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A Woman’s Guide to Saudi Arabia

Last Updated on by Admin


Saudi Arabia is changing its game by putting itself on various travel lists. A land where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern innovation, it would be a shame not to let the world see its magic. Muslim countries are top locations for female travellers.

It is no surprise that Saudi Arabia is home to some of the most beautiful places and regions in the world, from the golden sands of the desert to the gleaming skyscrapers of Riyadh and Jeddah, to the cool misty mountains of Asir. Saudi Arabia offers you a travel itinerary and exploration experiences unlike any other!

Visiting Saudi Arabia as a woman is a unique and empowering experience, however, some are still skeptical about it, as the Kingdom may have been traditionally perceived as conservative, but recent socioeconomic changes have led to new opportunities for women travelers to explore Saudi Arabia.

So, have you ever dreamt of exploring the ancient sands of Arabia, where bustling cities meet timeless traditions? Saudi Arabia, a land of captivating beauty and rich cultural heritage, is opening its doors wider than ever before, especially for female travelers. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a curious explorer, this blog is your one-stop guide to visit Saudi Arabia as a woman.

Saudi For She:

Here, you’ll find insights into everything from essential packing tips and cultural etiquette to hidden gems and must-see experiences. We’ll dispel myths, answer your burning questions, and empower many women to create an unforgettable Saudi Arabian adventure tailored perfectly for you.

Specific Requirements:

Let’s start with the boring stuff and get it out of the way, the specific requirements before traveling to the Kingdom. Ditch the dating app, ditch the wingman! Saudi Arabia is open for business and expanding its tourism sector, and we ladies can conquer it solo.

If you’re in your 30s, you don’t need a male guardian to accompany you, however, there might be a few extra hoops to jump through for our younger female visitors, but hey, that just adds to the adventure, right? Think of it like a VIP pass to a land of ancient secrets! Just be sure to check with your local embassy – some countries might require you to travel with a mahram (but not the kind that hogs all the snacks).

She Drives, She Flies, She Conquers: Transportation Options 

Forget the dusty camels (unless that’s your vibe!), because getting around Saudi Arabia is about to be an adventure in itself!  For quick zooms around town, hail a taxi like a local boss.

Feeling social? Ride-sharing apps are all the rage, and who knows, you might even get your hands on a chatty driver who can give you all the insights.

Now, public buses can be a bit of a maze for women in some cities, but hey, that’s what private drivers and pre-booked tours are for!  Imagine a personal chauffeur whisking you off to hidden gems, or a tour guide who will be your BFF for the day. Perfect for longer journeys and soaking up all the local knowledge.

And if you’re a city-hopping queen, domestic flights are your best bet. Think comfy airplane seats, stunning aerial views of the desert, and landing smack dab in the middle of your next Saudi Arabian escapade.

Beyond the Abaya:

Who said abayas are the only way to go? Unless that is what you wish to be in, let us tell you all about the cultural etiquette, dress code, and modest dressing you should be in as you style your way through the sands.

It’s time to embrace loose-fitting clothes here ladies! Think comfy maxi dresses, breezy long skirts with flowy blouses, or tunic tops with leggings. Think “desert chic” rather than “club chic.” and rock that Saudi woman style.

A headscarf is a total bonus – it shows respect for the culture and comes in handy for unexpected situations (think dusty sandstorms or a quick visit to a mosque).

Splash in Style: Swimwear 

Here’s the deal: revealing swimwear is a big no-no in public areas. But don’t worry, you can still be a beach babe! Opt for stylish tankinis, boardshorts, and rashguards – they’ll keep you cool and show respect for the culture.

Now, remember, Saudi Arabia is a big muslim country, and dress codes can vary depending on where you roam.  Cities like Riyadh, which is the capital city of Saudi and Jeddah are more relaxed than others, so you might have a bit more wiggle room.

But our motto is “dress to impress (with modesty),” so you can avoid any awkward situations and focus on soaking up the sun and the sights!

Separate But Still Equal

You might encounter some gender segregation in certain restaurants, on public transport, or even in government offices. Don’t fret, it’s just their way of keeping things comfortable.

