Saudi Arabia had encouraged road transport in the past by maintaining one of the lowest petrol prices in the world. Despite raising prices in 2018, it is worth noting that due to limited alternative passenger transport options in the country, the gasoline fuel demand is relatively inelastic to its prices; light-duty vehicles dominate the passenger transport landscape. Buses and other public transport options are limited, and walking or bicycles are hindered by the urban landscapes and harsh weather in most regions of the country.
The development of the Saudi road network can be divided into two major phases; i.e. the expansion of the modern road network from 1938 to 1970, preceding the initial development plans conceived by the Ministry of Transport, and the development and expansion after the introduction of the plans (after 1970). The two stages, pre-national planning and postnational planning, relate to the historical circumstances of the economic, political and social demands of the kingdom. The activity during the second stage greatly exceeds that during the first owing to the existence of coordinated plans, high investment and concentration of effort.
The first railway line in the kingdom predates the unification of Saudi Arabia. The 1,050 mm (3 ft 511⁄32 in) narrow-gauge Hejaz railway, that ran from Damascus to Medina, began construction in 1900 under the Ottoman Hejaz Vilayet, and was completed in 1908. A proposal to further extend the line to Mecca was made, but was never materialized. The southern portion of the line was mostly destroyed during the First World War. A few sections of the track remain, with some sections in Jordan being used up to today. The stations in Mada’in Salih and Medina have been converted into museums, each having some locomotives and rolling stock from the original railway.
The first railway line built and completed under Saudi rule was the 569 km (354 mi) Dammam-Riyadh line, which began construction in 1947. It was inaugurated on October 20, 1951 by King Abdulaziz. This was before the formation of the Saudi Railways Organization, and the railway line was run and maintained by Saudi Aramco, before being entrusted to the Ministry of Finance. On May 13, 1966, a royal decree established the SRO, a public corporation that now runs the line. The main railway stations for passengers opened in Riyadh, Dammam, and Hofuf in 1981. The modern passenger line between Riyadh and Dammam measuring 449 km (279 mi) was completed in 1985.
The other conventional railway line in the kingdom is the North–South line, also known as the Riyadh-Qurayyat line, which runs from the capital Riyadh to border with Jordan at Hadithah via Buraidah, Ha’il and Qurayyat, with feeder lines to multiple phosphate mining and bauxite mining locations in the northern parts of the kingdom. The largest feeder line connects the main line to the port city of Ra’s Al-Khair, near Jubail, giving the line a total length of more than 2,750 km (1,710 mi). The only high-speed railway line in the kingdom, the Haramain high-speed railway line, was completed in 2017, and connects the two Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina via the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and the King Abdullah Economic City near Rabigh.
Saudi Arabia is served by three major international airports: the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, and the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, which is also the largest airport in the world by area. In addition to these three major airports, several smaller airports, providing both domestic and international connections, are present throughout the kingdom, such as the Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina and the Ta’if International Airport in Ta’if among others.