Home of over 30 million people, Saudi Arabia has emerged as an Arabian economic superpower in recent times. Saudi Arabia has always been a polarising nation, but with a new-found acceptance of foreigners and its continuing economic progression has made the country an increasingly more attractive destination for business travel.
Despite a long history of religious and territorial disputes, the foundation of Saudi Arabia did not emerge until 1932. This ended a period of constant warfare, usually in name of Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. After years of impoverishment, the discovery of oil reserves transformed Saudi Arabia into a nation of modern infrastructure. King Faisal shared this new-found wealth with the people, offering free healthcare and improving living standards. Saudi Arabia's oil embargo against the US in 1975 announced to the world the importance of the country’s oil supplies for the global economy. Despite sometimes being associated with political disputes, it still has an economy with high investment potential.
Covering most of the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle Eastern state is Arabia’s largest country. It has important borders with the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf on either side, with countries such as Jordan, Qatar, Oman and Yemen surrounding it. The three main cities are Mecca, Medina, and the capital, Riyadh, acting as the country’s main financial and religious states. Along the eastern coast is where the abundance of oil lies, which has fuelled Saudi Arabia’s modern-day economic wealth.
Saudi Arabia’s oil-based economy is the largest of the Arabian countries. It controls 25% of the world’s oil reserves and is the largest exporter of petroleum. The country’s economy also accounts for 25% of the Arab world GDP. Investors can rely on the Saudi Riyal (SR), one of the world’s most stable currencies. Exchange value has remained relatively unchanged during recent times and has a reputation for being strong. In preparation for your trip, be sure to visit www.xe.com for the current Riyal exchange rates.
Although Saudi Arabia’s petroleum industry is the main contributor to the economy’s success, there is a motivation from the government to expand in different sectors. Recent, overwhelming modernisation has meant some unmet demands require meeting in technological, telecommunication and IT sectors. For instance, web-based and mobile services have not met the growing demands. However, willing investment from the government and highly-developing infrastructure is enabling foreign investment to prosper in this sector. This is just one example of the economic potential in Saudi Arabia, resulting in a demand for serviced accommodation in the Arabian state.
Only the residents of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and United Arab Emirates (UAE) do not require visas for entry to Saudi Arabia. Beforehand, only business visas could be acquired for entry. However, since April 2018, the country has widened its tourist visas to allow longer and different types of stays. To find out the full list of available possible visas, visit www.saudiembassy.net/services.
Arabian law may differ drastically to what you are usually used to. Attitudes towards sexuality, dress code and religions outside of Islam are non-negotiable throughout the country. Therefore, it is important to bear these in mind before making your trip. When travelling expect services such as transport to prioritise those involved in pilgrimages and holy periods such as Ramadan in May, or Hajj in August. For a more detailed outline of Saudi Arabian local law be sure to check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/saudi-arabia.
The Saudi Arabia driving experience can be relatively hassle-free trusting that you follow all the necessary guidelines. Foreign driving licences are acceptable for up to three months and we advise obtaining an International Driving Permit to avoid car hire complications. Residents drive on the right-hand side, and women have recently become eligible to legally drive. The road conditions are reasonably well-maintained, and fuel is relatively cheap, with all petrol station charging the same by law. It is just worth planning your routes before your trip and avoiding potentially hazardous roads.
To avoid busy traffic or sometimes unreliable public transport, taxis are a valid mode of transport. After hailing taxis became banned in 2012, taxis are now all pre-booked for a negotiated fare upon arrival. Be aware that women must show their residence permit to travel unaccompanied and not all drivers speak other languages.
The mosques of Medina and Mecca stand-out as the country’s most popular attractions. The Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina is immensely popular as Islamic prophet Mohammed established the site. His tomb is also here, making it an extremely holy place for Islam. This mosque is only second to Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. This mosque is the largest in the world and the second-largest with regard to usable volume. Our serviced apartments in Saudi Arabia allow travellers to gain an understanding of Islamic society and the importance of their mosques.
Finally worth mentioning is Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, the country’s main financial hub. Riyadh's Kingdom Centre symbolises this financial power. It is 99 stories tall and has a sky bridge connecting two towers over 300 metres high. Besides from the umpteen number of restaurants and shops that illuminate Riyadh, there is also King Abdullah Park and Wadi Namar. These are two wonderful green spaces which act as a small getaway from the bustling city centre. Riyadh has much to offer foreign visitors, and SITU’s serviced apartments are the perfect option when opting to stay in Saudi Arabia.
Despite Saudi Arabia's long history, it’s fair to say it is not a country living in the past. Modern, economic prosperity is visible throughout the country's biggest cities and SITU has corporate accommodation available for all business travellers looking to take advantage.
Named after a former king of Saudi Arabia, this is the busiest airport in Saudi Arabia. It is located just north of Jeddah, the Red Sea port city and commercial hub of the country.
The airport is the main facilitator of Islamic pilgrimage, acting as a gateway for holy journeys of Hajj and Umrah. Therefore, it has the fourth largest terminal in the world and a fantastic transport hub. This consists of connections outside of the airport via taxi, railway, bus and shuttle.
This state-owned company is responsible for operating the country’s small rail network. The only train track stretches between Riyadh and Dammam, but this is a useful service for those conducting business in the capital.
Over 2,000 buses connect passengers to Saudi Arabia’s main cities Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Taif, Dammam and many more.
Saptco is the name of the business that runs domestic bus transport, with a good reputation for cheap fares, comfort and safety.