Safety and security
Public demonstrations are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Follow local media and be alert to local and regional developments which might trigger public disturbances. You should avoid protests or demonstrations. Despite warnings issued by the authorities, demonstrations do take place from time to time, mainly in the Shia communities in the Qatif area of Eastern Province, including Al Musawara village in Al-Awamiya, and Al Hasa. Violent clashes have occurred between demonstrators and security forces.
Due to security operations within the Qatif region of Eastern Province, British Embassy staff have been advised to travel within the region in daylight hours only. We advise that you leave the area should any security operations commence, and follow the instructions of police and security forces to assist you in reaching safe areas.
Saudi Arabia-Yemen border
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to within 10km of the border with Yemen, and against all but essential travel between 10km and 80km of this border. If you’re currently in an area to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel, you should consider whether you have an essential reason to remain. If you don’t, you should leave the area.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading coalition air strikes in Yemen following the request for support from President Hadi to deter continued Houthi aggression. Clashes along the Saudi-Yemeni border continue, resulting in both military and civilian casualties.
Since the coalition action there began, ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial systems (drones) have periodically been fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen. Most of these have been intercepted and destroyed by Saudi air defence systems, but there have been a small number of casualties and 3 fatalities. Military facilities in Najran, Asir and Jazan provinces are likely to continue to be targeted but attacks may be made on other locations in Saudi Arabia too, including Riyadh and Jeddah, and in the Red Sea. There have been 6 intercepted missile attacks over Riyadh since the first missile attack on 4 November 2017, the most recent on 24 June 2018.
In the event of an incident, you should stay indoors, monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Airports near the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border have been closed temporarily from time to time. You should check with your airline before travelling to airports near the border.
On 30 September the Saudi authorities reported that an attempted Houthi attack near the Port of Jizan caused minimal damage.
Saudi Arabia-Iraq border
Take great care in all areas close to the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border. On 5 January 2015, 3 Saudi Arabian border guards were killed in clashes close to the Arar crossing point.
Although the crime rate in Saudi Arabia is low, there have been some isolated incidents of more serious crimes. Take particular care when travelling outside towns and cities.
Petty crime does also occur.
Where possible, keep to major roads. When travelling to more rural areas, take precautions such as travelling in convoy and during daylight.
Standards of driving are poor and there are a high number of serious accidents. You should wear seatbelts at all times. Distances between cities are large and emergency services can take some time to get to any accidents or emergencies.
Some Saudi cities have implemented an automated traffic system. You’ll need to pay any fines issued through this system before leaving the country. You can pay at the airport but only during regular Saudi office hours.
Oil infrastructure remains a possible terrorist target. Shipping serving the oil installations should make sure SSPs are implemented fully and robustly while operating in the area. All ships should maintain a high state of vigilance while in Saudi Arabian ports, and report anything suspicious to the authorities. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb areas may be at increased risk of maritime attack from pirates. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.