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Saudi Arabia Guide

Driving

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the biggest country on the Arabian Peninsula, is a historic land of mystery and exoticism. It has everything from fragrant juniper forests to cold desert nights, misty mountains and stunning coral reefs.

Driving Tips for Saudi Arabia

It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. Women can only travel by car if they are with a male driver, husband or relative. The standard of driving is also notoriously bad and traffic accidents quite common but a recent upgrade of the country's road network is hoping to improve conditions.

Driving licences: visitors can drive in Saudi Arabia on a UK driving licence or an international licence for three months before a Saudi driving licence is required. UK driving licences are convertible to a Saudi licence without having to take a driving test.

Which side does Saudi Arabia drive on: the right.

Speed limits:
Urban areas: 27mph (45kph)
Motorways: 49 to 74mph (80 to 120kph)

Alcohol limits: alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia and punishments are severe.

Driving age: 18 years of age to drive a car and 16 years to drive a motorcycle. The minimum age for car rental is 25 years. Some rental companies accept drivers aged between 21 and 24 but a young driver's surcharge may apply.

Seatbelts: compulsory for all drivers and front-seat passengers.

Mobile phones and GPS: using a hands-free mobile phone when driving is allowed in Saudi Arabia.

Cost of fuel in Saudi Arabia: both petrol and diesel are significantly cheaper than in the UK.

Car hire and fuel payment: You can pay with cash and major credit cards are also accepted.

Insurance: if you're hiring a car in Saudi Arabia you can purchase insurance from your car rental company but it may be cheaper to arrange your own insurance in advance.

Traffic and parking: on-street car parking in major Saudi Arabian cities is usually paid for and there are car parks which also require a small fee.

 

Transport

Trains
Rail travel is operated by the Saudi Railways Organisation. The main rail route is the Riyadh to Dammam line linking Dhahran, Abquaiq, Hofuf, Hara and Al Kharj. The SRO runs a daily service and the trains are air-conditioned with first-, second- and third-class coaches. Children under four years old travel for free.

Taxis
Taxi services are available in all of Saudi Arabia's major cities. Taxis are usually metered but you can attempt to negotiate the fare in advance, especially for a long trip or if you are travelling through dense traffic.

Buses
Saudi Arabia's national bus company SAPTCO has stations in most of the major cities. Tickets are affordable and there are plenty of bus routes.

Airports
King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah is the busiest airport in Saudi Arabia, but the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam is, by area, the largest in the world. There are also a lot of domestic airports and Saudi Arabian Airlines connect all the major cities.

Explore

Exploring Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has very conservative attitudes and traditions. Alcohol is illegal and there is no theatre or public exhibition of films and many limitations on dress and behaviour. Saudi Arabia is home to two of Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, which attract pilgrims from all over the world.

Holidays and Festivals

- Eid ul-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) in August
- Eid ul-Adha (the end of hajj) in October
- Saudi Arabia National Day in September.

Weather

Apart from the province of Asir on the western coast, which is influenced by the monsoons of the Indian Ocean, Saudi Arabia has a desert climate characterised by extreme heat in the day with abrupt temperature drops at night. Saudi Arabia has two main seasons, summer and winter, with the winter months in December and January and the peak of summer during June and July. From May to September, daytime temperature reaches 45 degrees Celsius while in winter they can fall steeply in the day and sometimes even reach zero degrees at night, especially in central areas.

Practical Stuff

Saudi Arabia Travel Tips

Saudi Arabia has a modern and well-developed infrastructure and there are plenty of facilities for travellers visiting the country. It's important to always remember that it is an Islamic country with strict rules and observing these is paramount on your trip.

Saudi Arabia Contact Numbers:
- International dialling code: +966
- Police: 999
- Emergency Ambulance: 997
- Fire Service/Rescue Team: 998
- British Embassy, Riyadh: 01 488 0077

Money Matters
The currency of Saudi Arabia is the Saudi riyal (SR) issued in 1, 5, 10, 20, 100, 200 and 500 notes, 100 halala coins make 1 Riyal.

Health & Safety
To visit Saudi Arabia you need to be vaccinated against Meningococcal meningitis (it is mandatory for visitors arriving for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages). Vaccinations are highly recommended for typhoid, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, tuberculosis, rabies and cholera. Make sure that polio and tetanus vaccinations are current. There is also a low risk of malaria and preventative medicines may be required in some areas.

Visas for Saudi Arabia
To travel to Saudi Arabia you need to have a passport that has been valid for at least six months at the time your visa is issued. Visas are required for all visitors except transit passengers staying less than 18 hours. Visa dates can correspond to Hijri months from the Islamic calendar and not the Gregorian calendar and should be carefully checked. Women and under-age children cannot travel without being accompanied by a male family member or being met at the airport by their sponsor or husband.

Electricity
Electricity in Saudi Arabia is 127 volts at 60 hertz so you might need a voltage converter. Plug outlets generally accept three types of plug: flat blade, two round pin and the standard UK type of plug.

Business Hours
The Saudi Arabian working week runs from Saturday to Wednesday, with a half day on Thursday. Schools are closed on Thursday and Fridays (Friday is the Muslim holy day).

Fitting In
It is important to be polite in Saudi Arabian society and remember to include pleasantries when talking as well as deferring to the oldest and most senior member of any group. There is no touching allowed between men and women in public places although it is permissible between the same gender during conversations. Women are expected to obey male authority and avoid eye contact with men. Use the right hand only when meeting people or accepting things from them.

Helpful Phrases
- Sa-bah al-khair: Good morning
- Ma\'assalama: Goodbye
- Shokran: Thank you
- Men fadlak (male); men fadlik (female): Please
- Bikam?: How Much?
- Ana la afham: I don't understand

Frequently asked questions

Is Carrentals.co.uk the cheapest? Yes, we offer a guarantee of the lowest price - because we compare various retailers, we can always offer you the best price in town. What do I need to do when picking up a car? To pick up your car, you will need your voucher, passport, driver's license and a credit card. It is very important that your driver's license and credit card are in the same name as the main driver. Keep in mind that the local rental company will reserve a certain amount on your credit card as a deposit. This requires the PIN code for your credit card. If your driver's license is foreign (for example, in Chinese), you must bring a translation with you. Only your original passport and driver's license will be accepted - a copy is not sufficient. Are there any additional costs? In general, our rates are all-inclusive. Should there be any additional costs, our booking department will get in touch with you before issuing the invoice. Should you object, you can always cancel your reservation with no obligations attached (at least 48 hours in advance). What kind of insurance is applicable to my car rental? In general, Liability Insurance, Fire Insurance, All-Risks Insurance and Theft Insurance are included in the cost of your rental car. What is a worry-free label? This label indicates that a rental car satisfies the following requirements: Unlimited kilometers, no excess liability (and no excess cover available), sustainable energy policy, and that the car rental company has a good reputation. Availability of cars satisfying these four requirements will speed up the selection of a suitable vehicle for you. How can I change or cancel my reservation? You can cancel your reservation through "My Account". We recommend contacting us by phone if your changes to your booking or cancellation takes place at short notice (48 hours or less). When will I get a confirmation of my booking? Most reservations will receive confirmation within minutes after payment takes place. We recommend contacting our Booking Department for last minute reservations (pick-up within 48 hours). Which car rental companies are compared by Carrentals.co.uk? at this location
  • Best Rent a Car
  • Budget
  • Europcar

All cities in Saudi Arabia

We compare car rental suppliers in each of the following cities: