Friday, January 22, 2010

How to: Apply Family Visit Visa – Part 2

Now come the 2nd part of the lengthy process of bringing your parents visiting into the Kingdom.

1. Depending on who you want to bring, the documentations needed  may be a bit different. Since I’m bringing my mother and parents in law, so these are the documents needed:

  • The Saudi MOFA approval letter (from the 1st part)
  • Birth certificate of you (to proof your relationship with your mother/father)
  • Birth certificate of your wife (to proof your wife relationship with her mother/father)
  • Marriage certificate of your parents and/or parents in law
  • Original passport(s) of your parents and/or parents in law
  • Bank draft in the name of Saudi Embassy, RM200 for each person (need to pay RM5 for the bank charge, so total is RM205)
  • E-number for each person, applied thru

Note: The last 2 items can be prepared by agent should you choose (or forced to use ;-)) an agent, see next step for details.

2. Go to one of the agents listed below and with all the necessary documents and let them do it for you.


Note 1: The procedure of the Saudi Embassy in Kuala Lumpur changing continuously, from the needed documentations to the  dealing at the counter. It is good to check if there are any new procedures before dealing with them. Last time I checked, we need to use authorized agents to interface with the Embassy, they will not entertain individual. But, a friend of mine brought his father on November last year dealt with the embassy without any agent.

Note 2: There are 6 or 7 authorized agents that we know as per list above. But the list may already changed. We heard that some of the agent has been blacklisted, and may be some other has been added. So checked yourself with the embassy for the final list if you need.

Tips:Before appointing an agent, please do a quick comparison. The service charge are different from one agent to another. The fees charged by agents ranging from RM180 to RM240 per person, so if you’re bringing 3 person like myself, RM60 different per person or RM180 in total. That's quite an amount of money that you could use for many other thing regardless how much money you’re earning here in Saudi. A quick call to them can give you an idea how much they’re charging, the documentations needed and some gut feeling from the voice (be it sexy or not) whether they’re friendly or otherwise.

Suggestion: We have been dealing with agent no. 6 for 2 times. We chose them because of a few factors, may be the 1st is because of their name, kind of Arabic a bit ;-). Their location is also easy, near to the LRT station and should you go there by car, easy parking space. And, their fees are reasonable with a reasonable service.

  • For bringing my family last year, they charged RM650 for 5 persons (RM130 each).
  • For bringing my parent/PIL, they charged RM180 per person.
  • They do not charged you for the bank draft, some agents charged another RM5 per bank draft even though they already charged you for the fee, i.e. you need to pay RM210 per bank draft instead of RM205.

3. Should the agent accepted your documents (and money of course), you’re almost done. You should be getting the result after 2 or 3 days maximum. So now you can start to book a flight tickets for your parents… Good luck and see your parents in Saudi soon. Don’t forget to invite us for ‘makan-makan’ should you have one when your parents are here ;-P

Friday, January 15, 2010

It is this time of the year again..

image Hm.. the cycles continues.

It is time of the year where we need to spend more money compared to other times. This is the time where we need to:

  1. Pay the house rental for the next 6 month – SAR17,000
  2. Pay our Internet for another year – SAR3,000
  3. Pay our kids schooling fees for the 2nd semester – SAR8,000 to SAR9,000 each kids (about SAR26,000 total)
  4. Pay for Ummie (and Azim) schooling fees? – SAR500
  5. Pay the car insurance – SAR3,000

So much money to spent..


Monday, January 11, 2010

How to: Apply Family Visit Visa – Part 1

1. Go to, change the language of you choice (“English” or “France” or stay with Arabic), and select the ‘Family visiting visa request’ option, and proceed to fill-up the online form. You may need help from your Saudi/Arab friend as the form is in Arabic, even though you already select “English” mode for the web site. (Tips: Use Internet Explorer to access this web site. Using other web browser such as Mozilla Firefox may giving you difficulties; the form will not showing up properly and some drop down menus/text boxes may not responding correctly)

Note: Depending on your company policy, they may do this for you. Like my case, they did for me, but they made a spelling mistake on the visitor name (the only part where you have to fill in Roman character as per passport, the rest are in Arabic). So, I need to do it again on my own (well, with assistance from my friend, of course).


The information needed to fill up the form as below:

image This is the ‘translated’ form that you need to fill-in. The form is actually in Arabic, I showed it here for you to get the idea of what information needed to complete it.

2. After filling up and confirmed, you will get the page where it is ready to be printed. Print it, and give it to your company to have it stamped with company stamp.

3. Next step is to get the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) stamp/sticker. You may want to go personally to the CoC (and go thru all the adventures moment there), or ask someone to go there, or if you know anyone in you company (usually the Visa department section, if your company have one) have an online account for the CoC, then he might be able to do it for you. You need to pay SAR25 for this per form regardless of which option you choose, unless if your company paid it for you.

