Saudi rules cut passenger numbers - Emirates24|7

Saudi rules cut passenger numbers

Many UAE residents travel to their home countries by bus. (AFP)

The number of people travelling home across Saudi Arabia by bus has not risen as expected in recent weeks – and travel companies say this is because the kingdom has raised the cost of a visa.

Inspection measures carried out by officials that lead to delays and the fact that passengers are allowed to carry only one bag have also affected demand, they say. The number of UAE residents travelling overland to their homes in Egypt, Syria and Jordan via Saudi Arabia rises at this time of the year.

But bus operators report that this has not happened – and some even report that passenger numbers have fallen. The directors of transport companies in Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain have complained to the Saudi embassy and consulate in the UAE about the rise in the cost of a visa from Dh55 to Dh100 and the one-bag rule.

Mohammed Hamid Hadoth of Dubai-based Al Jameel Travel, said the normal seasonal rise in the number of passengers had not happened. "This is because of the increase in the cost of a Saudi visa along with the inspection measures. Some passengers with many bags have had to return to the UAE. We have cut the price of a ticket from Dh125 to Dh100 to reduce our customers' expenses."

Adel Abdulkadir of Dubai-based Asia Travel said demand had been hit because the length of journeys had increased from 30 to 48 hours due to the Saudi customs inspection procedures.

Hamza Mohammed Raja of Al Nisr Travel in Sharjah said passenger numbers had also been affected by promotional offers by Air Arabia.