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-   -   Saudi Arabia and women riders.... (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/middle-east/saudi-arabia-and-women-riders-44301)

Lisa Thomas 27 Jul 2009 05:08

Saudi Arabia and women riders....
OK - so this is our 6th year of being on the road and you would think that things get easier with practice..? Nope!
We were going to head from the Stans and from Turkmenistan into Iran....however....currently as this would cause lots of problems time-wise and cost we are re-considering our route.
now we are looking at going from Azerbaijan ..heading down into Turkey- syria - Jordan - then Saudi Arabia- UAE...then Iran. a big diversion.

However, I am a little concerned that after reading the FCO advise on Saudi Arabia which states "It is illegal for women to drive"
As I ride my own motorbike...is there any advice..or is this just for the residents of the country and not travelers and those in transit?

I must admit I have just started researching this 'new' area as the difficulties and costs of visas in central asia have been doing my head in.
any advice appreciated as currently I just want to have a big drink and drown all my troubles - and its only 11 am!

ozhanu 27 Jul 2009 09:52


try to contact benka pulko. as far as i know she was the only one who rode in S.Arabia on her own.
Benka Pulko - 1 Woman, 1 Motorcycle, 1 World

hope this helps

redsnapper 31 Jul 2009 08:37

Hi Lisa

I've lived in Saudi for several years. Women drivers are not allowed in KSA, and I am 99% certain that this applies to transit visa holders too.

I suggest you try to contact the local consulate or embassy in your current country.



PS Try the Saudi foreign affairs web site, it is in english and you may find guidance there.

Indoors 5 Aug 2009 16:08

A few years ago some friends in Dubai were planning to ride their bikes back to the UK. The female in the party had to arrange for a guy to ride her bike through Saudi while she flew to Jordan to meet them. Not sure if that is what actually happened in the end but as Red says, women can't drive/ride in Saudi. On a transit visa, you'd also be expected to whizz through Saudi as quickly as possible and not linger which can mean long days in the saddle.

Another possibility might be to put the bike on the back of a pick-up and get it driven through to the UAE but I doubt if that is something you can arrange in advance.


P.S. Excuse my ignorance but why can't you cross from Turkey into northern Iran and miss out the rest? If you do make it to the UAE, try and spend a few days in Oman too.

Adrian DXB 11 Aug 2009 04:54

Hi Lisa,

You are my first posting!
Having spent a couple of years in KSA, I have not heard of any woman officially driving.

On the transit visa issue, I am planning to fly my bike from the UAE to UK & ride back to Dubai / Oman originally via Iran (I have some waypoints from SW of Tehran to Bandar Abbas, if you are intersted with some fuel stations marked), however being a British passport holder & with the recent difficulties I have decided to go Syria / Jordan / KSA.

My passport hass been submitted, via an agent - due to not being able to go direct to the KSA Embassy, since the 30JUL. The cost was AED160.00, my sponsor's letter had to state where I was entering & exiting, i.e. Jordan to UAE, I think they allow 7 days for this run & 3 days for, say Jordan / Kuwait.

I have been in Iran twice on business in the last 8 months, lovely people, 180 degrees from what the media would have us believe.

I guess what I'm saying is, the route of least resistance would be Iran. Tehran is very busy, slower than Cairo, but can feel as congested.

All the best, ride safe.


Adrian DXB 11 Aug 2009 08:50


Also, don't forget The Holy Month of Ramadan is fast approaching, we are being told it should start around 20AUG - no eating, drinking, smoking in public during daylight hours. Religious feelings are more sensitive during this time & getting caught, could cause problems. The temperature in Dubai this morning is about 41 Deg C actaul but with humidity the apparent is a lot higher. A camelbak or similar would be a must to keep hydrated, & not be seen obviously drinking.

Not forgetting the inherent dangers of hungry local individuals with low blood sugar driving Land Cruisers / Nissan Patrols / Lumina SS's racing home to break the day's fast.

In addition, you may have a large influx of travellers into KSA to visit the Mecca / Medina, so the border will be very busy.

After Ramadan there will be Eid, again lots of cross border traffic.

B/Rgds Adrian.

P.S I heard back on my transit visa progress this morning - the Saudi Embassy wanted to give me one that means I would have to travel tomorrow from Jordan!

Lisa Thomas 19 Aug 2009 05:27

Iran not possible.....
Hi Adrian..thanks for all your info. we experienced Ramadan once already. no probs really..just the heat. hope your travels are going well! Still have ideas re the Saudi thing- currently using 'contacts' there.......
Indoors- we have been refused an Iranian visa - hence change in route.

we will check on this once again to see if the situation has changed when we get a little closer - but currently being on a British passport is not helping this situation.

beddhist 19 Aug 2009 05:39

You can't even get a transit visa for Saudi if you are not a resident in the UAE. This from my friend Stephan who does live there and did the trip. His transit visa was for only 3 days.


Adrian DXB 26 Aug 2009 09:45

On the KSA visa issue - I have been advised from a couple of sources - one, a Company who handles visa submissions in DXB, that I can apply in Jordan, not at the border, but at the KSA Embassy. I need to show my carnet & having a UAE residency, I think, is important, although Brits can arrive at the UAE borders (at least from Oman & at the Airport) & obtain one on arrival.
re the duration of the transit visa - I understand you get three days for Syria to Kuwait & seven for Syria to UAE.

I checked last week with our office in Tehran about the situation & was told "now is not a good time"

Best of luck Adrian

amm009uk 31 Aug 2009 21:40

Shipping the bike...
I can't imagine a women driving here let alone on a bike:palm: I think the only option is to have the bike shipped from the Jordan border down to UAE border. Most of that is not pleasant anyway and the top half of Saudi along the long highway close to Iraq has limited petrol stations. I suggest contacting the local Harley dealer in Saudi and checking with them on shipping options. Their members ship often from what I've gathered. Give me a shout if you need help finding a shipper here in case I can do some local digging.

From what I've gathered Iran is stunning and the locals are very very friendly. Also as someone mentioned, if you go all the way to UAE you really should visit Oman. It is stunning in places and probably the most relaxed.

Good luck!

Adrian DXB 30 Sep 2009 17:07


Just to let you know I had my trip terminated for me by the Consul himself in the KSA Consulate in Jordan - they declined to issue a transit visa - I posted in another location - Bike Friendly, Middle East Section on the forum.

Don't waste your time with Saudi - they are not interested.

I now have to fly my bike from Jordan to DXB

I did however make John O'Groats to Jordan in 12 days, which was good going.

Good luck with your travels


Dessertstrom 15 Oct 2009 11:35

Saudi NO GO
I spent twenty years in Saudi and verry little has changed, just returned to England in April.
Having biked all over the country I know how difficult it would be even if you did get a transit visa,which you won't. It can be difficult for a male resident at times. I do know of a wife of a friend who used to ride pillion to a quiet area and then swap with her husband and ride for miles but there are police checkpoints all over the place so if you don't know the area you would get stopped and you would get put in jail.
Females are NOT allowed to drive unless it is an emergency like her husband is injured and can't drive himself.
Strange thing is though you will see young boys that can hardly reach the pedals driving around and not getting stopped by the police.

2aroundtheworld 17 Oct 2009 11:28

Well we are in Khartoum right now trying to get a transit visa and no luck so far. The agent who was helping us at the embassy just told us after a couple days waiting that we cannot get one. They only issue transit visa for actual commercial operation.

We are now considering going through Egypt instead. Really bummed out.

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