Expats Guide: Flying To Saudi

Many expats find themselves worrying about their arrival to the Kingdom. The first flight into Saudi-Arabia and the initial shock experienced at the airports can be eased a bit by this simple guide!

When boarding the plane at the country of origin, the passenger should have his/her entry visa at hand. The dates on the visa are in Arabic letters and they’ve used the Hijri calendar. Sometimes the airport personnel will not be familiar with either Arabic letters or Hijri calendar. To avoid frustration among yourself and other passengers, it’s a good idea to find out beforehand where the dates are located and what it correlates to in the Gregorian calendar.

Remember not to check in any of the forbidden items.

Check the customs regulations for import here

A complete list of prohibited items here

The list seems very strict but with common sense and making sure you don’t have anything offensive (who would bring firearms to Saudi anyways) you will be fine.
Most importantly and what the officers on arrival will be searching foreigners for are alcohol and products containing alcohol (watch out for liquor in chocolates and vanilla extract), alcohol manufacturing devices, porn of any kind, (bare in mind the Saudi officer’s idea of porn might be your collection of Entourage DVDs which he might confiscate) pork products, gambling stuff and some religious items.

Contrary to common beliefs, it’s perfectly fine for first time arrivals to bring in a Bible for their private use but it’s not allowed to bring in many copies. They will suspect you are going to start proselytizing. People do bring in small Christmas trees ( which are perceived as a religious item) and other such items but don’t attempt to do it the first time you arrive. All personal medications that fall under the narcotics category should have a doctor’s prescription to go with them.

A strange question I often get: Am I allowed to bring in stuffed animals (as in teddy bears and bunnies) to Saudi-Arabia? Answer pure and simple is: OF COURSE! They are not banned in KSA and I have no clue where the rumor has started that KSA has banned stuffed animals! Stores like Toys R Us are full of them so you might not want to bring other than your child’s favorite ones.

If you’re a diver I would recommend packing your diving equipment all in one bag and easily reachable because most likely this will catch the eye of the customs officers (apparently it looks like alcohol manufacturing equipment to them). It would also be a good idea to pack your CD’s, DVD’s and computer in the same place, these will most likely be searched if you’re a male expat. Any items deemed unsuitable will be confiscated, to be ahem checked out and then of course destroyed by the officers!

Arrival Dress Code
This concerns mainly expat women for whom arrival to the Kingdom for the first time can be very daunting. For the guys modest dress as in long trousers and no sleeveless T-shirts is fine, shorts would not be recommended on arrival, although you can use them once in the country.

Women often worry about the abaya and head scarves. There is actually no need to worry too much about it. There is no problem arriving at the airport international arrivals without abaya as long as the woman is dressed modestly in long sleeved pants or a skirt teamed with a loose fitting shirt and maybe a coat on top if arriving in the winter. I’ve seen plenty of female expats arrive at Riyadh International without abaya and some were even dressed in T-shirts and jeans. Whatever you dress in be prepared to be stared at by men of all nationalities upon arrival, especially if you’re a western female because you stand out and will always attract attention no matter what you wear.

Boarding the plane for the last length of the flight to Saudi always takes a bit longer because they recheck for the entry visas and passports when entering the flight. The staff want to make sure nobody gets on the flight without a valid visa because they will be fined if anyone slips past them. Personally I’ve had problems with my multiple exit re-entry visas at this stage again for the same reasons that personnel are not trained to check the dates.

You might get your first taste of gender segregation and queue jumping culture while boarding the aircraft. If you’re a guy, a Saudi woman most likely will want to change her seat next to a female. No need to get insulted by this, she will just feel more comfortable next to a woman. More rarely it works the other way around. Seat allocation just might take longer until everyone is comfortable.

Don’t fret if you see the pilots praying next to the plane. They’re not praying out of fear the plane will crash, just doing their daily prayers.

On Board
If you’re flying Saudia there will be some extra interesting things going on. Kind of like watching an action movie! There will be seat-shuffling, kids bouncing around seats and hallways during take off and landing, the toilets will most likely be flooded with water form people having performed wudu (washing before prayer) inside the toilets, people praying on hallways blocking the way and other things which the flight attendant should say something about, but they just don’t because it’s Saudi Airlines and anything goes.

