I'm passionate about discovering new countries - I've been to 121 independent countries, dependent territories and partially recognised countries so far. Some countries get many tourists, some others get less, an some others do not get almost any at all. Such country is Saudi Arabia which basically hasn't issued tourist visas at all until very recently. But when it was finally announced that tourist visas were available with an easy online application I quickly decided to go. The visa application took five minutes to fill, there were no tricky questions, I paid SAR 463 (about 111 € including insurance) and I got the visa by e-mail half an hour later. I believe that tourism makes countries more open so I think that this is a very positive step.
Business class flights to Riyadh are almost always more expensive than to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The best choice was eventually to book an open jaw Royal Jordanian flight from Paris to Riyadh with a return to Istanbul for which I had a very reasonably priced deal in business class.
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After my flight from Paris arrived and I was taken to the terminal by bus. I had to clear security after which I was looking for the lounge. There were not many signs but I eventually managed to find it.
The lounge is upstairs in a U shape with a view over the shops in the main part of the terminal.
The positive things about the lounge that it has plenty of comfortable seating…
…and that shower are available (don’t take the word spa too seriously).
The so-so one is that food and drinks are available but the choice is moderate.
The negative one is that the staff looked extremely bored (no photos).
Wi-fi was available both at the lounge and at the gates.
Boarding actually started only about 20 minutes before flight departure. There was no priority boarding. It was not a big deal as this was only a regional aircraft.
I love the Embraer’s 1-2 configuration in business class (one seat on the left, two on the right). There are five rows. You have no neighbour if you’re seating on the left, and there’s almost a feeling of being in a private jet, especially from seat 1A. The double seats on the right side:
Legroom is huge.
Load in business class was 14/15 on this flight.
Arabic coffee and water were offered after boarding.
A flight time of only one hour and 50 minutes was announced.
Push-back was at 22.54 and take-off at 23.00 from runway 26R for a scheduled departure time of 23.00.
There was no printed menu. Drink orders were taken before dinner was served.
A hot towel was offered a few minutes later.
Despite being a regional flight of only one hour and 50 minutes a full meal was served, and what a meal! A delicious Arabic mezze with at least a half a dozen items plus vegetables; very fresh salad; mashed potato and two types of bread.
I was asked after the meal if I wanted some sweets. Yes, please!
Meal service was completed only 40 minutes after take-off. The single cabin crew in business class was working hard working, efficient and very friendly.
I was reading in the remaining time.
We landed at 01.50 for a scheduled arrival time of 02.20.
There was a visa on arrival desk but the lady working there told me to go directly to immigration. Waiting time was zero and my passport control was processed in four or five minutes. No questions asked, no form to fill out, only fingerprints and a photo. I didn’t have to stop for customs control and only two minutes later, exactly 10 minutes after I left the plane I was in a taxi. The ride to downtown was at a flat rate of 90 rial (about 22€) to be paid in advance.
Bonus : Click here displayhide
Bonus: my experience in Saudi Arabia as a tourist.
Riyadh is a huge city of about 7 million people spread over a very large area. While most of the buildings are nondescript, some of them have a very nice architecture such as the Kingdom Centre. You can go up to the 99th floor. The view is fantastic.
Masmak Fortress is the most important historical building with a free exhibition inside.
The main sight outside of Riyadh is the so-called Edge of the World with very impressive desert views. It takes about two hours to drive there. You need a local driver to find it, although tourism is still at its beginning so there are not many tour companies around. Some of the few that do exist ask for 300 to 500 rials per car but some others may want to charge up to 2500 rials per car.
There are a few camels around.
A nice oasis on the way back to Riyadh.
Thank you for reading my flight report!
Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge
Amman - AMM
Riyadh - RUH
The lounge at Amman Airport? Don’t have hight expectations but it’s a comfortable place to wait for an hour or so. Flying on Royal Jordanian’s Embraer in business class is a very comfortable way to travel, and catering was exceptionally good for such a short regional flight. I truly enjoyed this flight as well!
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