SAFETY TIPS

SAFETY AND SECURITY

U.S. AIRSTRIKE

On January 3, 2020, an Iranian military commander and Iraqi paramilitary leaders were killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport. This incident has led to increased tensions in the region.

The security situation could worsen with little warning. There is an increased threat of attacks in general.

Remain extremely cautious if you are in the affected area.

BORDERS

BORDER WITH YEMEN

Armed groups in Yemen regularly target Saudi interests near the border in retaliation for Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen. Houthi militias regularly launch rockets, missiles and mortars at Saudi population centres near the border.

  • Exercise extreme caution if you are travelling to or within other parts of southwestern Saudi Arabia
  • Airports in the area may be closed with little or no notice. Verify your travel plans before leaving for the airport

Risk level(s)

BORDER WITH QATAR

On June 5, 2017, the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Land and sea borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar are closed, which could cause disruption to regional travel and the movement of cargo. Some airlines suspended flights to and from Qatar. Additional measures could further affect transportation.

NORTHERN SAUDI BORDER

The Saudi authorities have declared an “out of bounds” zone of 20 km from:

  • the entire northern border of the country
  • the border in the Hafr al Batin and Khafji areas in Eastern Province

Violations are punishable by up to 30 months in prison and a SAR 25,000 fine.

Direct access to land border crossings remains available and signs are being placed in areas where vehicles are allowed to cross. Consult local authorities before attempting to cross a land border through this area.

QATIF

From May to September, 2017, clashes between Saudi security forces and activists and militants have caused casualties in Al Awamiya in the Qatif region of Eastern Province. Although the situation has calmed, tensions remain high and there is a heavy security presence in the area.

AL AWAMIYA AND AL MUSAWARA

Civil unrest and armed clashes may occur. Saudi forces may impose curfews with little or no notice.

  • If you must travel to Al Awamiya and Al Musawara suburbs of Qatif, exercise extreme caution and follow the instructions of local authorities

Risk level(s)

MISSILE STRIKES AND DRONES

Missiles and drones have been launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, most of which have been intercepted and destroyed by Saudi air defence systems. The majority of these events occur close to the Yemen border, however some have occurred in cities such as Riyadh, Abha, Yanbu as well as in parts of the Eastern Province. Urban areas, military, oil and public facilities, such as airports, may be targeted by these missiles and drones. These events are expected to continue to occur and the situation remains unpredictable. Given the significant range of recent strikes Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf are at risk.

Missile and drone interceptions may cause scattered debris or fragments. Seek shelter during these events, stay away from doors and windows and follow the instructions of local authorities.

If you encounter debris or fragments:

  • don’t get close to or touch them
  • move away from them immediately
  • contact local authorities

TERRORISM

There is a threat of terrorism. Attacks have occurred throughout the country. Latest large-scale attacks have targeted the Shia minority in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia’s security forces and places of worship where large groups gather. Further attacks cannot be ruled out.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Heightened security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced on short notice.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places
  • Be particularly vigilant during religious holidays and public celebrations. Terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks

KIDNAPPING

There is a threat of kidnapping in Saudi Arabia. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.

DEMONSTRATIONS

Demonstrations are illegal in Saudi Arabia. They occur predominantly in Shia communities in the Qatif area of Eastern Province. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Security forces quickly prevent demonstrations from forming or gathering momentum.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

HAJJ

The next Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is expected to take place from July 28 to August 2, 2020. Millions of Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage, causing overcrowding at ritual sites and transportation disruptions.

TRAFFIC DURING HAJJ

Traffic in Mecca peaks during Eid, which is expected to occur from July 30 to August 3, 2020.

RELIGIOUS SITES DURING HAJJ

There are safety risks at religious sites due to overcrowding. Pilgrims have been killed or injured in stampedes. The sites are far from the Canadian embassy. Contact your Hajj travel agent for information on available services and support.

Information on entry requirements during the pilgrimage

CRIME

The crime rate is low. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, especially in crowded areas and at holy sites.

  • Don’t show signs of affluence
  • Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times

WOMEN’S SAFETY

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.

Safe-travel guide for women

ROAD SAFETY

Roads in larger cities are generally well maintained. Roads in rural areas are less developed, poorly lit and range from pavement to sand or gravel.

  • Exercise extreme caution when driving
  • Don’t drive off-road unless you are in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles and with an experienced guide
  • Ensure you are well prepared with a sufficient supply of gas, water and food, and a cell or satellite phone
  • Leave your travel itinerary with a relative or friend

DRIVING RISKS

Poor driving habits, disregard for traffic laws and road markings, and excessive speed are common and cause fatal accidents.

TAXIS

Only use pre-arranged, licensed taxis. Avoid shared or unregistered taxis.

MARINE TRANSPORTATION

Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the Persian Gulf, particularly around the disputed islands of Abu Musa and Tunbs. Iran and the United Arab Emirates each claim sovereignty over the islands.

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.

Live piracy report – International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre

AIR TRAVEL

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

GENERAL SAFETY INFORMATION

  • Carry identification documents, including your residency permit (iqama) or entry visa, at all times
  • Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes