Considering moving to the second-largest Arab state? Known as the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, living in Saudi is an opportunity to encounter a very different culture. Experience firsthand the Saudi cultural value of hospitality. Discover the birthplace of Islam and visit UNESCO world heritage sites like the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Want to visit as a tourist before you decide to make a permanent move to join the Saudi Arabia expatriates crew? In September 2019, this nation introduced the Saudi Arabia Visitor Visa programme for eligible nationalities.
This change to the country’s visa policy was a historic moment for this state. Prior to this, foreigners could only enter the Kingdom if they were on a pilgrimage, visiting family or doing business. You won’t be able to work with this visa; however, if you secure a job here, your company will usually help you out with the visa process.
Even if just visiting as a tourist, you must adapt to the lifestyle as a guest in the country. Some of the restrictions, particularly those imposed on women, may come as a shock to Westerners; however, it is important to be respectful of local laws. People might be curious about you, but it is generally a very respectful culture with rich traditions.
Western expats who come to work here find it an eye-opening experience. It can also be very lucrative if you come with the intention of saving money and don’t splash all your cash in the country’s modern shopping malls!
How Many Expatriates Live Here?
Statistics show that more than 30% of the country’s population are expats.
Aside from the large American community, there are many other foreigners living in Saudi.
As well as other expats from the Western World, there are also many people living here who have come from neighbouring countries like Sudan, Egypt and Yemen.
You may be surprised to learn that Westerners make up just 1% of the total expat population. The largest expat population is Syrian nationals, followed by Indians. Over 20% of the Saudi expat population are Syrian.
The second-largest expat population is Indian nationals, which explains the hundreds of monthly searches for “job in saudi arabia for indian”. Most of the more than a million Indians residing in the country are employed in hospitality or mining.
How Many Americans Are There Living in Saudi Arabia?
There are around 35,000 Americans living here. Most Americans live in Riyadh or Jeddah where a number of multinational companies operate from.
Some American expats earn a living in the Saudi oil industry and are based in cities in the east, like Dhahran, Dammam and Khobar. Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, is based in the city of Dhahran.
There are also many Americans employed in the construction and finance sectors, not forgetting those working in the military.
Top Expatriates Jobs in Saudi Arabia
As well as jobs in the oil and mining industries which we mentioned above, there are a number of other jobs available to expats.
The types of jobs typically offered to international professionals include:
- Jobs teaching English as a foreign language.
- Medical jobs.
- Accountants jobs.
- Project management and engineering roles such as positions as electrical engineers.
- Network engineer.
- Architect jobs.
There are also an increasing number of opportunities in the IT area in online data entry and even computer science. Some businesses are now offering online jobs in Saudia Arabia working remotely.
Companies such as BAE systems offer opportunities for expats. If you search “BAE systems saudi arabia jobs” you can see the latest professional opportunities available. Many of these are in the engineering field.
Teaching Jobs in Saudi Arabia
Want to know how much you can earn teaching English as a foreign language?
Teaching jobs pay well here. As well as high paying jobs working in international schools, there are also opportunities to train business leaders in English (for male English teachers). International teachers report that they take away between 3,000 to 4,000 USD per month.
Another plus of teaching here is there are not a lot of expenses, so you can save a considerable amount of money. Teachers typically live in compounds with other colleagues and have a bus that takes them to school and then back to the compound, so there are no transport fees to factor in either.
The main outgoings of expat teachers living here are travelling and, with more flight paths opening all the time, it can be a good base to explore the surrounding Arab countries and other nations further afield.
Thinking of moving here to teach? Although the salaries are high once you’re set up, you will have to factor in money for initial startup costs. These can include the paperwork for health checks, visas, transcripts and background checks.
How Much Tax Is There on Expats in Saudi Arabia?
Many Western expats come to the country to take advantage of the opportunity to earn tax-free salaries.
However, before you decide to make the move you should check that this will apply to you.
Whether your earnings are tax-free or not though depends on your work situation and if you have a business out there.
A new tax on expats and their dependents has recently been introduced to boost the country’s revenue.
To find out the latest news and developments regarding tax for Saudi Arabia expats you should keep an eye on the government website.
What Is Life Like for Saudi Arabia Expatriates?
Most Western expats live in compounds in the big cities of the kingdom. Security is tight in these compounds and they often have pools and fitness rooms and organise different social events and parties to meet other Saudi expats. The weather can reach (113°F) 45°C in the summer which can take some getting used to.
When you leave your compound, you must be respectful and adhere to the customs of the land. Expats must be thoughtful about clothing and dress modestly wherever you go.
Some cities such as Jeddah are more Westernised and less strict; however, in many places, women are still required to wear at least an abaya over their regular clothes. The safest option is to wear a headscarf too when you are in public. There aren’t as many restrictions for men, but you are still required to dress modestly.
Working in this Arabic Kingdom can be an interesting opportunity to earn a good salary and experience a different culture firsthand! Are you ready for the adventure?