Saudi Arabia Road Network

By | December 5, 2022

Highway 65 in Riyadh.

According to wholevehicles, Saudi Arabia does not have a dense road network. Outside the big cities, one quickly arrives at the inhospitable deserts where hardly anyone lives. The country has a number of long-distance highways, such as Highway 40 that runs from Jeddah through Makkah and Riyadh to Damman on the Persian Gulf. Highway 15 connects Makkah and Medinah and Highway 65 Riyadh with Buraydah. In the Makkah-Jeddah, Riyadh, Buraydah and Damman region there are a number of highway networks, with a ring structure, such as the Ring Riyadh. Furthermore, almost all main roads have 2×2 lanes, but grade-separated intersections are not always available in sparse built-up areas. About 9,000 kilometers of road in Saudi Arabia is a highway or functions as such. In southwestern Saudi Arabia, some highways are more than 2,000 meters above sea level, such as the Al Bahah ring road and the highway between Abha and Khamis Mushait.

The main road network is thin and the distances are very large. There are no through roads at all in the southeast of Saudi Arabia. From Saudi Arabia it is not possible to get to Oman directly, you have to drive via the United Arab Emirates. There are also few main roads in the north, due to the presence of the Nefud desert.

In fact, there is only one border crossing with Iraq. There are two major border crossings with Kuwait, both of which turn into a highway on the Kuwaiti side. There is a long highway bridge from Dhahran to Manama in Bahrain, which is Saudi Arabia’s only cross-border highway. There is one border crossing with Qatar, which also connects to the highway to Doha and the highway to Dubai. There is also one border crossing between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In 2015, a cross-border connection opened with Oman and with Yemen its two border crossings, both in the far west. There are three major border crossings with Jordan. Highway 85 is the main transit route for international traffic from Jordan and Europe to Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This route has only been developed as a highway in the wider region of Damman.

Major Roads in Saudi Arabia
Route 5 • Route 10 • Route 15 • Route 30 • Route 40 • Route 50 • Route 60 • Route 65 • Route 70 • Route 75 • Route 80 • Route 85 • Route 95

Riyadh

The capital Riyadh has grown from an insignificant city with 150,000 inhabitants in 1960 to a large city with 7 million inhabitants in 2010. This has required significant investments in the road network. The Ring Riyadh forms a complete ring road of 77 kilometers. There are also bypasses, highways that have 2×3 or 2×4 lanes. The road network is built in a grid structure. Highway 40 and Highway 65 are major highways. Junctions are large-scale and are often modified cloverleaf with direct flyovers for the busiest connections. Regular connections are usually built like diamonds. Highways 505 and Highway 522 open up the center, which is an elongated strip of high-rise buildings along 505. Traffic is busy and hectic.

Road numbering

There is no set system, Highway 5 and odd 2 digit numbers mostly run north-south and run up east and end in 5. Even numbers end with a 0 and run up north. 3- and 4-digit numbers are for minor roads, which have only a regional function. Some of these 3-digit roads have been upgraded to highway standards, for example around Riyadh.

Signage

Signage in Hofuf.

Since Saudi Arabia is a fairly closed country where few westerners come, the signage is not entirely clear. Both green and blue signs are used, which use the Highway Gothic (Interstate) font with the arrows that are customary in the Netherlands pointing downwards. Signs are in both Arabic and English, although older signage only says Arabic. Around Makkah it is also indicated that non-Muslims are not welcome in that city.

Maximum speed

Originally, the speed limit on Saudi highways was 120 km/h, where 130 km/h was later introduced on some stretches. On February 19, 2018, the speed limit on some highways in Saudi Arabia was increased to 140 km/h.

Saudi Arabia Road Network