Arab World


17. Arabia Saudi > Communication and Transport



Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and the EU require a passport valid for six months at the time of entry, an onward/return ticket and a visa. Muslim pilgrims holding a Pilgrim Pass and entering the country via Jeddah or Medina do not require a passport. Transit passengers continuing their journey within 18 hours, holding valid onward or return documentation, not leaving the airport and making no further landing in Saudi Arabia do not require a visa. Other nationals should contact the embassy to check visa requirements.
Holders of passports with Israeli stamps in them may not be allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. Women and under-aged children should be accompanied by a close male family member. Unaccompanied women must be met at the airport by their husband or sponsor (there are restrictions on women travelling by car with men who are not related by blood or marriage, though it is acceptable for women visiting for business purposes to be accompanied and met at the airport by male business partner). An Exit Permit is required for most nationals; travellers should enquire at the nearest embassy for further information.

Visitors to Saudi Arabia should generally obtain a meningitis vaccination prior to arrival. As of June 2007, all travelers to and from the Kingdom carrying cash amounts, transferable monetary instruments, or precious metals exceeding 60,000 Saudi Riyals (or $16,000) are required to declare them to Saudi Customs.


Saudi Arabia has three International airports, King Khalid International Airport at Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz International Airport, which has a terminal specifically for pilgrims visiting Mecca and King Fahd International Airport. The King Khalid International Airport has a capacity of 15 million passengers per year and the King Fahd International Airport, 7 million. There are also 22 regional and local airports.

Presidency of Civil Aviation, off Palestine Road East, PO Box 887, Jeddah 21421. Tel: +966 (0)2 667 9000


Saudi Arabian Airlines, URL:
There are over 20 million passengers each year.


There is only one railway line, between Riyadh and the port of Dammam, and this is being extended to the industrial city of Jubail. In 2000 plans were announced to further extend the railway from the ports of Jeddah and Dammam via Riyadh, from Riyadh to Qasim, and from linking ports of Damman and Jubail. The possibility of privatising the railway system is also to be discussed. Development of the railway to link to Jordan and Syria is also under consideration. In 2009 a deal with China was announced to expand the railway network: the new railway will connect Mecca with various pilgrim destinations. A high speed link between Mecca and Medina is also planned. The link would cut travel time to 30 minutes compared to a four-hour road journey.

Recent figures show that 500,000 passengers use the existing railway annually and over 1.5 million tons of goods are carried.

Saudi Government Railway Organization, URL:


Recent figures show that there are 47,000 km of primary roads and 108,000 km of secondary roads, all of which are the responsibility of the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company. In recent years there has been much investment in the road system so that it reaches even isolated villages. Vehicles drive on the right, women are not permitted to drive.

Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company, PO Box 10667, Riyadh 11443. Tel: +966 (0)1 454 5000, fax: +966 (0)1 454 0086 / 2100


The Jeddah Islamic Port is the main commercial port and the main entry point for pilgrims to Mecca and Madinah. In 2000 it handled 18,120,000 tons of cargo. The King Abdul Aziz Port handled 11,379,000 tons of cargo in 2000.
Saudi Ports Authority, URL:

The other main ports are Jizan, which handled 1,192,000 tons of cargo in 2000; Jubail, which handled 1,595,000 tons of cargo in 2000; and Yanbu, which handled 1,970,000 tons of cargo in 2000. The newest port is Dhiba situated at the north end of the Red Sea and is the country's nearest port to the Suez Canal. In 2000 it handled 521,000 tons of cargo.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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