None of the flights coming into Saudi serve alcohol or pork. Some of the airlines will have a travel prayer announced before the flight takes off.
At some point the stewardess will give you an entry card which looks like this:

The first time they handed me this I was confused should I fill it in or not. I did and nobody ever asked for it. I insisted giving it to the passport officer as well as the customs officer but they just gave me a blank stare and threw it in the trash. None of my relatives or friends who were given this were ever asked for it either so its purpose remains a mystery. EDIT 2017: They are not handing these out anymore but that might change at anytime.

If you were sitting next to an unveiled Saudi woman on the plane which originated from a western country,  don’t be surprised when she comes back from her toilet trip fully transformed into Saudi gear meaning abaya and niqab. When exiting the plane you will wonder where all the women’s faces suddenly have disappeared!

When the plane lands be prepared for a scene from the Amazing Race:

saudi plane passengers

Many of us have been on planes and seen how strongly the flight attendants (especially on the European airlines) react to people even daring to open their seat belts before the plane has come to complete stop, let alone standing up or God forbid opening the holy overhead compartments! The flight attendants would normally react immediately and prevent the passengers from standing and opening compartments due to safety reasons and regulations. That person might even get arrested for such an offense of aviation rules and regulations.

However, on most Saudi based airlines like Saudia, Flynas and others, they are not that strict. People will try this every time, and it might be that flight attendants are simply too frustrated to try and control the crowds in this regard.

Some people are just Very Important People and have such important things to do, they really DO need to get up the SECOND the plane lands to scramble to get their overhead luggage and be the first ones to stand in the aisles ready to barge out of the plane like it’s the amazing race. You might see the poor flight attendants desperately trying to talk/shout/threaten them to no avail. It’s of utmost importance to be able to be the first one out of the aircraft because this might save the person about 15-30 seconds of their precious time (sarcasm).

Arrival and Passport control
This might be the most daunting part of your trip. When you arrive at the Riyadh King Khaled International (KKIA) airport and make your way downstairs to the passport check lines you will encounter a taste of the Saudi way of doing things. If you’re lucky there will not be long queues as can be seen here:

There will be much confusion at this point. The only people who will seem to have a clue where to go are the Saudis that have all already rushed to their own queue on the far right labelled residents and GCC. The signs seen above stating “first time arrivals” and “arrivals with multiple exit re- entry visa” have no significance whatsoever. Choose any line, preferably the shortest one. If it’s the wrong one they will change you to the correct line. In general people will be directed in the lines according to nationality. As can be seen here:

All Afghanis in one line, Pakistanis in another. Looks like they’ve been waiting for few days. Might even be the case. If you’re a western woman, men at the airport (all nationalities) WILL all stare at you which might be very intimidating for first time arrivals. Better get used to this. Another common sight is to see a line full of Indonesian or Filipino women coming in as maids. They will also be sitting on the floors and be dressed in normal clothing, often looking rather fearful. It’s a sad fact that your nationality determines how long you will wait and also how you will be treated at the airport.

EDIT 2017: There is notable improvement in the arrivals passport control and the immigration officers have clearly been through some training in terms of manners and efficiency. Lines move faster now and are based on first time entry vs a re-entry visas only. Be prepared to be fingerprinted upon arrival.

Saudis naturally get out the fastest. They don’t have visa issues and the process is fast but some use tactics such as jumping the queue in front of all the other lines. If this happens to you despite the hour long wait there’s nothing you can do about it. Second luckiest are westerners. Especially women travelling alone. 90% of the time they will be picked out from the back of the lines by the Saudi officers and showed directly to the front. Men are not that lucky usually.

Sometimes families with small children are picked out the line and allowed to cut in front of everyone, if they’re lucky.

In general the passport dudes are rude, indifferent and NEVER smile. No need for concern though, it seems to be part of their job description and has nothing to do with you. This is also not an indication of how you will be treated by all Saudi people! You will be fingerprinted here as well. EDIT 2017: Significant positive improvement in attitudes of passport control dudes has been noted.

For the females arriving alone you might be asked who your sponsor is or if you have a ride home, let them know you’re going to use an UBER or London Taxi ( or whatever form of transport it is you’re going to use).

