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The Ultimate Guide to Saudi Arabia (Riyahd & Dammam) Drone Laws & Rules 2020

Updated: Feb 12

🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all law links and known rules about recreational and commercial drone use in Saudi Arabia (Riyahd & Dammam). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in the Saudi Arabia Drone Discussion Group. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our ability & does not replace official sources & your own research.


Recreational vs Commercial drone use in Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia differentiates commercial & recreational drone uses. Both are subject to restrictions & a strict code of conduct. Additionally, depending on your drone's weight & your destination within the country, different rules will apply.


✅ In Saudi Arabia, drone laws falls under the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) & they can be contacted anytime via:

  • Email: uas@gaca.gov.sa

  • Phone: (+966) 11 525 3222


😮 Saudi Arabia has a tumultuous relation with drones in recent history which is also why there is so much confusion out there. First completely banned, then restricted, to finally embrace this promising technology.


A quick sum up of Saudi Arabia's drone history:

  • Prior: non clearly regulated

  • Dec 2015: complete ban of drone use in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

  • June 2016: restrictions are rolled out for commercial use

  • Dec 2018: opening to the recreational use again 👌


✅ Saudi Arabia will differentiate your drone based on its weight:

  • below 25 kg = small

  • above 25 kg = big (we understand these are currently banned).


Can I travel to Saudi Arabia with my drone?


✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within Saudi Arabia as long as your import is considered as legitimate (generally one drone per person).



🚨 Be aware of the airline you purchase to travel as some main ones will only accept your drone on-board if its batteries are detached & placed in a firecase during travel time. Most airlines will have a battery voltage limit based on the recommendation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You can find more info about a specific airline here.

NEW! Airlines & Drones' Best Practices!


Where can I fly my drone in Saudi Arabia?


✅ We did not find an official fly zone map for drones in Senegal "If you have more information about this, please share it in the Saudi Arabia Drone Discussion Group. Thankfully in the meantime, app.airmap.io has listed all flight zones in a convenient way organised in a colour legend.


Saudi Arabia drone fly map

Source: app.airmap.io

🚨 You should not fly above or near military installations & strategic infrastructure. Fly away from airports & any aerodromes or airports in the country


🦅 National parks & reserves are on a case by case permission & you might need to check directly with the local park or reserve authorities.


💡 Smart! Pack some spare drone batteries, you never know how close is the next power plug overseas. Also make sure you have a travel adaptor for Saudi Arabia.

Recreational Drone use in Saudi Arabia


✅ Good things first, you will not need to register your drone if:

  • it weights less than 250 g & you do not fly it in formation

  • it weights less than 1 kg & you fly only indoors


🚨 For all other uses/drones, you will need to register prior flying your drone in Saudi Arabia & have a license. There are also strict rules depending on your drone's weight, your flight zones and a code of conduct to follow for all operators.


Additionally, you must fly:

  • at a maximum altitude of 120 m above the ground, during daytime & always in sight.

  • away from private property, vehicles in movement, people or large crowds & respect individuals' privacy. *Note; many arabic homes have an inner courtyard which is where families gather, you might create a big conflict flying above one of these).

  • a drone weighting less than 25 kg.

  • away from clouds (150 m below & 600 m distance).

  • at less than 160 km/h "You should be fine here" 👌

  • avoiding any kind of formation (aka, do not fly next to another aircraft).

  • do not carry or drop anything from drone when flying

  • at least 8 km away from airports (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft or helicopter take off & land) & give way to all other type of aircraft.

  • free from the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

  • away from areas where its use could interfere with police or first responders.

  • avoiding sensitive areas including government or military facilities.


✅ If flying indoors, you will need the written permission of the property owner or manager.



How to obtain my license to fly my drone for recreational use in SA?


✅ First things first, to be eligible, you will need to:

  • be at least 16 years young

  • be cleared by GACA Aviation Security Division.

  • be in good physical & mental shape.

  • be able to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by passing an aeronautical knowledge test prescribed by the President every 3 years.

Further information on this, can be found in the Gacar Part 149


💲 The costs to register your drone for recreational use should be about 60€


NEW! Travel Guides from our experiences around the world!


How to register my drone for recreational use in Saudi Arabia?


🚨13.02.19 "Thanks to one of our member's feedback, it seems that this step is only available to residents. We will update this section as soon as we receive more information - Follow the discussion here."

✅ GACA created an ingenious online platform to register your drone in a few steps. You can do it directly online via this portal, to complete your registration, you will need to:

  1. enter your personal information (you will need to provide a copy of your passport).

  2. enter your email address.

  3. fill all the required fields.

  4. read & agree to the disclaimer.

👌 If you need help during this process, you can contact servicedesk@gaca.gov.sa or ring them directly at (+966) 12684 7999.


✅ If all goes well, you will receive a registration mark to display on your drone.


💡 Smart! Heading to the desert? Sand glare is a killer when flying above Arabian sands, make sure you have a lens filter before heading there.

Commercial Drone use in Saudi Arabia


✅ Saudi Arabia will differentiate your drone for commercial use according to its weight:

✅ To be eligible, you will need to be:

  • at least 18 years young

  • cleared through GACA Aviation Security Division

  • able to speak & write proficiently in English

  • in good physical & mental shape.

  • able to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by passing an initial aeronautical knowledge & practical test *Or hold a pilot certificate issued under GACAR Part 61

✅ In every case, you will need:

  1. a license to operate your drone

  2. register all your equipment online

  3. obtain permission when flying in restricted zones

✅ If a serious injury to any person or a damage to any property had to happen, you must inform GACA within 10 calendar days.


💲 The costs to register your drone for commercial use should be about 115€


NEW! Drone Reviews!


What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in Saudi Arabia ?


The amount & scope of the fine will depend on the nature & severity of your infraction. The judges will also evaluate if you intentionally committed the infraction and/or if you had any commercial purposes to do such.


Once you've got everything in order, you can start flying above Saudi Arabia's awesome landscapes and create videos like this one:


🎬 INSPIRING! Follow our aerial videos around the world on Youtube!


🌍 TRAVELLING FURTHER? Check out our Drone Rules World Map; country by country!

✅ Please leave a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in the Saudi Arabia! Have fun and safe flight! #saudi #arabia #saudiarabia #regulation #rule #rules #law #laws #legislation


💡 You're a local, have a question or want to share a travel experience? Head to our Saudi Arabia Drone Discussion Group


Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone regulations.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links meaning we will get a commission if you decide to purchase via them. This has no costs for you but helps Dronemade stay free for all. If you need to buy anything on Amazon or DJI stores, think of us.


Sources

GACAR PART 107 (rules for commercial drones under 25 kg)

GACAR PART 101 – (SUBPART F) (rules for commercial drones over 25 kg)

GACAR PART 101 – (SUBPART E) (rules for recreational drones)


Other resources

GACAR PART 171 – AIR TRAFFIC SERVICES (flight zones in Saudi Arabia).

GACA Circular: Unmanned Aircraft Systems Owners and Operators

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