Saudi Arabia has long been in my sights as a unique and difficult country to visit, especially as a non-muslim. Having only heard stories of the mysterious country I had no idea what to expect.
The first challenge was gaining access aka getting a visa.
As Saudi Arabia does not have tourist visas, the only way to visit is to be invited by family or a business. I have no family there so that option was closed. Another was to apply to visit a conference which I’ve heard does work if you can find a relevant conference or exhibit related to your field. Fortunately I had a friend who has business dealings in Saudi and was able to secure an invitation letter.
With a letter in hand, I went to the Consulate in New York to process my visa. What should have been a simple application, payment, and pick up was turned out to be a frustrating and drawn out process using their antiquated online system of registration and payment.
Once my visa was obtained, I purchased tickets and planned out my week in Saudi.
Flying into Jeddah I would spent a couple of days before heading north to Al Ula near the incredible ruins of Madain Saleh. After spending a few days to explore, I would fly to Riyadh and spend my remaining time in the capital of the country.
For this trip I am also supported by the generous Park Hyatt Jeddah and Hyatt Regency Riyadh.
A crazy week for sure with airport drama, a bad accident, exploration, culture shock and pleasant surprises, follow along as I share my experience of a week in Saudi Arabia, country 192!