Luggage and Customs
Once you’ve managed to pass through to the luggage belts you will be approached by men dressed in green or blue overalls. They are the airport staff who you can hire (but you don’t HAVE to even though they insist) to help to lift your luggage on the cart and push the cart around for 20SAR. The carts only are free of charge. Expect the luggage to arrive a pace befitting the Kingdom, taking their sweeeeet time!

This is a good moment to start adjusting to SMT.

After this you will proceed to the x-ray machines to have your luggage x-rayed for the above mentioned prohibited items. Remember to place all bags, even handbags on the belt.

With bad luck you will get one of the officers that seem to want to open every foreigners luggage with “suspicious” items in them. Your chocolates might contain liqour and they want to check. Most of the time you’ll just breeze through.

If the officer wants to check you don’t panic. Be co-operative and show him everything he wants. He will soon let you move along. I’ve never heard of anything else being confiscated from people I know other  than plastic “money” chips meant for Black Jack, few DVD’s and CD’s. and that’s it. They really don’t care too much about other stuff mentioned on the list such as books or magazines for example.

Once I had about 6 bottles of various juice concentrates packed with me from Finland. Good stuff like unsweetened lingonberry juice (a brain-burstingly sour juice) blueberry, strawberry, cloudberry and other Finnish wild berry juices. Admittedly, it might have looked suspicious.

The officer was convinced I had smuggled in alcohol, shook the bottles and with a beaming face said “AHA! Alcohol! Look, bubbles! Alcohol, too much bubbles!” I laughed and told him to go ahead and taste it (it was the lingonberry bottle so I secretly wished he did). He took me to the back office with the boss, they turned the bottles around for a while, laughed and looked at me like I was a lunatic (maybe they were right) for bringing that stuff in and told me to move along. Got to keep all my goodies though.

After the x-ray you will be out of the luggage area and be met by a row of men, mainly people’s drivers and taxi drivers. It’s best to move on to the exit on the left and get a taxi from the official taxi line outside. A cab to Riyadh city center should not cost you more than 70SAR. A single female can also hire a taxi alone from here without any problems. EDIT: 2017 You can now order a Careem or UBER taxi to come pick you at a certain time, and there’s a London Cab company stand outside. London cab to city will cost around 100-150 sar.

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  • AnonymousMay 15, 2012 - 5:07 am

    ASA LAyla masha allah i have been following yur blog for a while now. It is interesting and funny. I am a nurse and would love to work in riyadh in the future. keep up the good work. when i came for hajj in ksa the wait at airpot was ridiculous.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 9:34 pm

      thanks, I can’t even imagine what the airports become like durng Hajj and the MILLIONS of people coming in just a few days time! How do they even do it without the whole building collapsing.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 10:27 am

    M.K Just drop me an email :)ReplyCancel

  • SeryphMay 15, 2012 - 10:51 am

    Laylah, that was awesome! I’ve been following your blog for about a year now and you always make my day with your posts.

    One quick question though, you said stuffed animals are okay to bring in, but on the customs website, it says no stuffed animals and no objects in the form of humans or animals (which most kids toys are), I’m just a touch confused?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 6:05 pm

      Seryph-thank you!
      I know it’s confusing but really they are not banned I have no clue why they would put it on that list..I found a news article from 2003 saying female dolls and stuffed animals had been banned in Riyadh by muttawa. that might be the source. But I even asked the customs dudes once and they just laughed!
      That list should be updated I see other things in it too that are ridiculous..

      OR option number two, they mean stuffed animals as in the once live, now stuffed kind!ReplyCancel

      • ScottDecember 5, 2016 - 11:12 am


        I have a layover flying Saudi Air. I would like to bring binoculars and a zoom lens camera to my final destination in Dubai. Will I have trouble at immigration?ReplyCancel

    • flawlessvelvetMay 16, 2012 - 12:23 am

      I wouldn’t worry about thatReplyCancel

  • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 6:24 pm


  • AnonymousMay 15, 2012 - 4:29 pm

    i love your way of writing :) and you’re so hilarious too. interesting article
    by the way , what is SMT?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 6:06 pm

      SMT +0300= Saudi Man’s Time, approx. 3 hours more than normal time.ReplyCancel

  • DavidMay 15, 2012 - 6:35 pm

    Great post and very accurate … my advice for passport control is keep as far to the right as possible, then go through the GCC-only gate as soon as the GCC nationals have finished. Normally works, but it’s a pretty random process!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 9:25 pm

