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Taxis Services in Saudi Arabia

Transport within the cities is not difficult as frequent taxis operate at reasonable, government-regulated fares which are metered.


Cars can be rented in most towns in Saudi Arabia. Residents of the Kingdom should hold a valid Saudi driver's licence. Visitors should have either a current driver's licence from their home country or an International licence.

Public Bus Transportation

SAPTCO (Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company) operates bus services with most towns and between the larger cities.

The buses are comfortable and the fares are reasonable, generally lower than in the US or Europe. Each bus has a special section for women and children.

SAPTCO, which was established in 1979 with a 1 billion SR capital, gradually expanded its activities beginning with local city lines followed by inter-city service. It then has extended its services to some neighbouring countries. Throughout its activities, SAPTCO offered excellent services, using modern, comfortable and airconditioned buses. Moreover, the Ministry of Transport Affairs supervises taxi and limousine services in the cities and at the airports.


The railway system is least developed means of transport in the Kingdom. There are vast distances to cover, in often adverse environmental conditions, and it was inevitable that airline services seem to be a more practical mode of transportation to a country undertaking a major development program in the second half of the twentieth century.

The Kingdom's railways currently consists primarily of a single track, standard-gauge line, running for 570 kilometers from Riyadh to Dammam in the eastern region. The line, which was opened in 1951 (1370/71 AH), runs through Dhahran, Abqaiq and Al-Kharj and has benefited from substantial renovation processed in recent years. An additional line linking with Riyadh was opened in 1985 (1405/06 AH).

The Kingdom's railways are managed by the Saudi Arabian Railway Corporation (now the Saudi Government Railways Organization), established in 1966 (1396 AH) as an independent public utility, governed by a board of directors.

A train service with first-class air-conditioned carriages runs daily between Riyadh and Dammam on the east coast.

Social Scene

Although Riyadh has officially been the capital of Saudi Arabia since 1932, it played second fiddle to Jeddah until the 1970s. Built with oil boom money, Riyadh is now a high-tech oasis of glass, steel and concrete, home to huge hotels, even larger hospitals and one of the biggest airports in the world. The centre of Riyadh is called Al-Bathaa and is the oldest part of the city. Al Bathaa is home to the bus station, GPO and most other things a traveller needs. Most of Riyadh's places to stay are near the bus station, as are the coffee shops and shwarma stands.

The Riyadh Museum, to the west of Al-Bathaa, has all the usual stuff covering the history and archaeology of the kingdom from the Stone Age to early Islam. There's an interesting display on Islamic architecture and a separate Ethnographic Hall, with clothes, musical instruments, weapons and jewellery. Signs are in English and Arabic.

Once the citadel in the heart of Old Riyadh, the Masmak Fortress was built around 1865 and extensively renovated in the 1980s. Inside the mud fortress there's a nicely reconstructed traditional diwan (sitting room) with an open courtyard and a working well. The fortress is now a museum devoted to Abdul Aziz and his unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Other museums in Riyadh include the King Saud University Museum, which has a display of finds from archaeological digs, and Murabba Palace, with exhibits of traditional clothing and crafts.

The Al-Thumairi Gate, in the centre of town, is an impressive restoration of one of the 9 gates which used to lead into the city before the wall was torn down in 1950. The flash, new, modern Al-Thumairi Gate is just across the road. About 30km (20mi) out of town is one of the largest camel markets in the Middle East. It's open every day and is a fascinating place to wander around (despite the smell).

Riyadh's most interesting attraction, the ruins of Dir'aiyah, lie 30km (20mi) north of the city centre. This was the kingdom's first capital and is now the country's most popular archaeological site. Dir'aiyah was founded in 1446, reached the height of its powers at the end of the 18th century, and was razed in 1818. The reconstructed ruins include palaces, mosques and the city wall.


About Saudi Tourism - An Enriching Experience - Video

A Wonderful Tour of Saudi Arabia

Video courtesy of Saudi Tourism Website:


Mecca & Taif

Most visitors to Saudi Arabia come solely to visit Mecca, just inland from Jeddah. Mecca is Islam's holiest city, and all devout Muslims - wherever they live in the world - are supposed to make the pilgrimage (or hajj) here once in their life. This is where Mohammed was born in the 6th century AD, where he began preaching and where he returned for his final pilgrimage. Mecca and the holy sites in its immediate vicinity are off limits to non-Muslims. Apart from the obvious ideological arguments against breaking this rule, there are checkpoints along the roads to the city to stop non-Muslims from coming too close.

The centre of Mecca is the Grand Mosque and the sacred Zamzam well inside it. The Kaaba, which all Muslims face when they pray, is in the mosque's central courtyard. According to tradition, the Kaaba was originally built by Adam, and later rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael, as a replica of God's house in heaven.

In the mountains above Mecca, the summer capital of Taif is open to all. People come here for the weather (much cooler than Jeddah in the summer months), the scenery and the town's relaxed atmosphere. Taif's central mosque is a good example of simple, refined Islamic architecture. Shubra Palace is a beautifully restored traditional house which doubles as the city's museum. It was originally built around the turn of the century, and has been used as a residence by a number of Saudi kings. For a real taste of old Taif, the Tailor's Souk is a sandstone alleyway of ancient shops tucked between the town's modern buildings.


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Institution Accommodation Facilities

Most of the institutes have segregated, conveniently located and cost-effective accommodation facilities. The accommodation fees vary from institute to institute.

Note: Bus transportation is usually available for student-housing residents at no charge.

Private Rental Market

Many furnished and unfurnished apartments are available throughout Saudi Arabia. When you rent a unit in a private building you will have to sign a rental agreement or lease that specifies your rights and responsibilities and those of the property owner and his agent.


Emergency Numbers

Police 999
Fire 998
Ambulance 997
Traffic Accidents 993













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