Dubai: If you are contemplating whether travelling on a plane or driving to Saudi Arabia is cheaper, instead you can take a bus from the UAE to Dammam or Riyadh on a roundtrip for less than Dh400.
Visitors travelling from the UAE can take the bus operated by the Saudi Arabia Public Transportation Company (SAPTCO), from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. SAPTCO is a publicly owned company in Saudi Arabia that operates public transport services in Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Makkah and Medina.
According to SAPTCO website, the official SAPTCO ticketing agent in the UAE is Belad Al Sham Passenger Transport, which arranges daily trips for passengers to Dammam and Riyadh.
How much does it cost to travel to Saudi Arabia by bus?
According to Abdulrahman Tawfic Akill, the manager at Belad Al Sham Passenger Transport, these are the ticket prices per person:
• One-way trip – Dh250
• Two-way trip – Dh380
• One-way trip – Dh220
• Two-way trip – Dh325
Discounted ticket rates for children:
“Children under the age of two can travel for free and children from the age of two to 12 years get a 30 per cent discount on the bus ticket,” Akill said.
Children under the age of two can travel for free and children from the age of two to 12 years get a 30 per cent discount.
Where to buy bus tickets for Saudi Arabia
You can buy the tickets in two ways:
1. Online from the SAPTCO website: https://www.saptco.com.sa/TripReservation/Search.aspx or
2. Through the Belad Al Sham Passenger Transport office located in Deira, Dubai and Al Shahamah, Abu Dhabi (location details can be found below).
The ticket office is open from Saturday to Thursday from 9am to 10pm. On Friday, the office timings are from 11am to 10pm.
Akill advised that passengers must book the bus tickets at least one or two days in advance.
How to pay for bus tickets
If you visit the ticketing office, you can book and pay for the tickets with cash or a credit card. If you reserve a ticket through the SAPTCO website, you will have to pay for the amount online via your credit or debit card.
How to book bus tickets from Dubai to Dammam and Riyadh online:
1. Visit this link from the SAPTCO website - https://www.saptco.com.sa/TripReservation/Search.aspx
2. Next, select if it is a one-way trip, round trip or a multiple-destination trip.
3. Enter your arrival and departure city.
4. Select the travel date.
5. Enter the number of passengers.
6. Click the ‘Search’ button.
7. Agree to the terms and conditions.
8. Next, you will be able to view the timings, ticket price and the duration of the trip, and click ‘Book’.
9. Then, select the timings for the return date and click ‘Book’.
10. Next, enter the ‘passenger information'. This includes:
• Your full name
• Select the document type: Passport, National ID, Iqama or Residence Visa. If you are a non-GCC citizen enter your passport number.
• Select your nationality and gender.
• Enter your date of birth.
11. Enter your contact information – this includes your mobile number and email address.
12. Click ‘Continue’.
13. Next, confirm the tickets and pay for the amount online via your credit or debit card. Next, you will get a confirmation and receive the bus tickets on your registered email address.
Once you have received the tickets, take a printout and keep it with your Saudi visa and passport copy. Once the bus reaches Saudi Arabia’s border, immigration officials will require you to submit a physical copy of your tickets, Saudi visa and passport.
Important documents for bus passengers travelling from UAE to Saudi Arabia
According to Belad Al Sham Passenger Transport, passengers must make sure they have a printout of all the required documents when they board the bus and ensure that their passport is valid for at least six months.
For UAE residents:
• Emirates ID
• Valid residence permit
• Print out of eVisa for GCC residents. Click here to learn how you can apply for a Saudi eVisa.
• Bus ticket
• Saudi visit visa – Visitors from over 49 countries are eligible for Saudi eVisa, click here to find out more. However, if you are not from the eligible countries, you can apply for a Saudi visa from an authorised travel agent or through the Saudi consulate in your country.
• A valid UAE visit visa, which will also be needed when you return to the UAE.
• Bus ticket
However, it is advisable to always check with the authorised ticket agent on the required travel documents before you book the tickets.
“We go through all the documents before travelling to make sure they are all valid when we reach the immigration checkpoint,” Akill said.
What are the bus timings?
The bus travels from UAE to Dammam and Riyadh every day. Here are the bus timings.
• For Dammam, the bus departs from Dubai at 2pm (UAE time).
• For Riyadh, the bus departs from Dubai at 3pm (UAE Time).
It is important to note that bus timings are subject to change, you will be informed by the ticketing office if there are any changes.
Bus pick-up points
According to Belad Al Sham Passenger Transport, the SAPTCO bus has three main bus stops in the UAE:
1. Dubai: Bin Rasheed Building, Al Khaleej Road, Frij Al Murar
2. Sharjah: Behind King Faisal Mosque
3. Abu Dhabi: Al Nahhat Street, Al Shahamah
The ticketing office for Dubai and Sharjah are located near the bus stops.
How long does it take to travel from UAE to Dammam and Riyadh?
“The trip usually takes eight to 12 hours, and the bus does not make any stops,” Akill said.
He added that once the bus reaches the Saudi border, customs clearance takes almost two hours.
Bus drop-off locations in Dammam and Riyadh
The bus will drop off passengers at these two bus stations:
1. SAPTCO Riyadh Bus Station in Al Aziziyah
2. SAPTCO Dammam Bus Station in As Salam
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