Visiting Saudi Arabia: What you need to know

Oct 19, 2021

The inaugural World Defense Show from 6th to 9th March 2022 is the first-ever event of its kind to be hosted in Saudi Arabia – a major moment for the global defense industry to unlock opportunities in the Middle East’s booming market.

We look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world to Saudi Arabia – a nation that continues to evolve century-old customs to fit into the contemporary world of today.

In preparation for your visit to Riyadh, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions in this blog post.

  1. Why is World Defense Show taking place in Saudi Arabia?

It would be hard to name a better host for a global defense event of this magnitude. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sits at the center of three continents making it a true gateway between the East and West. The country’s geographical accessibility translates to ease of travel for international attendees and ease of doing business for the global supply chain. The Kingdom is a high-potential hub for defense trade and innovation.

In line with the economic reform that Vision 2030 outlines, Saudi Arabia is rebalancing defense spending by increasing localization to 50% over the next decade, drastically expanding the defense ecosystem of SMEs, international partnerships, research and development and skilled job opportunities for the country.

  1. General information about Saudi Arabia?

The work week in Saudi Arabia, like other Gulf countries, is Sunday to Thursday, with the weekend being Friday and Saturday. While public and private sector offices are open during official workdays, opening hours for Embassies and Consulates could differ.

As there is no daylight savings in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Time Zone is three hours ahead of GMT. With hot summers and cool winters, Riyadh’s climate is ideal in March, featuring highs of up to 28°C (82.4°F) and lows of 15°C (59°F) in the evenings, perfect weather for a moonlit stroll in Riyadh’s ancient heritage sites and fortresses that house traditional souks and history museums.

The official currency used in Saudi Arabia is the Riyal (pronounced Ree-ulh), one Riyal is divided into 100 halalas. The USD/SAR exchange rate is 3.75 and most shops and restaurants across the capital accept international card payments.

  1. What is it like visiting Saudi Arabia?

Visitors to Saudi Arabia will discover a warm and welcoming culture with great respect for the country’s heritage. A large portion of the population are young, vibrant and expressive men and women who stay true to the traditions of generosity, hospitality and community. It is not uncommon to be invited to share a meal or a cup of gahwa (Arabic coffee) with traditional dates by locals. It is considered a sign of respect to accept such gifts and offerings with your right hand.

Riyadh is very safe for tourists, who are encouraged to be respectful of local customs. This includes consideration for prayer times when playing loud music, and modest clothing when in public spaces. For women, although it is not compulsory to wear an abaya, it is advised to avoid tight fitting and revealing clothes. There are many malls and souks around Riyadh that sell an impressive variety of colorful abayas adorned with beautiful embroidery and designs.

VisitSaudi.com is the Kingdom’s official source to learn more about what to expect during your visit.

  1. What kind of cultural experiences can I expect at World Defense Show?

From 6th through 9th of March the World Defense Show will host a variety of cultural activities and side-line events to offer visitors first-hand insights into Saudi arts, literature, values and society. From traditional live music and dance performances to a majestic Falcon Show, Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage will shine throughout the trade days.   

  1. What are the travel requirements and policies in place?

All foreign and non-GCC visitors need to present a visa to enter Saudi Arabia. While the KSA eVisa process is simple for most nationalities, all vetted and approved World Defense Show attendees do not need to worry about it! Approved WDS registrants will be granted a valid entry permit with their show badges. Tourist visas are valid for 360 days from the date of issue and can be used for visits of up to 90 days. Passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of entry into the Kingdom.

Both Government officials and World Defense Show Organizers have made the health and safety of citizens, residents and visitors in Riyadh a top priority. The show’s Health and Safety Task Force works closely with all relevant authorities to enable us to host a safe and successful event during the ongoing global pandemic. Currently, KSA has eased restrictions on vaccinated individuals and continues to update the public with any developments.

The inaugural World Defense Show will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 6-9 March 2022. Browse the official website for more information and to register your attendance.

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