Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saudi Arabia: US Department of State Updates Travel Warning

The US Department of State urges its citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia. There is an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, 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. This replaces the Travel Warning issued August 5, 2011.

The last major terrorist attack directed against foreign nationals was in 2007. Significant measures since then by the Saudi government have greatly improved the security environment throughout the Kingdom. The Department of State has since authorized the return of all family members to US Embassy Riyadh, US Consulate General Jeddah, and US Consulate General Dhahran. While these changes reflect a 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. US citizens who visit Saudi Arabia are strongly encouraged to carefully select hotels or housing compounds with security measures in place that meet their particular needs. This is a personal and individual decision for the traveler and/or sponsor. In addition, US citizens should always be aware of their surroundings when traveling or visiting commercial establishments frequented by Westerners. US citizens are also 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.