Saudi Arabia: One country with many risks.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: In the most recent Travel Warning for Saudi Arabia, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to consider carefully the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia. The last major terrorist attack directed against the civilian population was an attack against French nationals in 2007. Significant enhancements in the capacity and capability of Saudi security and intelligence forces have greatly improved the security environment. Although much improved, the changes remain fragile and reversible.
The Department of State has authorized the return of all family members to the U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran and the return of adult family members and non-school-age children to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh. The U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah remains an unaccompanied post.
While these changes reflect the continued improvement in the security climate in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the Eastern Province and Riyadh, it is important to note that there remains an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups, some affiliated with al Qaida, who may target Western interests, housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas and other facilities where Westerners congregate. These terrorist groups may employ a wide variety of tactics and also may target Saudi Government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom.
American citizens who choose to visit Saudi Arabia are strongly urged to avoid staying in hotels or housing compounds that do not apply stringent security measures, and also are advised to be aware of their surroundings when visiting commercial establishments frequented by Westerners. American citizens also are advised to keep a low profile, vary times and routes of travel, exercise caution while driving, entering or exiting vehicles, and ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.
From time to time, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Saudi Arabia may restrict travel of official Americans or suspend public services for security reasons. Whenever threat information is specific, credible, and non-counterable, this threat information will be made available to the American public. In those instances, the Embassy and Consulates will keep the local American citizen community apprised through the Warden system and make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Warden messages for Saudi Arabia are available at the U.S. Embassy Riyadh website.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website. It contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Travel Warning for Saudi Arabia, as well as the Worldwide Caution.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada or, outside the United States and Canada by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.