ABOUT The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia’s geography is diverse, with forests, grasslands, mountain ranges and deserts. The mountains, valleys and Red Sea beaches with turquoise water are known for some of the world's finest diving and attract some, but comparatively few, tourists. Some other spots are hard to reach, such as the Nabatean ruins, a four-hour drive from Medina, the nearest city with an airport for visitors to fly into. There is also the famous bridge to Bahrain. The Saudi interpretation of Islam views all non-Muslim holidays as smacking of idolatry, and the public observance of Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, Halloween etc is prohibited. Public holidays are granted only for Eid ul-Fitr, the feast at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Eid al-Adha, commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, some 70 days after Ramadan. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not grant visas for tourism purposes. Non-Muslims visiting the Kingdom usually do so as business travelers or as guests of citizens of that country. Saudi Arabia does not promote itself as a tourist destination, since you will find there none of the things which most tourists are looking for on a holiday. The holy city of Makkah, is not a place for tourism, but for Muslims to bow down in worship to their Creator. During Ramadan itself, visitors are required to abide by the restrictions of the fasting month, at least in public: no eating, drinking or smoking during the daylight hours. Some better hotels will be able to quietly supply room service during the day, but otherwise you'll have to do your preparations. All restaurants in the Kingdom are closed during the day, and while some offices stay open with limited hours, the pace of business slows down to a torpor. After evening prayer, though, all the restaurants in the bazaar open up and do a roaring trade until the small hours of the morning. Most of the shops are open as well, and the cool of the evening makes it a pleasant time to shop. A visitor can have a fine time joining in on these evenings, though having a stash in your hotel room for a quiet breakfast around ten will suit most visitors better than rising at four for a big pre-dawn Saudi breakfast.

CLIMATE The climate varies from region to region. Temperatures can reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert in the summer, while in the winter temperatures in the north and central parts of the country can drop below freezing. Saudi Arabia gets very little rain, only about four inches a year on average

BEWARE There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, affecting Western interests and places frequented by foreigners. Opportunistic attacks on Saudi or Western targets also remain possible. Although the crime rate is low, petty crime does occur. There have been some isolated incidents of more serious crimes. Take particular care when travelling outside towns and cities. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.