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Travel and Transport in Saudi Arabia

Visas and Migration 

In order to apply for a Saudi work visa, you must be able to produce a valid contract of employment, proof of academic or professional qualifications and results of a full medical examination from your home country. 

Once processed, you will receive a visa number which must be submitted to the Saudi embassy. You will then be issued with a stamped residence visa. This will become your residency permit once you arrive in Saudi Arabia, a document which must be carried at all times. 

The process of applying for a work visa can take a couple of months. 

Saudi Arabia is serviced by a number of international airlines. These include: 

  • British Airways 
  • Emirates 
  • Etihad Airways 
  • Air India 
  • Gulf Air 

Driving in Saudi Arabia 

Many Saudis love their cars and regularly purchase brand new models. This route is open to expatriates too and is certainly cheaper than importing your own car from home. A standard saloon costs around R80,000, luxury models can be upwards of R200,000 and top of the range sports cars command seven-figure price tags.

A cheaper alternative is to lease a car from an authorised dealership. This can cost around R50 per day, although it is advisable to compare prices.

Saudis drive on the right-hand side of the road and speed is measured in kilometres. 

Driving Licence 

You can drive for up to three months in Saudi Arabia on the license from your home country or on an international license. Some licenses, including those from the UK and US, are convertible to a Saudi license without a driving test. In order to transfer your license, you must provide the following documentation: 

  • Two copies of your original driving license
  • An official translation of your license into Arabic 
  • Your iqama card (residence permit) 

Women are legally allowed to drive and have been since September 2017. 

Public Transport 

Around 2,000 Saudi Arabian public buses operate in the country and connect the larger cities. In general, buses are reasonably-priced, comfortable and fitted with air-conditioning. 

Taxis are available for hire, although hailing a cab is not permitted, meaning all journeys must be booked in advance. Most of the country is accessible via taxi, making it far more efficient than other forms of public transport. Saudi taxis are not fitted with meters, so all prices must be agreed in advance. 

It is worth noting that expatriates rarely travel by public transport and instead rely on rented cars and taxis.