Planning to travel between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (or vice versa)?

Getting between Riyadh and Dubai is fairly straightforward and affordable via public transport.

You’ve got two main options: bus or plane. Air travel is much faster, but the bus is more affordable and is a better option for backpackers on a budget.

Riyadh to Dubai by Bus

SAPTCO (the state-owned bus company in Saudi Arabia) runs daily overnight buses between the two cities.

Here’s an overview of the journey:

  • Distance: 996 kilometers
  • Time: 14 hours (and a +1 hour time change)
  • Cost: 150 SAR (~$40)

The bus journey is very straightforward and is a great way to get between the two cities on a budget.

Currently, there’s one bus per day in each direction.

In the Riyadh to Dubai direction, the bus departs at 5 pm from the Riyadh Azziziya bus station and arrives in Dubai at about 7 am local time.

From Dubai to Riyadh, the bus departs from Dubai at 2 pm and arrives in Riyadh at 4 am.

Note: The Riyadh-Dubai bus also stops in Abu Dhabi, if that’s more convient for you.

SAPTCO Bus from Riyadh to Dubai
Inside of a SAPTCO bus

How to buy tickets

Tickets for the Riyadh-Dubai route can be purchased on the SAPTCO website. The site accepts all major credit cards and is easy to use.

Note that you should book tickets on the Riyadh-Dubai route a few days in advance, as SAPTCO may want to verify your passport information.

Taking the Riyadh to Dubai bus

Taking the bus is pretty simple. First, you’ll need to get to Riyadh’s Azzizya bus station – I recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time just to be safe.

It’ll take a good 30 to 40 minutes to get to the Azzizya bus station from most of Riyadh, so be sure to budget enough time for your taxi to take you there.

When you arrive at the station, find the SAPTCO customer service desk to get your ticket printed. You’ll just need to show the ticket you received in your email (electronic copy is fine) and your passport. You’ll be given a paper ticket with the bus departure gate on it.

Head to the gate, and show the driver your ticket. You’ll be able to put large bags in the storage cabin, although I recommend keeping any valuables on your person.

Red Sand Dunes near Riyadh
The Red Sand Dunes near Riyadh

Crossing the border

Border crossing procedures were quite organized. You’ll likely arrive at the border crossing around midnight, so it will be very quiet.

After being stamped out of Saudi Arabia, you’ll board the bus for a short drive across the border to UAE immigration.

Again, this process was very straightforward. Immigration officers were a bit confused that I wasn’t in Saudi Arabia for business, but after some explanation, I was stamped into the UAE and sent on my way.

Of course, make sure that your visas are in order. If you’re heading into Saudi Arabia, here’s how to get a Saudi Arabia e-visa. For the UAE, most nationalities don’t need a visa, although you should double-check just in case.

Arriving in Dubai

You’ll arrive in Dubai early in the morning. Try to let your bus driver know where you’re staying so they can drop you somewhat nearby. I didn’t do this and ended up at the final stop in Dubai’s Deira district – pretty far from where I wanted to be.

Burj Khalifa in Dubai
Welcome to Dubai!

Riyadh to Dubai by Air

If time is of concern, flying is a faster way to travel between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There are frequent flights on a number of different airlines, and costs typically start at about 300 SAR ($80).

Check on Google Flights for the latest prices on the Riyadh to Dubai route.


I hope this post has helped you figure out how to get from Riyadh to Dubai!

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

For more info about travelling in Saudi Arabia, check out my other posts:

Safe travels!

Desert near Riyadh
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