Bahrain is connected to the Saudi mainland by the King Fahd Causeway, a 25-kilometre bridge that opened in 1986.
While commuters that choose to live in Bahrain have the advantage of a family-friendly environment, a wider choice of schools and a relatively low cost of living, the disadvantage is an often lengthy commute due to increasing congestion on the crossing, which is used by more than 50,000 vehicles every day. The problem has been compounded by an increase in the number of heavy goods vehicles travelling between Bahrains ports and the Al-Khobar-Dammam-Dhahran conurbation.
Commuters require multiple-entry visas for both countries, and a degree of patience. Many opt to travel early in the morning at 5am or 6am and leave work early, though at times of peak congestion the journey can still take several hours. Traffic in both directions is more intense at the weekend, when many Saudis visit the islands. A booklet can be acquired on either side of the causeway that is stamped during the crossing. Non-Saudis living in Bahrain can also apply for a fast-track card, obtainable on the Bahraini side.
Commuters require a valid driving licence for both kingdoms, though they can drive on licences from certain foreign countries on a temporary basis, currently three months in the case of a UK licence. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.
Obtaining a Saudi work permit requires a concrete offer of employment. Sponsors, who might be employers, business partners or chambers of commerce, act as guardians and guarantors and are responsible for applying for the permit. Workers should carry their passport, visa and work permit at all times, as well as their iqama, or Saudi residence card, if applicable.
In June 2013, Saudi Arabia announced it was moving its official weekend to Friday and Saturday, bringing the country in line with the Sunday to Thursday public working week observed by Bahrain and other Gulf states. It is likely that some private businesses on both sides of the causeway will continue to operate fully or partially on Saturdays.
Tolls on the King Fahd Causeway
Light trucks SR30
Small buses (up to 25 seats) SR30
Large buses (more than 25 seats) SR50
Trucks SR3 a tonne