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Move To Saudi Arabia | British Expat Guide

move to saudi arabia

Contemplating shifting to Saudi Arabia from the UK? Ensure you learn our information first.

Are you able to be amazed by the hidden wonders that Saudi Arabia holds? The wealth and energy created by Saudi Arabia’s immense pure reserves of fuel and oil have dramatically modified the face and tradition of this desert nation, creating an astounding mixture of deep rooted spiritual beliefs, historic websites and monuments and mysterious tradition, with vigorous cosmopolitan cities crammed with glowing excessive rise malls and world class eating places — the epitome of decadent trendy dwelling.

Saudi’s panorama can also be far richer and extra numerous than chances are you’ll assume.

Sure, there’s loads of desert, however it’s dotted with lush oases and rivers, lofty mountains excellent for trekking, and rimmed by the Pink Sea with its spectacular coral reefs which supply a number of the greatest diving on earth.

Being so starkly totally different to the UK, Saudi Arabia may be daunting for Brits, however that hasn’t prevented over 26000 of them making their house right here. Are you considering of becoming a member of them?

If the reply is sure, you’ll have to learn this information — it accommodates indispensable details about visas, the price of dwelling, way of life and tradition, discovering jobs, and far more for British individuals wanting to maneuver to Saudi Arabia…

Have to Ship or Obtain Cash Overseas?

Some banks cost you as much as 5% in hidden prices when sending cash to a checking account overseas. TransferWise is as much as 8x cheaper.

How? It’s easy. Banks set their very own change price to earn a living off you. TransferWise provides you the actual trade price, also referred to as the “mid-market fee”.

Reduce out the financial institution costs, get began with TransferWise at present.

Saudi Arabia Visa Necessities for Brits

Make no mistake, Saudi Arabia is troublesome to get into, and the visa necessities for getting into and exiting the nation are difficult.

All forms of visa for British residents require a sponsor — and ladies travelling alone have to be met by their sponsor or a male family member on arrival.

You’ll be able to apply for a visa as much as three months earlier than your meant entry date, and passports have to be legitimate for a minimum of 6 months after the date of entry.

Purposes for all visas may be made on-line, or by way of an authorised visa providers agent listed on the Embassy of Saudi Arabia web site.

Right here’s what you should know in a nutshell…


Presently there isn’t any vacationer visa out there for British residents wanting to go to Saudi Arabia, nevertheless it might be attainable to use for a private go to or household visa.

Household visas are solely allotted to individuals who have been invited to enter Saudi Arabia by a sponsor or member of the family resident within the nation.

So as to apply you will have an official invite from the Saudi Ministry of Overseas Affairs (MOFA), and it’s the duty of your sponsor to contact the MOFA to have the invite issued.

After you have your official invitation it’s essential to full the required visa software type and supply 2 color photographs. Additionally, you will want a return ticket prematurely as proof that you’ll be leaving the nation inside the authorised time interval.


Long run employment in Saudi requires an Iquama — or residency allow — which may be obtained by your sponsor from the Saudi Ministry of Overseas Affairs, which have to be processed inside three months of your arrival within the nation.

The method of making use of for a piece or residence visa is lengthy, and may take a few months.

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To acquire your work visa additionally, you will have to offer a full medical report authenticated by the British Overseas and Commonwealth Workplace, and a a call for participation out of your Saudi sponsor firm, in addition to a replica of your work contract, CV, copies of any educational qualifications certificates, and an official certificates from the UK police stating that you haven’t any felony document.

Everlasting Residency

Residence and citizenship legal guidelines in Saudi Arabia are extremely restrictive, and expats with everlasting residence are virtually non-existent.

Nearly all of expats keep and work for a couple of years till there are not any additional visa choices, after which transfer elsewhere.

Nevertheless, in uncommon instances it’s potential to accumulate Saudi citizenship. As a way to even be thought-about you’ll need to have been completely resident in Saudi Arabia for 10 years, together with having an impeccable report of behaviour, being fluent in Arabic, and dealing in a extremely expert, excessive demand career.

Approach of Life in Saudi Arabia

Way of life

The Saudi way of life can come as an enormous tradition shock to many expats, however offered you might have respect for and are receptive to the Saudi lifestyle it is possible for you to to take pleasure in your time within the nation.

This can be a extremely personal and very spiritual society, and there are quite a few guidelines and laws that may alter the life-style of expats dramatically — notably ladies — however it will be important that you simply abide by them if you wish to get alongside in each day life.

That stated, the Saudi authorities is making strikes to chill out sure guidelines, and life right here is a bit more laid again than it was.

Listed here are some helpful insights into life as an expat in Saudi:

It’s severely frowned upon for women and men to work together collectively in public locations until it’s on official enterprise, and separate intercourse areas in workplaces, eating places, and different areas that might usually be shared within the UK is widespread.

