About Saudi Arabia

With its spectacular desert landscape and beautiful cities, Saudi Arabia remains one of the most traditional of the Middle Eastern nations.

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Home » Moving Guide » Destination Guides » About Saudi Arabia

About Moving to Saudi Arabia

There are many perks to enjoy after you complete your international removal to Saudi Arabia. It is far less reliant on foreign labour than many of its neighbours, yet still has a healthy influx of expat workers flocking to Riyadh and Jeddah. Of its 29 million inhabitants, around 8 million are expats, mainly from India, Pakistan and Egypt. There is also an increasing number of Western expats seeking new opportunities in Saudi Arabia with well over 100,000 Europeans and North Americans currently living in the country. As most of its 2 million km² is desert, it is not surprising that the majority of new arrivals head to one the big cities such as the capital Riyadh and Jeddah, mainly living in expat compounds dotted around the cities.

Employment and Wealth

Believed to have over 20% of the world’s petroleum resources, Saudi Arabia has a rich and robust economy generating over $182 million in GDP every year.

The petrochemical industry still dominates the economy and many expats move to the country to take on skilled roles in this sector. There are also excellent opportunities for engineers and construction workers as well as doctors, nurses and English teachers.

Many employers are offering generous packages to entice skilled expats. As well as competitive salaries, many pay packages will include accommodation, transportation, education costs and healthcare insurance.

Weather in Saudi Arabia

For many expats looking to move abroad to Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest shocks can be the weather. When living in Saudi Arabia, you can expect temperatures of high 30s to mid 40s on most days. The hottest temperature recorded in Riyadh, the capital city, was a scorching 50 degrees Celsius! Moving from the UK, where the weather can be particularly cold, this change in climate can take a bit of adjusting to. It’s also important to remember that you are expected to respect the culture and religion in Saudi Arabia and so shorts and t shirts will not be an option for the majority of people. In some areas designed for expats living in Saudi Arabia, the clothing rules are relaxed to offer some respite from the heat.

Flight Times from Saudi Arabia

The desert heat can get a little much, but Saudi Arabia has some great holiday destinations just a few hours away. The beautiful beaches and ancient history of Turkey is just a four hour flight away and Athens is just over five.

For a complete cultural change, the North African hotspots of Morocco and Tunisia are both around five hours away. Or head east to experience the exotic delights of Jakarta or Singapore in just nine hours.

You can also fly to London or Manchester in around nine hours directly from Jeddah for those occasional trips home. For any trip, however, you will need the permission of your sponsor and an exit visa.

Expat Compounds in Riyadh

An expat compound is the accommodation of choice for many who move to Saudi Arabia. Providing the comfort of familiarly furnished houses, flats, and villas, as well as the support of fellow expats living around you, expat compounds are a great option. Some of the most popular compounds in Riyadh include:

  • Al Hamra Oasis Village
  • Al Ola Real Estate
  • Al Showaier Real Estate
  • Al Yamamah Resort
  • Cordoba Oasis Village
  • Dhabab Gardens
  • Eid Villas
  • FAL Residential Compound
  • Jadawel International
  • Kingdom City

Expat Compounds in Jeddah

Expat compounds in Jeddah are also popular destinations for expats to move to when relocating to Saudi Arabia. For a lifestyle more similar to the Western one that you will be used to, picking a expat compound is a good option to help you acclimatise to your new home. Expat compounds in Jeddah include:

  • Arabian Homes
  • Al Basateen Village
  • Sharbatly Village
  • Saudi City Compound
  • Al Andalus
  • Al Rumiah Compound

But how easy is it to move there?

Moving to Saudi Arabia is a relatively straight forward procedure, providing you secure work prior to departure. Once a job offer is confirmed, your employer will act as your sponsor and arrange your work visa and residency permit, known as an Iqama, your sponsor can also help find suitable accommodation.

Most of those with a stable, well paid job will be allowed to sponsor their spouse or dependent children, but it is complicated and difficult for a sponsored spouse also to work.

For women moving to Saudi Arabia, it is worth noting that it still illegal for females to drive. A car and driver can be arranged, sometimes at the expense of the sponsor. Women are also expected to behave and dress moderately in line with the country’s strict Muslim beliefs. An Abaya must be worn when in public and most also carry a head scarf at all times.

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