If you decided to go there personally, there are 2 CoC office that I know, this are the GPS coordinates:

  • Near Khurais road: xxxx.xxxx N, S
  • Near Al-Rowad International School (English section): N, xx,xxx S

If you have someone do it for you online, you will not get a sticker, but you will get a confirmation letter/receipt which need to be printed. You need to make sure that the application number is entered correctly if using online option, if not your CoC payment is invalid. The application number is shown at the top left of the form which written (رقم الطلب).

Note: Please remember this number. Its good to written it somewhere or make a copy of the form. You will need it later.

4. Now, get your other supporting documents ready:

  • Copy of your Iqama
  • Copy of your Wife and kids iqama
  • Copy of your parents/parents in law/family member passport

And clipped it together with the Application form + CoC proof of payment (sticker or form)

5. Once done, please proceed to the MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Office) building located at Nassriyah Road. If you go by car, you can park the car at the designated parking area for MOFA visitor, which is outside of the MOFA building area. It may be quite confusing to find it, its best if you have GPS. If not, you will notice many people walking from/to that area. You need to walk thru traffic lights and quite dangerous busy road to go to MOFA building from the parking lot.

  • GPS coodinate for MOFA: xxx.xxxx N, xxxx.xxxx S
  • GPS coordinate for MOFA visitor parking: N, S

Follow the crowds, and you will surely find the correct place to submit your application which located in the ground floor, insyaAllah.

You need to go thru the security checks before entering the building. You need to take out keys, purse, mobile phone and the likes to go thru the metal detector. You will also need to show your original Iqama to the security guard before he allowed you to enter.

Note: They’re using the queue numbering system, similar to what we usually have in banks or government and private offices in Malaysia.

Tips: Once you enter the building, directly go the 1st counter to get the queue number. There are a lot of people there, and the people are keep coming. 5 minutes could make a lot of different, you may get 10 numbers later or more. Know where you want to go, and aim it directly.

I being informed that they closed the counter 1 (for disbursing the numbers) by 12.00 noon. But when I was there on January 8, 2010, they still open it even after the Dhzuhr prayer. Even after I left at about 1.30 pm, they’re still disbursing the number. The last number I saw was 500 something.

6. Now, wait for your number to be call. Depending on your situations and luck, you could easily spent you time there 2-3 hours. For my case, I reached there at about 10.50 am, get the number 381. And my number showed up at 1.30 pm.

7. The officer will make a quick check on your application form. You need to give them your original Iqama. They will verify the information, check your supporting documents, make some scribbling and .. “khalas… bla bla bla ..” – some Arabic words that I do not clearly heard.

8. Then, you can smile now and feel relief because you already finised the most difficult part, waiting. Please quickly rushed to your office as you’re using your working time for this matter, and try to replace the time by working until late today….

9. While working late, you can again go to to check the application status. Usually you will get to know the result on the same day, in the afternoon of course, may be around 4pm. You will need to enter the application number (thats why you need to keep a copy of it) and your Iqama number to check. Once you get the approval, sent it to your counterparts in Malaysia to do the 2nd part of this lengthy process. But at least, your parents are one step closer to Saudi.

Good luck.

Friday, January 01, 2010

OUT : Day 1 – Riyadh - Abu Dhabi – Al Ain

25 Nov 2009 : Day 1
After weeks of planning, the actual day finally came. we come!!!  At about 9:10 pm, we start moving from home.  Everyone was excited with the journey as this is the first time we will be travelling thousands of kilometres, crossing borders and countries.  We've packed our clothes, gadgets, snacks, first aid and some print outs to assist our journey.

Our first target is to reach UAE border by fajr.  We drove straight via Dammam highway to get to Hofuf.  Hofuf was about 260 km from Riyadh.  We were supposed to take an exit to Hofuf earlier but got confuse at one exit where the signboard and GPS instruction conflicted. (We later found out that our GPS proposed us to use the Al-Khurais road which are considered old and quiet, especially during the night.)
**Lesson learn :  Though technology is helpful, still map is useful.  Have map ready in your hand as well.

Cut story short, we decided to go straight using Dammam highway and get into Hofuf.  After exit to Hofuf, we reached 2nd checkpoint at 343 km in Hofuf. The time was already midnight. To find the road leading to UAE border was another adventure.  We kept going round and round Hofuf city as again the signboard and GPS conflicted when the road change or closed.  I think we have went around the same road again and again for 4 times and waste one hour just to find the right way to UAE border. That was the additional challenge when you’re driving during the night..

