Updated after periodic review to provide information on the risk of arrest due to social media use and the importation of prohibited items.
Reconsider travel to Saudi Arabia due to the threat of missile and drone attacks. Exercise increased caution in Saudi Arabia due to terrorism, the risk of arrest based on social media activity, and importation of prohibited items. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do not travel to the following locations due to the threat of missile and drone attacks and terrorism:
Country Summary: U.S. government personnel under Chief of Mission responsibility must adhere to the above travel restrictions. As such, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these locations.
Missile and drone attacks perpetrated by Iran and Iran-supported militant groups have occurred as recently as September 2023. The Islamic Republic of Iran has in the past supplied Yemen-based Houthis and regional proxy groups with weapons to conduct destructive and sometimes lethal attacks using drones, missiles, and rockets against a variety of Saudi sites, including critical infrastructure, civilian airports, military bases, and energy facilities throughout the country, as well as vessels in Red Sea shipping lanes. Past attacks were aimed at targets throughout Saudi Arabia including Riyadh, Jeddah, Dhahran, Jizan, Khamis Mushayt, the civilian airport in Abha, Al Kharj, military installations in the south, as well as oil and gas facilities.
Debris from intercepted drones and missiles has also represented a significant risk to civilian areas and populations in the recent past. Militant groups have threatened to conduct attacks against locations in Saudi Arabia. U.S. citizens living and working near military bases and critical civilian infrastructure, particularly near the border with Yemen, are at heightened risk if missile, drone, or rocket attacks reoccur.
Terrorism continues to be a concern in Saudi Arabia. Attacks can occur with little or no warning. Past attacks have targeted tourist locations, large gatherings, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Terrorists are also known to time attacks around major holidays and/or in response to military operations. Terrorists have targeted both Saudi and international interests, mosques and other religious sites (both Sunni and Shia), and places frequented by U.S. citizens.
Be advised that social media commentary – including past comments – which Saudi authorities may deem critical, offensive, or disruptive to public order, could lead to arrest. This may include posting, re-posting, or liking comments about Saudi institutions, policies, and public life. U.S. citizens have been convicted for social media activity under Saudi laws concerning cybercrime, terrorism, and disrupting public order. Punishment for social media activity has included prison sentences of up to 45 years in some cases. Saudi courts do not necessarily consider the timeframe of the posts or the location from which they were made to be material to these cases.
The importation of drugs (including marijuana), drug paraphernalia, alcohol, weapons, pork, or any materials that could be considered pornographic or suggestive, is prohibited. Penalties for drug possession, consumption, and trafficking are severe by U.S. standards. An extensive list of banned items is available on our Saudi Arabia country information page.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman region, including Saudi Arabia, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an advisory Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM). For more information U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Saudi Arabia.
If you decide to travel to Saudi Arabia:
Yemen Border, Abha airport, and Qatif in the Eastern Province and its suburbs, including Awamiyah – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Militants in Yemen have attacked Saudi border towns and other sites in Saudi Arabia with armed drones, missiles, and rockets. Civilians that are near the border with Yemen are especially at risk. Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Saudi Arabia, including in Qatif.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the Saudi-Yemen border as U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from travel to this area.
Visit our website for information on travel to high-risk areas