Saudi Arabia?s banned items list is well worth reading before you relocate

Saudi Arabia?s banned items list is well worth reading before you relocate

Saudi Arabia?s banned items list is well worth reading before you relocate

If you’re about to fly to Saudi Arabia to take on a new career challenge, unknowingly carrying a banned item in your luggage might bring on your worst nightmare.

Saudi is simply not like any other place you may have visited or worked in before, with learning about rules which seem illogical at best and unbelievable at worst one task which simply has to be done. Arriving bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the airport on your first overseas expat assignment needn’t end with jail and deportation if you follow their laws. First-timers are frequently seen sobbing at Saudi customs simply because they’re now seen as criminals for carrying ‘illegal’ items they’re unaware are forbidden. Most countries’ immigration officers cut some slack for new expat arrivals unless they’re carrying drugs or guns, but Saudi customs’ list of banned items and substances is somewhat different and more challenging, making mistakes far easier for the unwary.

Believe it or not, passengers bringing in alcohol of any kind face imprisonment, lashes and immediate deportation, whilst those carrying drugs face the death penalty. Even carrying books about wine and instructions on how to self-brew as well as distillation equipment will result in deportation and banning from future re-entry. Drugs of any kind, even if you’re carrying them as prescription medication, are big, big trouble, with those taking medication urged to check whether it’s banned in Saudi Arabia, even if it’s perfectly legal in your home country. If you’re on any kind of prescribed medication, carrying your prescription is essential to prevent confiscation by customs.

Another definite no-no is bringing in large amounts of any currency, as a limit of SAR60,000 or its equivalent is in place, and the limit also includes the value of gold or diamonds, even as jewellery. Anything beyond the limit must be declared and, even if you’ve gone along with the rules, you may well be questioned. Most expat travellers will already know that pork in any form is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, including accessories or clothing made from pigskin. Not as well-known is Saudi’s ban on frog meat, a favourite in Korea and Chinese cuisine, nor is the ban on stuffed animals unless they’re synthetically-made childrens’ toys.

Obviously, pornography or sexually offensive materials are prohibited, whether in book, comic, photograph, magazine or video form. Checking out your magazines for any such is the best idea, as is making sure no articles demean or insult Islam, the Prophet or the Saudi Royal family including the Crown Prince. If customs find you’ve any of these forbidden items, deportation will swiftly follow. Many newcomers may not realise that gambling in any form is also illegal, with everything including cards, dice, gambling equipment such as chips and even gambling memorabilia forbidden in the Kingdom.

Whilst every expat has the right to follow their own religion in private, carrying religious items such as non-Moslem holy books including the Bible is forbidden in Saudi except for personal use,Also, Buddha or Hindu images must be left at home if you wish to avoid serious problems. Even worse are amulets, charms and suchlike relating to other minor religions such as Wicca. Professional communications equipment, laser pointer or night vision binoculars and items produced in or relative to Israel are also prohibited.

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