      David-excellent advice, I should even add that to the original post because that is the best way to try do it!ReplyCancel

  • JoHannaMay 15, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    Heippa Laylah! I don’t know if I would be able to make it to the Magic Kingdom. Sounds so restricted… Though I don’t enjoy coming back to the US from Finland or at times from Mexico when we have to go thru the passport/customs. Long lines, angry people, poker-faced security etc. Though it depends which airport you use.
    I guess “racial profiling” is not a term in the Saudi vocabulary…
    But you know your stuff… good and clever advice whoever needs it.
    Hyvää kevättä sateisesta Teksasista!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 9:31 pm

      JoHanna-Racial profiling..hmm, nope I don’t think so :) at least not the way they do it in the U.S
      kiitos kommentista ja mukavaa kesan odotusta Texasiin, vai joko siella on kesa kunnolla alkanu :)ReplyCancel

  • FarooqMay 15, 2012 - 9:10 pm

    great post laylah, do I notice a pattern here? a blog post that rouses people’s emotions followed by a general one? lol

    The one thing i would like to add is: never ever accept any sealed parcels from anyone who asks u to pass it on to his friend here in saudi. could land u into a lot of trouble if something wrong comes out from the parcel. happens in a lot of cases with people coming from south asia. khashkhash (or poppy seeds) are a very common spice in cooking there but as you can imagine are banned in saudi.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 15, 2012 - 9:33 pm

      Farooq-haha good one! Maybe I’m bipolar :)
      Thanks for the additional advice, POPPY seeds? As in ummm..heroine?
      So if you cook with them you get high or what?ReplyCancel

    • Umm GamarMay 15, 2012 - 11:53 pm

      Hi Laylah, great post yet again mashallah :) kashkash is also a common spice in Malaysia.ReplyCancel

    • FarooqMay 16, 2012 - 4:46 am

      not really, its used in very small quantities not enough to get anyone high. Its not heroin. The difference is in when you harvest it. Poppy seeds are harvested when the seed pod has dried up while Opium is harvested when its still green. Not much of a difference I know I guess it still makes a difference in the “high” quotient.

      Not entirely sure what it does to the taste, but any exotic hyderabadi dish requires a small amount of khashkhash. Maybe for that extra zing. lolReplyCancel

    • Umm GamarMay 16, 2012 - 11:28 am

      Actually,poppy seed isn’t uncommon in Western dishes. Poppy seed bread,poppy seed muffin and my fave,poppy seed dressing. Try sprinkling popy seed i your salad dressing, Laylah. It reaoly is delicious.no high effect hehe.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 26, 2012 - 7:53 am

      Umm Gamar-will do! Now that I think of it, I’ve had it many times,just didn’t make the connection to heroin before hahaReplyCancel

  • flawlessvelvetMay 16, 2012 - 12:22 am

    Iv’e been to many airports in my life and iv’e gotta say, I have yet to witness any an airport with a slower getting-your-luggage process than in Ryiadh. It is seriously THE WORST ugh.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 15, 2012 - 11:19 pm

    I so love the SMT..LOL!!! love your humor laylah.ReplyCancel

  • MelissaMay 16, 2012 - 12:44 am

    Interesting! I hate waiting in line, I can’t imagine how long some of those people are forced to wait with people cutting to the front…that’s so sad.ReplyCancel

  • avaMay 16, 2012 - 7:44 pm

    Props on this post, Laylah :)
    Regarding queuing according to nationality, do the officials check the expat’s visa category first before assigning the expat to a line? Im Filipino, to hold a market specialist visa, I was wondering if that would save me from the sad line/queu (a bubble popper/pooper btw) in Dammam. Maybe dressing up extra nice would help? Also, will my packed daisy dukes be perceived as immoral, hence, confiscated? Lols. Sorry if the question seems daft haha but when going to (and i say this with fondness) a parallel universe…girl has to ask ; ) Anyhoo, thanksheaps and cheers!ReplyCancel

  • ASaudi'sGirl?May 17, 2012 - 3:15 am

    ahahahahahaha SMT :):):):):)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahMay 26, 2012 - 7:33 am

    ava-sorry for late reply!From my experiences they never checked my visa category when they directed me to the front of the queue. Just to show the passport or they had already spotted it in my hand.
    I think dressing up nice but modest will help you, inshallah :)Don’t go stand in the line where the maids are!
    Don’t worry the customs officer will not know what they are,if in the unlikely event he would ask, say they are underwear hahaReplyCancel

