Saudi Arabia: Parking 101

One of my big pet peeves about general life in Saudi Arabia is the parking situation.  It’s not just Saudis although they are the primary culprits but the bottom line is it seems the majority of residents in the Kingdom simply do not know how to park a car in a parking lot.  I routinely see a car taking up three spaces or parking in such a manner that cars beside are either boxed in or cannot get out without risking hitting another car.  To further compound the situation, available parking spaces are at a premium as most establishments, to include shopping malls simply do not have sufficient spaces to accommodate all the cars.  Now how can this situation be resolved?  Ohhhhh, how I wish each establishment could be authorized to employ a “traffic cop” similar to the meter cops in the States whose sole duty would be to go around and ticket the cars which are not properly parked.  If a driver receives three tickets, his driving privileges are revoked  until he has remedial training AND his parking fines tripled as well.

14 Responses

  1. In one parking lot in Qatar, they have a sign with a car parked over the yellow line and a big circle around it with the slash – like “NOT this!” and a car parked between the lines, and it says “Park like this”. I took a photo of it, I loved it so much.

    I remember in Saudi Arabia, people would park two or three lanes out into the streets, especially on Fridays when they would go to mid-day services. It was chaos.

  2. Don’t you have parking tickets or fines in Saudi? I heard other countries in the middle east now do.

  3. Halem,

    Yes they do have tickets in Saudi, but it is not used effectively. Actually, if you analyze the issue of parking it highlights many of the administrative problems in Saudi:

    – Zoning: Cities are not planned correctly. You can build a building or a mall without all the required services. Parking is part of those services. Even if there is strong zoning, you will likely get around it by bribing the right person or having a good wasta.

    – Work ethics: The police officers are Saudi. They have many of the issues you read about the Saudi work force. They rather stay in their air conditioned cars than perform their duties. And when they get out of their cars, many of them are rude and insulting. They abuse their authority and really do not have an understanding of the concept of serving the public. So parking management is not one of their priorities. When they feel up to do some of this work, they will likely tow away your car than issue a ticket.

    – Support organizations: There aren’t enough courts for handling traffic violations. The work force is not willing to do all the paper work to maintain the records of tickets. Cities in Saudi do not even have proper addresses for homes with numbers and street names (yes hard to believe in a rich country like Saudi, but delivering a piece of mail about a ticket is a challenge). So the only option for tickets in Saudi is a person is guilty and they will force the person to pay the tickets when he renews a license. Even then he may get away with it using wasta or the record may not even be there.

    – There are too many people that just do not care about others. They will park in a way to block your car in and can be gone for hours without even a thought.

  4. A book could be written on the parking standards…or lack there of…here in the Middle East…and yes…I mean the entire Middle East. I dont know how they went from herds of camels all nicely lined up in one long line…to parking so bad its hard to know where the street ends and the parking begins.

    Considering how very warm hearted and generous I find Arabs to be(most people will say the same)…when they get behind the wheel of a car they absolutely lose all semblance of manners and grace and become Road Hogs(sorry)…Parking Hogs….Speed Hogs….they just have no concept of courtesy when it comes to driving cars and all things related to them.

    It particularly irks me when they park willy nilly outside of mosques on Friday…2 and 3 cars out into the street…blocking roads and private dwellings…but when you complain they act as if their obligation to worship supercedes your basic right to leave or get out when you want…and that waiting for them to finish is YOUR problem…not theirs….its the one area that Arabs need alot of mental overhauling with…and Im sure alot of people will agree with this.

  5. I’m glad I’m not alone with my pet peeve here about parking. And good points about parking during prayer times and not just Friday prayers….

  6. Pet peeve of mine too! We went out for a meal on Tahlia street last night and there are diagonal parking spaces just coming off the road, very easy to drive straight into. Looks like at least two cars changed their mind at the last mind and reversed in, thereby taking up 3 spaces. Really quiet on Tahlia by usual standards but still hard to park when there are idiots like that around!

    I wish they would tow off cars or put a wheel clamp on. The inconvenience might prevent these people from being so SELFISH in their parking and driving behaviour.

  7. That is part of what I am talking about Umm Ibrahim. I wish I had actual photos to share.

    And again, this sadly points to lack of ethics, discipline and enforcement that is rampant here.

  8. I think we need a system by which Towing Companies have the authority to tow and impound violating vehicles. and not allowing the vehicle to be handed over before paying the Towing company a fine… rather than leaving the enforcement to the Police… let the Police focus on more important things, and hey… give birth to a new (and more than likely) thriving industry…

    I should consider setting up such a business hehe.. would make good money…

  9. Exactly Ali…that is why I am saying the owners of establishments and managerial companies of malls should have the authority to employ individuals whose duty is to enforce parking laws and etiquette are followed.

  10. Ah,the same happens in every part of the world..But i think(here i am not being racist)Arabs are bit careless in how they move around.Especially in Doah,qatar,where i live,rich people look down at expats and I find Big expensive cars parked diagonally!! Parking criris is annoying to hell,that we’ll need 10 mnts to reach our destination,but 180 mnts to park;-)

    All of us should behave more resposible towards the society..

  11. Yes; the GCC seems endemic in regards to lack of parking ethics!

  12. Even if there is strong zoning, you will likely get around it by bribing the right person or having a good wasta.

    Interesting. I think the only Saudi I’ve met in the States was a guy who worked in code enforcement for the local government. I did not have the impression that there was anything crooked about him, but there have been mysterious code violations the past couple of years, so maybe…

  13. Solomon2,

    There are many good/honest people in Saudi. The issue is all it takes is 10% of the people to make a mess of any administrative system. I think this is the biggest issue we have a small group that renders the entire administrative functions of government highly ineffective. It is certainly not just a problem for Saudi, but many under developed countries.

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