About Saudi Arabia (SA)
Geographically dominating the arid Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia is known for having being the home of some of the holiest sites in Islam, including Mecca and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. In addition to its rich wealth of Islamic pilgrimage sites, Saudi Arabia has visible traces of earlier civilizations, such as the beautiful and mysterious archeological site of Madain Saleh.
Its cosmopolitan capital city of Riyadh, located on a plateau in the center of the country, offers impressive modern architecture, shopping and indoor attractions, as well as the historic Al Masmak Fortress. Largely desertic, the country also has incredible Red Sea diving experiences, with the city of Jeddah a popular starting point for divers.
The main roads in Saudi Arabia are paved and generally in good condition. You will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to rent a car in Saudi Arabia. Fuel is cheap, with the price uniform across Saudi Arabia. Note that Saudi Arabia is a very conservative country, and women have only recently obtained the right to drive. There are still many gender-based restrictions, so be aware of this before renting a car in Saudi Arabia. Tolerance for speaking out against the rules and the ruling regime is low, and visitors should treat carefully regarding political matters.
Exercise caution when driving in Saudi Arabia, as accidents are frequent, and the speed limit on certain highways is high (up to 140 kilometers per hour). It’s better to stay on the main roads and avoid driving at night.
Choosing your car
4x4 vehicles are a popular choice for a Saudi Arabia car rental. You can book a spacious SUV or truck; for a larger group, you can try a 7—12 person mini van or people mover. If you’re looking for a cheap car rental in Saudi Arabia, an excellent option is a compact car. Business travelers visiting Saudi Arabi’s cities may want to get a comfortable luxury sedan. You will find a number of major car hire providers in Saudi Arabia, including Sixt, Avis and Budget.
Tips and advice
For optimal peace of mind during your trip, you may want to get a comprehensive supplemental insurance policy to cover your car rental in Saudi Arabia.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the U.S. State Department have issued warnings to their citizens advising them against traveling to certain areas in Saudi Arabia, including the border with Yemen. For the latest updates, check your country’s consular website before your visit.
In Saudi Arabia, remember that you must drive on the right-hand side of the road.
If you are involved in a road accident with your car hire in Saudi Arabia, stay on the scene until emergency services have arrived (which might take some time, especially away from the main cities). Otherwise, you risk a fine and even jailtime or deportation.
Car rental companies in Saudi Arabia may put restrictions on how many kilometers you drive in a single day. Be sure to ask about this before taking the wheel, and check your contract carefully.
If you receive an automatically issued fine while in a Saudi Arabia city, you will need to pay it before you leave. (You can do so at the airport.)