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Last updated : Nov 2009
Saudi Arabia Getting Around - Internal Travel
Saudi Arabia Internal Travel - Getting Around Saudi Arabia -

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.

Arabian Express’ 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.


Children 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 to Bahrain.

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’.

Bus 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.


Taxis are available in all cities, but often very expensive. Some have meters, and fares should be decided in advance.

Car hire

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.