On the ground, not only in Saudi Arabia generally but in the capital specifically, non-Muslim foreign visitors must always be aware of religious and cultural strictures, including a complete prohibition of alcohol in the country and the full coverage of women in public. “The country is very restrictive,” Bartholomew pointed out, “and the wisest approach is to be conservative in all things. Make sure the liquor is locked up on the aircraft and that all women crew and passengers are covered and escorted by a man at all times.”

Gault emphasized the importance of the latter: “Make sure your women crewmembers [including pilots] have abayas to wear before they deplane.” (The FBOs in Saudi Arabia can provide the head-to-foot garments for a reasonable fee.) Going out to dinner, he said, “women must be seated in a family section, and not all restaurants have them. At Jeddah, it's much more liberalized due to the business climate.” But in the capital, the streets are patrolled by the Mutaween, the religious police who enforce these rules, so visitors should govern themselves accordingly.

With acceptance of these restrictions, Riyadh is a treasure of history and culture, a fusion of ancient and ultramodern architecture. Its highlights include the Riyadh Museum of History and Archeology and the Murabba Palace, a residence of the country's first ruler, King Ibn Saud, founder of the House of Saud for which the desert nation is named.

For a more detailed discussion of Saudi Arabia, see “Operating in Saudi Arabia,” BCA, November 2011, page 30.

Riyadh: City at a Glance

City: Riyadh

Country: Saudi Arabia

Status: Capital

Country visa requirement: Required for both passengers and crew. Crew visas valid for 72 hr. may be obtained on arrival with prearrangements. Crew must be uniformed and present valid passports and crew ID (e.g., IBAC).

Landing permit requirement: Yes

Sponsor letter required: Yes, on letterhead stationery signed by sponsor

Aircraft documents required: Airworthiness certificate, registration, insurance certificate with country coverage

Any other requirements for visiting aircraft: Alcoholic beverages on board must be secured in locked cabinets while aircraft is on the ground in Saudi Arabia. Customs inspectors will apply seals to cabinets and stores upon entry that cannot be broken until the aircraft is in the air and headed out of the country.

Carbon trading requirement: No

ATC procedures: ICAO

Any unique procedures: No

Altimetry: QNH

Metric or feet: Feet


WGS 84-compliant: Yes

Local navigator required: No


Principal Airport

Name & ICAO identifier: King Khalid International Airport (OERK)

Coordinates: 24° 57.8' N, 46° 42.5' E

POE: Yes

Elevation: 2,049 ft.

Runways: 15L/33R, 13,796 ft. x 197 ft., asphalt (PCN: 080FAWT); 15R/33L, 13,796 ft., asphalt (PCN: 080FAWT).

Slots: No

Noise restrictions: No

Curfew: No

FBOs: Jet Aviation Saudi Arabia (JASA), Arabasco

Clear CIQ at: General aviation terminal

Parking: General aviation terminal ramp

Hangarage: No

Fuel: Jet-A1; Chevron, Shell, Air BP

Credit: Fuel cards and contract fuel

Maintenance: Yes

Lav service: Yes

Catering: Airlines

Fees: Landing, handling, approximately $2,500-$3,000

Security: Excellent, provided by a Saudi government agency tasked with airport security. Airport guarded 24 hr./day by armed security patrols aided by remote cameras. Lighting and fencing in good condition. General aviation terminal is relatively isolated from other facilities at airport, located approximately 6,000 ft. from main passenger terminal.

Ground transportation: Prearranged cars and drivers

Distance and driving time to downtown: 35 km/22 sm; 25- to 45-min. drive, depending on traffic during rush hours

BCA appreciates the assistance of Rockwell Collins Flight Information Solutions in the preparation of this report.