While males are permitted to put on no matter they select so long as it’s respectable, lady are required by Sharia regulation to put on an abaya (an extended, darkish gown that covers the physique from neck to ankles).

Fortunately trendy abayas can be found in a number of totally different types and materials, permitting extra selection and expression of private style.

Ladies who accompany their husband on his work visa are additionally anticipated to not exit and work, and to only keep at residence.

Up till very lately ladies weren’t allowed to drive, however new laws are being put in place to vary this.

There are additionally a number of job restrictions in place for ladies, stopping them from working in probably hazardous roles, which signifies that most jobs revolve round extra home expertise comparable to cleansing, educating, childcare, and style and retail.

Alcohol is forbidden all through the entire of the nation, which may put a little bit of a downer on evenings out.

That stated, guidelines are a bit of extra relaxed within the western compounds (see under), a few of which have bars and pubs and allow alcohol in eating places.

Medicine are strictly unlawful, and expats caught in possession of them will endure extreme punishment, and should even face the dying penalty.

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Most expats reside in designated, safe western compounds, (dwelling outdoors them is discouraged), lots of that are luxurious and have swimming swimming pools, eating places, health centres, bowling alleys, their very own outlets and markets, and extra. Whereas this can be a nice strategy to meet different expats and make new buddies, it does make it more durable to combine with Saudi society outdoors of the work surroundings.

Getting Round

There are numerous methods to get round Saudi Arabia.

Within the cities taxis — additionally recognized right here as limousines — are the primary mode of transport. They’re very protected and could be discovered anyplace.

Fares are metered however you can even negotiate your worth earlier than beginning out as that approach chances are you’ll get a greater deal – notably on longer journeys.

Alternatively take an Uber as this additionally presents a dependable and protected service. Ladies are permitted to journey alone in each taxis and Ubers offering they continue to be within the again seat.

For travelling additional afield you possibly can select to journey by air, bus, or practice.

Air journey is handy, and there are a number of home airports inside the nation. The primary airline is Saudia, which gives connections between all main cities.

Finances airline Flynas gives cheaper flights however with much less extensive protection.

The roads in Saudi are usually of a excessive normal, and the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Firm provides snug, nicely appointed and air conditioned buses masking routes between the main cities.

Lengthy distance bus journeys supply a price efficient strategy to journey, and ladies are permitted to journey unaccompanied.

Should you select to journey by bus, just remember to have your residency allow and passport shut handy always.

The practice community in Saudi Arabia could be very restricted, and there’s presently just one route out there which travels between Riyadh and Dammam by way of Al Hofuf, Al Asha and Abqaiq.

There are three courses of ticket out there together with a VIP class, and lady can journey alone offered they carry the right documentation.

Baggage is carried individually and can undergo x-ray checks earlier than loading.

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Driving in Saudi

Whether or not you’re within the metropolis or have to take longer journeys, driving your personal or a rent automotive might be good choice, though it’s value taking into consideration that the behaviour of different drivers can typically be erratic, with operating purple lights and rushing being typical offences, and there’s a pretty excessive incidence of visitors accidents.

Petrol is extraordinarily low cost — less expensive than within the UK.

A UK and / or worldwide driving license accompanied by a translation into Arabic is often adequate, however it might be value your whereas to acquire an area driving license as well as — definitely in case you are planning on staying in Saudi for greater than three months.

The street infrastructure within the cities is sweet, and lots of street indicators are written in English in addition to Arabic.

Automotive rent for expats is widespread, and most cities and cities have worldwide automotive rent corporations based mostly there, however you have to be 25 or older.

Drive on the appropriate aspect of the street and hold your driving license and paperwork with you always otherwise you danger a heavy high quality.

Climate in Saudi Arabia

In the event you assume you recognize what scorching is — assume once more.

Saudi Arabia has a desert local weather, when signifies that this can be very scorching in the course of the day — typically unbearably so in summer time from Might by way of to August — with temperatures hovering to between a staggering 45° C and 54° C.

Night time time brings a pointy drop in temperature, and there’s little or no rainfall all year long, with most being concentrated through the winter months (when temperatures additionally ease off to a way more bearable 20 °C on common), with February seeing the very best rainfall and occasional storms.

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Value of Dwelling in Saudi Arabia

The Center East might be an costly place to reside, however that is often offset by greater salaries and / or worthwhile relocation packages put collectively by employers that embrace allowances for dwelling prices akin to lease, transport, medical insurance coverage and faculty charges.

The price of dwelling in Saudi Arabia is costlier within the cities and suburbs than in additional rural areas, and sure cities akin to Dubai and Abu Dhabi are costlier than much less in style places.

Way of life

So long as you stick with native merchandise, groceries are fairly priced, as are garments and digital items.

