First-time visitors to Saudi Arabia’s sparkling seaside city of Jeddah will find it to be a friendly, generally laid-back destination reflective of its beachy, sun-drenched location. Still, there are a few points of etiquette and law, particularly for women travellers, to keep in mind.
When to Go: Tropical Jeddah is warm year round and mostly dry, with average daily temperatures hitting around 32-degrees Celsius during the peak summer months, and dropping to the mid-20s in winter.
Visas: Whether travelling to Saudi Arabia on business or leisure, all visitors are required to apply for and obtain an entry visa. Your passport must have at least six months’ validity, and you’ll need a return ticket and copy of your serviced apartment reservation. Fees vary by country, and you may be required to apply in person at a consular office. Consult the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia for information.
Dress: Men should avoid wearing shorts (except at the beach) or jewellery. As a rule, all local women in Jeddah wear an abaya (long coloured cloak) and hijab (headscarf) in public. Foreign women are not required to wear an abaya, but should don a scarf that covers their hair and head—and it would be polite, of course, to wear an abaya.
Women Travellers: Though Jeddah is less strict than elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, in addition to the dress code women visitors should keep a few things in mind:
- Women travelling alone to Jeddah must be met at the airport by a male colleague or representative; entry may be otherwise refused or delayed.
- Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, so car rentals are not possible. Use Uber instead of public taxis.
- Do not make physical contact with any males in public, including at business meetings.