Saudi driving license for women. How to apply and convert the international license.

Saudi driving license for women. How to apply and convert the international license.

It finally happened.  Girls power won and women in Saudi Arabia got their right to drive cars, bikes, motorbikes, ubers and whatever they want to drive.  Now it`s time to face the machine of bureaucracy and become the queens of the roads. Fasten your seatbelt and follow these steps to have a smooth and fast ride.

Can I drive with the international driving license in Saudi or should I convert it to the Saudi one?

According to information I got, you can drive in Saudi with your original driving license or international driving permit for the first three months of your stay. After this period, you should convert it to the Saudi license. Temporary visitors on business visas can drive the car with an International or Domestic driving license.

 

How to convert your current driving license to a Saudi one? Step by step guide for expats and Saudis with  licenses from outside Saudi Arabia.

 

1. Translate your existing driving license to Arabic

You will need it to complete the online registration and to make an appointment for the next steps.

I did my translation at RENAISSANCE Translation Office. They translate from English to Arabic for 50 SAR. It`s enough to send them a photo or scan of your document by email: info@aljarboulaw.com and you will get the translation done the next day. Usually the price for such service should be between 40 and 100 SAR, depending on the language.

2. Open MOI (Absher) account

To start procedure of converting your license you need to have an account at Ministry of Interior (Absher). You can register here.

Be aware that the website doesn’t work on all browsers (as in my case in Firefox). If you open the page and it`s blank, try from another one.

To complete registration, you will need to provide the information such as your ID number or mobile phone. At the end of the procedure you will be asked to validate your account. I did it through online banking, but the other option was to do it at certain points in the city (there is a list to choose the best location for you).

Remember to write down your password and username. You will use your Absher account not only to apply for a driving license, but in the future, this is a place where you can see your fines and traffic violations and other personal information.

3. Log into the Saudi Driving License Portal to make your appointment and send documents

To schedule the appointment for a Saudi license you will have to log into https://www.sdlp.sa/login . Use the same username and password as you created in step number 2. Unfortunately for now the website is only in Arabic version, so to complete the procedure you may need help from an Arabic speaker.

You will be asked to upload scans of the following documents:

  • Iqama (Residency card)
  • Domestic driving license
  • Arabic translation of your current driving license

Once you are done with it, you can choose the appointment in Moroor Traffic Office for your driving test and obtain (finally!) the license. There are two locations in Riyadh which you can choose: next to the airport (https://goo.gl/maps/KnK1ZEc5gFT2) and in Rimal area (https://goo.gl/maps/8z7mazetBVC2)

4. Pay the deposit fee

Before you go to your appointment you need to pay the new license fees. It can be done by SADAD payments. Cost: 200 SAR for 5 years and 400 for 10 years .

5. Get the medical report

To get the medical report you need to go to one of many authorized hospitals in the city (the list is available in Saudi Driving License Portal. I did mine at Suleiman al Habib Hospital. You will be asked only to do an eye and blood test to determine your blood type. Once you are done, they will send your report to Moroor electronicly (they might ask about your sponsorship number – it starts with 700 number and you can get it from your employer). Once the report is sent to Moroor, you will receive a confirmation by SMS. Medical tests are covered by insurance, otherwise you have to pay around 120 SAR).

6. Driving test and printing your license

Once you are done with above steps you can go to your appointment at Morroor Traffic Office. Don`t fortget to bring your current licence, translatioan and Iqama. After you register at the reception, you can submit your documents and proceed to the square to do your driving test. Below picture shows what you will be examined about:

 

You will be driving alone in the car and the officer will be watching you from outside. To pass the exam you will have to park in parallel and do a three point turn. But don’t panic! The officers are very lenient and polite, not very strict, so I am sure that as long as you don’t crash the car into the wall or do another disaster you will pass the test 😊

Important tip: don’t be like me and drink too much water before your exam. Apparently there is no woman toilet there 😊

After the test, the officer will go back with you to the office to finalize the procedure and print your driving license. And this is when the fun part starts. Good luck and see you on the road!

 

 

 

Saudi driving license for women
Truths and myths about life in Saudi Arabia #1

Truths and myths about life in Saudi Arabia #1

Every time when I come to Europe I am questioned how is to live in a “golden cage” as Saudi Arabia is often called. Especially in Poland, a country where basically there are not many Saudis, people can not imagine how an ordinary day looks like. Oil, dollars, princess, terrorists, camels, desert …  I didn`t know more three years ago.

1. I HAVE TO COVER MYSLEF

Truth. In Saudi Arabia every woman in public places mandatory has to wear abaya. It is a kind of loose cloak covering the feminine shapes. Usually in black, although becoming more common concessions to this rule. But not every abaya is the same and you can find really beautifully crafted ones. Saudi mastered the art of decorating: flowers, colorful ornaments and stones make even an ordinary black cloth looking nice. The greatest proof of this is the fact that such designers as Gucci and Dior sew special collections for Saudi women.

In addition, every woman should cover her hair wih scarf called Hijab. This law is less strictly followed and you can meet on the streets a woman with uncovered hair, but always with a scarf around neck, in case of religious police called muttawa ask for it.

Saudi women with their own choice often cover also face by niqab and even hands with gloves.

2. WOMEN CAN NOT DRIVE

Truth. In Saudi Arabia is strictly forbidden to drive a car by a woman and attempts to break this law are punishable by lashing. However, most families employ their private driver. Also the city is full of taxis as well as applications like Uber or Easy Taxi have become extremely popular. Actually there is no public transport but this will change soon due to building of first subway in Riyadh. Increasingly, we hear that the government is slowly preparing society for the abolition of this law.

