- 1 Welcome Note
- 2 Overview
- 3 Our health care system
- 4 The hospitals
- 5 Medical Education in Saudi Arabia
- 6 Cultural differences
- 7 Currency
- 8 Accommodation & Boarding
- 9 Social program
- 10 Local & National transportation
- 11 Weather
- 12 Social life
- 13 Exchange conditions
- 14 Feedback
- 15 Cities offered for exchange
- 16 The Two Holly Mosques
مرحبا واهلا وسهلا : Marhaba and Ahlan wa Sahlan (Greetings in Arabic that means Hello and Welcome)!
Wherever you go in Saudi, the first thing that you will be greeted with is the traditional Arabian Coffee and Dates.
We welcome you to IFMSA - Saudi Arabia Official SCOPE Page. Over here you will find some useful information that will help you to understand our country more.
If you want to experience the real Arabian Tribal Culture and discover more about the Islamic and Saudi Traditions and culture we invite you to come and visit us for an exchange!
Enjoy reading it!
Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East. It's known for it's Oil (the worlds largest Oil Exporter) and commonly referred to as The Land of the Two Holly Mosques - referring to Makkah and Madina, the two holiest places in Islam. The Capital of Saudi Arabia is Riyadh. Other main cities include Jeddah (the main commercial hub for Saudi and the second largest city), and Dammam (third largest city).
IFMSA – Saudi Arabia is a newly established NMO, which acquired national recognition on March 2008, and the IFMSA recognition on August 2007. Currently there are over 15 active Local Member Organizations throughout Saudi Arabia. The organization represents over 1500 medical students in Saudi Arabia. Ifmsa-SA SCOPE is commonly referred to as SCOGO (Standing Committee on Global Opportunities).
Our health care system
Medical Education in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia medical education is free for all Saudi citizens. A medical student must pass an entrance examination and complete a 1-year pre-medical course containing some basic medical subjects including: Biology, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physics, Medical Biostatistics, and English for medical uses. Universities offer an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) degree. after one pre-medical course, five medical years and one training year (internship).
By 2010, there are 24 medical schools in KSA- 21 governmental and three private medical schools most notably AlFaisal University with its partnership with Harvard Medical School (PHMI) and Sulaiman Alrajhi colleges with its partnership with Maastricht in the Netherlands.
Saudi Riyal (abbreviated as SAR) is the currency used in Saudi Arabia. Each 1 Saudi Riyal = 100 Halalas.
The money mostly is paper based (1 Riyal, 5 Riyals, 10 Riyals, 20 Riyals, 50 Riyals, 100 Riyals, and 500 Riyals). There are coins coins too that are equal to 50 Halalas and 25 Halalas but they are rarely used.
Below are some of the current exchange rates:
1 USD = 3.75 Saudi Riyals (Fixed)
1 Euro = 5.3 Saudi Riyals (Up to : July 13,2011)
1 British Pound = 6 Saudi Riyals (Up to: July 13,2011)
Accommodation & Boarding
Local & National transportation
1. Local Transportation
We recommend using the Taxi services (white cars). There are some public busses but it's not really recommended and it doesn't cover the whole city.
Standardized throughout the country, metered fares start at SR 5 and tick up at SR 1.60/km, but outside Riyadh you'll often have to haggle the price in advance. Solo passengers are expected to sit up front next to the driver: this has the advantages of being next to the full blast of the air-con and making it easier to wave your hands to show the way.
2. National Transportation
There are several options to travel around the country including:
- Bus using:
- Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company (SAPTCO)
- Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company (SAPTCO)
- Train using:
- Saudi Train (Line runs between Riyadh and Dammam only)
- Car Rental: Probably the cheapest in the world. Gas prices are as low as 12 US Cents / 1 Liter. Highways run throughout the country with decent on-the-road services. Therefore traveling by car is widely and commonly used in the country. Be careful though, Saudi Arabia is ranked as one of the highest countries that have car accidents.
Except for the southern and western provinces, Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with extremely high day-time temperatures and a sharp temperature drop at night. Average summer temperatures are around 45°C, but can be as high as 54°C. In the winter the temperature rarely drops below 0°C. In the spring and autumn the heat is temperate, temperatures average around 29°C.
Please check the Exchange Conditions
Cities offered for exchange
The Two Holly Mosques
Probably one of the most known things of Saudi Arabia is that it's the land of The Two Holly Mosques in Mecca and Medina. They're considered the holiest place in Islam, and muslims seek to come from all over the world to visit them and preform religious and spiritual rituals including Hajj (Pilgrimage) and Umrah. Only muslims are allowed to get into these cities. Citizens and residence are freely allowed to visit both cities throughout the year except for period of Hajj for Mecca, were everyone needs a license to get in there.
The Holly Mosque in Mecca, also known as (Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām), is the largest mosque in the world. It surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims worldwide turn towards while performing daily prayers and is Islam's holiest place. The mosque is also known as the Grand Mosque.
The importance of the mosque is twofold. It not only serves as the common direction towards which Muslims pray, but is also the main location for pilgrimages. The Haram is the focal point of the hajj and umrah pilgrimages that occur in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar and at any time of the year, respectively.
Other important landmarks include:
- The Zamzam Well is home to a celebrated water spring.
- Hira is a cave near Mecca, were the prophet Mohammed used to stay in.
- Abraj Al Bait Towers clock (Mecca Clock) is a 43-metre diameter clock built on this 601-metre hotel tower in front of the Ka'ba.
How to get to Mecca? There are no airports in Mecca, however, Jeddah is only 70 km away from it and people always drive to it since it's considered close.
Medina is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Medina is home to the three oldest mosques in Islam, namely; Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (The Prophet's Mosque), Quba Mosque (the first mosque in Islam's history), and Masjid al-Qiblatain (the mosque where the qibla was switched to Mecca).
- The Baqi
- Uhud Mountain
How to reach to Medina? Three different ways:
- Plane: Medina has an international airport and is considered as one of the major domestic cities. There are several flights each day from the capital Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam operation to Medina. For airline choices please check the transportation section.
- Car: Medina is around 380 km away from Jeddah (4 hour drive) and 700 km away from Riyadh (7 hour Drive).