Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a 24-Hour Transit Visa

One 24-hour transit in Saudi Arabia raised an eyebrow at the Saudi Consulate in New York, the second transit raised the other eyebrow and brought out a slight grimace.

Saudi Arabia (283)

Saudi Arabia (270)

We did get the double-entry transit visas and coming back from Dubai we arrived in Jeddah for our quick stop.

My wife had touched up her abaya and head scarf on arrival, eliciting smiles and laughs from Saudi women in the restroom by baggage claim, she said.

We were now repeat visitors to ‘The Kingdom’ and breezed through with a smile and a “welcome.”

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Saudi Arabia (279)

Following the no driving spousal proclamation from our Riyadh experience, we relied on taxis. I am not sure which city has worse traffic, certainly the roads in Jeddah are more confusing and even less marked.

We had another Marriott category 1-4 certificate to use so stayed at the Marriott Jeddah, a serviceable business hotel in a congested, ugly location far from the coastal Corniche. My wife had had quite enough of the heat and took a nap. I set out on a 3-hour walk through the blistering heat.

Jeddah’s old town with its towering, ornate Coral Houses is the big draw.

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Saudi Arabia (275)

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Saudi Arabia (268)

The fish market along the Corniche is hard to locate, I only managed to find a lot for abandoned cars so hired a taxi to get me to the market, which was near closing and not lively.

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Saudi Arabia (288)

For dinner, we headed to the Corniche. Our taxi driver made a wrong turn that cost almost 30 minutes to right. I felt less ashamed of my efforts in Riyadh. The Corniche, deserted at night, had few food choices so we settled for a hotel.

Saudi Arabia (295)

Saudi Arabia (298)

The flight to New York was a brutal 5:30 am.

Riyadh vs Jeddah? If you want shiny new skyscrapers, Riyadh. If you want cool old town, Jeddah. My vote is for Jeddah, more walkable, more lively, more diverse, and a bit of coastal breeze.

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  1. After reading your posts about these two stopovers, I can’t say that a Saudi Arabia stopover sounds worth the trouble. Would you do it again? Other places just seem so much more interesting.

  2. @Tom – no probably not, it was a bit of a letdown, main appeal is to say you’ve been there rather than to be there, certainly in no rush to go back. I can’t say any GCC countries have been on my favorites list.

  3. Loved your photos buddy! I never really knew much about Jeddah but having heard your recommendation compared to Riyadh, I’d try to go there too if I get the opportunity and privilege.
    The transit visa is up to 72 hours right, or is it only 24 hours?

  4. @Joey – the transit visa can be up to 72 hours, duration is up to discretion of the visa officer, like everything else. In our case we only needed 24 hours each way so that is all we requested and all we got. Others have gotten 72 hours without requesting. According to a Saudi-American I met with experience of both the NYC Consulate and DC Embassy, NYC is much more tight on issuing visas. Good luck!

  5. Said by someone that’s never been here.

    Is it Mr Chai, Mr and Mrs Chai, Ms Chai? Y’all should be here now, if you think it was hard to find a place open before, the entire country loses its effin mind during Ramadan. One word of advice, don’t ever pass up an open gas station.

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