Riyadh is the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which lies between the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, and has a land mass about the size of Western Europe. The Kingdom contains the world’s largest continuous sand desert, known as the Empty Quarter, and it is the biggest and most dominant country of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Jordan to the north, Iraq and Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar and the UAE to the east, and Yemen and Oman to the south.
Riyadh is to the east of the center of the country and has a population of approximately 5 million. Other key cities are Jeddah, the commercial capital, located on the Red Sea coast, and Dammam, on the Arabian Gulf .
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoys peace and stability and is far removed from troubled spots in the Middle East. The Capital of Riyadh is almost 1,200 miles away from the Syrian border.
The last recorded acts of terror in the Kingdom occurred in 2007 and 2009. Saudi security services have essentially eliminated terror groups within Saudi Arabia.
With the exception of petty theft, the crime rate in Riyadh is very low compared to any major city in the world. The murder rate in particular is a small fraction of those in major U.S. cities.
The Riyadh climate is mild in winter and very hot in summer. The month of November is characterized by rapidly falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs decreasing from 88°F (31.1°C ) to 75°F (24°C) over the course of the month. For the period of November 9 to 13, average daily highs and lows are a pleasant 83°F (28°C) and 58°F (14°C), respectively.
Saudi Arabia has a basic public transport system and domestic and international airports. Delegates should find it easiest to arrive at King Khalid International Airport on the outskirts of Riyadh which is well serviced by international airlines. The best mode of public transport in Saudi Arabia is taxis, which are inexpensive and readily available at the airport, at all hotels, and on the streets.
GMT + 3
International Dialing code
The local currency is the Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR). Sample exchange rates:
1 SAR = 0.27 USD = 0.2 Euro = 24.27 Yen = 1.66 Yuan
It is possible to rent vehicles in Riyadh, however it is highly recommended to use instead public taxis or hotel cars.
The import or possession of alcoholic beverages and pork products is strictly prohibited. The possession of illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine is punishable by death.
Saudi Arabia uses a mixture of 110 volt and 220 volt AC, 60 cycles with two-pin European type plugs and three-pin UK plugs. It’s best to bring an adapter (though major hotels typically supply converters in their rooms).
Health and Vaccinations
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever and cholera are required if traveling from an infected area. (See visa section under Registration).
Riyadh has a number of international standard hospitals and clinics.
While tap water is desalinated and considered safe for drinking but it has a slightly higher than normal salt content therefore it is advisable to drink only bottled water. Tap water is fine for brushing teeth and washing.
The official language in the Kingdom is Arabic, however English is widely spoken and considered the language of business.
Riyadh has a wide range of restaurant, fast food, snack bar and coffee shop options to suit all tastes, including many international brands. The main restaurant street is Tahliya in the center of the city, but you will find food outlets all over.
Passports and Visas
Visas are required by all visitors to Saudi Arabia, except nationals of GCC states, and they must be obtained in advance. The expiry date of passports must extend at least 6 months beyond the date on which you will leave the Kingdom. Visitors with passports containing evidence of a visit or intended visit to Israel will not be admitted.
For holders of existing visas, it is important to note that visas are issued based on the Hijra calendar and that most visas are, in any case, single entry only. Many people get caught with invalid visas because they believe it is valid according to the Gregorian calendar. Hijra months are shorter than Gregorian months, so check dates carefully and seek a second (and well-informed) opinion. Please contact your local Saudi Embassy or Consulate for details on how to apply for visas. For the purposes of attending the 17th IRF World Meeting, an automated process can be found embedded in the delegate registration area of this web site.