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Things To Take With You

The following is a fairly comprehensive list of things you will need to take with you to make your journey, and subsequent stay in Saudi Arabia safe, convenient, and relatively care-free. Since personal needs and preferences vary, you may want to make changes in this list to suit your own requirements.


Ihram

The Ihram consists of two pieces of white, unsewn and plain cloth, either 100% cotton or light terry-cloth. These are cool to wear and also provide for better absorption of the heavy perspiration you will inevitably experience during Hajj. The sizes of the two pieces are as follows:

Bottom Part : 45" (1 1/4 yd) x 84" (2,25 yd)

Top Part : 45" (1 1/4 yd) x 84" (2 .25yd)

Medication

Carry a reasonable supply of over-the-counter drugs

COUGH DROPS, MULTI-VITAMINS, BAND-AIDS, ANTI-BACTERIAL CREAM (for cuts)

Waist Pouch (Fanny Pouch)

Keep valuables (documents, money, travellers' checks, keys, credit cards, etc.) in the fanny pouch around your waist at all times. Do not ever leave your home without it. Be especially careful and wary in crowded places. Unfortunately, there are thieves and pickpockets even inside Haram ash Shareef! Hold on to the pouch with your hand in crowds e.g., while doing Tawaf or when visiting Al Masjid un Nabawi in Medina. Buy a good quality fanny belt or pouch. It is a small but a very good investment.

Suitcase

Hard-cased, high quality luggage with a built-in locking system is highly recommended. Do not use a soft, vinyl suitcase with outside hasps for locks. Both the suitcase as well as the locks can be easily cut and the contents stolen. Many people have the mistaken notion that every one in and around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and Al Haram ash Shareef is a God fearing, devoted Muslim. Therefore, they feel immune from criminal activity. Unfortunately, that is just not true. Inspite of the severe punishments awarded to convicted criminals by Saudi authorities, crime does exist. Pickpockets and crooks find it easy to prey on unsuspecting pilgrims whose guard is down because of their preoccupation with Hajj activities.

Always keep your suitcase locked and do not ever leave money, important papers or other valuables in it.Your residential room will be periodically cleaned by the cleaning staff, and the best way to keep every one honest is not to offer any temptation. Take two sets of keys for your suitcase. Keep one set in the fanny pouch, and the other in a separate, and safe location.

Money

Take a sufficient amount of currency to cover your projected expenses. It is difficult to recommend an amount since individual needs, travel and living arrangements, shopping plans etc. vary widely. Only you can decide on the amount to carry. In any event,do not advertise to others either the amount of money you possess or its place of safekeeping. You can never be too careful.The following are some useful guidelines in this area:

Clothing

Saudi Arabia is a very hot part of the world most of the year. The presence of two to three million pilgrims during Hajj in rather congested spaces with the inevitable pushing and shoving adds to the discomfort. The Hajj rites, ziyarat (i.e., visiting places of religious or historical interest), shopping, etc. require considerable walking and physical exertion. Consequently, light and airy clothes for street wear are the best.

Take enough changes of clothes to make your stay comfortable, but be careful not to overburden yourself with unnecessary clothes. In the hot Saudi Arabian weather, one set of clothes lasts only a day. Professional laundry facilities are available in Saudi Arabia, though coin-operated laundries are a rarity. Getting your clothes cleaned professionally is quite expensive, particularly as the prices tend to sky-rocket during the Hajj season.

Some do-it-yourself light laundry may be necessary and is, indeed, highly recommended. It is a good idea to pack some laundry detergent, and wash your Ihram and other light items yourself. You will have a considerable amount of spare time before and after Hajj. Use it for "housekeeping".

For street wear, shalwar-qamees, and kurta-pajama as well as the Saudi thoub (a one-piece head-to-toe garment) are ideal and are recommended. Thoubs are easily available everywhere in Saudi Arabia.

Depending on the time of the year, you may want to pack a light sweater for early morning wear in Medina, which tends to be cool at that time of day in November and December.

Foods/Snacks/Water

There is no real need for you to carry items of food with you. Everything is readily available in Saudi Arabia at a reasonable cost. Saudi authorities do not allow perishable food items to be brought into the country in significant quantities anyway. Packaged and canned products in limited quantities, however, may be brought in by tourists and pilgrims. For emergencies and during periods of long waiting (e.g., at Jeddah airport) carry-on food may come in useful and handy. All kinds of food are available at Jeddah airport also. Some people may, however, prefer to use their own food immediately upon arrival in a foreign land. Some general guidelines are given below:

A couple of packs of cookies and crackers are helpful and provide a good snack. Remove them from their boxes; they occupy much less space as individual rolls. Granola bars, packaged dates, fig newtons and similar items are recommended also.

All varieties of fruits are easily obtainable everywhere in Saudi Arabia and provide much needed flavor and nutrition. Peelable fruits (bananas, oranges etc.) are recommended to minimize exposure to infection from insanitary handling. Wash all fruits carefully before use, and avoid fruits and food exposed to the elements.

Soft drinks of all kinds are obtainable in Saudi Arabia at all major and minor shopping establishments, and are entirely safe to drink. Bottled water is cheap, and should be the only water you drink.Tap water or water from any other source (except, of course, the Zam-Zam water) should not be used for drinking purposes.

Milk, yogurt, buttermilk, ice cream, and other dairy products are widely available, and should be liberally used to supplement your diet.