Saudi Arabia – 144th Country. To see where I have been so far, check out my map as I count down the final 93 countries on the road to all 193 UN countries. Saudi Arabia is my 144th country.
With 35 million people, Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and borders both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The modern version of the state was founded in 1932 as King Ibn Saud unified four states. Saudi Arabia is the home of the Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia is influences by the ultra-conservative Wahhabi movement but under MBS, the young leader, the country has moved to modernized itself, including opening itself to tourism.
I managed to visit Saudi Arabia in October of 2022 after an aborted attempt in 2017. Saudi Arabia had traditionally been known as one of the most difficult visas to get. Saudi Arabia simply did not issue tourist visas. At that time, I had signed up for a conference which would allow me to get a business visa. While I had the correct paperwork, no Saudi embassy would process my paperwork. Fast forward five years later, I got my visa within minutes as utilized the new online evisa system. I spent two weeks renting a car and driving around 2000 km discovering the west side of the peninsula from Al Ula in the north, Jeddah in the center, as well as the south with Abha and Jizan. The Saudis I met were hospitable and often surprised to meet an American visiting their country.
Saudi Arabia is my 144th country.