For expats moving to Saudi Arabia it is important to realize that the country is the birth place of Islam. Hence, Saudi Arabia is very strict about its religious customs and traditions. Nonetheless, tax-free salaries and enriching work experience pulls thousands of expats to this land of wealth and dessert every year.
Preparing and researching before planning to settle in Saudi Arabia is the key to ensuring a pleasant relocation.
Accommodation and Lifestyle at compounds: Expats, especially western mostly stay in colonies called “compounds”. The compounds house various apartments and offer all the plush facilities to which westerners are accustomed. Here, they have the freedom of dressing more freely and can also consume alcohol. Rents for these apartments have sky-rocketed in the recent times in the wake of growing demand. Also, the rent depends on the location and the “newness” of the building.
It is highly advisable for expats to seek rent allowance separately from the salary from their employers. This goes a long way in helping reduce the huge expense of accommodation. Also, most employers look into the lodgings for the expat employees. So it’s good idea to consult with your employer regarding this aspect.
Restrictions for women: It is well-known that Saudi Arabia has stringent rules for women. Women are prohibited from driving here and cannot mix with the males in the public unless they happen to be their blood relation. Dressing for women is very strict and mostly all women wear a black cloak over their dresses. Some even cover their hair to be on the safer side.
As for the expat women it is highly suggested they dress conventionally, unless they are in the compound and in case of doubt check with your respective embassies.
Weather: To say the weather in Saudi Arabia is warm will be an understatement. For expats used to colder climates, weather here can feel severely hot as well as humid. Temperatures in the daytime can soar as high as 50° C during summers. Also, it is not possible in the country to jump in to the public pool to ward off the heat. And totally improbable for women. Being a dessert rains are scant as well.
To sum it up, Saudi Arabia is the job destination exclusively for those expats who are ready to adapt to the stringent culture and practices of the land. Saudi Arabia is slowly opening up in the terms of allowing women more freedom of expression and movement. However, there are no exceptions to break the prevalent customs here. Thus the expats must be ready to cope with all of these.
For expats, it is best to research and be wary of the local rules both legal and otherwise to avoid any confrontations when they decide to move to Saudi Arabia.
Read more about working and living in Saudi Arabia.
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