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Road Trip to Saudi Arabia & Qatar

Road Trip to Saudi Arabia & Qatar

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Old Mar 2, 14, 9:54 am
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Road Trip to Saudi Arabia & Qatar

A TR from a road trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & Qatar.

My previous trip reports can be found at the links below:

A Trip to Afghanistan
A Journey Through Kyrgyzstan
A Trip Around The Arabian Gulf
A Trip To Yemen
A Trip To Jordan & Israel
A Southern African Adventure
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Old Mar 2, 14, 10:10 am
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Unfortunately visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (besides business or pilgrimage travel) is not easy. MatthewLAX & hauteboy managed to secure transit visa's for stopover air travel, however many other people have not been as successful.

After reading a recent thread on the possibility of visiting via car with a transit visa enroute to a neighbouring GCC country, I decided to give it a shot and see if it was possible.

After organising about 10 different pieces of paperwork, and a few false starts, I was successful in getting a 3 day transit to travel overland from the UAE to Qatar via Saudi Arabia.


The plan for the trip was to drive from Dubai to the city of Al Hofuf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, a distance of ~700 kilometers (435 miles).


After getting up at early Friday morning, I was on the road and heading west by 3:30am.


About to take the Abu Dhabi bypass road and on to Saudi Arabia.


Topping up the tank before the long drive to the UAE-KSA border. Petrol price = $US0.48 per liter ($US1.80 per gallon).


Dawn on the drive west. In the distance on the right the UAE government is spending $30 billion to build a 4 reactor, 5600 MW, nuclear power plant.


70 more kilometres to the border.


At the border, saying good bye to the UAE...


...and making a successful crossing into Saudi Arabia! The border crossing was relatively painless and took ~40 minutes from start to finish, and involved paperwork and paying a 35 AED (~$10USD) exit tax on the UAE side, crossing no mans land, then processing my passport, car registration, fingerprints, buying car insurance and then a vehicle inspection (for contraband) on the Saudi side. The Saudi border guys were quite friendly and polite too.


266km's to my destination Al Ahsaa/Hofuf. Some of muslim colleagues have driven overland to Makkah, which is ~2000 km's from Dubai!


Stopping on the way to admire the barren but still beautiful Saudi desert.


The Chevy V8 really lapped up the long stretches of straight desert road.


Another trip that didn't end too well though.


A row of 'mud' sprayed cars at a roadside Mosque at Salwa, near the KSA-Qatar border crossing. The 'mud' is to protect the car paintwork from being literally sandblasted from driving across the desert.


Camels on the road to Hofuf.


Ibrahim Palace, built in 1555 by the Ottoman empire. I arrived in Hofuf at about midday.


I then checked in at the Al-Ghazal Hotel. Very reasonable for 137 riyals (~$US37) for the night.


After crashing for a bit after the early start and long drive, I headed out to explore the city. Cinnamon & spices at the local souq.


Home appliances.


Asian expats relaxing in the square on their day off.


An old American school bus now in a second life to transport labourers.


Pots & pans.


I bought a couple of souvenir camels for 3 riyals ($US0.80) each.


Filling up the tank again...


...for only $US0.12 a liter ($US0.45 a gallon)!


I had dinner at a local restaurant, and got a decent feed for 64 riyals ($US17).


Got up early on Saturday morning, checked out of the hotel, and was on the road by 5:45am.


138 kilometers to the Qatar-KSA border.


At a roadside restaurant for a pitstop before heading over the border into Qatar.


The border crossing was again very easy, and ~40 minutes from start to finish. I then headed on the main highway north-east to Doha.


At the Villagio Mall in Doha.


A Kuwait team taking on the locals in an ice hockey match.


Aspire Tower, built for the 2006 Asian games.


Breakfast at TGI Fridays to fuel me for the long drive back to Dubai.


Filling up the tank again in Qatar. The price was about double that in Saudi, but about half that of the UAE.


Back in the Kingdom!


82 kilometre's to the border.


Some locals doing some dune-bashing.


Getting some Saudi chocolates for my colleagues back in Dubai before crossing the border.


After the third and final border crossing for the day, I was back in the UAE!


