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  #1  
Old 7 Apr 2010
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Places to see/avoid in Saudi

Hi, I'm looking for any experience of riding through Saudi, we, 2 of us, plan to ride from Qatar to the UK. I think we will be alright for 3 day visas as we are residents here. We have some biker friends in Damman, so will stop there on the first night, then our target is Aqaba.

Day two is planned for Damman to Hafralbatin, 480km, seems dull but 'do-able'

Day three is planned for Halfrabatin to Hail, 700km, a long haul! No timie to stop even if there was anything to see?

Day four is planned for Hail to Aqaba, a stonking 930km!

Question, are these distances realistic?

Is there anything worth a detour?

I wonder just how tight they are on the 3 day visa, but I can ask from my friends in Damman.

Any experience shared would be much appreciated, Rob
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Old 7 Apr 2010
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Originally Posted by QatarRider View Post
Any experience shared would be much appreciated, Rob
Rob
I went from the UAE (Sila) to Aqaba in summer 2008. It was around 3,000km. You can manage the distances you mention if have a big bike (KTM 990?). Outside the cities, the roads are fairly good and traffic-free.

The best part of Saudi (that I saw) is around Al Ula area. It has beautiful desert scenery and rock formations. If you want to visit Madain Saleh you will need 48-hour clearance from the appropriate ministry in Riyadh so it might be something your friends could work on for you in advance.

You might be given a police escort as you get further north-west which shouldn't slow you down (they drive fast). We entered Jordan on the 4th morning of the '3-day visa' and nobody at the border even mentioned it. (We still had police escort right up to the moment of exiting.)

I have some good documentaries about the Hejaz Railway on mp3. They make nice listening when you're in the area. Drop me a line if you'd like a copy.

Stephan
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Old 7 Apr 2010
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Hi Stephano, thanks for the advice, most encouraging. I think we will give Madain Saleh a miss, short of time and I'm not good at waiting in line for the pen pushers!

The police escort sounds fun! We cant decide what bikes to buy, the KTM 990 Adventure was the tool of choice, but now the new Multistrada has been released, all the road tests say it's fantastic. Apparently there will be one at the Moto GP this weekend at Lusail right here in Qatar, a chance not to miss.

Yes please to the mp3s on the Hejaz railway, rob@stepdata.net (I dont think I can PM on my 'newbie' status on the HUBB). Part of the trip is in homage to T E Lawrence (even if he didnt do everything quite like it is in the film) so the railway, the crossing the corner of the Nefud desert and entering Aqaba from the north all fit together perfectly. Shame I cant afford the 250,000 USD for a Brough!
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Old 7 Apr 2010
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The files are on their way.

You'd better delete/reformat your e-mail (rob AT stepdata DOT net) to avoid getting spammed.

Have a great trip - I read your web page. Gallipoli is a wonderful place to ride too.

Stephan
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Old 7 Apr 2010
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hello
I have a few questions. We have 2 free weeks left when we are in aqaba. So maybe we want to drive to oman and UAE. Is it worth to drive all the way through Saudi-Arabia to see Oman and UAE?
I'm also interested in the distances in Saudi-Arabia. Is the shortest/fastest way from Aqaba to UAE 3000km? and is there anybody who knows the distance from oman (by example salalah) to aqaba?

Many thanks in advance

greetz brend
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Old 7 Apr 2010
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Have you considered Sila-Haradh-Kharj-Riyadh-Buraidah-Hail-Jouf-Tabuk-Aqaba?

Riyadh National Museum - went there this morning, wish I had more time there, quite interesting!

Spare time in Jordan easy to kill, Wadi Rum (camp at Bair Ali), various Castles, Kings Highway, Roman sites. Smashing.

bin
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Old 8 Apr 2010
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Hi Bin Ridin, what is riding in Riyadh like? I made a decision to avoid the place as I heard the locals treat bike riders as targets! For my route, not going via Riyadh makes sense if I go via Damman to meet up with my biker mate, but I'd still appreciate any experience of local conditions.
My trip 'home' is starting to make loads of sense, the first part, through Saudi, Jordan and Syria will be 'in the camel hooves of Lawrence of Arabia', following the rough route of the Hejaz railway, then we swap over to being biker/divers as we hug the coast of the mediterranean and dive dive dive all the way to the top of the Adriatic, then we have to think of some other pastimes as we head through Budapest, Prague etc.....
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Old 8 Apr 2010
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Hi Bin Ridin, what is riding in Riyadh like?
I found Riyadh aggressively scary. Much worse than Sharjah where I ride every day or Delhi, Mumbai etc.