Look out for signs that say “families” or “women only” –  it’s like having your own VIP section!  Just be mindful of designated waiting areas and respect the flow.

Mastering the Art of “Hi There!”

A simple handshake with someone of the same sex is completely fine, but we would recommend holding off on the high fives or air kisses for the opposite gender as it goes against local customs. A friendly nod and a bright smile are the universal languages of respect here.

We would highly recommend learning some basic Arabic phrases, to not only enhance your interactions but show respect for the culture as well, such as:

  • As-salam-u-Alaykum” (peace be upon you) – used as a greeting or instead of “hello/hi”
  • “Wa alaykum as-salam” (and unto you peace) – used in response to someone saying hello (As-salam-u-Alaykum) to you
  • “Marhaba” (hello) – usually followed by As-salam-u-Alaykum
  • “Shukran” (thank you)
  • “Min fadlik” (please)

Learning a few Arabic words is like having a secret decoder ring for Saudi Arabia, it’s the perfect way to break the ice with the locals and respect local customs. Think of it as a secret handshake for making new friends!

And who doesn’t love to brag a little to friends and family back home about the things you learned on your own, Shukran?

Souk it Out: The Art of Bargain 

Bargaining is a common practice in Saudi Arabia, and we have just the way for you to get the best deals. 

Numbers? Don’t be a number dunce! Learning a few key digits will turn you into a shopping samurai.

Imagine negotiating like a pro in the souks (traditional marketplaces), snagging the best deals on those handwoven rugs or sparkling spices. Numbers are your weapons, and knowledge is power!

Map Mastermind

Ever get lost trying to find your hotel? Not today! Learn the names of the places you want to visit – the dazzling mosques, the ancient ruins, the breathtaking beaches.

Knowing a few key location names will turn you into a map mastermind, navigating Saudi Arabia like a seasoned explorer.  Bonus points for learning some directional words like “left” (yasar) and “right” (yameen)!

Keeping it Classy

Public displays of affection are a faux pas.

While chivalry is always appreciated (holding doors, anyone?), save the full-on hugs for your travel buddies. It’s all about respecting personal space and keeping things friendly.

Loud talking and flamboyant gesturing are also considered a bit out of place. Think zen vibes and respectful interactions – you’ll be a natural in no time.

Show Your Beauty via Respect

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of the religion Islam, and their call to prayer is very significant to Muslims. Thus, when you hear that beautiful sound, it’s time to power down from sightseeing for a quick recharge.

Mosques are filled with Muslims gathering for prayers, during this time it is advised to be respectful and avoid causing disruptions, so you can find a cool café or shady spot nearby to soak up the peaceful vibes.  Bonus points if you can score some delicious dates – the perfect pre-adventure fuel!

Fearless Fun, Safety and Security:

If you travel with either a taser or a pepper spray then you know how terrifying solo female travel can be, or just travel in general as a woman but don’t worry! Saudi Arabia’s safety scene is on point, so you can explore freely and fearlessly.

However, it is important to note that, every kingdom has its own customs. Here’s how to be a total boss and have an epic time:

Sharpen Your Spidey Senses:

As a woman anywhere it is important to be aware of your surroundings and not let your guard down especially if you are a solo female traveller.

Keep an eye on your surroundings, especially in bustling marketplaces, we can understand that can be exhausting at times but look at it like a real-life spy mission – stay cool, stay aware!

Just like spies take breaks, we would recommend taking it easy at night and not going out into isolated areas. As a woman, I strongly believe, we know when something is up, so if your gut instinct throws up a red flag, listen to it!

Better Safe Than Sorry: 

This goes without saying, Saudi Arabia is a safe country, however, us girls can only help ourselves by being extra careful so, we would recommend traveling with a guided tour or signing up for maximum group activities, not only do you get to feel safe and make friends, but also discover hidden gems, especially in less-frequented areas.

Bonus Tip: Share your itinerary with your trusty travel crew back home or your new group of Saudi women friends. They’ll be your “guy in the chair” keeping an eye on your epic Saudi Arabian adventure!

