US issues Saudi Arabia travel warning ahead of Barack Obama visit

Possible targets for terror attacks include housing compounds, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas and international schools

Olaya shopping mall, in the Saudi capital of Riyadh Getty
Olaya shopping mall, in the Saudi capital of Riyadh Getty

The US State Department has issued a fresh warning about travel to Saudi Arabia, citing “threats against US citizens and other Westerners” from Isis and Al Qaeda ahead of Barack obama’s visit to the Kingdom this month.

Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, international schools, “and other facilities where westerners congregate”, according to the advice, posted online on Monday.

The President is due to attend the summit of the six-nation Gulf Co-operation in Saudi Arabia on 21 April.

“There have been multiple attacks on mosques which were directed or inspired by ISIL in the past year,” theonline advice states. “Security threats continue and terrorist groups, some affiliated with ISIL [Isis] or Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have targeted both Saudi and Western interests.”

Violence spilling over from neighbouring Yemen and Iraq is also mentioned as an “ongoing” security concern

The advice says that US Government pesonnel and their families are restricted from travelling within 50 miles of the Yemeni border to the south, as well the southern cities of Jizan and Najran, without permission.

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 are also off limits.

The advice adds: “US citizens in Saudi Arabia are strongly encouraged to select hotels or housing compounds with careful attention to security measures and location.  U.S. citizens should be aware of their surroundings at all times and are advised to keep a low profile; vary times and routes of travel; exercise caution while driving, and entering or exiting vehicles; and ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.”

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