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U.S. Department of State issues travel warning for Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON – Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia. As the August 26, 2012, arrest of two terrorist cells by Saudi security authorities indicates, there remains an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaida, who may target Western interests, housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas, and other facilities where Westerners congregate. These terrorist groups may employ a wide variety of tactics, including small-scale attacks, and may target Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom. This replaces the Travel Warning issued May 18, 2012, to update information on the current security situation in Saudi Arabia and the continuing threat posed by terrorism, and to reiterate recommendations on security awareness.

While the Saudi government has greatly improved the security environment throughout the Kingdom since the major terrorist attack against foreign nationals in 2007, it is important to note that an ongoing security threat remains. U.S. citizens who visit Saudi Arabia are strongly encouraged to carefully select hotels or housing compounds with security measures in place that meet their particular needs. This is a personal and individual decision for the traveler and/or sponsor. In addition, given that terrorists may seek predictable targets, U.S. citizens should always be aware of their surroundings when traveling or visiting commercial establishments frequented by Westerners. U.S. citizens are also advised to keep a low profile, vary times and routes of travel, exercise caution while driving, entering or exiting vehicles, and ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.

If the security threat changes or specific threats affecting U.S. citizens are discovered, this information will be made available through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and U.S. Mission websites. Emergency Messages, Security Messages, and Messages for U.S. Citizens can be found on the U.S. Embassy Riyadh website.

The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the Consulates in Dhahran or Jeddah.

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