of travel; – 2 photographs measuring 3 by 4 cm; – tickets for the itinerary; – for women, a copy of the marriage certificate or other documents confirming the relationship with the man with whom she is on a trip is required; The visa is valid for 20 days from the date of issue, the period of stay in Saudi Arabia should not exceed three days.
Weather in Saudi Arabia
The climate of Saudi Arabia is characterized by its dry character. In summer, the temperature here is almost always above 50 °C. The average January temperature ranges between 8°C and 20°C (in cities and desert areas), between 20°C and 30°C (Red Sea coast). In winter, there is snow here only in the Jizan mountains (western part of the country), and even then only in rare years. The best time to visit the country are September-October and April-May. During these months, the temperature is not as high as in summer, and the air is not too dry as in other months of the year.
Currency exchange in Saudi Arabia
The monetary unit of the country is the Saudi rial, which consists of 100 halals. The exchange rate, as of the beginning of October 2013, is 5.1 rials per 1 euro. You can exchange currency almost everywhere – in shops, banks, change machines and private currency exchange offices. Currency exchange rates are published almost every day in the local press. Local banks are open from Saturday to Wednesday, from 8 am to 12 noon, and from 5 pm to 7 or 8 pm. Thursday is a short day, and banks are open only from 8 am to 12 pm. Credit cards are also widely accepted. They can be used in almost all major shopping centers and hotels in the cities of the country. ATMs are located near banks and on the territory of shopping centers.
The voltage in the local electrical networks is 127 V, 60 Hz. Sockets of the usual European type are widely found – round in shape, with two holes for a plug with cylindrical pins (type F). However, there are also rectangular sockets with two flat holes (A), pentagonal sockets with three flat connectors (type B), and rectangular sockets with three flat holes (type G).
The state religion of Saudi Arabia is Islam. Approximately 90% of believers are Sunnis and about 10% are Shiites. All religions except Islam are officially banned in the country.
Saudi Arabia in the traditional sense is a safe country for tourists. There is practically no street crime here, and tourists can feel safe on the streets of local cities. However, there is a different kind of danger, and tourists who do not understand the peculiarities of the local mentality may face serious problems. Here, the observance of the legal and moral norms of Islam is very strictly monitored. Tourists should show respect for local customs and be careful about their appearance. Already at the entrance to the country, foreigners are advised to dress in modest clothes and behave decently. Disregard for local traditions and religious feelings of the population can cause serious trouble. In addition, you must comply with local laws, which are perhaps among the most severe in the world. It provides for severe punishment for such types of crimes as theft of property, drug use, homosexuality, and murder. Depending on the severity of the committed offender, the limbs or the head are cut off.
The level of development of medicine in Saudi Arabia is one of the highest in the world. The state spends about 8% of the budget on medicine, so medical services to the population and pilgrims are provided free of charge. Almost every administrative district has at least one clinic with modern equipment and qualified personnel. About a third of the country’s clinics are private. When contacting a private clinic, you must pay for the services of doctors in cash. The volume of primary medical care is provided free of charge. However, for more complex cases, insurance will be required, so it is strongly recommended that you have full medical insurance of accepted international standards when entering Saudi Arabia.