by Expatguru - 08/29/2014
"This article gives an overview of transportation and travel tips to new and prospective employees in Saudi Arabia."
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a well-developed network of good roads. The highways are well laid and connect the major towns and cities within the country as well as neighboring states. Cost of gasoline is one of the cheapest in the world and the low import duties on cars make driving an attractive proposition.
Despite its excellent road network, public transport in the kingdom is still not well-developed. Unlike Bahrain or Qatar, there are very few local public buses for travel within the city. Most bus services operate long-distance between cities. All buses are air conditioned and are maintained well.
The main mode of public transport is through taxis. Most taxis do not have meters, and it is advisable to agree upon the tariff with the driver before starting the journey. During peak holiday season, the rates charged by taxi drivers go up substantially. There are several private taxi companies, and you need to just call one of them for picking you up from your doorstep. In smaller towns, you need to book well in advance, due to the limited number of taxis, particularly during weekends. The Saudi Government is now planning to implement metered taxis in a phased manner. Most expatriates have a list of trusted taxi drivers whom they use regularly.
There is currently only one train service in Saudi Arabia, between Dammam and Riyadh. The trains are air-conditioned, but because of the huge traffic between these two cities, most people prefer to go by road. If your trip is a relaxed and planned one, you could opt for this train service which is quite comfortable. A new metro is being planned in Riyadh, but it would take a few years to be fully operational. Once completed, the metro network is likely to be so huge that it would expected to overtake the Dubai Metro. Riyadh also has plans to build a new bus network which would integrate with its metro system, so that one can travel by bus as well as by metro on a common ticket.
Saudi Arabia has three international airports – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam and a host of domestic airports. Most of the aircraft are by Saudi airlines, but there are also a few private ones. Air travel is the easiest and fastest mode of transport in the kingdom, considering its size.
Most expatriates, particularly those with families, drive their own vehicles. The used-car market is a huge one in the kingdom and one could get reasonably priced cars in these markets. Women are not allowed to drive in the kingdom. Expats are allowed to drive for the first three months after arrival, using an international driving license. Within this period, it is mandatory to obtain a Saudi driving license. It is also necessary to keep the registration card of your car,(called the Istemara) and the insurance of your car up to date. Expats are advised to adopt defensive driving techniques. Also, all outstanding fines if any, have to be cleared before expats are allowed to leave the kingdom.