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Reviewed: 29 September 2011, 17:05 NZDT
Still current at: 19 May 2013
There is high risk to your security in Saudi Arabia due to a continuing threat from terrorism and risk of kidnapping and we advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel.
On 28 September 2011, the US Government warned that a terrorist group in Saudi Arabia may be planning to kidnap Westerners in Riyadh. New Zealanders throughout Saudi Arabia are advised to be particularly security conscious at this time and to take extra security measures as a precaution.
We recommend New Zealanders in Saudi Arabia vary their travel times and routes, keep family and colleagues informed of their movements, carry a mobile phone at all times with pre-programmed emergency numbers, keep a low profile in public places and have a plan in place to depart an area immediately if they encounter an unusual situation or violence. Activities should be cancelled or postponed if there are any security concerns.
There have been a number of terrorist incidents in Saudi Arabia. For example in October 2009, a police officer and two suspected terrorists were killed in a shoot-out close to the Yemeni border. In August 2009, a Saudi official survived a suicide bomber’s assassination attempt in Jeddah. Earlier in February 2007, four foreign nationals were shot dead in the vicinity of Medina. In January 2011, Saudi authorities announced they had convicted 765 people for terrorist related offences in the previous year. Saudi security forces continue to take action against terrorist groups and have made a number of arrests in recent years but further attacks cannot be ruled out.
Terrorist attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Saudi Arabia, and could be directed at any location associated with Western interests or known to be frequented by expatriates or foreigners. Possible targets for terrorist attacks include (but are not limited to) embassies, hotels, expatriate housing compounds, restaurants, shopping areas, government offices, and aviation and oil industry facilities.
New Zealanders in Saudi Arabia are advised to maintain a high degree of personal security awareness at all times and take all possible security precautions to protect their safety, particularly in public places. Vehicle security should be taken seriously and if you leave your vehicle unattended we recommend checking the interior and exterior for suspicious objects upon your return.
There is also potential for civil unrest in the Kingdom. Since February 2011, there have been a number of protests in different parts of the country. On 6 March the Saudi authorities issued a statement reminding people that all protests are illegal under Saudi law.
New Zealanders throughout the Kingdom are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and large public gatherings as even those intended as peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little warning. We recommend you monitor events through local media and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
Saudi Arabian military forces are engaged in military operations in the Al-Khoba area along the Yemeni border. We recommend you avoid travel to this region due to the ongoing military activity.
Piracy is a significant threat in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautionary measures in these waters. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report.
General travel advice
New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Saudi Arabia to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Saudi Arabia should have comprehensive medical and travel insurance policies in place that include provision for medical evacuation by air.
New Zealanders in Saudi Arabia are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Contact details are:
Street Address Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Postal Address PO Box 94 397, Riyadh 11693, Saudi Arabia
Telephone +966 1 488 7988 or +966 566 664 442 after-hours
Facsimile +966 1 488 7912
Office Hours Sat – Wed 0800-1200, 1230-1500 hrs
Contact details are:
Street Address c/o Associated Agencies, Sundus Building (Behind Caravan Shopping Centre), Al Madina Street, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Postal Address PO Box 419, Jeddah 21411, Saudi Arabia
Telephone +966 2 651 2109
Facsimile +966 2 651 6504
Office Hours Sat – Wed 0900-1300, 1600-1900 hrs; Thu 0900-1300 hrs