Think sexual repression and large, powerful cars and you get the idea. It was worth visiting for the Kingdom Centre but I wouldn't want to hang around there.
Stephan
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Old 8 Apr 2010
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I found Riyadh aggressively scary. Much worse than Sharjah where I ride every day or Delhi, Mumbai etc.

Think sexual repression and large, powerful cars and you get the idea.
I'd say traffic in Riyadh is the worst followed closely by Jeddah and Dammam/Khobar. Not even comparable to the tame puttering around that the rest of the Gulf does .
You need to ride like an aggressive cowboy treating the other cars like a bunch of cows, bulls and a few bears !!! Filtering constantly to keep yourself up and above the average speed limit of the herd makes sure you ride back home everyday.
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Old 8 Apr 2010
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hello Bin Ridin
yeah it is right. these places are really great. but we have been at these places twice already so it is really spare time. so still consider if it is worth to drive saudi-arabia to see oman and UAE. a great option otherwise is to take the ferry from UAE to Iran and drive that way back to europe. but I don't know if it is safe. but that is maybe something for another thread.

thanks, brend
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Old 9 Apr 2010
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a great option otherwise is to take the ferry from UAE to Iran and drive that way back to europe. but I don't know if it is safe.
Brend, what safety concerns do you have? There are no specific dangers on the route you mention other than traffic.
Stephan
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Old 9 Apr 2010
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Riyadh traffic is risky on a bike, avoid if poss. You could use taxis to get around, leaving bike at hotel or wherever. No real problem, just not a good idea if you don't know the town.
Have you been to Madain Saleh and Al Ula? Good TEL visit.
The railway station in Tabuk has been restored, I read recently, but I have not been there.
After Tabuk, which crossing are you heading for? You could follow north to Halit Amma where there are remnants of the Hijaz Railway., and 15kms over the border, there is a road to the West towards Wadi Rum. I did not try it as I was alone and I think it is not all paved. Would love to ride it next time. Stayed in Bait Ali camp, recommended. Good stuff on Google Earth.
Bin
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Old 9 Apr 2010
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hello Stephan
safety concerns about Iran i mean. our government says to all inhabitants to avoid the country. when it is safe and no problem to travel there then we would love to go there and make a little round trip, turkey syria jordan saudi arabia oman UAE iran and turkey. that would be great.

thanks
brend
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Old 10 Apr 2010
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Hi Bin Ridin, we plan to cross at Halit Amma, but then turn south to Aqaba, well to follow in the camel hooves of T E Lawrence you have to approach Aqaba overland dont you. We plan to dive the Cedar Prize, then a day in Petra, then follow a bit more of the Hejaz railway on an off to Amman, then Damascus, then turn left for Beruit, more diving, back into Syria, Antioch to see the holy hand grenade, Aleppo, then Turkey etc etc
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Old 10 Apr 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QatarRider View Post
Hi, I'm looking for any experience of riding through Saudi, we, 2 of us, plan to ride from Qatar to the UK. I think we will be alright for 3 day visas as we are residents here. We have some biker friends in Damman, so will stop there on the first night, then our target is Aqaba.

Day two is planned for Damman to Hafralbatin, 480km, seems dull but 'do-able'

Day three is planned for Halfrabatin to Hail, 700km, a long haul! No timie to stop even if there was anything to see?

Day four is planned for Hail to Aqaba, a stonking 930km!

Question, are these distances realistic?

Is there anything worth a detour?

I wonder just how tight they are on the 3 day visa, but I can ask from my friends in Damman.

Any experience shared would be much appreciated, Rob
What time of year are you travelling? I cannot emphasise how tough it is to do long distances here in summer. You will be very ill if you do 900 km days in the summer heat.

There is good advice here from the Saudi guys (Hi Lar, Vik)

Avoid the center of Riyadh at any time of day or night unless it is very early morning like 5-6 am. Some of the local youths may think it's fun to drive you off the road (or stone you )

Three places worth seeing in KSA:

The Empty Quarter

Al Ula/Medain Saleh/the route of the Hejaz railway

Wahba Crater on the highway from Riyadh - Jeddah


It's a big country and 3 days doesn't give you much time for sightseeing.
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Last edited by redsnapper; 13 Apr 2010 at 09:42.
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