Places to Visit:

There is so much to see in Saudi Arabia, If I were you, I’d be in a pickle too, trying to figure out what places to hit and what to do. Lucky for you, we have the perfect list of places for you:

Shopping Spree:

What says a girl’s trip more than a shopping spree? And Saudi Arabia is full of gems in the form of souqs and shopping malls, whether you wish to add an Arabic touch to your things back home or simply wish to bring back some souvenirs.

Some hot spots to hit include Malls, you have:

Hayat Mall: 

From fashion frenzies to food fiestas, Hayat Mall in Riyadh has everything! Get those flats on ladies, and stroll through endless rows of stores lined up together with some of the coolest things from your favorite luxury brands to hidden local brands you can expect to purchase in Saudi.

Need a break from shopping? Hayat Mall’s got your back, unleash your inner child at the amusement park, packed with rides and games that will have you screaming with laughter.

Not your vibe but still looking for a break? Hayat Mall gives you two very fun options; One: you can grab some popcorn, settle into plush seats, and get ready for a blockbuster screening.

Two: Your senses will guide you after those delicious scents all the way to the food court, with cuisines all over the world – think steaming hot Arabic delights, juicy pizzas, and exotic curries – all under one roof, the perfect shopping break.

Al Faisaliah Mall:

Feeling bougie? Al Faisaliah Mall is your VIP shopping district.  Strut your stuff past designer stores, refuel at a chic cafe, and relax with stunning city views from the rooftop.

This mall screams luxury, and you deserve a little retail therapy in style!

Mall of Arabia:

Get ready to shop til you drop at Mall of Arabia! This gigantic mall has something for everyone – fashion finds, electronics galore, a giant hypermarket for all your home needs, plus a movie theater and enough restaurants to satisfy every craving.

You are guaranteed to get lost in the retail maze and come out with your shopping bags overflowing with treasures (my favorite kind of getting lost)!

Souqs:

Traditional Souqs are vibrant places to go and feel the culture and get the best deals and rates on souvenirs. When in Saudi, you must visit a souq, here are two you should consider adding to the trip itinerary:

Souq Al-Zel:

This traditional souq, located in Riyadh, is a great place to find souvenirs, handicrafts, and spices. Bargaining needs to be your new best friend to survive and get the best rates here.

Souq Al Zel‘s spice stalls are a feast for the senses.  Stock up on everything from fiery chilies and warming cinnamon to fragrant saffron and delicate rose petals.

These treasures will take your cooking to the next level, the friendly locals might even let you sample the spices.

Souq Al Zel is the perfect destination to grab souvenirs to brag about your Saudi adventures with your friends and family back home.

Souq Al Zel isn’t just about shopping, it’s a cultural experience.  People-watch, soak up the lively atmosphere, and maybe even grab a steaming cup of Arabic coffee or a sweet local pastry from a nearby vendor.

Al-Balad:

Al Balad isn’t just a marketplace, it’s a living piece of history. As you explore the labyrinth-esque streets, soak up the traditional architecture and picture the vibrant life that’s unfolded here for centuries.

Looking for unique souvenirs? Al Balad is your one-stop shop for handcrafted treasures. Local artisans have their work displayed so you can bring home a piece of Saudi Arabian culture, from handwoven textiles to beautiful pottery.

Put your bargaining skills to the test, Al Balad is all about friendly haggling, a fun cultural experience that can snag you amazing deals.  Remember, a smile and a sense of humor go a long way.

Shopping is thirsty work, thankfully, Al Balad isn’t just about shops; it’s also a haven for delicious local eats. Grab a steaming cup of Arabic coffee, savor sweet pastries, or try some savory street food for an authentic taste of Saudi Arabia.

Edge of the World: 

The Edge of the World is a dramatic cliffside location, peer over the edge (don’t worry, there are safety measures in place!), and take in a seemingly endless expanse of golden sand dunes stretching towards the horizon.  It’s like looking out over a giant ocean of sand, but way more breathtaking!

