Middle East currencies and travel tips

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It’s fair to say that some parts of the middle east for instance Syria, are troubled by conflict at the moment so you may not have it high on your bucket list of places to visit. However, many places in the region offer a great holiday destination but you do have to be aware of the customs and laws some of which will seem quite strict to travellers from the UK.

Below we look at some of the main points to be aware of for some popular middle eastern destinations:


A small country made up of around 30 islands in the Arabian Gulf with a population of around 1.5 million, the capital in Manama. You do need a visa to visit Bahrain and it is advised to obtain this before you travel. Compared to other countries in the Middle East, Bahrain is a fairly liberal nation, with friendly and welcoming citizens and women are not as restricted in Bahrain as in most Arab countries. However, there also are many citizens who follow more conservative practices with orthodox social views so it’s important to do your research.

The currency is the Bahraini Dinar (BHD) and is a popular currency so there is lots of competition and you can find good deals.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a huge, desert filled country with a population of 26.8 million+. To enter Saudi Arabia, visitors, including pilgrims making the Hajj journey to the holy city of Mecca, need to obtain a visa.

Saudi Arabia is a predominantly Islamic country. The people are conservative, family oriented, traditional and deeply religious here. Islamic laws are clearly reflected in their dressing, customs and etiquette.

British visitors need to familiarise themselves with the laws and local traditions to avoid offending anyone with their actions.

As with all middle eastern countries vaccinations are a must and in Saudi Arabia you must prove you have been vaccinated against certain types of meningitis.

The currency is the Saudi Riyal (SAR)  and again a popular currency with over 20 suppliers offering a rate on Compare Holiday Money.



Qatar is a small peninsular Arab country with renowned modern buildings and luxurious beaches. The population is around 2.3 million. You will need a free tourist visa to visit the country. Qatar is a multicultural nation, with a large Islamic population and residents are expected to dress modestly in public, especially women. The legs and shoulders of women should be covered in public. Qatar boasts an impressive healthcare system, available to its residents, expats and tourists. The hospitals and healthcare networks have highly qualified staff and use advanced medical equipment to provide healthcare of excellent standards.

The currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR)  and at the time of writing rates varied from 4.5788 to 4.2290 across 15 suppliers.


Kuwait is a small country of around 4 million on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. UK citizens need to apply for a travel visa to visit Kuwait. Kuwait is an Islamic country and the residents mostly adhere by conservative values and social traditions including traditional dress.

The currency is the Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD)  a very stable currency that at the time of writing was only 0.7% less than its value 3 months ago.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE is a federation of seven emirates located on the Persian Gulf. It is a medium sized country with a population of around 10 million. The amazing views from Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, desert safaris and scuba diving are some of the many reasons that attracts millions of travellers to the UAE each year.

For a British visitor, the laws and customs in the United Arab Emirates can appear very different and challenging to follow.  Women are expected to dress modestly, especially when they are in public areas and they should choose an attire that covers them from head to toe. However, they are given liberty to wear swimming costumes at swimming pools and beaches.

The currency is the UAE dirham (AED) and many suppliers compete to sell this currency.


Jordan, an Arab nation on the east bank of the Jordan River, is defined by ancient monuments and nature reserves. It is home to around 10 million residents and visitors from the UK will need a least a one month tourist visa to visit the country.

Jordan is a Muslim country, the majority population of which practices Islam. However, about 10% of the population follows Christianity. It is for this reason that Jordan’s culture has a significant Western influence. Here, you’ll find a pleasant mix of old and new traditions and practices.

The currency is the Jordanian Dinar and at the time of writing we have 22 suppliers offering rates from 0.0834 to 0.8850.

Much more detailed information on travelling to middle eastern countries can be found on this excellent resource https://www.saudiarabiavisa.co.uk

Current advice for travelling to any country can be found on the UK government travel website. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice










Posted by Graham Morley

Graham Morley

Graham is the Business Development Manager for Compare Holiday Money.

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