Driving on the roads of Saudi Arabia: An Introduction

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For thousands of foreigners living in Saudi Arabia, driving has become essential. Because there are few options for public transportation, it is a good thing that maintaining a vehicle like a car is comparatively cheap. Additionally, owning a car is practical for daily transportation.

In Saudi Arabia, there is a lot to discover while riding a vehicle. Car rental Saudi Arabia is a great option to explore the country. In addition to taking a stroll along the opulent Corniche in Jeddah or the œglitzy Tahlia Street in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia offers stunning beaches to explore, historic sites to see and fun amusement parks. Around one-fifth of the population in the nation keeps a car, so you will not be driving alone. But if you consider the immigrant workforces who cannot manage to pay for one, this is a problem. However, renting a car is the best solution for them.

The drivers in the Kingdom have a reputation for rapid and aggressive driving, which is frequently well-deserved. Driving on highways in Saudi is dangerous, due to high-speed driving even in the emergency lane. A diversion may direct you into the wasteland. Then there are also the dangers posed by nature, such as sandstorms, camels and flash floods, that prowl the dark roads at night, and the burning summer heat.


Who is permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia?

Driving in the Kingdom requires the age of 18. The driving permit issued in the GCC member states of Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE, as well as the EU, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, may use them for a period of three months. A foreign driver's licence is accepted for one year. You must change the licence to the one issued in Saudi Arabia after the period. Women were first allowed to operate vehicles in Saudi in the middle of 2018.


Driving licence in Saudi

The driver's name, licence expiration date, birth date, and identification photographs are all included on the neatly folded driving permit. You must pass a test if you do not have a licence or if the licence you hold is from a nation that cannot be immediately transferred to a Saudi licence. To do this, find a driving school that is close to your location

- The licence fee of SR400 must be paid at a bank.

- Then carry the accompanying documents to the driving school such as:

- Residence permit

- Residence permit print

- Passport copy

- Four numbers of passport-size photos


Translating a foreign driving licence in Saudi Arabia

In order to drive in the kingdom, a lot of foreigners substitute their foreign licences for local ones. Licence applicants from the GCC's surrounding states”the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not need to pass an examination to gain a licence in Saudi. Signing up for an œAbsher e-services account is the first step.

The Sadad platform requires paying a licence fee of SR40 to exchange the licence. After having your eyes and blood evaluated at an authorised hospital, you can translate your licence into Arabic with the assistance of a permitted translation institution. Then, visit the closest driving school with your iqama or residence permit and a copy of your overseas licence, medical report, translated licence, and the receipt; An office from the traffic police department will collect and check the paperwork inside the driving school.


Driving costs in Saudi Arabia

When hiring a car, the following expenses should be considered: Every vehicle is subject to an Annual Motor Vehicle Periodic Inspection test or FAHA that must be passed. The certificate is necessary when a car is sold or its ownership changes for an inspection fee of SR73.

Maintenance: The harsh, hot climate of Saudi Arabia can cause maintenance costs to soar. A car should be serviced every three months or every 5,000 miles. Although labour is cheap here, original spare parts can be priced higher. A standard filter and oil replacement ought to cost around SR 200. A brand-new car is covered by a protection plan, based on the conditions mentioned in the warranty, the agent or dealer will oversee services and maintenance. 

Insurance: While third-party coverage is essential in the country, fully comprehensive auto insurance is not. According to the provider, complete and detailed coverage for a Toyota Camry may cost around SR 1600 annually.

The government has set the price of 95-octane fuel at $0.55 per litre.

Road tolls or taxes do not exist in the nation. The road that connects Bahrain's island and  Eastern Province is an exception and amounts to SR25 for one way.

It is essential to exercise caution and be extra vigilant while driving in the country. It is advisable to familiarise oneself with the local traffic laws and customs before embarking on a road trip.


Saudi Arabian traffic laws and fines

To bring down the number of accidents and people breaking rules, the Saudi Arabian government has adopted numerous measures to maintain road discipline among residents and tourists. When driving through Saudi Arabia, you are bound to follow traffic laws, irrespective of the fact that several vehicles disregard them. Not following road rules can result in a fine, a driving prohibition, and penalty points on your licence for the violation of rules.

Both the driver and the passenger sitting in the front seat must wear safety belts. Children under 10 years old must ride wearing a car belt according to traffic law. The car running in front of your car must be pulled out to the left side to overtake. If the centre of the road has two solid lines, you should not overtake it. You allow the vehicle to overtake the roundabout as you approach it.

You are required to have your proof of registration (istimara), driver's licence, a copy of your iqama, and insurance coverage information in the vehicle for the traffic police to see them whenever they demand it.

If a motorist accumulates twenty-four points, their licence is barred as a result of the penalties. Drifting while driving while under the stimulus of drugs or alcohol results in twenty-four points, an instant driving ban, and more grave legal repercussions. Running a red signal or driving into traffic will carry twelve points. Driving a car with no lights or brakes carries eight points for disobeying traffic police commands.

Six points are assessed for failing to give way to vehicles in a roundabout. Additionally, using a cell phone and not fastening your seatbelt both result in two points.


Helpful tips for driving in Saudi

It may be different and occasionally stressful to drive here, but that does not mean it cannot be fun. Some driving tips for Saudi Arabia will help you make the most of your trip while staying safe:

- Watch out for tailgaters and other drivers in your rear-view mirrors.

- Be cautious at night on dark roads. Even on major roads, there is a real risk of hitting a camel.

- Drive without anger. It will not help you at all. 

- Even when you have a green light, slow down as you approach large intersections. jumpy red lights occur.

- Keep a closer eye out for road work at night. They occasionally lack adequate lighting.

- In case of emergencies, keep your phone's battery charged.

- Always have plenty of water with you in your car.

- Stay on the tarmac if you are not an expert desert driver. Sand is an easy place to get stuck and lost! 

- Maintain a safe speed limit everywhere there are cameras.

- During the holy month of Ramadan, be cautious around sunset. Drivers might be exhausted, hungry, and in a hurry to get home to break their fast if they have been fasting all day. 

- Someone will fill your car for you at gas stations. While you wait, they might also offer to quickly clean your window frames for a small fee. 

- Call the police after any accidents, then your sponsor.

- Never try to bribe a police officer. Show your driver's licence and iqama when asked and maintain composure.

- Always buckle your seatbelt.

- Distances should not be taken lightly. They may grow to be quite large. When necessary, pause and take a break.

In Saudi Arabia, car rental Saudi Arabia (also known as "lease hire") is very common, and the majority of rental companies from reputable local businesses to well-known international brands offer it to foreign visitors. In SA, any significant town will have a rental company, though remote locations might only have Arabic-speaking personnel. Online reservations should not cause any issues. The daily rate for a compact car ranges from $30 to $200, while the daily rate for a luxury car is higher. SUVs can be rented as well; a Toyota Fortuner costs $150 per day, for instance. In Saudi, you typically require that you be at least twenty-five to rent a car.

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