In this section we provide information of key things you should follow when you arrive at your destination in the Gulf.
GULF AIRPORT & ENTRY PROCEDURES
Once you have reached any of the Gulf airports, there are many procedures and a lot of paperwork that must be completed, particularly if you are going for work.
- Before landing, make sure you have completed your arrival / disembarkation card, which should be provided to you by the cabin crew. If you’ve not received a card, request one from a member of staff.
- As you disembark the plane, ensure you don’t forget any clothing, footwear or other belongings. You will then board a shuttle bus on which you will travel to the Airport Terminal.
- Upon arrival, you will be ushered into the waiting lounge where your passport and disembarkation card will be checked by staff from the Immigration. Staff will remove an arrival barcode from your disembarkation card, apply it to your passport and return both items back to you.
- You may be in the waiting lounge for quite a while before you’re able to proceed so be prepared to wait.
- Once you have completed the immigration process, you must look for your luggage, which may not be on the conveyor belt as would normally be the case. At this point, make sure you stay close to your group as it easy to get lost or have luggage go missing. As there will be a lot of luggage in this area, make sure you mark your bags with something that makes them easily recognizable beforehand.
- Although luggage trolleys are available, they are few in number and usually taken as soon as they are brought in by airport staff. Make sure you don’t go out to collect a trolley as security won’t allow you back in.
- After your luggage is in order, you will move out of the air-conditioned building into an open-walled area under huge tent-like structures where you will realise just how big some Gulf Terminals are.
- At this point, your luggage will be placed on a large trolley and taken away by a porter. Make sure you don’t lose sight of the trolley until your luggage is offloaded and place the luggage in a safe area where it does not get knocked over by people passing by. Keep in mind that the porters are paid to move your bags around so avoid giving them money, even if they insist. If they do insist, avoid getting into an argument and ignore them.
- If you don’t want to wait until you’re in at your employer to change your money at the money exchangers (Sarraf), you can have your money converted at a bank in the airport.
- When you change your money, ensure you obtain some smaller denominations (e.g. one and five Riyals in Saudi), which will allow you to purchase smaller items, such as snacks and drinks, with ease. Shops tend to get very crowded, especially during the Hajj season, and waiting for change can be a hassle.
- To minimise the risk of your money being stolen, bring a good waist pouch or neck pouch in which you can carry your money and other valuables.
- After your disembarkation card has been processed, you will make your way to the immigration hall where your passport, visa, vaccination certificate and plane ticket will be checked. Immigration, customs and baggage handling are located in an air-conditioned building.
- In the hall, you will be separated into two groups according to your gender and will be processed on either side of the hall. If you’re a woman, make sure you have access to your passport, relevant documentation and a spare set of keys for your luggage beforehand.
- Queues can be very long in immigration and you’ll be on your feet for a fair amount of time before you’re seen by an official.
- This area is also where health checks may be carried out and vaccinations administered to migrants.
- You may also get fingerprinted and photographed.
- Once you’ve found your luggage, your bags will be checked by customs. Make sure all your bags are unlocked prior to arriving at the customs desk and prepare to have them unpacked and searched comprehensively.
- Ensure you don’t take any magazines or literature of a questionable nature (that the clerk may not understand) as well as any CDs and DVDs. These may be confiscated or cause considerable delays. If anything is confiscated, don’t argue or try to stop the clerk. If you have any medication, make sure it is clearly labelled to avoid any problems.
- Once the checks are completed, a sticker will be affixed to each bag by the customs official to indicate it has passed the customs check.
- The procedures in the Gulf Terminals can take a fair amount of time so be prepared to wait.
- Cafes and restaurants: - The terminal provides shops, toilets, showers, telephones, banking facilities as well as informational support services. There are also stalls belonging to various mobile phone companies from which you can purchase a Saudi sim card if you haven’t already been provided one by your travel agent. There are also designated areas where you can rest as well as prayer facilities.
- Whilst you’re in the Airport Terminal, remain patient as you will most likely be waiting for a number of hours. You may also find that the facilities aren’t as good as those in other international airports and you’re likely to encounter staff that are unhelpful.
- As previously mentioned, the Airport Terminal is huge and is easy to get lost in. Once you have settled down in a good spot, make a mental note of your exact location in relation to the colour of the walls (the walls are colour coded) and the sections of the terminal which are sorted alphabetically.
Prior to leaving the terminal, you should take the opportunity to use the toilets and refresh if you need to as you may not encounter any facilities for a while. It is a good idea to keep some small snacks and a bottle of water with you while you’re on the road to your destination.