New License Plates With Security Features to Be Introduced Soon
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News

JEDDAH, 14 July 2007 — License plates in Saudi Arabia will soon have both the Eastern Arabic numeral system (Arabic-language numbers) as well as the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, as in: 1234567890. The Traffic Department’s Director Maj. Gen. Fahd Al-Bishr made this announcement yesterday. The new system will also employ the Latin alphabet for letters with their accompanying Arabic script.

The new plates will be introduced to public transport vehicles today and to private vehicles at the start of the lunar-calendar year, Jan. 10, 2008. The plates will have security features to help capture traffic violators on camera.

The new plate has four numbers in Eastern Arabic (the numeral symbols used in the Arabic language) and Hindu-Arabic (the symbols incorporated into the English language around the 10th Century, which replaced the Roman numeral system) followed by three letters (in both Arabic and English).

The new number plate system will cover about 49 million vehicles, the department said, adding that about 75 percent of them are private cars. At present only 4.9 million new number plates have been kept ready for distribution. The new plates will be given free of charge to owners of vehicles who had previously changed their numbers. The fees (SR100) will be applied on those changing their numbers for the first time. People can pay the fee either through banks or ATMs.

Owners of vehicles will be given new plates when they approach the department to renew their titles and tags. After paying the renewal fee, they will get the plates after 15 days.

The Traffic Department will soon carry out a major project to install cameras along roads in various parts of the country to monitor traffic violations. The new electronic-monitoring system aims at cutting down the number of road accidents. Al-Bishr said cameras would be installed to register numbers of violating vehicles; the registration of violation will then be passed to the data center. The driver will be informed of the violation and he will have the right to object, he added.

The department has observed three types of violations related to number plates. In the first case, people drive vehicles without number plates or with fake number plates. These drivers will be jailed for 10 days to one month or fined SR300 to SR900 or given both punishments together.

“Absence of number plates in front of the vehicle or behind the vehicle is another type of violation,” a traffic official said, adding that such violators will be jailed for five to 15 days or fined SR150 to SR500 or given both punishments. Number plates should be in a readable form. If it is found unreadable, the owner may be sentenced to up to 10 days jail and not more than SR300 fine.