In 2017, the Saudi Arabia tourism sector accounted for 9.4% of the kingdom’s GDP. However, with the introduction of the electronic tourist visa in 2019, the country is all set to grow the contribution of this sector, welcoming foreign tourists from all across the world. In an attempt to push tourism, the Saudi Arabian dress code for foreigners, particularly for women, has been relaxed to some extent.
Here’s what you need to know about how to dress in public in the KSA.
Dress Code For Foreigners – Women
The following dress requirements were published by the Saudi government and should be followed by all women tourists entering the kingdom:
- Although Saudi women are expected to wear the traditional black, long gown called the abaya while in public, foreigners are exempted from this rule. The hijab and niqab are optional for both Saudi and tourist women.
- Women must dress modestly at all times, covering their knees and shoulders.
- Although the abayais optional, you will need to wear it while entering mosques, in respect of the Muslim culture.
- In a few places, you might have to wear a headscarf, particularly in Riyadh.
- Sleeveless shirts, short dresses, loose tops, short bottoms, crop tops and miniskirts are strictly not allowed.
- Night clothes, under garments or anything that is inappropriate to be worn in public must be avoided.
- Bikinis, which are common among westerners, are taboo in Saudi Arabia, even on the beaches.
- You can wear the shoes of your choice – trainers, sandals, heels or open toed footwear. There are no restrictions on this. However, you will have to remove your footwear when entering religious institutions.
- Make sure the fabric of your clothes is not see through and not super tight.
- In case you are wearing jewellery that is represents any other religion than Islam, you need to tuck it into your clothes. Make sure it isn’t visible.
- Lastly, modest make up is preferable to bright colours on the face.
Dress Code For Foreigners – Men
The following dress requirements are to be followed by male tourists entering the kingdom.
- Foreign men are not required to wear the thobe or thwab, the traditional Arabic dress.
- Men are required to wear clothes covering their shoulders and legs at all times.
- Make sure to avoid skinny jeans, sleeveless shirts and shorts in public.
- If you are at a workplace, a shirt, tie and a dark business suit are appropriate.
- Apart from a wristwatch or a wedding ring, any other jewellery, including bracelets, necklaces, etc., particularly in gold, is considered inappropriate.
- You must not be shirtless under any circumstances.
Both men and women should be careful not to wear a top or shirt with indecent or loud graphics and quotes on it. However, you can wear whatever you like within western compounds or areas where expats reside. Bikinis are still not allowed, and you need to stick to one-piece swimsuits. Whatever you wear, make sure it is modest and respectful of the tenets of Islam.
How To Apply For The Saudi Electronic Visa
Once you are well aware of the Saudi Arabia dress code for foreigners, here is what you need to know about how to apply for the new Saudi e-visa for tourism.
STEP 1: VISIT SAUDI ARABIA’S OFFICIAL ELECTRONIC VISA PORTAL
Login to the official e-visa website of Saudi Arabia.
STEP 2: CREATE AN ACCOUNT
Create an account for the e-visa application. Fill in basic details, such as your name, email address, phone number, along with your login info, such as username and password, to create the account. A link will be sent to the email address you had provided to activate the account. You will need to click this link within 24 hours of it being sent. This activates your account to make it official.
STEP 3: APPLY FOR THE SAUDI ARABIA ONLINE VISA
Enter all personal details, such as your full name, gender, country of birth, marital status, occupation and residential address on the first page of the visa application form.
Next, upload a recent photo of yourself, where your entire face and forehead are clearly visible. The dimensions of the photo should be 200×200 pixels and the size should be between 3KB and 100 KB. The photo should be in .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif or .bmp format.
You will also need to fill in the purpose of travel to Saudi Arabia and your place of accommodation in the country. On the next page, enter the purchase details of the mandatory medical insurance.
STEP 4: PAY THE VISA FEE
The last step is to make an online payment of SAR463.44. This amount includes the visa fee of SAR300, medical insurance fee of SAR133, 5% VAT or SAR22 and a transaction fee of SAR8.44. You can make the payment via credit or debit card.
Adhering to the dress code for foreigners in Saudi Arabia will make it much more comfortable for you when you visit Al Ahsa Oasis, King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, Al Masak Fortress, Ad Dir’iyah, 3 Museums of Doha, Al Bujairi Heritage Park and so on.
If this is your first time visiting the kingdom, it is best to seek the services of an experienced visa agency, like Rapid Visa, who can guide you regarding the entire process to ensure that you have a completely hassle-free and safe trip.