Saudi Arabia, a notoriously reclusive country, recently announced 90-day tourist e-visas are now available online. This easing of restrictions to non-Islamic foreign visitors is said to be part of the Vision 2030 programme, as the country seeks to wean its economy off oil. When Saudi talks of developing tourism, they’re probably more interested in groups flying in and spending money in resorts and glittering malls or taking guided tours, rather than overlanders roaming self-reliantly around the desert. It may well transpire these new e-visas only apply to fly-ins leaving from the same airport.
How does this relate to overland travel?
As it is, with overland entry only currently possible from Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula is a dead-end for the overlander. And it’s not as if it opens up a new overland route like Myanmar did, or usefully circumvents a blocked area like Iran (for some). It’s just a new country to explore before ferrying on to northeast Africa, western Asia or even Turkey.
Once in a while you heard of travellers transiting Saudi in 72-hours with some difficulty, usually when Egypt or Sudan were not accessible. Vehicles ferried across the Red Sea and were escorted directly to the Jordanian border, or even transported on a truck (RHD cars). Expats with vehicles registered in the Emirates (part of the GCC, see map below) have had an easier time getting out via Saudi. In this post from 2016, the OP was told foreign-plated motorcycles could not be ridden in KSA, though this has obviously been done on a few occasions, right back to 2006.
They may want to issue local number plates, like Egypt.
International Driving Permit probably needed.
Carnet probably not.
Fuel works out 13p a litre.
The thing is, route-wise there is little reason to travel via Saudi except to say you’ve been there. To the south, you can ferry to/from Sudan so dodging Egypt with its protracted entry procedures and CDP. But that aside, Egypt is a fascinating country, probably more so than Saudi.
To the north is Saudi’s current arch-enemy, Iran which some can enter overland from at least five other countries. Like Egypt, on the UN HMI (Historical Monuments Index) Iran has a much higher rating than Saudi. There are ferries from the Emirates to Bandar Abbas, but Brits, Americans and Canadians can’t travel in Iran without an escort.
Though there was talk of it in 2018, currently there is no ferry from Muscat/Oman to Pakistan. (CDP needed for both places). And even then, it might have only ever been intended for passengers, not vehicles.
Is it ethical?
To some probably not, so don’t go there – or any number of human-rights hellholes commonly visited by overlanders. Solo women are allowed into KSA and, unlike Iran, don’t need to wear a burqa, just dress modestly. Expect some gender segregation in public places. It’s worth looking at laws as they apply to tourists, some of which appear shockingly draconian and are bound to get flouted by mistake.