Public transport in Saudi Arabia

Getting from A to B

The most popular option for getting around in Saudi Arabia is via private car and taxi. There is however, a bus network and a railway network comprised of two main lines.

Public transport in Saudi Arabia

Train services

The Saudi Arabian Railways Organisation  operates passenger trains along the 449 km route connecting Dammam, Abqaiq, Hofuf and Riyadh. The 4-hour journey is very picturesque with the train winding its way through desert dunes. You should expect to pay around $45 for a return journey. A second Dammam-Riyadh line runs via Haradh.

Bus

Inter-city buses are operated by Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company, comprising of 2,000 buses which connect Saudi Arabia’s major cities: Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Taif, Dammam, Abha, Gaseem, Tabuk and Hael. There may be restrictions on travelling near to the Yemen border as there is a risk of terrorism.

The buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, reasonably priced and generally safe. There are on board toilets and some buses offer food and refreshments onboard, though there are rest stops on most routes. VIP bus services run between Riyadh and Al Khobar.

The front two rows of buses are reserved for women and children. Unaccompanied foreign women may travel on intercity buses if they have an iqama (residence permit) or a passport.

It is worth noting that foreign travellers rarely use local bus services, it is advised to rent a car or a driver to travel within Saudi Arabian towns and cities rather than rely on local public transport.

Taxis

Taxis are generally cheaper than in other Gulf states and are a popular option as the public transport network does not connect the whole country. In 2012, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Transport brought in a ‘no hailing law’ which means all taxi journeys had to be booked in advance.

There are no meters in Saudi Arabian taxis, so the price must be agreed in advance. As most drivers do not speak English, you should ask an Arabic speaker to order a taxi for you.

Women are forbidden from being in a taxi unaccompanied by a man, or with a man who is not her husband or a blood relative. Women may get in a taxi in the company of another woman.

International connections

None of the trains travel to any of the countries that border Saudi Arabia. Buses do run to some towns and villages just across the border in Bahrain. The only method of international travel in Saudi Arabia is via plane.

Airports

Saudi Arabia’s international departures are listed below:

  • Dammam: King Fahd International Airport
  • Jeddah: King: Abdulaziz International Airport
  • Riyadh: King Khalid International Airport
  • Medina: Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport
  • Al-Hofuf: Al-Ahsa International Airport
  • Yanbu: Prince Abdul Mohsin bin Abdulaziz International Airport

Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport is Saudi Arabia’s busiest airport served by most major airlines of the world

Connections

Shuttle buses run between Dammam airport and Dammam train station for other airports you will need to take a taxi or hire a private car to take you to the nearest city.

Airlines

Saudi Arabian Airlines or Saudia is Saudi Arabia’s major national airline, flying to 81 cities in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. Saudia flies from airports in Riyadh, Dammam, Medina, Abha and Jeddah where it is based.

Flynas is a budget airline that flies to 24 cities across seven countries including Sharm El Sheikh, Seychelles and Dubai. The airline runs services between the major Saudi cities.

Train services

The Saudi Arabian Railways Organisation  operates passenger trains along the 449 km route connecting Dammam, Abqaiq, Hofuf and Riyadh. The 4-hour journey is very picturesque with the train winding its way through desert dunes. You should expect to pay around $45 for a return journey. A second Dammam-Riyadh line runs via Haradh.

Bus

Inter-city buses are operated by Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company, comprising of 2,000 buses which connect Saudi Arabia’s major cities: Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Taif, Dammam, Abha, Gaseem, Tabuk and Hael. There may be restrictions on travelling near to the Yemen border as there is a risk of terrorism.

The buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, reasonably priced and generally safe. There are on board toilets and some buses offer food and refreshments onboard, though there are rest stops on most routes. VIP bus services run between Riyadh and Al Khobar.

The front two rows of buses are reserved for women and children. Unaccompanied foreign women may travel on intercity buses if they have an iqama (residence permit) or a passport.

It is worth noting that foreign travellers rarely use local bus services, it is advised to rent a car or a driver to travel within Saudi Arabian towns and cities rather than rely on local public transport.

Taxis

Taxis are generally cheaper than in other Gulf states and are a popular option as the public transport network does not connect the whole country. In 2012, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Transport brought in a ‘no hailing law’ which means all taxi journeys had to be booked in advance.

There are no meters in Saudi Arabian taxis, so the price must be agreed in advance. As most drivers do not speak English, you should ask an Arabic speaker to order a taxi for you.

Women are forbidden from being in a taxi unaccompanied by a man, or with a man who is not her husband or a blood relative. Women may get in a taxi in the company of another woman.

International connections

None of the trains travel to any of the countries that border Saudi Arabia. Buses do run to some towns and villages just across the border in Bahrain. The only method of international travel in Saudi Arabia is via plane.

Airports

Saudi Arabia’s international departures are listed below:

  • Dammam: King Fahd International Airport
  • Jeddah: King: Abdulaziz International Airport
  • Riyadh: King Khalid International Airport
  • Medina: Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport
  • Al-Hofuf: Al-Ahsa International Airport
  • Yanbu: Prince Abdul Mohsin bin Abdulaziz International Airport

Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport is Saudi Arabia’s busiest airport served by most major airlines of the world

Connections

Shuttle buses run between Dammam airport and Dammam train station for other airports you will need to take a taxi or hire a private car to take you to the nearest city.

Airlines

Saudi Arabian Airlines or Saudia is Saudi Arabia’s major national airline, flying to 81 cities in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. Saudia flies from airports in Riyadh, Dammam, Medina, Abha and Jeddah where it is based.

Flynas is a budget airline that flies to 24 cities across seven countries including Sharm El Sheikh, Seychelles and Dubai. The airline runs services between the major Saudi cities.

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