With sales expected to exceed half a million in 2014, the car market in Saudi Arabia is booming, a trend that can be seen across the Middle East.

More and more manufacturers have identified the region as a market with plenty of growth potential, which shows no signs of slowing down. With an ample choice out there for car buyers, whether they’re looking for a sedan car, sporty convertible or utilitarian 4×4, car consumers will be in their element.

So what do you need to know about purchasing and driving a car in Saudi Arabia?

Today’s market

Due to the intense sun and extreme heat in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East, motorists require reliable cars with lots of additional features like air conditioning. What’s more, good quality tires are advised for long-distance driving on hot asphalt highways or off-road pursuits over variable terrain.

For peace of mind, you should buy straight from the dealer (exhibition), as warranty, finance and insurance packages are available. However, you’ll need written permission from your sponsor and the police to drive a financed vehicle out of Saudi Arabia to other GCC countries.

If you’re interested in buying a used car, you should exercise some caution, especially when it comes to condition and price. Some believe that vehicles bought from expats are better maintained, but they’re usually more expensive.

Rules and regulations

Documents you need when buying a car include:

  • Contract for the sale
  • Receipt of deposited money
  • Original Istimarah card from the seller. This is the vehicle’s registration featuring the owner’s name and license plate. It must be kept in your car and renewed every three years.
  • Original Fahs from the seller. This proves the vehicle is safe and roadworthy having undergone inspection.
  • Letter of permission from the Al Morot (the traffic police)
  • Copies of yours and all family members’ Iqamas (residency permits)
  • Driving license
  • Proof of insurance.

Once you’ve completed and submitted the appropriate paperwork to the Al Morot, you should receive a new Istimarah. Take this to the exhibition and drive away your new vehicle.

So if you’re purchasing a car in Saudi Arabia, there are more than just a few vehicle and buying options open to you. Just make sure you comply with the country’s rules and regulations regarding vehicle ownership, then you can head out to the dunes or just on to the regular roads, all under the Saudi sun.