The climate is extreme in Riyadh city. Summer is hot and dry; Winter is cold. Plan your clothing appropriately.
Traditional Islamic culture requires women to wear an abaya (an overgarment, traditionally black, that covers the whole body except the face, feet and hands) while travelling or moving about in public.
Always use your right hand when shaking hands. Don't show the soles of your shoes to anybody. When you've finished drinking coffee, hold the cup in your hand and shake your wrist from left to right. This signals to the waiter that you require no further refills.
During the holy month of Ramadan, do not eat, drink or smoke in public during fasting hours (during day-time).
A normal tip to hotel staff is SR 20-25 (approximately $6 USD).
DID YOU KNOW ?
Al Musmak Fortress
The Al Musmak Fortress is the citadel that Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud captured in 1902 to regain control of the city. The fort, which dates from 1865, is built of mud bricks, with thick walls and imposing watchtowers. It is now a museum with an interesting collection of artefacts and photographs from a century ago.
Dairy production is concentrated around Al-Kharj in the south of Riyadh, where there are an estimated 120,000 head of cattle. Almarai has more than 24,000 cows on what is believed to be the largest dairy farm in the world.
Just outside the capital is the ancient oasis town of Diraiyyah, dating from the 15th century and the spiritual home of the Al-Saud Family. The mud-brick buildings and palaces of ancient Diraiyyah have suffered the ravages of time but an extensive restoration programme is underway. Caves and palm trees abound in this town.
King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre
The new King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre comprises a library, auditorium and the National Museum of Antiquities. Al Murabba Palace is also part of the centre and was built for King Abdul Aziz in 1934. It contains a series of rooms with displays of traditional handicrafts, weapons and furniture.
Saudi Shisha (Ghirac)
Shisha is popularly known as 'hubbly bubbly'. It is a fruit-flavoured tobacco that is smoked using a pipe, served at selected places only.
WHAT TO PACK
Bring warm clothing from November to March, and summer clothes for April to October. Men should wear full-length trousers; ladies, trousers or long skirts. Shorts of any kind are not encouraged in the Kingdom.
The Saudi Riyal (SR) is the main unit of currency in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is divided into a hundred halalah. The Saudi Riyal is linked to the dollar at an exchange rate of SR 3.75 to US$ 1 (please allow for daily fluctuations).
Medication will be provided only upon prescription. It is suggested that you bring your prescriptions with you. Riyadh has 24-hour pharmacy services.