Working in Saudi Arabia



The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been rated the 13th most economically competitive country in the world and the best place to do business in the entire Middle East and Arab world.

With the nation's economy, growing even more rapidly than before, expatriates are finding all the more reason to believe that working and living in the kingdom is going to be a wise take. 

In Saudi Arabia, visas are issued for business and work with a minimum processing time of 48 hours and a validity period of 90 days. However, with a sponsor, one can request for an extension. The processing fee, when paid at a KSA embassy, will cost 16 USD when the fee is paid at an embassy or 267 USD when paid by an employer in Saudi Arabia. 

"Visas are a complete nightmare, the bureaucracy is terrible. The children and I had to wait four months for our dependant visas. Once we had those the process to change them into residence permits went very smoothly."- Ersatz Expat, Expat in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Job opportunities offered to expatriates in the Kingdom are centered on defense, health care and the oil industries. Substantial numbers of Americans and Europeans are being deployed in Information technology (IT), telecommunications and banking. It is said that Saudis are more than happy to pay large sums of money to have others do their work for them and this is viewed as one of the most important factors why the number of expatriates is ever growing. Even non-degree holders could land a job as long as they are flexible, creative, patient and not hesitant to create opportunities or take chances. Most expatriate women in the Kingdom are either working as a medical staff, teachers or in all-women organizations, such as women branches of banks and women retail stores. Despite the fact that Saudi labor laws make it difficult for them to work legally, they take positions at different institutions to expand financial freedom and explore new opportunities. 

The typical workweek in the Kingdom, depending on the company's policy, varies between 40-48 hours. Office hours usually start from 8:30 or 9:00 am until 5:30 or 6:00 pm. The working day is reduced to six hours during the month of Ramadan and as with any Muslim country; this policy legally applies to all employees, although some companies apply it only to Muslims who fast during daylight hours. Muslim rest day is Friday and if the company has a five-day workweek, other members of the staff will take their days off on Thursday or Saturday. International companies, however, choose Saturdays as otherwise would mean a decrease in the number of operational days by world practices, which is common with much the rest of the world. 

One of the major attractions of working in Saudi Arabia is the fact that the Kingdom has no personal taxation laws. Thus, net income is usually much greater. In the past, remuneration packages were split into various elements such as basic salary, car and housing allowances, medical cover, education and air tickets for home visits. However today, employers tend just to pay a salary which covers all these expenses. 

Moreover, contract workers are awarded an indemnity at the end of a contract period which is based on the value of the entire remuneration package including performance bonuses. Working for a long period of time in Saudi Arabia would mean a significant amount of money as an indemnity or "end of service benefit" which is an end-of-contract bonus required by law to be paid to expatriate workers as a form of "thank you" for being of service to the state. It usually scales from 15 days of basic pay per year of employment for the first three years and thereafter a month's salary per year of employment. 

Amidst the desert climate of Saudi Arabia, expatriates go home with smiles on their faces not just because of the opportunities they found but for the satisfaction of what these opportunities have done for themselves and their families. As said by many who took their chances in Saudi Arabia, "we found gold in the Kingdom."



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Expat Services in Saudi Arabia