ATTENTION: Read post regarding expatriats barred from driving car under finance by bank out of Qatar unless fully repaid. New move based on circular from Qatar Central Bank.
Driving to UAE & Oman is not as difficult as one may imagine. What half needed is a proper planning. That’s including knowing what immigration and documentation requirements for each visited country prior to start the journey, and preparation for your car.
Saudi Transit Visa
You need a transit visa to cross Saudi Arabia to enter UAE (Fact: There is a road connecting Qatar with UAE through undefined borders among UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, near Khor Al Udayd with Sawdad Nathil Police Post at the end, but that is not approved port of entry). This visa is to be obtained for all passengers. A round trip transit visa can be arranged through agents (Note: Saudi Embassy does not deal with individual transit visa request). Transit visa is valid 30 days since date of issued and you have only 3 days from date of entry into Saudi to cross the border into UAE and vice versa.
It takes about 5 working days to get the visa and the charges are QAR125 (that’s what we paid to agent; official visa fee is QAR50).
- Allow sufficient time for starting your trip after your estimated time of visa obtained just in case you have some problem with visa. We had our friend’s family member was granted only one way visa whereas the rest are round trip visas. It took them 2 days to rectify causing them missing the first two days of our planned trip. We had many mistypos in names (i.e. missing one letter or doubled letter) but we were assured by the agent that it would not cause a problem. We did not have any problem with that mistypo.
- We were advised that Saudi Embassy closed on Thursday and Friday. Although we submitted all requirements to agent on Wednesday they were only processed on next Sunday.
– Original passport, and copies of identification page and RP
– Two passport size photographs with white background
– No Objection Letter (NOC) from company for sponsored persons to obtain visa to Saudi. Dependants do not require a letter if travelling with the sponsor (head of the family)
– Copies of vehicle registration card (istimarah) – if vehicle not in the name of the driver then NOC to be sought from either bank or company
– Copies of driving license
List of Saudi Visa agents :
- Al Kanz Co. (Tel: 4883713, Mobile: 5724414). Abdullah Bin Thani Street, Al Gharraffa. 100m from Qatar Airways branch, 200m from Hot Chicken. Coordinate: 25°19’36″N 51°27’47″E
- Al Ihsan Khaleej Services (Tel: 4434535, Mobile: 5513959 – Ismail). Souk Asiri, 2nd Floor. Opposite Dana Center/Philipine markets. Coordinate: 25°17’16″N 51°32’14″E
- Al Asayel Co. (Tel.: 4372784, Mobile: 5680914). Near Sana/VW Roundabout. Next to Mercedez Showroom.
- Al Medadi Co (Tel: 4313121, Mobile: 5284159) On B Ring 4 signals from Jaidah R/A
- Al Afdaleya Co. (Tel: 4476161, Mobile: 5743382)
- Al-RTG (Tel: 4580038, Mobile: 5891789) Near Salwa Road
Disclaimer: As telephone number may change without notice, I am not responsible for any inconveniences caused.
1. Indonesia is not among 33 visa waiver countries. However, if you are GCC resident and have a high professional status such as company managers, business people, auditors, accountants, doctors, engineers, pharmacists, or working in the public sector, you and your families, drivers and personal staff sponsored by you, are eligible for a non-renewable 30-day visa upon arrival at the approved ports of entry. Otherwise, you need to get visa in advance from the nearest embassy.
2. Entry Visa (On Arrival) Fee is 125 AED per person including children. Exit Visa (when you exit UAE) is 20 AED.
– A Single Entry visa has been introduced by combining the tourist visa, business visa and short visit visa which now cease to exist. Upon arrival at any air, land or sea terminal, the citizens of the some countries can obtain a one month visa after filling and presenting the visa application form. Indonesian is eligible to be granted visa on arrival.
– Enter the Sultanate if you are a foreign resident in an AGCC state:
It is granted to a foreigner who is resident in any member state of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC), provided that his occupation is not of low grade. It is also granted to members of their families, relatives and those in their company as long as they enter together.
This visa is valid for staying the country for four weeks, and is extendable for one week.
It is granted at the entry point directly.
3 (now RO 5) – ( RO 1 for entering Musandam Governorate Only ). Read steep hike in Oman Visa Fees here
Delay fine : RO 10 Per day .
An applicant must have valid residence permit in an AGCC state.
They should be in an occupation approved for entry.
Their passport must be valid for not less than 6 months.
Families, drivers, servants, attendants, and dependants of those residents are eligible for this visa , provided that they present their labour cards, and their passport are valid for not less than 6 months .
All nationalities in AGCC states are eligible for this visa.
http://www.rop.gov.om/english/HowDoI4.asp (Royal Oman Police)
– Make sure at least 6 month validity and sufficient blank pages available
– Ensure you get exit permit from company/sponsor. It is recommended to bring a printed copy of exit letter just in case system is down.