Imported meals nevertheless are significantly costlier, and eating out in eating places can put a little bit of a dent in your pockets (the equal of round £30 per head for a mid vary restaurant), though it’s attainable to seek out extra reasonably priced eateries.

As alcohol is prohibited in Saudi, there are not any golf equipment or bars within the metropolis — apart from pubs you might discover in western compounds — so the price of shopping for drinks gained’t be slicing into your price range.

Automobiles and gasoline are less expensive than within the UK, giving expats to personal and run a luxurious car that they may not have the ability to have again house.

Utilities are affordable, however electrical energy utilization for air con can improve through the summer time months, inflicting a pointy rise to your month-to-month payments.


Wherever you select to reside in Saudi, lease is nearly definitely going to be your largest expense.

Lodging in western compounds is in excessive demand, which has resulted in an enormous worth hike for rental properties.

Costs range relying in your location, however as a tough information you possibly can anticipate to pay the equal of round £1000 to £1500 per thirty days on common for an unfurnished 2 bed room condominium.

Rental prices are considerably decrease when you determine to reside outdoors the compounds, however westerners not often select this feature.

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Saudi Arabia is well-known for having a superb healthcare system — notably within the cities and different city areas.

Public hospitals are funded by non-profit organisations or the federal government, and the usual of healthcare is to a really excessive normal, with English being widen spoken by docs and employees.

Personal hospitals are often run by worldwide firms, and supply an distinctive service, with the benefit over public hospitals being extra superior amenities, higher numbers of extremely certified consultants specialising in particular illnesses, and quick response models.

This extra high quality of service does come at a worth nevertheless, and remedy at a personal hospital or clinic could be costly.

Expats are required by regulation to have personal medical insurance, and visas won’t be issued with out it.

Saudi employers typically present medical insurance coverage cowl as a part of the wage package deal for expats, but when it’s worthwhile to discover your personal medical insurance, many Saudi insurance coverage corporations present aggressive offers for anyplace between £1000 and £1500.

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Besides in uncommon instances, youngsters of expat households are excluded from Saudi Arabian public faculties, so mother and father haven’t any choice to ship them to worldwide faculties which comply with a curriculum just like that of the UK.

Worldwide faculties can be found at main, intermediate and secondary degree, and could be present in all the main cities.

The key disadvantage to that is value. Worldwide faculties in Saudi Arabia are prohibitively costly, and getting your youngster enrolled may be tough as there are lengthy ready lists and in some instances entrance exams.

Relying on the varsity, charges can value anyplace between 25000 and 35000 SAR per yr, which in English cash is roughly between £5200 and £7500, with charges tending to extend yearly.

Should you’re trying to educate your youngsters while dwelling in Saudi, it’s advisable to barter an allowance to cowl faculty charges as a part of your wage package deal.

Widespread Areas for Brits


Fascinating Riyadh is the wealthiest metropolis within the Arab world.

Also called the Desert Rose, the traditional metropolis of Riyadh sprung up alongside desert commerce routes.

Firmly rooted within the traditions of its historic previous but overtly trendy, in the present day Riyadh is the glittering capital of the Saudi Kingdom, the place spectacular glass towers surge in the direction of the solar, gourmand eating places abound, and the buying is second to none.


This grand seaport metropolis sits majestically on the coast of the Purple Sea on the gateway to Mecca and Medina.

Steeped in historical past, on the coronary heart of Jeddah, the previous metropolis boasts historic rose tinted structure and atmospheric souqs, while the fashionable metropolis provides lots to do, with wonderful eating places famed for scrumptious seafood delicacies, and sufficient glitzy malls to please any avid shopper.

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An oasis within the desert and only a brief distance from beautiful white sandy seashores and wonderful dive spots, cosmopolitan Dammam is a younger and vibrant metropolis serviced by the most important airport on the planet.

Not solely is Dammam a client’s paradise with a world class eating scene, the town additionally touts lovely inexperienced areas and leafy parks.


Encircled by granite mountains and probably the most holy cities on the planet, mysterious Medina is residence to the oldest mosque in existence, and is visited annually by tons of of hundreds of pilgrims on their method to Mecca.

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Jobs in Saudi Arabia for British Expats

Wonderful alternatives exist for expert expats eager to work within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, the Saudi authorities intently controls the variety of jobs obtainable to overseas staff, and lots of Saudi corporations favor to rent regionally or relations, which may pose challenges for some expats.

That stated, industries comparable to IT, actual property, engineering, healthcare, banking and finance, healthcare, educating and development are booming and expert employers in these areas are in excessive demand, opening up quite a few work prospects to expats with applicable expertise.

It’s important to seek out employment earlier than getting into the nation, and the easiest way to that is by way of worldwide recruitment businesses working within the UK.

Are you contemplating a transfer to Saudi Arabia from the UK?

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