Drones in Saudi Arabia 2024: How to Get a License?

I still remember my first drone flight over the Riyadh skyline in 2019.

My drone buzzed like a happy beetle, capturing every detail of this majestic panorama.

But back then, drone laws were still taking flight.

Fast forward a few years, and the drone scene in Saudi Arabia has soared to new heights – literally!

From hobbyists like me to professionals using drones for agriculture, construction, and even filmmaking, the sky is no longer the limit, it’s the starting point.

What are Drones in Saudi Arabia – From Buzzing Toys to Soaring Solutions

Before we dive into permits, let’s rewind a bit.

What exactly are we talking about when we say “drone”?

Well, officially, they’re called Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), but I still prefer to call it a “drone.”

These high-tech whirligigs pack a punch in a compact package.

Equipped with cameras, sensors, and AI smarts, they can survey vast landscapes, deliver vital supplies, and even entertain crowds with synchronized light shows.

In Saudi Arabia, drones are transforming industries, aiding research, and even helping to preserve ancient heritage sites.

The history of drones in the Kingdom is relatively recent.

Just a decade ago, drones in Saudi Arabia were mostly hobbyist toys.

But with government regulations taking shape and technology advancements making drones more accessible, their potential blossomed.

From inspecting oil pipelines to mapping flood zones, the applications are as diverse as the desert sands themselves.

Latest Trends of Drones in Saudi Arabia

So, what’s hot in the Saudi drone scene right now?

Buckle up, folks, because things are moving at the speed of light (or should I say, at the speed of a nimble racing drone!).

Here are some trends buzzing on the radar:

Miniaturization Mania

Gone are the days of clunky behemoths.

Today’s drones are pocket-sized powerhouses, packing high-resolution cameras and advanced flight capabilities into tiny frames.

Think of it as carrying a professional studio in your palm.

AI Takeover

Artificial intelligence is making drones smarter than ever.

From autonomous obstacle avoidance to automated flight paths, AI is transforming how we operate and utilize these aerial marvels.

Delivery Drone Derby

Imagine groceries whizzing down from the sky or urgent medical supplies reaching remote areas in minutes.

Drone delivery is no longer science fiction, and companies in Saudi Arabia are actively testing and implementing these futuristic services.

The Green Drone Revolution

Environmentally conscious drones are taking centre stage.

From planting trees in vast deserts to monitoring air quality in bustling cities, these eco-friendly flyers are helping us build a greener future.

Getting a Drone License in Saudi Arabia

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: how do you, the aspiring aerial adventurer, get your hands on a legal drone flight in Saudi Arabia?

Fear not, intrepid sky voyagers, for obtaining a drone license is easier than landing a perfect selfie drone shot (well, almost!).

Here’s your step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Take Flight with Registration

  • Visit the GACA Drone Management Platform: Begin your journey at GACA, your gateway to drone registration and licensing.
  • National Single Sign-on: Click this option to seamlessly login to GACA’s website.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sign-in-using-Nafath.png
  • Proceed with Confidence: Click the “Proceed” button to advance to the next step.
Drones in Saudi Arabia 2024: How to Get a License?

Step 2: Create Your Aerial Account

  • Complete Your Profile: Provide your email, mobile number and address information to complete your account setup.
Drones in Saudi Arabia 2024: How to Get a License?
  • Effortless Information Retrieval: The system effortlessly gathers your name and date of birth on the next screen, saving you time and effort.
  • Qualification and Job Details: You just need to provide your Qualifications and Job details and click “Next“.
  • Confirmation Soars In: Look for a confirmation email from GACA, signalling your successful account creation.

Step 3: Register Your Drone Companion

  • Introduce Your Drone: Click “Register New Drone” to introduce your aerial partner to GACA.
  • Recreational Pursuits: Select “Recreational” as your intended use.
  • Share Essential Details: Fill out the registration form, providing key information about your drone.
  • Registration Fee: Pay the SR 250 drone registration fee to initiate the process.
  • Patience Is Key: Registration may take up to 6 months, so relax and anticipate your future adventures.

Step 4: Request Your License to Fly

  • Access Your License Hub: Select “My Licenses” to navigate to your license management area.
  • Initiate Permit Request: Click “Request Permit” to begin the exciting process of obtaining your license.
  • Recreational Realm: Choose “Recreational” as your license category.
  • Proceed to Application: Click “Proceed to form” to access the license application.
  • Complete the Form: Fill out the application with accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Upload Iqama Copy: Provide a digital copy of your Iqama (Saudi Residency Permit) from Absher for verification.
  • Submit and Await Your Wings: Submit your application and anticipate your license, typically granted within a week by GACA.