– Ensure you get vehicle exit letter from company, if financed through company. It might not be looked at but just in case being asked in border. [Asked your Public Relation Officer/Immigration Officer in your company if you need this, just in case there is recent development; similarly if financed through bank, ask your bank. heard from my friend that letter from bank is never asked provided that your car is under your name]
– Best to service your car before embarking
– Consider applying mud paint to protect car from potential sand storm in Saudi Arabia area. Other alternative is to apply liquid dish wash soap. Normally they are applied on the front body including grill, side mirror shell, lower part of side body, rear fender, and front top body before sunroof. You can do mud painting yourself or have petrol station in Salwa road area to do it. DIY mud paint spray can could be bought in Carrefour automotive section for about 19 QAR. Depending on your car type, you need 4 or more cans for coating your car.
– Consider bringing road emergency kit, ensure your car has good tires and a spare.
You are required to buy insurance at the border while entering Saudi, UAE & Oman for the duration of stay. The rate is 10 riyals/dirhams (or 1 omani riyals) per day per car. However minimum seven day insurance applies in Saudi and 10 days in UAE & Oman.
Salik Tag in Dubai
Salik is like ERP (Emergency Road Pricing) in Singapore or toll in Indonesia. Salik has many gates, among others at the Bur Dubai entrance to Garhoud Bridge, on Sheikh Zayed Road after Mall of the Emirates on the way to Jebel Ali, at the Floating bridge, the second interchange (Safa Park) along Sheikh Zayed Road, and at Maktoum Bridge. There are no booth, and no need to stop as you drive through. Instead, you need to stick a tag to windscreen , which is read by radio frequency as it passes. It costs Dhs4 each time. Those that don’t have a card will be fined Dhs.50. You can get a salik tag from any petrol station in Dubai by paying 100 dirhams. You need to present your copy of istimarah and fill in application form. Before stick it on the car front windshield below the rear view mirror you need to activate it by calling number provided on the package (800 SALIK). You will be asked your Salik number, car number, chassis number, make and model, color, etc.
Speed limits are usually 60kph to 80kph around town and 100kph to 120kph on major highways (note: speed limits from Saudi/UAE border to Abu Dhabi is 100kph). The speed limit is clearly indicated on road signs. Speeding fines begin at Dhs400 for being up to 10kph over the limit. Parking fines start at Dhs.100. No camera along 129km Saudi road, and some in Saudi/UAE border to Abu Dhabi (primarily when approaching towns/U-turn), and many (every 1-5km) in Abu Dhabi – Dubai road or Muscat – Nizwa.
There are different customs regulations among countries; what prohibited and what allowed in certain quantity. Narcotics is obviously prohibited. No alcoholic drinks are allowed during journey through Saudi nor magazine with scantily dressed women or even any idols/statues. Potted plants might be required to send to quarantine which usually has a long queue of trucks.
Dealing with Border/Immigration Officers
Polite, patient, smile, nice and some simple Arabic greetings will do. Do not play any music or attending mobile phone while you are being serviced at any drive-in counters. Pull down all windows at the border crossing, to show your family members. Travelling with family in GCC country will usually make immigration process speedier.
Get a good map of the visited country or updated GPS for the trip. Although you might still get lost in road diversions in Dubai 🙂 . Dubai map can be easily downloaded from internet. A good Oman map is hard to find in Doha but can be obtained later at tourist corner inside Oman immigration building. Publications from ExplorerPublishing offer good source of tourist information. However no single book from Explorer can offer you good sides of both worlds (map & tourist guide). It’s either good in maps or in guides. Alternatively, browse http://www.liveworkexplore for online information.
UAE & Oman has different currencies than Qatar. UAE currency is AED (Dirhams/Dhs) and Oman is Omani Riyal (OMR/OR). AED to QAR is almost the same, but OMR to QAR is about 10 (1 OMR = 10 QAR).
It is advised that you carry small amount of Dirhams and Omani Riyal although Qatari Riyals are welcome by most petrol stations and also at immigration and insurance counters. If you travel with family of four and plan to go to Muscat and Musandam you need at least 3000 AED on hand to pay for UAE visa on arrival (x3), Oman Visa On Arrival (x2), exit visa, salik tag, petrol and insurance. This assumes that all your shopping expenses paid by using credit card.
Travelling with Groups
Travelling with groups requires a lot of coordination and constant communication. It is advisable to bring HT (handy talkie). Each of us (a group of 3 families) used one pair HT that each HT is adequate to cover 3-5 hours of travelling depending on the intensity of usage, with coverage up to radius 2 km. Not only useful for travelling, HT is also useful for quick coordination in a big mall, hotel, or large point of interest. If you have power inverter (convert car DC power to AC power) this will help in recharging one set while another is being used. The cost for inverter is as low as QAR150 for 110W AC power; I bought 400W inverter for QAR189 in Carrefour.
It is also recommended that you travel with no more than 4 cars. Above that will cause much waiting time and quite complex coordination. If so, try to separate into 2 groups. Pick trip leader who already knows the area and road or someone who has a GPS or good map.