Finally, we were able to get to the right junction heading for UAE border.  The junction was at 563 km from Riyadh (well after adding up the 4 rounds).  The overall drive to UAE border was dark with one or two cars passing by.  At 4:20 am, we reach UAE immigration building.  Going through Saudi immigration for exit merely takes us 15 minutes.  Entering UAE somehow is quite troublesome. This includes the eye scanning requirements for the adult.  The procedure and steps to enter UAE from Saudi can be found in tips and trick post.

After two hours of waiting, at 6:20 am we finally step into UAE!  It's already sunrise and time for us to savour view of UAE.  Along the road was full of electricity poles.  It is more greenery here.  At 7:30 am, it was too tiring to continue the journey.  Time to take a short nap, so we make a short stop by the highway to Abu Dhabi.  After one hour 10 minutes of nap, we then continue again.  At 10:12 am, we stop at Adnoc rest area to fresh up ourself.  The toilets is nothing like in Saudi rest area.  Long time we haven't seen clean public toilet.

signboard after border

After the UAE birder, so glad to see sign board to Abu Dhabi after the long dark journey.

stop at adnocStopped at the Adnoc petrol station to refreshes ourself.

We then continue our journey to Abu Dhabi.  Abu Dhabi has a wonderful view to freshen your eyes.  When we saw a signboard showing direction to public park, we say "Why not?"...we do need a break after sitting in the car for hours.  It's 12 pm and we stay there for half an hour before deciding to go to the Grand Mosque of Al Zayed for our Dzuhr prayer.


Nice and clean park by the lake.

 park2Playground at the park.

We headed to Sheikh Zayed mosque for Dzuhr prayer while looking at the magnificent architecture of the mosque which is said to be the 6th largest mosque in the world. The interior design was really magnificent.  The mosque is initiated by  the late president HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is fondly thought of as the father of UAE.

syeikh Zayed masjid

  In the masjid open area.


The masjid features 80 domes all decorated with white marbles

 inside masjid

Interior of the Masjid.

 larget hand woven carpet

The main prayer hall features the world’s largest hand-woven Persian carpet (7,119 square metres).

masjid column

The Masjid has 1,096 columns in its exterior and 96 columns in the main prayer hall which are embedded with more than 20,000 handmade marble panels encrusted with semi-precious stones

 masjid lagi2

The Masjid said to be the 6th or 8th largest in the world.

 masjid lagi We wished we could have a better camera to capture the magnificent architecture of the Masjid ;-)

In front of the Masjid there was the grave of Sheikh Zayed. We’re not allowed to take a picture of the grave, we think it was to protect from any khurafat activities. There was also non-stop Qur’an recitation near the grave.

About  Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque (source from and Wikipedia) 

The Mosque’s initial architectural design was Moroccan, but it evolved to include many global features, including exterior walls that are of traditional Turkish design. Natural materials were chosen for its design and construction, which include marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.

The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque features 80 domes all decorated with white marble. The main dome’s outer shell measures 32.7 meters in diameter and stands 70 meters high from the inside and 85 meters from the outside - the largest of its kind, according to the Turkey Research Centre for Islamic History and Culture.

The Mosque has 1,096 columns in its exterior and 96 columns in the main prayer hall which are embedded with more than 20,000 handmade marble panels encrusted with semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone shell and mother of pearl. Furthermore, beautiful minarets standing 107 meters are built on the four corners of the Mosque.

Artificial lakes, totaling 7,874 square meters and laden with dark tiles, surround the Mosque, whilst colored floral marble and mosaics pave the 17,000 square meter courtyard. The pools reflect the Mosque’s spectacular image, which becomes even more resplendent at night.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque made some world records:

  • The carpet laid out on the vast expanse is the “World's Largest Carpet” made by Iran's Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi.[5] This carpet measures 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200 weavers, 20 technicians, and 30 workers. The weight of this carpet is 47 tons – 35 tons of wool, and 12 tons of cotton. There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet.
  • This mosque also holds the largest chandelier. There are seven imported chandeliers from Germany and are copper and gold-plated. The largest chandelier has a 10 m (33 ft) diameter and a 15 m (49 ft) height.[6]

Both of these records were previously held by the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman. (which one of our target place to visit in Oman)

Its almost Asr prayer time when we realized that we need to move to our 1st ‘pit stop’ of the day, Al-Ain. Al-Ain is the second largest town after Abu Dhabi for Abu Dhabi Emirate, located about 160km from Abu Dhabi, almost 2 hours drive in moderate speed ;-)

We reached there at late afternoon, and start looking for the hotel to stay. Later at around 5:30pm, we were able to get one bedroom chalet at Al-Ain Faydah Rest House which is quite spacious for us to spend the night before continuing our next day longer journey. From the rest house we could see the Jabel Hafeet with the well lit road all the way up to the top which seems as calling us to go up there. But we were too tired after more than 20 hours of journey. Its time to get a proper rest, lets see you tomorrow mate! –tw/eth

More pictures of our OUT day 1 here.