    • avaMay 28, 2012 - 7:49 am

      Coolbeans, I get the queueing now, I though there was an automatic designation of certain nationalities to a line despite their professions. So I was slightly freaked out by that. Thanks for the reply, Laylah, really appreciate it :) The underwear idea is brilliant!!! Lolz.. And yes, modesty will be my new schtick. Modestly is how we should roll in KSA ;)ReplyCancel

  • chewieJuly 5, 2012 - 8:36 pm

    Your blog is great! Thank you for taking the time to chronicle your experiences.ReplyCancel

  • reetJuly 29, 2012 - 7:35 am

    I agree with previous comment 100%

    Many thanks!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahAugust 26, 2012 - 10:43 pm

      thank you reet!ReplyCancel

  • JAugust 6, 2012 - 4:46 am

    Hi there,

    I will be travelling from Mumbai to Cairo in October. There is a layover in Saudi Arabia for 3 hour 40 min. Would I need a visa of any sort?

    Thanks so much for posting this article.


    • LaylahAugust 26, 2012 - 10:42 pm

      No you don't need a visa for such a short time period!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousAugust 25, 2012 - 8:48 am

    Thanks for all the valuable info, I have a question:
    Do the custom officers actually turn laptops on and go the hard disk contents?
    same for usb sticks, external drives, etc?

    I'm about to leave for Riyadh for a mid to long term position this coming week (end of Aug '12) and I'm carefully
    going through my suitcase and laptop contents to avoid any hassles.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahAugust 26, 2012 - 10:41 pm

      Hi there John! You asked about the laptops, I've never heard of anyone having to actually turn them on and go through the contents BUT I can't guarantee you this wouldn't happen. And you know Murphy's law..I would just make sure there is no porn (not saying you would have any) because that's what they would be looking for.

      Medicines are fine as long as they aren&#39ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousSeptember 4, 2012 - 11:24 am

    Also take note that if you are travelling with a baby/infant without her/his own seat, Saudia does not provide the seat belt attachment that is usually been given when travelling with kids. It happened to me more than a few times – both domestic and international – never happened in other flights/country only here.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahSeptember 15, 2012 - 2:23 pm

      Hi, I always got the infant seat belt on Saudia, but only after asking for it. They don’t take child safety seriously here when it comes to travelling in any sort of transportation it seems..but they DO have them, just ask they should give it to you!ReplyCancel

  • GemmaSeptember 13, 2012 - 11:30 pm


    I love your blog!! I’m a single woman coming to Riyadh in October and was dreading the airport experience. Everyone passes round the horror stories, good to actually hear about what to expect from a seasoned traveller! Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahSeptember 15, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    Hi Gemma! thank you, don’t worry you will be fine, just take along with you an additional dose of patience!ReplyCancel

  • ArunOctober 7, 2012 - 10:15 am

    Hi layla. this is great stuff to read for a first timer like me. I read about the cd’s and dvd’s u were talking about. but what if i get a hard disk with alot of movies (All clean). Will the authorities have a problem with the normal hollywood movies? as they might get confused it with porn?

  • AnonymousOctober 21, 2012 - 8:52 am

    Hi layla! Your blog is very helpful for a would be expat in saudi like me. I just have a question though. Part of my beauty ritual is nightly use of toners and creams. The character of Samantha from Sex and the City movie was denied entry of her anti aging creams and stuff. Mine has the same white small plastic containers. Will this apply to Saudi? Thanks for the response!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahOctober 21, 2012 - 1:26 pm

      Hi there! I think that was just a joke on the show :) there is no problem bringing your in beauty products in fact there is a very large market for them in Saudi and you can find all sort of anti aging creams here!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousOctober 23, 2012 - 12:20 am

      Im planning to bring tons, like bulk that would last for my 2-yr contract. Will that be fine? =)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahOctober 23, 2012 - 9:04 pm

      Why wouldn’t you just buy it from here?ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousOctober 24, 2012 - 1:25 am

      I get the products on a local store where they have their own formulas for toners, creams, it’s not branded. Im afraid if i use a new brand my face will break out. =)ReplyCancel

  • AmyOctober 26, 2012 - 6:27 am

    Hi Laylah,

    Thank you for your helpful, well-written blog. I especially enjoy the photos.

