Travelling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
Use our travel info to learn more before you start your adventure


Read more about
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

General Info

Ettiquette and Custom

Appropriate Dress

Shopping

Healthcare Issues

Tips for Newcomers

Travel Websites you will find useful if you are travelling to Saudi Arabia

This is the site you need for all embassy info and paperwork!
www.dfa.gov.za

A fantastic wealth of info on travelling Middle East - maps, culture info, currency info, laws and custom, tourist info
www.arab.net/saudi/index.html

A good source of info on both the legal aspects and tourist info
www.saudiembassy.net

A question everyone asks: 'Where will I live?' This site will answer all your accommodation queries
www.arabian-homes.com

Money

Please ensure that you have sufficient money in the form of Traveller’s Cheques and cash. We recommend that you take about R3 000 in total which should be made up of 250 Saudi Riyals (SR) in cash and US$200 in Traveller’s Cheques (x 2 $100 cheques – not smaller denominations). The Saudi Riyals need to be ordered in advance and MTA will gladly organise this for you. You will require both your airline ticket and passport to buy this foreign currency.

Please remember to also take some cash in Rands with you for any airport purchases while still in South Africa.

NB Traveller’s Cheques: Ensure that your receipt for these is packed separately in your hold luggage and for extra safety leave a copy of this receipt with family or a friend here in South Africa.

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS

Please take your original degrees, diplomas, certificates of registration, course certificates, current professional registration and certificates of service (if applicable) with you and carry them in your hand luggage for safety. We recommend that you have them copied and certified before departure. Leave these certified copies with someone at home who will be able to send them to you should you lose the originals. MTA will be happy to make these copies for you for certification.

LUGGAGE

Assume that your hold luggage may go astray or be delayed. If you insure your luggage, be sure not to under insure it and do not put valuables like cameras, jewellery etc in your hold luggage. Put all valuable items (including those of sentimental value) in your hand luggage. It is also a good idea to carry a complete change of clothing and your toiletries in your hand luggage in case you are separated from your luggage for any length of time. Perhaps also include a tracksuit and slippers to wear during the flight for comfort – it is a long journey and you will be uncomfortable wearing tight fitting clothes/short skirts etc. And invest in a small suitcase padlock to deter would-be luggage thieves from accessing your luggage while in their ‘care’. We also suggest that you buy suitcases with wheels if at all possible. This will greatly increase your comfort when carting your luggage around airports and on public transport overseas.

Also remember that most airlines have a 20kg limit on hold luggage. Your hand luggage should also not be too heavy or bulky - no more than 7kg in weight and 115cm in size (Length 52cm Height 40cm Weight 23cm) - or it will be taken from you before boarding and returned only on disembarkation. You are usually allowed a small handbag as part of your hand luggage providing that it does not make your hand luggage exceed the limits mentioned above. Please note that the excess baggage charges are EXPENSIVE (usually in excess of R150 per kilo) and can be avoided by simply weighing your luggage at home on a bathroom scale. If you cannot keep your luggage within the specifications then remember to take enough cash in Rands to pay the excess charges.

Please remember not to put any sharp items such as nail files and scissors in your hand luggage. They will probably be confiscated for security reasons.

If you are taking a bible, be sure to cover it before packing it. Also, if you buy any ‘women’s’ magazines for your journey, leave them on the plane if they have partially clad bodies on the cover. They will probably be confiscated if found and may cause problems for you at customs in Saudi Arabia.

UNIFORMS / CLOTHES

Generally, nurses wear a white pants suit and white shoes and socks in the Kingdom. Although these uniforms are usually provided by the hospitals, if you have a white pants suit take it with you. The pants should be a straight cut and the top should have a high, or mandarin collar and the sleeves should be elbow length or longer. Duty shoes are not usually provided so it is suggested that you take a pair of white shoes with you as well as white socks. Please take modest clothes to wear under your abayah i.e. no shorts, short skirts, sleeveless tops or tops that show cleavage. And don’t forget to take warm clothes. Saudi can get very cold in winter!

BANKING

Get a letter from your South African bank confirming that you are a customer and your banking details and your SWIFT number. In addition, take your latest bank statement with you. This will assist you to open your new bank account in Saudi Arabia and to organise the transfer of money to your South African bank account. You should take the originals of both these documents.

MEDICATION

Do not take any OTC (over the counter) medication with you to Saudi. It will most likely be confiscated if found in your luggage. If you are on any chronic medication please make sure that you have a valid prescription for it and try and take at least a year’s supply with you (if possible).

GENERAL

It is advisable that nurses should purchase a stethoscope to take over.

Take 4-20 colour passport photos with you. The number will depend on the hospital to which you are going – check with your MTA consultant. You will need them for gate passes and nursing licenses etc on your arrival in the Kingdom.

If you are experiencing any problems in the workplace and are unable to resolve a problem through the normal channels, do not take matters into your own hands. Contact your MTA agent immediately by email or phone. Do not walk out of your job, because of a disagreement or problem. Remain calm and contact us immediately. If you need compassionate leave talk to your superiors. Past experience has shown us that they are usually very understanding.

Please remember that procedures and skills that you would usually perform here under your scope of practice may not be allowed in Saudi Arabia. Please familiarise your self as soon as possible with the your hospital and its expectations of you in terms of your scope of Practice.

THE JOURNEY

Arrive at the airport well in time. Rather be early and have time to kill than be late and miss your plane. Generally, it is advisable to arrive at least 1-1 ½ hours beforehand for domestic flights and 2-3 hours beforehand for overseas flights. Please confirm all your flights with the airline/s 24 hours prior to departure.

Please note that meals are provided on both domestic and international flights. On domestic flights they are usually in the form of a light snack depending on the time of the day. On international flights you will normally be served at least 2, maybe 3 meals during your flight depending on the duration. Should you have any special dietary requirements, contact the airline/s at least 48 hours prior to departure to order the diet, and confirm this order when you confirm your flight 24 hours beforehand. Also, please remember to SWITCH off your cellphone before boarding the aircraft and keep it switched off until you are in the terminal building!

When you arrive in Jeddah you are asked to fill out the thin white Arrival Card. Ask for it on the plane and fill it out before disembarking. This will save you time as you will be sent to the back of the queue if it is not completed.

Your meet and greet may, from time to time, be delayed for a few hours, even if the hour is late at night. Please do not be concerned. Airport officials will usually guide you to a secure lounge and they will keep your passport. MTA will have reminded the hospital several times of your arrival details and you are unlikely to be forgotten!

HAND LUGGAGE CHECKLIST

  • Passport (your Saudi Arabian visa will be in your passport)
  • Airline ticket
  • Money (Cash and Traveller’s Cheques)
  • Original documents:
    · Authenticated documents
    · Job contract
    · Your bank statement and letter from your bank
    · Your original Medical Examination Results including the lab results and Chest x-ray report. Your chest x-ray film can go in your hold luggage
    · Your Abayah. You will need to put it on before disembarking in Saudi Arabia
    · Your departure letter from Lorry Phillips at MTA
    · Your MTA consultant’s business card
    · A change of clothes
    · Your toiletries