Basic Data


Area

:

2,149,690 sq km

Population

:

28,160,273 (July 2016 est.)

Population Growth Rate

:

1.46% (2016 est.)

Religion

:

Islam

Government System

:

Monarchy

Languages

:

Arabic (official), English widely spoken

Weights and measures

:

Metric system

Principal main cities

:

Riyadh (Capital), Jeddah, Damman, Tarif, Makah, Madinah

Currency

:

Saudi Riyal (SR) divided into 100 Halalas.

Climate

:

The climate of Saudi Arabia varies from one region to another because of its various topographical features. Being under the influence of a sub-tropical high-pressure system, the Kingdom is generally hot in summer and cold in winter, and its rainfall is often in winter. Moderate climate is seen in the southwestern part of the Kingdom, dry hot summer and cold winter in the interior parts, and high temperature and humidity in the coastal areas.

Working hours

:

Government. Offices : 7:30 to 14:30
Banks : 8:30 to 12:00 and 17:00 to 19:00 (Sat. to Wed.), 8:30 to 11:30 (Thursday)
Business : Variable from business to business and from place to place. During Ramadan, most businesses open during the evening, after sunset.

Direct Dial Country Code

:

Country Code (+966), Riyadh (1), Jeddah (2), Dammam, Dhahran, Al-Khobar (3)

Holidays

:

23 September, Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha.
Thursday and Friday are the official weekly holidays.

Principal imports

:

Foodstuffs, Textile and Clothing, Medicine, Chemical Products, Wood and Wood Products, Jewelry, Base Metal and Metal Article, Electrical Machines, Equipment & Tools, Cars and Spare Parts.

Principal exports

:

Mineral Products, Foodstuffs, Chemical Products, Plastic Products, Base Metal and Metal Articles, Electric Machines, Equipment & Tools.

Time differential

:

GMT + 3 hours

 

Business Travel
Nationals of Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE are not required to get visas. All other nationals should obtain visas from Saudi Embassies or Consulates abroad. Applications via trade associations, Chambers of Commerce etc, are recommended, supported by an invitation From the host company in Saudi Arabia.

Entry Requirements
Saudi visas in passports valid for at least six months are required for entry.  Visas can be obtained for business and work, to visit close relatives, for religious visits, and lately for tourism.  Most visas are single entry and allow for a maximum six-month stay.

To obtain a visitor's visa for business purposes, each foreign company representative must have a letter of invitation from the sponsor in Saudi Arabia. This letter must be in Arabic, the applicant must have the original copy (no faxes allowed), the letter must be on sponsoring company letterhead, and must bear an authenticating stamp of the local Saudi Chamber of Commerce.

The letter should name the visa applicant, passport number, company name and address, approximate dates of visit, and reason for visit (e.g. business meetings).  The visa applicant may hold the letter for up to 60 days prior to making application.  It is recommended that the applicant's company use the company's letterhead when requesting the Saudi Embassy's/Consulates' cooperation in issuing the visa. Once the visa is stamped on the passport, it must be used or officially canceled before a subsequent visa will be issued.  The visa may be extended at the discretion of the Saudi Embassy or Consulate prior to the expiration date.

Resident visas also are available through a separate process.

Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia generally must surrender their passports while in Saudi Arabia.  The sponsor (normally the employer) obtains a work and residence permit for the employee and for any family members.  Family members of those working are not required by law to surrender their passports, though they often do.  Residents carry a Saudi residence permit (Iqama) for identification in place of their passports.

Visitors to Saudi Arabia generally obtain a meningitis vaccination prior to arrival, especially during the annual pilgrimage rituals.  A medical report, including an AIDS test, is required to obtain a work and residence permit.  This includes a medical certification.

Exit Permission
Expatriates residing and working in Saudi Arabia may not depart the country without obtaining an exit permit prior to leaving and an exit/reentry permit if they intend to return to Saudi Arabia.  The Saudi sponsor's approval is required for these permits.  One-time visitors on a single entry visa do not need an exit permit.  A married woman residing in Saudi Arabia with her husband must have her husband's approval to receive an exit permit.  The father must approve the departure of any children.

Business Infrastructure
The business centers of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam/Al-Khobar/Dhahran have an international airports served by a variety of international airlines.  Air travel is preferred for domestic travel with public service restricted to the sole national airline, Saudia.

Saudi Arabia has a good highway system and rental cars and taxis/limousines are available at all airports.  One rail line carries passengers and freight between Dammam and Riyadh.  Jeddah and Dammam are the main international seaports for moving containerized and bulk cargo.

Modern communication facilities are available including telephone, fax, Internet, telex, and courier services.