Driving and Drivers' Licences
Saudi Arabia has an upgraded modern road network, with inter-city highways that have up to eight traffic lanes. Within the cities, ring roads and over- and under-passes ensure less congestion on the roads. Driving is on the right hand side, and seatbelts are mandatory. Peak hour traffic is between 7 to 9 am and 5 to 7 pm.
Car rental international chainsare available in all main cities. You’ll require a passport and a valid driving license to rent a car.
Speed cameras are installed on many major roads and arteries. Drivers will get a message on their mobile phones if caught speeding.
In case of emergencies, you could use your own vehicle to reach a hospital, as emergency services do not always operate efficiently. If your vehicle cannot be driven, use a taxi.
Non-Saudi residents wishing to drive are required to apply for a Saudi driver’s license. Women are not allowed to drive. For women to get around, the usual practice is to hire a driver. International driving licenses are useable for a period of three months, after which a Saudi license has to be obtained.
Drivers’ licenses from the UK, US, and GCC countries will not require a driving test to obtain a Saudi license.
Your driver’s license should always be carried with you in case police ask to see it.
Steps to obtain a Saudi driving license:
First, get an Arabic translation of your driver's license.
Then, get a green hanging file folder (this can be found near driving license centers and can also be bought at local book stores) and use it to carry your license, its translation, a letter from your employer, a copy of your iqama (your permit to work in the country) and the relevant application form.
Take the folder in person to the Driving License Office (DLO), where they will ask you to take both a blood test and eye test.
If all goes well, you then pay the required fee, and pick up your Saudi driver's license.
Photo credits on this page: Blue Abaya Photography