The Taxi will be your biggest issue if you don’t have a driving license in Saudi (or of you are a woman). We will explain in this article how to manage getting around the 2nd largest country in the Middle east using paid transportation. How to get the best deals. And how to stay safe while doing all this.
The Saudi City geography
Saudi Cities developed based on a Horizontal plan. You will find only limited amount of tall buildings and skyscrapers. This development plan helped the development of a large amount of the dessert of the country. Also created wide cities with little population. The American style of routes and traffic control made it easier to drive through the large cities. But for Dammam and other small cities wich built using the British system. Crossroads and traffic light made it crowded. You will travel fewer kilometers but in longer times.
Obtaining a driving license and a car is your first priority after you get your resident ID. International driving license is not approved in Saudi. You must get a Saudi license once you can. Traveling from one location to another is a hard process as the distance is always far. Don’t expect to walk your way as the weather doesn’t help and also the distance is huge. Public transportation almost doesn’t exist. Except for a couple of buses that take limited routes. Hafela which is a small bus with no air condition. Is also another public transportation mean that is not recommended. The best transportation mean if you don’t own a car and no friend will pass by to get you is the Taxi.
Women Can’t Drive
If you are a woman living in Saudi. Moving from one place to another will be one of the hardest things that you must take care for before going out. Normal Taxi is available, but they are not secure. Also, taxi drivers always have their headphones and talking on the phone while driving. And you may find the car smelly because of the special kind of perfume taxi drivers use. While you can’t drive your own car (but you can fly a plan if you have one) Still you can get harassed while in a Taxi. By time, you will know some private drivers which you can call and arrange your trip.
Taxi in Saudi
Taxi in Saudi is a white colored vehicle. with a yellow taxi sign on the roof and large taxi sticker on the doors. Most of Taxi drivers are expats from the east of Asia. A taximeter is not used, Although it’s installed in every vehicle. They will just claim that it doesn’t work. Normal private cars used illegally as Taxi. If you are waiting for a taxi and found a car stopping and asking to take you for this ride. It’s a normal thing, but still not recommended due to security reasons.
If you decide to take a taxi from one location to the other. Please follow the below steps for a better experience;
1- Don’t’ use Taxi Use Uber
Uber is a worldwide taxi service that is operating in Saudi. It’s simple and safe to use. Install the application (If you use this link you will get free first ride of 50 SAR) set the location that you want to go. The application will give you the estimated cost of the trip and expected time. When the Car arrives at your location you will get a notification on your mobile. You will enjoy a great service and convenience in the car till you reach your location. Then payment is Deducted from your bank card you used during registration.
Careem is another mobile private taxi service That you can use. They Have more promotions than Uber.
Register through this link and get 20 SAR credit.
Once you register you will get a 50 SAR credit that you can use anytime.
2- Bargain a price
If you still want to use the normal taxi and you feel that Uber is over priced, Just stand in the street. Wave to any empty Taxi car. When he stop before ou get it. Tell him the exact location you want to go. Know how much does he want for this ride (Just say “kaam?”) The first price he says is double the normal fair. So Just offer him 50% less. If he refuses you walk away. (Keep in mind the Uber price as a benchmark)
3- Keep safe, keep clean
After getting the price you want. Don’t just jump in the car. Check the driver and make sure he knows the place that you are going to. Make sure that the care is clean and doesn’t have a strange smell. Male rides beside the Driver and Females ride in the back seat. If the driver is using a mobile (Which 90% of them fo) just ask him to hang up because this is dangerous. Make sure that everything is clear because drivers speak little Arabic and English. So communication and arguments will not be easy.