On the home stretch, but still keeping an eye out for stray camels.


Back home in Dubai after driving 1682 km's over 2 days!
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Old Mar 2, 14, 11:21 am
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Thanks for the wonderful trip report!
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Old Mar 2, 14, 1:16 pm
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Awesome! Glad that transit visa worked out for you as well... I wish I'd seen more than Jeddah!
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Old Mar 2, 14, 1:28 pm
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Nice report! It's nice to see a road trip by car for a change
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Old Mar 2, 14, 5:33 pm
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How much longer would it have taken you to go on to Bahrain and return--would it be possible?
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Old Mar 2, 14, 9:12 pm
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Thanks & keep up the interesting reports.
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Old Mar 2, 14, 9:18 pm
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Originally Posted by blackmamba View Post
Thanks for the wonderful trip report!
Cheers, blackmamba. Alot of miles but was great to see the endless deserts of the 3 countries up close.

Originally Posted by hauteboy View Post
Awesome! Glad that transit visa worked out for you as well... I wish I'd seen more than Jeddah!
Thanks, hauteboy. Yes, was great to get a peek at a new country, if only for a weekend.

Originally Posted by HangukStyle View Post
Nice report! It's nice to see a road trip by car for a change
Cheers, HangukStyle. Yes, a bit different from my 'fly-somewhere' trips, really enjoyed it though.

Originally Posted by CHSDOC View Post
How much longer would it have taken you to go on to Bahrain and return--would it be possible?
Hofuf to Manama is ~200k's, so not too far. Very possible, I think you can also transit all the way to Kuwait if you wanted to.

Originally Posted by anyludes View Post
Thanks & keep up the interesting reports.
Thanks, anyludes. Got some more trips coming up so hopefully I'll get a few more TR's up here.
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Old Mar 2, 14, 11:46 pm
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This was great! Thanks for treating us to such an exotic road trip!
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Old Mar 3, 14, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by Seat 2A View Post
This was great! Thanks for treating us to such an exotic road trip!
Thank you, Seat2A. I was a bit apprehensive beforehand about travelling so far, in another country, in such isolated roads. I even stocked up the car with plenty of water bottles & food in case I got stuck in the middle of nowhere with a breakdown etc. Had no issues though, everything worked out fine, and now want to do it again.
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Old Mar 3, 14, 10:56 am
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Wow thanks for the fantastic report! I'm going to rely on you and hauteboy when I research transit visas later this year!
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Old Mar 3, 14, 10:57 am
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Cool report (as usual!).
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Old Mar 3, 14, 2:48 pm
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Awesome trip! How dense was the traffic on the highway in the middle of the desert in Saudi Arabia? In case you indeed broke down there
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Old Mar 3, 14, 11:18 pm
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I love this trip report. On one hand, I appreciate you showing us the lovely pics of your trip. On the other hand, I'm jealous that you were able to take this trip - I want to go on your next adventure!
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Old Mar 4, 14, 1:36 am
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Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
Wow thanks for the fantastic report! I'm going to rely on you and hauteboy when I research transit visas later this year!
Thanks, ironmanjt. Yes, the visa process was abit daunting, needed quite abit of extra paperwork since I was taking my car across the border, but once I had everything, it was approved in ~24 hours. You have to use a visa service in Dubai (~$65 total) which made things alot easier. May be a good option if the Saudi embassy in the US isn't too helpful.

Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
Cool report (as usual!).
Cheers, Matthew. I had originally given up trying to visit the Kingdom, but the intrepid FTer's like yourself gave me hope.

Originally Posted by König View Post
Awesome trip! How dense was the traffic on the highway in the middle of the desert in Saudi Arabia? In case you indeed broke down there
Thank you, König. 2-3 cars/trucks a minute, so not too bad, enough to hitch a ride if I needed anyway.

Originally Posted by dgxoxo View Post
I love this trip report. On one hand, I appreciate you showing us the lovely pics of your trip. On the other hand, I'm jealous that you were able to take this trip - I want to go on your next adventure!
Cheers, dgxoxo. Just packing for my next trip now, abit more conventional but hopefully just as photogenic, Japan.
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