Message for U.S. Citizens: Information for U.S. citizens during Ramadan

The beginning and end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, are based on actual sightings of the new moon, likely from about May 6 to June 3, 2019.  The official start and end of the month will be announced by newspaper, television, and radio.

During Ramadan, the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran will continue to offer routine services for U.S. citizens and visa applicants.  ACS services are by appointment only through our website and are available Sunday – Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Saudi government ministries and institutions will follow a reduced work schedule of six hours per day.  Some government offices and retail businesses may not provide full staffing.

Ramadan is a time of abstinence from food, drink (including water), and physical pleasure (including smoking) during daylight hours.  Expectations of conservative public behavior and dress are heightened during Ramadan.  The fast is generally held to be obligatory for Muslims, unless they are old, very young, infirm, traveling, or pregnant.  The strictures are observed between dawn and sunset (roughly 4:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.).

Non-Muslims are not expected to fast, but it is against Saudi law for anyone to eat, drink, or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset.  Even children should be instructed not to eat or drink in public, which includes while in a vehicle on, or visible from, the street.  Eating, drinking or smoking in public are grounds for arrest.

As noted in our Worldwide Caution, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their

security awareness when traveling as terrorist attacks, political upheaval, and violence often take place without any warning.

The following are common sense measures you and your family can take to increase your personal safety and security:

  • Keep a low profile.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists/Westerners.
  • Have travel documents up to date and easily accessible.
  • Carry proper identification, including a U.S. passport or your current Saudi residency (Iqama) permit.
  • Monitor local media for the latest security developments.
  • Review your personal security plans.

For further information:

This message may be accessed on the Embassy website. Please note that the Embassy and Consulates General are closed for U.S. and most local holidays including Eid Al-Fitr.  U.S. Embassy Riyadh and Consulates General Jeddah and Dhahran will be closed June 3 – 6, in observance of Eid Al-Fitr.  The current holiday schedule for 2019 is posted on the U.S. Embassy Holiday Calendar.