The local name for Edge of the World is Jebel Fireh, which translates to “Fire Mountain.” Legend has it that djinn (genies) used to live here, and on scorching days, you might just feel a flicker of their fiery presence (okay, maybe not, but it’s a fun story!).

Snap a pic (or a million) with the dramatic cliffs as your backdrop.  You’ll be the star of your social media feed, guaranteed!  There are also designated areas for women to relax and soak up the beauty in peace.

Fun Fact:  Did you know this wasn’t always a desert?  The Edge of the World was once a lush seabed!  See if you can spot any fossilized seashells or coral peeking out from the rocks – a cool reminder of the earth’s amazing history.

The Edge of the World is more than just a view; it’s an adventure waiting to happen. So grab your camera, your sense of wonder, and feel the magic of the Edge of the World.

Maraya Concert Hall: 

The word “Maraya” means “mirror” or “reflection” in Arabic, and is a magnificent piece of architecture located in the Ashar Valley of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. Al Ula is also home to a unesco world heritage site but the coolest attraction there is the Maraya Concert Hall.

Maraya Concert Hall is unlike any average concert hall. A shimmering mirage located amidst the vast desert sands north of Riyadh. It’s not a hallucination, it’s a marvel of modern architecture covered in thousands of mirrored panels that reflect the stunning desert sky.

Maraya’s main hall boasts 500 plush seats, perfect for enjoying world-class music acts and captivating cultural performances and let’s be honest, I am at that age where standing for a concert sounds more daunting than fun.

Maraya has a hidden gem – a giant retractable window behind the stage!  With a flick of a switch, the desert landscape unfolds, creating a truly unique and unforgettable concert experience.  Imagine swaying to music under a blanket of stars – pure magic!

This place is a photographer’s dream, strike a pose in front of the mirrored facade and watch your followers do a double-take. Your desert concert pics will be the envy of everyone back home!

Maraya isn’t just about concerts.  It also hosts art exhibitions, conferences, and even weddings!  Who wouldn’t want to say “I do” in a place that looks like it was ripped straight out of a fairytale?

Maraya Concert Hall is more than just a venue; it’s an experience. Ladies, if I were you I would be so quick to add this to my Saudi Arabia trip itinerary (I already did).

The Farasan Islands:

Craving crystal-clear waters, sun-drenched beaches, and a sprinkle of history?  The Farasan Islands are calling your name! This island chain off the coast of Jizan is your ticket to a tropical paradise.

Picture yourself sinking your toes into powdery white sand and cooling off in the turquoise waters.

The Farasan Islands boast some of the most stunning beaches in Saudi Arabia, perfect for lazy days soaking up the sun with activities such as snorkeling to discover fascinating underwater coral formations and colorful fish.

The Farasan Islands aren’t just about beaches; they’re steeped in history. I may not seem the kind, but I love history and who doesn’t love throwing historical facts just casually in the middle of a conversation?

The islands are home to some ancient forts, mysterious ruins that have your modern-day Indiana Jones moment as you unearth hidden treasures (or learn some historical facts to impress friends and family).

The best part of the island for us girls is that many beaches offer designated areas for swimming and sunbathing in privacy for women. So grab your swimsuit, your snorkel, and your sense of adventure – the Farasan Islands are ready for your grand arrival!

Fun Fact:  Keep an eye out for the endangered Farasan gazelle while you’re there, these beautiful animals are a rare sight, but spotting one will definitely make your trip extra special.

Ladies, Let’s Go!

So there you have it, ladies! Your passport to an unforgettable Saudi Arabian adventure. Remember, this incredible kingdom is brimming with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From dazzling deserts to vibrant cities to misty mountains, it’s a land where tradition meets modern marvels.

Now, go forth and conquer, fellow explorer!  Snap those Insta-worthy pics, indulge in some serious retail therapy, feel like Princess Jasmine, and most importantly, soak in the magic of Saudi Arabia.  

This won’t be your last adventure here – trust me, you’ll be back for more in no time!  Just remember to pack your sense of adventure, a headscarf (for those special occasions), and an extra-large suitcase (because souvenirs are calling your name!). Happy travels!

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