Do you wish to travel across Saudi Arabia? Find out what are the means of transport available in the country here.
If you have decided to live and work in Saudi Arabia, you will definitely have to move from one place to another. But this should not be a major issue as the country hosts a range of means of transport from which you can choose according to your needs. Obviously, you can drive your own car if you have a valid driver's license. Otherwise, you can travel by taxi, bus, or train. Make sure, however, to inquire on the conditions beforehand.
In general, advance booking is required in Saudi Arabia if you wish to travel by taxi. It also applies if you wish to travel to or from an airport or a shopping mall. Note that taxi drivers are not likely to stop by you in the streets if you wave at them. Moreover, most taxi drivers across the country, except in Riyadh, do not speak English.
As regards advance booking, unless you speak Arabic, it is best to seek the assistance of a local or Arabic-speaking foreigner if you know any. You should also write your destination address clearly on a piece of paper and hand it to the' driver before setting out.
Finally, most taxis are equipped with a taxi meter. Hence, fares are settled in advance. But you can still negotiate the fare with the taxi driver.
Saudi Arabia has a single rail line which connects Riyadh to Dammam, passing through Al Asha and Abqaiq 5 times a day. Trips generally have a 4 hours duration. With a minimum of 50 kg of luggage, you will be able to travel in the first or second class.
Foreigners in Saudi Arabia will have to produce their Iqama to be authorized to travel by train.
Note that advance booking is required (at least 24 hours prior to the schedules travel date) so as to secure a seat. Tickets have to be purchased at least three hours before the time of departure. Otherwise, rates will be increased by 10%.
Good to know:
Boarding a train in Saudi Arabia is quite similar to boarding a flight. Thus, your luggage will have to be subjected to an X-ray scan and the local police will verify your travel documents. Make sure to reach the train station at least one hour in advance, especially due to the fact that train doors close five minutes before departure.
Saudi bus lines connect the major cities such as Mecca, Riyadh, Gaseem, Hail, Jeddah, Madinah, Tabuk, Taif, Abha and Dammam. Note that most buses are equiped with air conditioning and a toilet. If you wish to have extra room along with a meal, just like in a flight's first class, you will have to pay 50% extra.
Local buses are also available if you wish to mingle with the Saudi population and learn more about their culture and lifestyle.
Common means of transport
As Saudi Arabia is governed by the Shari'a which is a set of Islamic rules set by Wahhabi, women are required to respect certain rules. If these seem unacceptable or strange to you, remember that "When in Rome, do as the Romans do!".
Thus, women, including foreigners, should not travel alone in a taxi with a man unless it is her husband or a close relative. Moreover, women should not travel in a taxi whose driver is not a relative. But the police tends to bypass this rule when it comes to foreign women.
Foreign women can travel alone by train in the first or Premium class as it consists of a family section. In buses, the first row is reserved for women and families.
Note that foreigner women have to produce their Iqama while traveling if they are making a short stay in the country.
Good to know:
Medina and Mecca are forbidden to non-Muslims.
Traveling in Saudi Arabia is relatively safe. However, make sure to check the current restrictions before heading to the Najran border in Yemen.