    In regard to the assertion that “None of the flights coming into Saudi serve alcohol or pork.”: I traveled to Jeddah summer of 2011 on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, and alcohol was served–with many Saudi men imbibing. Scotch whisky seemed to be the beverage of choice. I abstained–I thought it unwise to show up for my teaching gig half-tipsy. Maybe it’s only the Saudi and GCC flag carriers that don’t serve alcohol on inbound flights to KSA? Or perhaps the policy has changed since my journey.

    Many thanks again for your blog. I really appreciate the glimpse of Saudi life you offer.

    Enjoy your new little one. :-)


    • LaylahNovember 4, 2012 - 9:34 pm

      Hi Amy! Apologies for the ridiculously late reply, but well what can I say, been quite a busy momma!Thanks for the comment and now that you mention it, I recall some Lufthansa flight I was on had alcohol served and I remember wondering how the western men consuming so much alcohol during the flight weren't concerned on where they were flying to!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 10, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    very true… I waited on Riyadh Airport for 12 hours in queue when i came 1st time here..ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 10, 2012 - 6:42 pm

    Hi Laylah,Awsome post for grls traveling for the first time.Have few queries though.1)Is it necessary for someone to come and pick up female traveler incase coming for attending conference?2)As you mentioned about the maid line/queue..how to make out that is maids line?3)Is Abaya compulsory to be carried for a female if one doesnt have it.Thanks!!!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahNovember 15, 2012 - 4:23 pm

      It is better that you have someone come and pick you up when you’re arriving for the first time.
      Trust me you will know what is the maid line..first off, they aren’t wearing abayas but something typical to where they coming from, second, there are MANY of them all of same nationality looking bewildered and confused, third, they might have been waiting so long they have started sitting on floors..you will know immediately.
      No need for abaya when first arriving to Saudi, you can buy one when here!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 5, 2012 - 11:38 am

    Hello, i will be going to saudi this month and i’ve heard about the prohibited things/items in KSA. Some of my questions have been answered by your blog and comments but i think you missed some? Is any camera phones not allowed also to bring? Will the officials/guards confiscate them? Thanks :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahDecember 5, 2012 - 8:37 pm

      Hi there! no worries camera phones are allowed, sold everywhere and used by everyone :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 6, 2012 - 5:14 am


    I’m currently in my final year of PhD -IT and I am intersted to work in Saudi as a lecturer.

    I am a single female. Is there any issues with applying a job in Saudi?



  • AnonymousJanuary 12, 2013 - 8:54 pm

    Tack för den fina informationen. MNY TKS :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 19, 2013 - 9:58 am

    Hi! I will be having my vacation this July. My flight is taif – Riyadh – Manila. I have 10 hrs waiting time before my Riyadh – Manila flight. Can I get out from the airport to explore Riyadh first while waiting for my flight. I have relatives who can fetch me from and to the airport. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 22, 2013 - 8:05 am

    Are pepper pray and tasers allowed.ReplyCancel

  • sahilaDecember 9, 2013 - 10:31 pm

    will they confiscate quran translations & other islamic books in different language?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 11, 2013 - 2:00 pm

      Surely they wouldn’t do such a thing I see no reason to and Quran and other religious books are available here in all languages you could ever imagine!ReplyCancel

  • Alexa Cassandra PeloniaMarch 31, 2014 - 1:38 pm

    hi Laylah! it’s my first time to work in ksa & im so worried about if i can bring medicines such as an antipyretic, antihistamine,pain reliever, antacids & vitamins? hopefully it will not cause a delay or confiscated.ReplyCancel

  • Alexa Cassandra PeloniaMarch 31, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    hi Laylah! it’s my first time to work in ksa & im so worried about if i can bring medicines such as an antipyretic, antihistamine,pain reliever, antacids & vitamins? hopefully it will not cause a delay or confiscated. hope to read a response from you.thank youReplyCancel

    • LaylaApril 1, 2014 - 12:15 am

      Don’t worry, those are all fine, and over the counter medicines here in KSA.ReplyCancel

