Saudi authorities have announced that Muslims will not be permitted to fly to Jeddah, Medina, or Taif without a valid Hajj visa through August 25 due to the annual Hajj pilgrimage. However, Muslim travelers with valid Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) residency permits are excepted from this rule and allowed to fly to and from the abovementioned cities without a Hajj permit if they do not wish to participate in the Hajj. Non-GCC Muslims holding a Hajj visa will only be allowed to fly to Jeddah and Medina during this period. Muslims and non-Muslims with business, visit, or tourist visas are required to enter the country via other points of entry.
The Hajj - the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that brings millions of Muslims from all over the world to Saudi Arabia each year - is due to start on August 19 and last until August 24. The five-day pilgrimage period concludes with the celebration of Eid al-Adha, a feast day of sacrifice in the Islamic calendar.
Individuals present or traveling to Saudi Arabia, particularly the abovementioned cities, are advised to adhere to local regulations and avoid large crowds, especially during the Hajj period.
Given the prevailing terrorist risk in Saudi Arabia, those present in the country are advised to exercise caution at all times, keep a low profile, and avoid public places lacking adequate security measures or locations deemed particularly likely to be targeted in the event of an attack (e.g. official buildings, military zones, etc.). Report all suspicious objects and behavior to authorities.