What female travelers should know

Saudi Arabia travel: What female travelers should know

Muslims pray during the first dawn prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, as they keep social distancing to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on April 13, 2021.

Shaistha Khan

Special to USA TODAY

  • Saudi Arabia is extending electronic visas for visitors coming from 49 countries – including the U.S.
  • While wearing the abaya or headscarf is not mandatory anymore, modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders is recommended.
  • The kingdom is just opening up to tourists and for locals in smaller towns and villages, it is still somewhat of a novelty.

As a female and second-generation expatriate who has lived in Saudi Arabia for nearly three decades, one question that I get asked often is: “Is Saudi Arabia safe for women?”

Or even: “Do you have to cover your face?”

Up until 2019, the kingdom only issued business or visitor visas for a religious pilgrimage to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. As a plan to diversify its economy through tourism and entertainment (like neighboring Dubai), the country announced an electronic visa for visitors coming from 49 countries – including the United States. 

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