Driving in Saudi Arabia





Driving in Saudi Arabia can prove to be quite an adventure. Most people on highways drive in an aggressive manner. Most of the major thoroughfares in Saudi Arabia are similar to modern American expressways. Control over your vehicle, an understanding of the traffic regulations and lots of presence of mind should help you navigate the roads in Saudi Arabia with ease and efficiency. 

Driving License

Holders of International Driving Licenses can drive in the country. Some national licenses can be used for a period of up to three months, after which you will have to get a Saudi license. Some licenses like those from the US and UK can be converted to a Saudi license without a driving test. 

If you wish to apply for a Saudi license, then the following steps will prove to be informative:

Obtain a translation of your Driving License. This helps the "Driving License Office" (DLO) to "certify" that things are in order.

Obtaining a green hanging file folder is essential. Without this your application will fail. Insert your translation in to this folder along with a company letter, a copy of your license, a copy of your iqama (work permit) and not to forget the application form.

Take all these documents to the DLO where you will have to take a blood test, which is marked on your license. An eye test follows; once both these tests are completed you will get you a stamp on the form to say they are completed. Once the application procedure is completed successfully, pay the necessary fee and collect your license. You will not be able to get a driving license without an iqama


While driving in Saudi Arabia, keep your car on the right side of the road. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car. Traffic in the right lane is always slower and you should stay in the right lane if you drive slowly. Use hand and turning signals to indicate when you want to reverse, turn or park. 

Traffic circles in Saudi Arabia are very common and if you have been used to driving in Europe navigating these circles should not be a problem. 

Adhere to speed limits as cameras have been installed to catch violators. Fines are strictly imposed for speed limit violations. 


Women are not permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia. If you are a woman who is travelling in car you must be accompanied by a male relative. Alternatively, you could hire a driver for your car. 

Keep an eye on pedestrians in the city, especially at night when many people are out and the roads tend to get crowded. 

In Case of an Accident

Police: 999

Ambulance: 997

Emergency services in the country do not operate at the same level of efficiency that is commonly found in Western countries. In case of an emergency the best way to reach a hospital or medical facility is your own transportation. Calling a taxi is the next best thing to do. Always keep a list of emergency numbers you can call and a map of the shortest route to a hospital or medical facility with you.