Living and Working in Saudi Arabia
The desert kingdom Saudi Arabia is the abode of over lakhs of expats – both westerners and others from eastern nations such as the Pakistan, India, Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The work culture in this country is totally different than in other countries around the world. For expats looking for an employment opportunity in Saudi Arabia here’s what they need to know:
1. Job Opportunities for Expats in Saudi Arabia: Chances of finding suitable job opportunities in this country depend directly on the experience and skills of the expats. In fact, this is single biggest reasons why the companies in this country hire expats over its citizens.
The expats are thoroughly qualified, skilled and experienced in their work. A big chunk of expats here work in the engineering sector, IT, healthcare, finance, education and construction. The key thing here is that “fresher” expats without any prior work experience have little to no chance of finding employment here. A lot of expats also arrive here on basis of intra-company transportation to Saudi Arabia.
There are strict restrictions on women working in Saudi Arabia. In corporate offices here you will find very few ladies. Women are encouraged to run “feminine” businesses such as dress designing, running beauty spas etc. A majority of women expats here are either a nurse or a teacher. Women are also forbidden from opening their own law firms but can work as assistants under males in law firms.
2. Work Culture: Companies here have definite rules for employees. In most cases, the employer is also the visa sponsor and guarantor for the employee so it advisable to be on good terms with him.
It is well-known that as an expat you cannot leave the current nor start working for another neither leave the country until you get the clearance from the present employer. Work experience seems to be different for a westerner as compared with an Asian.
Overall the work environment in Saudi Arabia is safe, though it can get “pressurized” at times.
3. Cost of living: Cost of living in Saudi Arabia for an expat is dependent on factors such as his income, spending habits etc. Accommodation eats away the biggest chunk of income for most expats. And more so with the steeply rising house rents here. It is highly recommended for expats to ask their employer for a housing allowance apart from the basic salary. This will go a long way in helping you save costs on housing.
In general, living cost here is generally lower than other Middle Eastern countries. Prices of petrol are obviously cheap (cheaper than the cost for water in fact). Electronic items are also inexpensive as they are exempted from taxes. Indian food will cost less than a Saudi Arabian meal. Eating out often in deluxe hotels can proof to be expensive. Other utilities are fairly priced. Schooling for children (in case the expats have children) can be very costly as they are needed to admitted to only international schools.
Check this guide for first time expats in Saudi Arabia.