Working in Saudi Arabia



The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia doesn't only possess the largest economy in the Arab world but also 18% of Earth’s total petroleum reserves. This country boasts a dynamic oil-based economy and a Gross Domestic Product of USD 1.900 trillion which is the 14th highest in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

With Saudi Arabia 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. This oil giant has been rated the 3rd most economically competitive country in the Arab World the 29th against 30 other nations in the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report. 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."

"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

A majority of expats in Saudi Arabia works in the private sector which is dominated by several large local and multi national businesses. The service sector employs around 72% of the total labour force particularly in the booming fields of real estate and construction. Job opportunities offered to expatriates in the Kingdom are centred on defence, health care and the oil industries. Substantial numbers of Americans and Europeans are being deployed in Information Technology (IT), telecommunications and banking.

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 medical staff, teachers or in all-women organisations, such as women branches of banks and women retail stores.

Average Salary

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.

In 2014, the Labour Ministry declared that a minimum wage of SR 2,500 (USD 666) would be implemented in 2015 for expatriates and SR 5,300 (USD 1,412) for Saudi nationals that are working in the private sector. Under this government programme, all businesses listed under the private sector will be obliged to transfer the salaries of their expat and local employees directly to their bank accounts. Sources also say that the aim of fixing the minimum wages is to attract more Saudis to work in the private sector and to further empower the process of job nationalisation.

Indemnity for Employees

In Saudi Arabia, 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 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 after that a month's salary per year of employment.

Working Conditions

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 typical with much the rest of the world.


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Work Guide

Expat Services in Saudi Arabia