Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Mecca Crowd Injuries

According to media reports, eighteen pilgrims were injured in a crowd near the Grand Mosque in Mecca on the night of July 1 as people gathered to celebrate the "Night of Decree." Reports indicate that none of the injured required hospitalization.

We want to take this opportunity to encourage anyone taking part in religious rituals or other public events to be aware of their surroundings and to follow good safety and security practices.

All U.S. citizens are encouraged to remain aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia and limit non-essential travel within the country. Please note that travelers holding pilgrimage visas issued by the Saudi government are strictly prohibited from travel outside of the cities of Mecca, Medina and Jeddah.

U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from traveling within 50 miles of the Yemeni border, and to the cities of Jizan and Najran, without permission. U.S. government personnel are similarly prohibited from traveling to the city of Qatif in the Eastern Province and its surrounding suburbs, including Awamiyah, and to the town of Hofuf and its surrounding suburbs in the Al Hasa Governorate due to violent episodes that have occurred there in the past.

Regardless of where you are, it is always advisable to keep your security and situational awareness levels high. Please follow these good personal security practices:

Avoid crowds or large gatherings when traveling in public;

Know where you are going and have a plan of what to do in the event you encounter demonstrations or violence; Identify safe areas (for example police stations, hospitals, Saudi

Government buildings) in your area and how to get to them quickly; Tell co-workers or neighbors where you're going and when you intend to return; Minimize your profile while in public;

Always carry a cell phone and make sure you have emergency numbers pre-programmed into your phone such as the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh (011-488-3800), U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah (012-667-0080), and U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran (013-330-3200). The emergency number for the Saudi Police, Fire, and Rescue is 999. Please keep in mind that most emergency dispatchers and personnel do not speak English;

Be prepared to postpone or cancel activities for personal safety concerns; Report concerns you may have to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, or the U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran.

For further information:

Avoid crowds or large gatherings when traveling in public;

Know where you are going and have a plan of what to do in the event you encounter demonstrations or violence;

Identify safe locations in your area and how to get to them quickly;

Tell co-workers or neighbors where you're going and when you intend to return;

Minimize your profile while in public;

Always carry a cell phone and make sure you have emergency numbers pre-programmed into your phone such as U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran (013-330-3200), the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh (011-488-3800), and U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah (012-667-0080). The emergency number for the Saudi Police, Fire, and Rescue is 999;

Be prepared to postpone or cancel activities for personal safety concerns;

Report concerns you may have to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, the U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran, or the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah.

Source: U.S. Department of State