Saudi Arabia: Arriving in America

 

If you are a Saudi and traveling to America you must have patience when going through the customs screening.  The chances are likely that a Saudi will be asked more questions than arrivals from other countries.  In some cases, younger Saudis (more so than older Saudis) may be pulled out of the customs line and taken to a waiting room.  From there, they wait until their name is called for a more detailed interview.

The questions will include the purpose of the visit, the length of the visit and perhaps proof of where the Saudi will be staying.  It’s likely a Saudi will be asked to show his or her return ticket too.  If a Saudi does not speak English well a translator will be provided.

It is understood that for a protected young Saudi woman this may be a traumatic experience.  It does not have to be.  Just remain calm, patient and when your turn comes answer the questions asked.

These are part of the security measures which have been put in to place by Homeland Security in the aftermath of 9/11.

My husband and I were not exempt from such practices either.  Each time we traveled he would be pulled aside for additional screening or questions.  This was in spite of his carrying a diplomatic passport.  Once it was known that I was his wife, I would be subjected to the same measures too.

On the other hand, I have to say that during all the trips made in to Saudi Arabia I was never stopped or questioned other than to confirm I had a valid entry visa.

Advertisements

8 Responses

  1. ‘On the other hand, I have to say that during all the trips made in to Saudi Arabia I was never stopped or questioned other than to confirm I had a valid entry visa.’

    Did I just read that this years Hajj went ‘electronic’ to keep tabs on the pilgrims coming in? What? Did they put them on tethers or something so they would know where they were at all times?

    I’m willing to bet that if there was an influx of blonde foreign women running around in KSA causing security problems then you would have been treated differently upon entry. Do you not agree?

  2. Lynn,I was thinking the same thing. You know if blond American women had gone to KSA and, ohhhhh, flew airplanes into the Mecca clock and other places.

    —————————————–

    When we went to Syria, we expected to be questioned upon arrival, but we went through the line, they entered our info like they were doing for most other people and we went on out to gather our things. Piece of cake for the most part. Going home was different with those traveling to the US or Tel Aviv having to go to a separate line when arriving in Istanbul. And, of course, upon arriving in Chicago we were questioned. Who goes to Syria, right? 🙂

  3. Susanne, next time you go to Syria, you can ask them NOT to stamp your passport. The Israelis will oblige, as well, especially if you plan to go on to another Arabic country. In the meantime, you might want to get a NEW passport.

  4. My husband and I are both Americans, born in the US to American parents. We are 5th generation Americans. He is dark haired and darked eyed but is very Caucasian. I am a red head with dark eyes and freckles.Before all American airports had x-ray machines for luggage, we could count on being “randomly” singled out for special security. It is because we live in KSA. It is not so bad now. I used to think it was harder to get in and out of my own counrty than it was for me to get in any other country.
    On another note, does anyone but me think it is sad that to travel to Israel, I would need a NEW passport, OR ask them to not stamp my old one? How insane that is.

  5. Anyone who has done extensive travel in the area knows, as many visitors to Israel often make short trips over the border to Jordan and Egypt/the Sinai Peninsula, the question of whether an Israeli stamp in your passport will limit travel to these countries is a very valid one.
    Fortunately, the list of Arab nations that are more than happy to accept visitors with Israeli stamps in their passport include two of Israel’s immediate neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. But, it might surprise you that the two other countries that share a land border (but not a crossing point) with Israel, Lebanon and Syria, do NOT permit visitors to their country if any trace of a visit to Israel is found in a passport.

    And what is meant by “any trace of a visit to Israel”? Well, eagle-eyed immigration clerks are often on the lookout for indications of a visit to Israel, as they know it is standard practice for Israeli immigration to stamp entry and exit visas on a separate piece of paper (IF REQUESTED). What can give the game away and cause the end of your visit is Egyptian or Jordanian border control stamps if you popped across the border from Israel to Amman, Cairo or Sinai. This is evidence enough that you visited the evil state of Israel and you will be wished Bon Voyage right back to where you came from. Even security check stickers and luggage tags issued at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport have been known to bring visits to an end, so get rid of all traces of these if you plan on visiting countries like: Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and even, Pakistan. (I know Pakistan isn’t arab)

  6. On my way to umra on a bus full of bahrainis..i was the only non bahraini..the only american etc. It was decided (without any input from me or even awareness) that I would not cross the check point on the bridge to saudi on the bus…but would be driven across the check point with my friend and her husband…other wise the entire bus would have been unoaded and checked…simply because there was one nonarab on it. No idea why..we were all muslims. At any rate..we got through the check point in about 45 min…the bus was held up for over 3 hours…so I guess it wasn’t me that caused it. Ha ha.

    I traveled to America with my passport stamped all up with arab country stamps on it…the only time I was ever scrutinized was when my mother decided to put play metal guns in my suitcase for my son’s bday…without telling me. Needless to say I did not get very far and was escorted off the plane by a very big man with a very big gun…and we all gathered around to open my suitcase and check out the guns. Very interesting scenario. Not one I wish to repeat.

  7. We can always count on my son being the decoy.. with his indian -arab looks and his ht sticking out of a crown he’s always RANDOMLY checked… so we usually hand him his passport/boarding pass an ddetach ourself and tell him to meet us inthe plane 🙂

    It’s worse when he enters india with an indian name and an arab last name and an american passport.. poor kid .. but he’s learnt to pack and act like a pro , the only thing we don’t like him to do is get scanned .. so he has to endure a grope everytime he travels 🙂

    Right now hes more interested in s.america than the middle east.. so no israel worries. i would think if more americans caused trouble in saudi thenthey’ll up the immigration procedures too.

    Act like an idiot and they will react …

  8. We can always count on my son being the decoy.. with his indian -arab looks and his ht sticking out of a crown he’s always RANDOMLY checked… so we usually hand him his passport/boarding pass an ddetach ourself and tell him to meet us inthe plane

    It’s worse when he enters india with an indian name and an arab last name and an american passport.. poor kid .. but he’s learnt to pack and act like a pro , the only thing we don’t like him to do is get scanned .. so he has to endure a grope everytime he travels

    Right now hes more interested in s.america than the middle east.. so no israel worries. i would think if more americans caused trouble in saudi thenthey’ll up the immigration procedures too.

    Act like an idiot and they will react

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: