What to know when you travel to Riyadh?

This post is based on the information I got from aswell Saudi’s aswell expats, during my stay in the month February 2018. If someone has some other information to add or disagree, please put it in the comments, this helps everybody!

Global information

A lot of expats are living and working in Saudi Arabia. The main reason is earn some money of course. There is also ‘a dark side’ for them living in SA, especially in Riyadh. Because Riyadh is one of the most traditional countries here, it is hard living for their family ( woman and daughters). They are obliged to wear an abaya, even with the high temperatures of 50 degrees in summer. This week they announced that this is not necessary anymore, so maybe this will change now.  Some are leaving the country for giving more freedom too them. Since this year they also need to pay taxes because of the oil crisis and that makes it not interesting anymore. They told me that 10 million expats live here and the last 6 months, 4 million already left SA.

Hotels

You can do the check-out at 3pm, this is mandatory here. Of course, they say that it is at 2pm. It is also possible to take a room for a half day. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Riyadh Al Qasr. I’ve asked for a prolonged stay in my room and they refused, it was not possible, only a full day could I have. Because I would leave the hotel at 10pm, I say I needed no more the room because that was not fair and too expensive. Told them that I should wait in the lobby for 5 hours. After 5 minutes they came to tell me that I could have the room until 8pm. So be aware, if they see that you are a foreigner and you don’t speak Arabian , yes they try to make profit of this.

Smoking rooms are possible, smoking in the restaurant is not allowed.

Airport

The international airport is the Riyadh King Khalid Airport. You have several terminals. For flights to Europe, the departure is mostly in terminal 1.

The people are very friendly and helpful, if they see that you are searching, they immediately ask of you need help. They also ask you on the passport control to rate with a 🙂. ( see my separate post)

My flight was a Lufthansa flight, Brussels/Frankfurt/Riyadh with an A330-300. I am the lucky one to fly  in business class for such a long flights and I’m thankful to my company for this offer.

The crew was very friendly and I had a Dutch speaking one what was nice.

Before landing, the crew came to collect all the magazines because that can be interpreted as compromising material. It stressed me, made me afraid. When I told it to the expats, they couldn’t believe it, that is a wrong idea of SA. You can import magazines!

I struggled with my abaya, headscarf and luggage, afraid of the things who waited on me…

Except Asian ladies, all ladies were wearing an abaya but not all a headscarf, I did.

Passing passport control was not a problem, friendly people and 15 min after I left the plane I had my luggage. A taxi ordered by the hotel was waiting for me outside.

So everything passed smoothly and therefore I was so surprised when I took my flight back.

I did my online check-in 3h before departure. I had luck because the corner just opened. Important to know is that you can check in your luggage max 3 hours before departure in this airport. Good to know that because I couldn’t find this information on the Lufthansa site or on internet.

see also my post  : Riyadh King Khalid International Airport ( RUH)

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