Travel Warnings

Travel Warning – Saudi Arabia

Last Updated:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

March 04, 2009

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This Travel Warning warns American citizens about the security situation in Saudi Arabia and reminds U.S. citizens of recommended security precautions.  The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to consider carefully the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia.  There is an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups, some affiliated with al Qaida, who may target Western interests, housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas and other facilities where Westerners congregate.  These terrorist groups may employ a wide variety of tactics and also may target Saudi Government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom.  This updates and replaces the Travel Warning issued July 9, 2008, to note revised U.S. Embassy policy governing employee security and to explain Embassy policy on security updates for American citizens in Saudi Arabia.

Although terrorists have not conducted a successful attack against Westerners in Saudi Arabia since February 2007, the United States Mission in Saudi Arabia does not permit minor dependents at post because of continued security concerns.  The Department of State recently approved the return of adult family members, in part, because Saudi security forces have continued to make significant progress in counteracting the terrorist threat within Saudi Arabia as they continue to arrest and break up terrorist cells.

American citizens who choose to visit Saudi Arabia are strongly urged to avoid staying in hotels or housing compounds that do not apply stringent security measures and also are advised to be aware of their surroundings when visiting commercial establishments frequented by Westerners.  American citizens also are advised to keep a low profile, vary times and routes of travel, exercise caution while driving, entering or exiting vehicles, and ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.

From time to time, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Saudi Arabia may restrict travel of official Americans or suspend public services for security reasons.  Whenever threat information is specific, credible, and non-counterable, this threat information will be made available to the American public.  In those instances, the Embassy and Consulates will keep the local American citizen community apprised through the Warden system and make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.  Warden messages can be found on the U.S. Embassy Riyadh website: http://sa.usembassy.gov.

Updated information on travel and security in Saudi Arabia may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 from within the United States and Canada or, from outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays.)  For additional information, consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Saudi Arabia , and the Worldwide Caution at http://travel.state.gov.

U.S. citizens who require emergency services may telephone the Embassy in Riyadh at (966) (1) 488-3800, the Consulate in Jeddah at (966) (2) 667-0080, or the Consulate in Dhahran at (966) (3) 330-3200.