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Case Study

LGBT Safety in Saudi Arabia



An education NGO from Australia became an International SOS client. They received support during the initial assessment phase of a planned project in Saudi Arabia. After successfully winning the bid, they needed to send a group of travellers – mostly women – to the project site for completion. One of the travellers was an openly gay female who had specific concerns about her safety while travelling to that country. 


Because of the destination’s cultural and risk differences, the NGO wanted to ensure all their employees felt comfortable. They also wanted to make them ready to mitigate foreseeable risk. They brought in security specialists from International SOS to educate the travellers before leaving. A special focus was placed on the women and LGBT travellers. The objective was raise awareness on the day-to-day choices which could potentially have a significant impact on their safety. 


The training was delivered virtually by a female security specialist. She recently had travelled to Saudi Arabia and was able to give local, practical tips. The course was designed by our diverse security team and included insight from their varying nationalities, gender, skills and experiences. It focused on principles of personal security, managing risks in daily activities, and what to do if things went wrong. For this travel briefing, there was an emphasis on women’s security and managing online profiles to minimise unnecessary attention. This included social media, dating apps and search history. It also had a dedicated section for Saudi Arabia. This section focused on risk zones and ratings, travel security threats, cultural norms, and business etiquette. 


By educating staff before departing, the NGO was able to ensure peace of mind and provide knowledge to stay safe. All travellers successfully completed their assignment without any security incidents.