  • friedaApril 9, 2014 - 11:48 pm

    Hi laylah. I am due to fly into Riyadh for a connecting flight to dammam. I will be there for about 3hours alone. Do you know if there suitable places for a woman to wait and sit?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaApril 11, 2014 - 1:15 pm

      Hi there Frieda! You will be just fine, there are many women at the airport who don’t wear abayas, so any clothing will be fine. Well maybe not a miniskirt and tank top :) there’s a few cafeterias you can sit at they are all mixed gender. Safe travels!ReplyCancel

      • frieda ravatApril 20, 2014 - 1:56 am

        Hi Laylah
        Many thanks for your reply. I am quite worried about travelling alone and getting a connecting flight from Riyadh. Will I be ok to travel with my laptop on the plane? should I take some Saudi currency along with me or can I pay for things using British pound? Thx. FriedaReplyCancel

        • LaylaApril 22, 2014 - 5:24 pm

          Hi Frieda, yes you can take your laptop, but there’s no free wifi there, you can purchase the password from some of the cafeterias there. Not sure about the pounds as currency, sorry!ReplyCancel

  • Lori StillwellMay 1, 2014 - 2:53 pm

    Alexa, it all depends on who screens your luggage (many times they are looking at their phone) I never had any problems with any medicine or vitamins and I brought in quite a bit of it!!! But if you do, you can always buy them in Saudi…they have lots of choices…especially in the pharmaciesReplyCancel

  • LaLani GreenMay 4, 2014 - 4:25 am

    Layla, you summed that entire experience up *perfectly.* :)ReplyCancel

  • BondGirlMay 5, 2014 - 7:46 pm

    Hi, Laylah! I follow your blog and enjoying it. I am bound to Jeddah as a doctor maybe this month. I have learned to many things thru your blog that will sure help me a lot. Thanks and more power. In case new confusion comes up, I know who to ask. ;-)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 6, 2014 - 5:33 pm

      Hello BondGirl :) Glad the blog was of use to you! Good luck on your journey to the Magic Kingdom! Just curious are you going to KFSH in Jeddah?ReplyCancel

  • Rana RanaJune 17, 2014 - 3:27 am

    Thank you I love the detail I’m visiting family here and sloughs I’m British I’m a Muslim female so I don’t think I will get the special xpat line skipping offered to the more ‘white ‘ looking expats. Will definitley read this agin before I travel next week ReplyCancel

  • Stef NeethlingJune 28, 2014 - 10:11 am

    thanks for all the info i”m on my way there and found it very helpfullReplyCancel

  • Lauren ByrnesJuly 9, 2014 - 12:46 am

    What about laptops. Will the go through it?!ReplyCancel

  • Immigrant WorkerAugust 2, 2014 - 10:36 am

    Good day maam Layla!

    Thank you for the wonderful guide. I will be travelling this month to Dammam. I will bring external Hard disk with me as well as a usb stistick. Will the airport authority be searching thecontents of it? This will be my first time to travel there and work.

    I hope Ill get an answer from a long time traveller likr you.

    oncr again, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • JackieAugust 29, 2014 - 4:30 am

    Hi Ms.Layla,
    Have a good day!.just wanna ask what about injections like glutathion is it safe to bring in saudi..hope u will reply for this matter because one of my friend asking me to bring the injectable and im afraid that it will cause any problem.tnx!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 30, 2014 - 3:12 am

      Hi there, any injections should be fine as long as you have the prescritopn from your doctor with you. Lots of peopel I know fly with their insulin pens and they just need to have the prescrition with them just in case..hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • ElieAugust 31, 2014 - 2:40 am

    Can i use Gel for my hair, perfume, my wedding ring, my play station, laptop, and can my wife go in with a niqab, just the abaya?ReplyCancel

  • Ali JafferySeptember 15, 2014 - 12:48 pm

    I have been in KSA for the past 20+ years, but over the last few months new staff has been brought into the immigration department, the airport chaos has is substantially less, staff extremely helpful and courteous. So much so that every time I have personally told them of the positive change, which they accepted very graciously.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Mcdonagh BadreldinOctober 4, 2014 - 8:40 am

    Spoton girl ! im coming back & forth now for 12 years as the wife of a Saudi & I get such a kick when they try to move me out of the Saudi line to the western queue – they have become better at passport check in Dammam – keep up the great work ! ReplyCancel

