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Middle EastTopics specific to the Middle East countries, from Syria south to Yemen
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(Once I can replace the rear shock absorber) I want to ride from the UEA to Jordan via Saudi.
Have anyone had any experience riding there?
I asked the Saudi embassy about visa but all I could get from them was that I need an invitation before I approach them to apply for any visa.
Does anyone know of any Motorcycling/Automotive Association in Saudi that may be of help obtaining an invitation?
Does anyone one has any info about routes, roads and other particulars on the road in Saudi Arabia.
Thanks a lot
Do a search through this site and you will find a fair bit on this issue. However the short answer is it is VERY difficult to get a visa to ride through Saudi. Some people manage it but only the lucky few. Essentially, the police will want to escort you the whole way. Therefore, your ride needs to be fairly high-profile for them to want to commit the resources, eg a group fundraising ride, or a TV show (I'm sure Ewan and Charlie could get one). Do not rely on getting a Saudi visa when planning your trip, best set a route that avoids the place. I've yet to meet a "normal" bike traveller who has succeeded.
To get a visa you need an invitation. The invitation generally comes from a Saudi government or business organisation and is usually work related. They will write to your local Saudi Embassy requesting issue of a visit visa.
Tourist visas or visit visas for travel are not so easy (i.e. very difficult) to come by, although this situation is slowly changing as Saudi starts to look at the development of tourism.
Your own Embassy will generally not request a visit visa on your behalf unless you have good reason or are well connected.
The Harley dealer here is very progressive and well connected. They promote cultural exchange via the HOG network and welcome riders from other countries. I don't know if they can help with a visa and I think it would only be if you are riding a Harley.
Thats as much as I know.. I'm here on a work visa so not an expert by any means.
Have you look into a transit visa? I was reading in lonely planet about transit visas where you don't need a sponsor. 4 or 7 days, but I don't know if you get to see much in Saudi. The LP says its about the easiest way to see anything in Saudi. Good luck.
I don't remember needing a visa, but it was probably a transit visa I got. Be aware that the pipeline road / TAP (Trans Arabia Pipeline) is a very long, straight and boring road. Two of us drove, almost none stop (in a car taking turns to sleep and drive) and I think it still took two or three days. Would potentially be a long and boring ride on a bike (although Jordan is a nice place to visit).
A transit visa is all one would need to pass through Saudi along the pipeline road, Macosie, but unfortunately the authorities in Dubai don't, as a rule, issue them to bikers.
I fid that policy as reiculous as I do Korea's for not allowing motorcycles on expressways. Don't understand it... I"m loking into doing the trip now with my car and the bike on a trailer... not exactly how I planned, would allow me to go off on the bike and suck when I wanted... but not the same feel. (It's would also allow me to drag my shit along as for me it's a bit of a move.) Too bad Iran is no longer an option.
You're right, Macosie. It doesn't seem to make sense when so many vehicles travel that way annually (e.g. Jordanian & Syrian ex-pats). As far as anyone can tell, it's a security issue related to the attacks on western ex-pats in Saudi in recent years. 'Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun' so everybody would know you were not from around these parts.
Talking of ridiculous, my friend had to be accompanied into Turkey from the Syrian/Turkish border and 'sell' her bike to a friend in front of a justice of the peace, then find a school teacher to witness the expensive document in order to be allowed into Turkey. This was because, at least in 2003, one person could not own two vehicles when, in fact, she did own both bikes.
The Jordanians also like to apply the same bureaucratic rule though presumably not to the King's Mitsubishi Evos that we saw parked in Amman customs.
I was under the impression that travelling through Iran as a Canadian or American is near impossible in the current political climate. A friend (Iranian/American) was having the worst time getting permission to travel to Iran to visit family.
I may still look into Iran, but I would rather go to go to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey on my trip to Europe. Iran would be an awesome trip on its own, but I'm a little worried that GWB wants to go out with a fireworks display the likes we haven't seen sinse WWII.
U can also get an invitation if u become a muslim . They'll be happy to let you visit The Holy Land. A friend of mine (a british) easily got a visa after converting. But with bikes not so sure....
You need a sponsor to get into Saudi if you are not an Arab but might be different if you have been working in a Gulf State.
There was a couple that were riding a harley round the world and they got help from Dhahran Harley to enter from Bahrain and cross to Jeddah. Dhahran Harley used the oportunity for publicity and there were photos and meetings and escorted them through the country. I think they have a report on their web site.
I am based in Dahran and have ridden many miles here without an escort and without any trouble except for a time when two of us were escorted from a police check point through a small town while we got petrol and a bite to eat, all very friendly. I will add that if you are travelling any distance here you have to be prepared to stop at all check points and drink lots of tea while they check your details. eg, I rode from Jeddah to Khamis Mushayt a normal distance of 750klms but was diverted by police after 100klms to go back and via Taif was stopped about twelve times at police check points and drank about 8 litrs of tea and it took me 11 hours and about 1000klms. At this point I will stress that all was very polite but time consuming.
I rode from Riyadh back to London on a VN1500 back in July 2001.
It took me seven days. roads were fine although uncomfortably hot and boring through Saudi, as to be expected in the desert. Nearly got into trouble for taking a photo of a sign post indicating Jordan in one direction and Iraq in the other, so be careful. Left Riyadh about 3pm in the eve and stopped at Hafr el Batn for the night at the youth hostel. These youth hostels are hardly used and are tremendous value for money at only 8SR per night, but you'll need to have a valid international Youth hostelling card with your photo on it. Left the next morning and arrived in Amman, Jordan at approx 8pm. Left approx 8am next morning, got to Damascus, Syria by midday and got to the Turkish border by night fall.
All part of my RTW preparation.
I am currently working in Kuwait.
I am told by my friends in the RSAF that the road through Hafr Al Batin and Rafha along the eastern side has become very rough and risky.
Did you cross into Jordan at Al Qurayat?
I would prefer to go that route if it is OK, it would save a lot of time not going via Tabuk.
You did well getting home in 7 days, I was counting on two weeks.
Would love to do an RTW but I will be lucky to ride home to UK without my wife going balistic, she hates bikes.
How is Kuwait for riding?
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