If you’re wondering whether flying or driving to Saudi Arabia from the UAE is cheaper, consider taking a bus operated by the Saudi Arabia Public Transportation Company (SAPTCO) instead. Belad Al Sham Passenger Transport is the official SAPTCO ticketing agent in the UAE, arranging daily trips to Dammam and Riyadh.
Here are the ticket prices per person, according to Abdulrahman Tawfic Akill, the manager at Belad Al Sham Passenger Transport:
- Riyadh: One-way trip for Dh250, two-way trip for Dh380
- Dammam: One-way trip for Dh220, two-way trip for Dh325
Discounts for children: Children under two can travel for free, while children aged two to 12 get a 30% discount on the bus ticket.
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.
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.
• Bus ticket
• Saudi visit visa – Visitors from over 49 countries are eligible for Saudi eVisa. 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.
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.
Passengers are allowed to carry luggage weighing a maximum of 50kg. If the luggage is above 50kg, passengers will be charged Dh3 per kg for excess baggage.
The bus trip from the UAE to Dammam and Riyadh typically takes 8 to 12 hours, without any stops. However, customs clearance at the Saudi border can take nearly two hours.
Passengers will be dropped off at the SAPTCO bus stations in Al Aziziyah for Riyadh and As Salam for Dammam.