  • ZuluboyOctober 31, 2014 - 3:21 pm

    Hi Layla
    Your blog is certainly informative. I am have just being offered a job in Riyadh and I am looking forward to it. I have seen other bloggers complaining about entry and exiting being a problem. Is this the case? I like to explore and travel around, will that be a problem? Your feedback will be highly appreciated.ReplyCancel

  • NewbieNovember 11, 2014 - 12:03 pm

    Hi layla. Thank you so much for your very nice blog. I love ur sense of humor. Just want to ask about glutathione injectibles. Is it banned here in d kingdom as i cannot see any store selling it? Can i bring from home like 30 ampules? Is it possible? Thank you!!!! ;)ReplyCancel

  • ellaellaehehNovember 14, 2014 - 5:19 pm

    oh.i am also planning to bring glutathione ampules.but I am skeptical because it may cause delay or problem especially in the immigration.Has anyone brought.glutathione injections in the airport?ReplyCancel

  • Louella RabaraJune 25, 2015 - 6:03 am

    Are batons allowed ro be carried in check in luggage?ReplyCancel

  • Brooklyn Munch BlogAugust 27, 2015 - 8:09 am

    Question for you… how much of this is relelvant to a layover? Single female (American Westerner) flying onward to Dhaka but with stopover in SA (Saudia Air). The tickets seem much cheaper than most, I am okay with little entertainment and no alchohol. I will not be with a man. Do you think this will be a problem? Layover less than 10 hours. Thank you! Very informative entry and interesting blog. I’ll stay tuned.ReplyCancel

  • Corinne CuozzoAugust 27, 2015 - 8:11 am

    Question for you… how much of this applies to layovers? Solo female (American westerner) flying through SA onward to Dhaka. Will be alone on the way to Dhaka, with someone on the way back. Do I need to find a sponsor? Layover less than 10 hours. I’m interested because flight prices seem much cheaper and I am okay with lack of conveniences if there are no problems getting through the layover. Very informative post, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • marco oseaJanuary 20, 2016 - 3:15 am

    hi, can i ask if i should take off my shirt at the KKIA becoz i have a cross tattoo at my back..ReplyCancel

    • Afnan/local Saudi female 23 years oldJanuary 31, 2016 - 9:55 am

      Hello there I’m a local Saudi female 23 years old I’d like to help with any answers
      If you would like to ask about anything I’m going to help you as much
      As I can about rules things you should avoid here

      Add me on Kik Wharyodk. Or on Twitter at


      I hope all of you have great times here and meet with
      Good people ^_^ReplyCancel

      • EmmyAugust 18, 2016 - 10:37 am

        Can an unmarried man carry viagra into KSA?ReplyCancel

  • h japon hadi pranataJanuary 28, 2016 - 5:48 am

    very godReplyCancel

  • Cheska ziaJanuary 28, 2016 - 2:03 pm

    GOOD DAY! just want to ask of i can bring around 15 ampules of glutathione in saudi arabia? Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • carlosFebruary 3, 2016 - 1:14 pm


    I am expecting my wife with my parents on family visa to be arriving here at Jeddah Airport. Do i need to be there as I am the sponsor for them to recieve them?ReplyCancel

  • AlinaqiMay 26, 2016 - 11:56 am

    Hi, I am Indian and current out of Saudi arabia. My family who are still in saudi wants to travel to Singapore, Can they travel out of saudi in my absence?ReplyCancel

  • K-lee ヅ ConradieJune 4, 2016 - 9:07 pm

    I am a female from South Africa hoping to travel to Al Jubail to visit my boyfriend. Would this be possible?ReplyCancel

  • CayleighJune 5, 2016 - 12:10 am

    Thank you! That was a very interesting article!! I am a female from South Africa. My boyfriend has recently moved to Al Jubail. Would it be possible for me to get a visa to visit him even though we are not married and not related?ReplyCancel

  • AmirahOctober 22, 2018 - 2:38 pm

    I will be travelling for Umrah very soon In Sha Allah, i would like to know if i can bring some biltong with or will it be confiscated? Can i also bring toiletries with for personal use in my check in baggage?ReplyCancel

    • LauraOctober 24, 2018 - 9:18 am

      Don’t see any reason why you couldn’t. I don’t know what is a biltong though, sounds like a marine animal to me :DReplyCancel

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