With these clear steps and a dash of patience, you’ll soon be capturing breathtaking aerial views and exploring new perspectives in Saudi Arabia’s captivating landscapes.

Rules for Flying Drones in Saudi Arabia

To ensure the safety of the public and the aviation industry, specific rules must be followed while flying drones in Saudi Arabia.

These rules include:

Avoiding Crowded Areas

Drones should not be flown directly over areas with a large number of people, ensuring the safety of the masses.

Respecting Privacy

Flying drones over private locations is strictly prohibited, protecting individuals’ privacy and property rights.

Avoiding Airports and Sensitive Locations

Drone operators must steer clear of airports and military installations to prevent any potential aerial collision and maintain national security.

Daytime and Good Weather

Drones should only be flown during daylight hours and in good weather conditions to ensure optimal visibility and mitigate risks.

Altitude Restrictions

Drones should not exceed an altitude of 120 meters (400 feet) from the ground.

This restriction is in place to prevent interference with local aviation and maintain safety in the airspace.

Line of Sight

Drone operators must maintain a direct line of sight with the drone during flight.

This ensures that the pilot can promptly respond to any potential obstacles or hazards.

Speed Limit

Drones should not exceed a speed of 100 mph (87 knots) to ensure stability and control during flight.

Sobriety

Flying drones under the influence of intoxicants is strictly prohibited, prioritizing responsible and safe operations.

Finding Your Perfect Drone in Saudi Arabia

Numerous options await aspiring drone pilots in Saudi Arabia.

Websites like Amazon and Noon offer a wide range of models and accessories, catering to diverse budgets and requirements.

Prices vary based on brand, specifications, and features.

  • DJI Mini 2: Compact and affordable, ideal for beginners.
  • DJI Mini 3 Pro: Powerful and lightweight, perfect for aerial photography and videography enthusiasts.
  • DJI Air 2s: High-end model with excellent camera and range, suitable for professional use.
  • Autel Robotics Evo Lite Plus: Competitor to DJI Air 2s, offering similar features at a competitive price.
  • Autel Robotics Evo Nano Plus: Compact and capable, a good choice for budget-conscious users.

Drone Prices in Saudi Arabia

Here I’ll list all the prices of the drones mentioned above.

Drone ModelPrice Range (SAR)
DJI Mini 22669 to 2980
DJI Mini 3 Pro4519.27
DJI Air 2s7984 to 13625
Autel Robotics Evo Lite Plus4500 to 8760
Autel Robotics Evo Nano Plus3000 to 4750

Tips from a Riyadh Drone Enthusiast after you get a Permit of a Drone in Saudi Arabia

Okay, you’ve got your license, your drone’s prepped, and you’re itching to explore the world from above.

Here are some insider tips from your friendly neighbourhood Riyadh blogger:

Start Small

Don’t go straight for the top-of-the-line model.

Beginner drones are affordable and perfect for honing your piloting skills before you graduate to the big leagues.

Find Your Niche

Explore the diverse applications of drones.

Are you a photography buff?

Then invest in a drone with stunning camera capabilities and capture those jaw-dropping aerial landscapes.

Are you an environmental warrior?

Consider joining drone-based conservation projects or mapping initiatives.

The possibilities are endless, so find what ignites your passion and take flight in that direction.

Join the Drone Community

The Saudi drone scene is thriving, and connecting with other enthusiasts is an enriching experience.

Online forums, meetups, and workshops are great places to share tips, learn from each other, and discover amazing drone footage from your fellow sky explorers.

Safety First, Always

Remember, you’re responsible for every flight.

Double-check your drone, plan your route meticulously, and prioritize safety above all else.

One careless maneuver can not only damage your drone, but also end up endangering people or property.

Fly responsibly and be an ambassador for safe and ethical drone operations.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Once you’ve mastered the basics, push your creative boundaries.

Try different camera angles, experiment with timelapse and hyper lapse techniques, and even play with editing software to add a touch of magic to your aerial footage.

Remember, the sky’s the limit (literally!), so let your imagination soar and tell your stories through the lens of your drone.

Conclusion: Unfold Your Wings and Explore

Drones are more than just flying toys; they’re tools for exploration, innovation, and storytelling.

In Saudi Arabia, they’re unlocking a new era of possibilities, from revolutionizing industries to preserving heritage.

So, if you’ve ever dreamt of seeing the world from a bird’s-eye view, don’t let anything hold you back.

Get your license, choose your drone, and embrace the thrill of taking flight.

Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility (Yeah, Aunt May said that in Spider-Man movie, but I love this quote!).

Fly safe, fly smart, and most importantly, fly free.

Don’t forget to share your drone experiences and photos in the comments below!

By the way, what excites you most about the future of drones in Saudi Arabia?

Spread the word, share this article, and let’s take to the skies together!

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