3. BESIDES CIVILIAN POLICE LIFE OF RESIDENTS ALSO CONTROLS RELIGIOUS POLICE

Truth. Called muttawa or oficially Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Deals with enforcement of compliance with Islamic law, such as dress code and covering, separation of women and men and respect of prayer times. Personally, I had contact with them only a few times when I was asked to cover my hair.  Quite easy to recognize because they do not wear uniforms only characteristic Saudi robe – bisht and long beards.

4. SAUDI ARABIA IS BACKWARD COUNTRY

Myth. How many times I have heard the question if I live in a tent and if I ride a camel... No, I live in the house and go to work by ordinary car ;( There are new universities, also many Saudis study abroad, coming back to the country and trying to implement Western lifestyle. As a very attractive market to invest, many companies opened here their branches. Riyadh is exploding city, despite the crisis still full of investments.

5. ALCOHOL AND PORK ARE PROHIBITED IN SAUDI ARABIA

Truth. Alcohol in Saudi Arabia is completely prohibited. Completely means that there is no in hotels and shops (well, unless Budweiser 0%) and attempting to smuggle severely penalized.

6. I CAN GO OUT AND TRAVEL ONLY ASSISTED BY MAN

Myth. Quite the opposite – company of a man who is not husband or family is forbidden. So in my case I would not have any option to do anything. I go everywhere alone – to shops, banks, restaurants and never heard the command to come back with a man. I can also leave the country without permission of my company.

7. THERE ARE NO CINEMAS, THEATERS AND CLUBS IN SAUDI ARABIA

Truth. First of all any form of public music is banned – it means when you go to Bershka or another shop in the mall, you will even not hear loud songs like in any other country. The second reason for banning on cinemas and theaters is that in such places it is easier to mix between sexes. As well harsh censorship does not allow to display many movies.

8. DAY IN SAUDI ARABIA DEPENDS ON PRAYERS

Truth. One of the main pillars of Islam is prayer 5 times a day. In Saudi Arabia all restaurants, offices and shops are closed for prayer time, even the ones in shopping malls. If I plan to do some things in the city, I always consider that at the time of my arrival everything may be closed. After some time expats get used to it and treat prayer time as the next coffee break.

It is also forbidden to cultivate a religion other than Islam, this also applies to holding a Bible or even a cross.

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9. SAUDI ARABIA IS FULL OF MONEY… AND OIL

Myth. Not all Saudis are rich and earn a fortune. Many of them earn as much as the average in Europe and live on modest level. Saudi Arabia is a country of contrasts, so you can see a woman begging on the street and right after Saudi spending fortune on shopping. The truth is that average citizen employs maid and driver, also children have nanny but here this is not a sign of luxury. Middle East countries have become rich quickly on the extraction of oil.  Price 0.23 $ per liter is still impressive (last year was approx. 0.15 $), but the truth is that some day oil will finish so Saudi Arabia is looking for alternative sources to finance its expenditure.

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10. I CAN`T GO TO RESTAURANT IN MIXED COMPANY OR GO ON A DATE

Truth, but expats have found way to circumvent the law. First of all, in the closed areas for expacts, called compounds life looks quite the same as in Europe. There is no abaya, religious police and harsh rules. In order to legally go out to a restaurant in a larger, mixed company, just take with you one marriage and you will be treated as a family. All restaurants, offices, banks have separate entrances for men (single section) and women and families (family section). Even queues in MacDonald are determined according to these rules.

11. AS A TOURIST I CAN NOT COME TO SAUDI ARABIA

Truth. If you’re not a Muslim going to Mecca, it is not possible to come to the country as a tourist. Saudi Arabia only issues business visas.

Silver Sands Beach Resort – because there are some places in Saudi Arabia where you can feel like in Europe

Silver Sands Beach Resort – because there are some places in Saudi Arabia where you can feel like in Europe

Everybody knows Egypt, its golden beaches and blue waters of the Red Sea. But the Red Sea is not only Egypt. The largest part of the coast, nearly 1800 km is the land of Saudi Arabia. Also rich in coral reefs and sandy beaches but inaccessible for tourists.
Not being the owner of the Saudi sizeable villa on the coast, for cultural reasons and the law is almost impossible to sunbathing and swimming in the sea. Almost, because in Jeddah there are several resorts. They are privately owned, so it is acceptable to wear western clothes or rather the lack of thembikini also allowed.
Resort have visited is Silver Sand Beach Resort in the north of the city, in an area called North Obhur.

Getting there

Resort is located approx. 40 km from the city center. Not many residents of Jeddah know about the place. Stuff from our hotel did not even know anything about private resorts, neither taxi driver so we used Google Maps (coordinates: 21.7727N 39.0556 E). Comming from Medinah Road to the north should be directed to the district of North Obhur. Resort is not marked and it looks very inconspicuously from the outside. At the gate you can see only the words “private beach”.

Price

A single entry during the weekend costs 150 SAR (approx. 35 EUR), admission for children is the cost of 100 SAR (approx. EUR 25). There is also an annual membership for the price of SAR 5,000 (approx. EUR 1200).

Facilities

Surface of the site seems to be quite large. There are plenty of sun beds and umbrellas, showers as well but resort does not rent the towels so you have to take your own. It`s divided into two parts, the first is a beach with shallow access to water and a small island in the middle. The second has access from the shore to deep water so usually is occupied by fishing or doing water sports people (kite surfing, windsurfing, snurkling). Besides, there is also a large playground for children, restaurant, water bicycles, volleyball court.

Silver Sand Resort is described as one of the best resorts in Jeddah. For me it is one of the few occasions where I could forget that I am in Saudi Arabia and feel like on vacation. The price for admission is definitely worth a day spent on the clean, sandy beach in the crystal blue water and climate of Western resorts.

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