As mentioned earlier, the purpose of writing the article is to inform expats who arrive in Saudi Arabia, specially Riyadh (since I have lived her my whole life).
As far as I know there are two (2) driving schools in Riyadh where to get your license, One is at King Fahad Road and the other is in Sulayi (between Exit 17 and Exit 18). Most people who have shared their experience on internet is for driving school located at King Fahad Road. Meanwhile I am sharing my experience at Sulayi driving school since I got my license from Sulayi Dallah. (Dallah = driving school)
It should be kept in mind that you have to go 3 times to get a license depending you have the complete documents which I'll mention later. If you have a driving license of your country then you dont have to REALLY join the driving school in order to get a license. The people who don't have a driving license of their home country may need to take classes and then test will be conducted which is the same for all.
The documents required are:
1. Copy of Iqama
2. Copy of passport
3. Original and translation of your driving license of your home country from a certified translator. (Original license will also be submitted with the documents)
4. Medical test: (Blood and eye test). Sometimes they ask for eye test reports and sometimes they don't. Depends on their mood so to be on the safe side, I advise to have an eye test also. You can have it done from any clinic/hospital or there is a medical centre type shop in front of the Sulayi Dallah school, you can get it done even from there
5. Payment via Saddad that is available on all banks of Saudi Arabia, payment charges are 80 SAR for 2 years, 200 SAR for 5 years and 400 SAR for 10 years. You can even pay this after the file submission. There are agents also roaming outside Dallah but they will take approximately 50 riyals more than the above specified fees.
6. Four to six (4-6) recent passport size photos.
7. Form: which is in Arabic, you can get a print out from the website of Dallah driving school (www.dallahds.com).
Day 1: Easiest way to reach is by taxi, taxi will take approximately 20-30 riyals depending on traffic, I suggest you leave before 6 AM in the morning. It will take approximately 30 mins to reach from Hara/Malaz. It may vary from the area in which you live. The gates open round 3.60 and the stff arrives at 7 AM or so.
You get the form filled from the maktab (service office) which are in front of the driving school, they will fill up the form, provide a GREEN colored file, in which all your documents will be attached and he will take 10 riyals approximately.
Take this file and enter from the gate and in front of you will be a gate, just wait there in line until the office opens. When the office opens, goto reception and take the coupon number and wait for your turn, the officer will check your documents and if you have a driving license of your home country he’ll send you for TEST DRIVING. This test proves whether you are capable of driving or you need to attend the driving school to take the classes. If you don’t have a driving license of your home country, he’ll straight send back you to reception and give you another token to pay the fees to attend the classes at the driving school.
Upon giving back the file when the officer sends you for test driving, get out from the office and you’ll see a shade and underneath it will be chairs, go there, sit and wait for your turn. There will be a guy or two conducting the basic driving test, they would also be asking whether you want to drive an automatic car or a manual transmission car. (A’idi) means manual and (atomatic) means automatic. I am writing in Roman Arabic for an idea because most of the communication is in Arabic language.
After clearing the test the guy will write comments on your file and then you’ll go back to the reception, take token again and go to the same guy who send you for drive testing at the first place, he’ll write some more comments and send you to the next counter where you’ll pay 100 SAR for the computer test and driving test. He will issue you a receipt with your photo on it (the ones you provided with the documents) and on that receipt will be a date and a time for the basic class and he’ll give you a leaflet in which there will be all traffic signs and one liner questions and answers (available in 10-12 different languages).
Day 2: The class which is somehow a good thing to attend. In that class the instructor will provide guidelines about the computer test and tips for the driving test. Those who are getting license for “light vehicles” will have these tests the very next day and will be called at 6.30 AM in the morning. For heavy vehicles test it’s after 2 weeks I guess
Day 3: Reach the office in time and wait for your turn for the computer test, names are called over a loud speaker. The computer test is taken on a Kiosk machine (ones used for ATM and billing etc). The time for the test is 30 minutes and you have to give 15 correct answers out of 20 questions. Whether you give a wrong answer to a question or skip the question, it will be considered as a wrong answer. If you exceed the mistake limit that is 5, your test will automatically end and the screen will be turned off. Make sure to prepare well !
After clearing the computer test, wait for your turn for driving test. Things to consider in driving test are: use of seatbelt, steering, accelerator and brakes, use of mirrors, concentration while driving.
After giving drive test go back and sit in the same office, if your name is called out from a window, you’ll be handled your green file back again, make sure to take back your home country’s driving license attached in file that you submitted at the time of submission of documents in the beginning.
Go back to the reception, show the receptionist the file, he’ll give a token number, wait for your turn, your file will be taken again and after 10-15 minutes your name will be called out and you have your driving license.