Saudi Arabia Travel Warning LAST UPDATED: JULY 27, 2016
The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens carefully consider the risks of travel to Saudi Arabia due to continuing ISIL (Da’esh) directed or inspired attacks across the Kingdom. Furthermore, continuing violence in neighboring countries such as Yemen has a high potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia. This replaces the Travel Warning issued April 11, 2016.
Security threats continue. Terrorist groups, some affiliated with ISIL or Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have targeted both Saudi and Western interests, including the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, mosques and significant religious sites (both Sunni and Shia), and places where members of the Shia-Muslim minority gather. Possible targets include mosques, pilgrimage locations, and Saudi government facilities, as well as housing compounds, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, international schools, Western consulates and embassies, and other facilities where Westerners congregate.
Over the past year, there have been multiple attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, some resulting in significant loss of life. On July 4, 2016 suicide bombers launched attacks near:
- U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
- the Prophet’s Mosque (also known as Al-Masjid an-Nabawi) in Medina
- a mosque in Qatif
On February 8, 2016, ISIL claimed responsibility for an explosion targeting a Saudi citizen in the Al-Azizia district of Riyadh. Media reports indicate that Saudi authorities thwarted plans to attack the Al-Janadriah festival in Riyadh, which took place in February 2016. In January 2016 a Shia mosque in Al-Ahsa in Eastern Province was attacked, as was a Shia mosque in Najran in October 2015. On October 16, 2015, a mass shooting took place at a gathering in Saihat. On August 6, 2015, a mosque in the city of Abha was bombed. Most of the victims in that attack were members of the Saudi security forces.
U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from travel in the following areas:
- within 50 miles of the Yemeni border
- the city of Jizan
- the city of Najran
- Qatif in the Eastern Province and its suburbs, including Awamiyah
- Hofuf and its suburbs in the Al Hasa Governorate
Read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before considering travel near the Yemeni frontier. Violence sometimes spills across the border at unpredictable times and locations. The U.S. embassy remains concerned about the possibility of violence and military activity near the border with Yemen. Boundaries in some areas are not clearly defined.
If you travel despite U.S. government concerns, be aware that, in addition to border attacks noted above, terrorist and criminal elements may also be operating, including AQAP.
Select hotels or housing compounds with careful attention to security measures and location. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep a low profile. Vary times and routes of travel. Exercise caution while driving, and entering or exiting vehicles. Ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.
For further information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Saudi Arabia Country Specific Information.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia located at Abdullah Ibn Huthafah Al-Sahmi Street, Diplomatic Quarter, at +966 11 488 3800, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +966 11 488 3800.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.