Can we fly drones in Saudi Arabia?

Before we proceed to allowance in Saudi Arabia we would like to share what exactly drone is. These are basically programmed aircraft with or without a pilot flown for some mission. A camera is connected to it which brings back the information collected. Some people might consider this as a hobby to explore various lands and beautiful sites and collect the images. The question is, drones are allowed in Saudi Arabia or not, and if yes then what sort of permissions should be taken from the police of higher officials.[irp]

According to the data collected it shows that drone flying is not allowed in Saudi Arabia. The reason is that these drones are not typical remote control toys for fun and enjoyment and should not be viewed as a hobby. Especially when mounted by a camera or recorder it is viewed as a threat to the Kingdom compromising the security. It will be thus viewed as a crime in the Kingdom and taken very seriously. For exploring or discovering places the local citizen or an expat should consider some other hobby otherwise this will end up on the wrong side of the Kingdom resulting in hands of Royal Saudi Police or Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation. The person will be facing the consequences.

Normal remote controlled planes or helicopters are also not allowed because when you attach a camera to them it proves to be one and the same thing previously described. Details about local restrictions should be obtained from the vendor selling it in the Kingdom. Some people might fly drones in the Kingdom illegally and are never caught, but that is just risky. This thing might also come in the context of terrorism attempt and viewed seriously as it is frightening because many terrorists can easily use this technology. This raises the concern of the national security in the Kingdom and other countries as well and is completely justified.

Also, there is a point that not everyone will mean to use these drones in a negative way and will view it just as a hobby for fun but that is not necessary for everyone. Some might take advantage of this drone facility in evil sense resulting in destruction. So, it’s better to prevent this situation from happening and restrict the use of drones by the general population. Some of the locals might argue on this topic trying to prove that this fun drone can be very lightweight and small camera and of course it couldn’t carry explosives or weapons so it should be legal and allowed.[irp]

It was found after searching a lot that Model helicopters and aircraft have been flown in Kingdom particularly in Jeddah for years and there is a community involving several aircraft engineers building their own models.  In short, it is better to refrain from such suspicious hobby which is classified under the spying tool category by The Ministry of Interior.