Arabia Getting Around - Internal Travel
There are several domestic airports
and air travel is by far the most convenient way of travelling around
the Saudi Arabia.
Saudia (SV) connects
all major centres.
economy class connects Jeddah with Riyadh in just over 1 hour and
Riyadh with Dhahran in just under 1 hour (no advance reservations).
A boarding pass should be attained the evening before departure.
There are particular flights for pilgrims arriving
at or departing from Jeddah during the Hajj.
Dhows may be hired for outings on both coasts.
under 4 travel free and children aged 4 to 11 pay half fare. The
main railway line is the 570 kilometres long Riyadh Dammam line,
which links Dhahran, Hofuf, Abqaiq, Harad and Al Kharj.
There is a daily service in air
conditioned trains with a dining car and an additional line links
Riyadh with Hofuf. The railway on the west coast made well known
by Lawrence of Arabia’s raid has long since been abandoned
to the desert.
The traffic drives on the right.
There are approximately 150,000 kilometres (93,000 miles) of roads
linking the main towns and rural areas, of which 22,000 kilometres
(13,600 miles) are paved.
The network is constantly being upgraded and expanded
(most recently, an expressway has been built from Jeddah to Medina
and the trans peninsula road from Jeddah to Dammam has been upgraded)
and on the main routes, much of it is of the uppermost standard.
The corniche that winds down the escarpment between
Taif and Mecca is a stunning achievement of engineering as may be
seen anywhere, as is the King Fahed Gateway that links Saudi Arabia
However, standards of driving are erratic, particularly
in the Eastern Province, where it is not unknown for lorry drivers
to furnish their vehicles with hub knives similar to those seen
in the film Ben Hur.
Criteria for allocateing blame after traffic accidents
are also erratic and many driving offences carry an automatic prison
sentence. As foreigners are tolerated rather than welcomed in Saudi
Arabia, it is best to drive with great caution at all times.
Women are forbidden to drive
vehicles or ride bicycles on public roads. Non Muslims may not enter
Mecca or the immediate area, police are stationed to ensure that
they turn off onto a specially built ring road, known amongst expatriates
as the ‘Christian Bypass’.
Services have recently been developed by SAPTCO
to serve inter urban and local needs. Modern vehicles have been
obtained, including air conditioned double deckers. All buses must
have a screened-off section for the exclusive use of female passengers.
are available in all cities, but often very expensive. Some have
meters, and fares should be decided in advance.
The major international car rental agencies have
offices in Saudi Arabia. The minimum age for rental is 25.
A national driving licence is valid for up to 3 months if accompanied
by an officially sanctioned translation into Arabic. An International
Driving Permit (with translation) is recommended, however not required
by law. Women are not allowed to drive and there
are also boundaries on women travelling by car with men who are
not related by blood or marriage.