Why Working in Saudi Arabia is the Best Move for You.

Maybe some people wonder why on earth anyone would want to teach in Saudi Arabia. If you too are wondering, then read on you may be surprised by what this country has to offer to expats, especially ESL teachers.

The Nb 1 reason why muslim expats want to be working in Saudi Arabia is obviously the attraction of the cities of Mecca (for the Hajj – pilgrimage) and Medinah but many non muslims from diverse walks of life and cultural backgrounds flock to Saudi for 1 or 2 years contracts and this is one of the reasons why.

working in saudi arabia

Very few countries can compete with the very high salaries offered to teachers in Saudi, not only your base salary will be much higher than anywhere else in the world, but it also comes with:

* Tax free
* free housing + bills
* Medical Insurance
* free daily commute to work
* from 30 days paid holidays
* Free return air tickets from country of origin
* + other perks such as settling in allowance, children’s school fees… can be negotiated

Plain and simple: this means that when working in Saudi Arabia, what you earn is what you keep. No nasty taxes, complicated deductions and other traps for your hard earned salary.

Plus, English teachers from abroad who are working in Saudi Arabia often find that they are respected as such, very well regarded in the community and this makes for a very pleasant work environment. Other sectors with high hiring demands are obviously the Oil and Petroleum industries but i don’t know much about those.

Basically Saudi is the ideal option for people looking to save a lot of money fast, all the while living comfortably as well as experiencing a rich culture. I could tell you many stories but i’ll  just recommend a brilliant post on the subject written by the excellent Rashad Pharaon over at Banker in the Sun.

working in saudi arabia

Saudi is not for everyone though: you must be prepared to deal with:

  • very conservatives laws, extremely tough penalties
  • a strict enforcement of Islamic principles: no alcohol, no pork products
  • some practices that will take getting used to
  • a work culture that IS different from what you may be used to

It’s never a good idea to move abroad for money only… imagine finding yourself all alone in a country like Saudi and being miserable? No money in the world should mean that much to you.

Working in saudi Arabia – Something to think about seriously

If you’ve never considered Saudi before, my advice is to look into it before discarding it straight away. Don’t be put off by what you see and hear in the media just find out by yourself what other expats have to say about it.

If you did think about it before, I suggest you do some quick math focusing on what you could save every month. Look how fast you could be debt free, buy that new car or build the house of your dream… Working in Saudi Arabia could be the key to unlock a brighter future.

Have you considered Saudi to teach English? I moved to Saudi in 2015 and i got loads of inside tips and advice if you need them. Just email me and i’ll be happy to help.

 

15 thoughts on “Why Working in Saudi Arabia is the Best Move for You.”

  1. Omar says:

    Hi Jameela,

    You have a great blog. Loads of great info. I’m working in another GCC country in a non-teaching field. I’m considering Saudi for more of authentic cultural experience. I’m a native speaker from the US and I have a graduate degree from there. I’m willing to do the CELTA. My concern is I’m my age: 47. Would employers still consider me?

    1. Jameela Deen says:

      Hi Omar and thanks for the compliments. To answer your question your age should NOT be a problem at all as the official age limit is 60 years old and they will have no problem getting visa clearance for someone 47 years old. However, the fact that you don\’t have an MA might be a serious issue. I suggest you highlight the following on your CV: American native, gulf experience as they will take these into consideration. As for doing a CELTA it would certainly be beneficial to you in terms of training and to boost your CV a bit. Recruiting agencies in particular seem to insist on a CELTA. Give it a go, send your CV and if the MA is the issue then you know what to do. All the best for your future projects.

    2. Omar says:

      Hi Jameela,

      Thank you for your advice!

  2. Terry says:

    Hi, I worked in Al Hasa, Saudi Arabia for a year for Saudi Aramco, which is probably the best paid job for English teachers in the world, but before you make up your mind take a look at the pros and cons.

    Let’s take a look at the positives: high salary and no tax, transportation can be provided usually this is a cash alternative, accommodation can be offered if the company has a compound, 30 days paid holiday, paid air flights to and from home country and finally medical insurance. There are also a few private beaches where both sexes can wear normal swimwear (bikini or shorts), but only at a private beach.

    And now the negatives: Transportation can be a problem as driving in Saudi is extremely dangerous and there is little in the way of public transport. I was often scared when we were driving on the highway. Don’t take my work for it, look it up on youtube to check. Women are forbidden to drive and you will occasionally see a mother with her 10 year old son driving the car. Women must be accompanied by a male at all times ( usually a family member) and must wear an Abaya (covers the body from neck to ankles and wrists, must be black). For married couples, be warned you cannot go to a hotel in Saudi without a verified copy of your marriage certificate. If they allow you in, you will find yourself being raided in your room by the local police and end up in a jail cell. If you have children be warned if they do any damage as children do there may be problems. An American boy of 10 was given 10 lashes of the whip a few years back. Here is a link to the BBC which lists other things you can be flogged for in Saudi.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/30849977/what-can-you-be-flogged-for-in-saudi-arabia
    There are many foreigners on death row in Saudi: 80 Filipinos, women tried without lawyers
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/secret-saudi-executions-shame-the-west-1576699.html
    There have been reports of Filipino men being raped and left for dead in the desert. One case was stated that it was the police.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/filipino-man-found-raped-and-beaten-in-saudi-arabia-desert-9440906.html

    When living in Saudi your employer will demand you hand over your passport or they will keep your ID card. If you don’t have an ID card when Police stop you on the highway, you can be taken to the airport to be deported. Additionally, since there is nothing to do in Saudi apart from stay at home and watch edited programmes or go to the mall, expats frequently wish to go to Bahrain or Qatar at the weekend to have a break, such as go to the cinema, light entertainment, have a beer or meet a girl. However, getting your passport back from your employer is not easy as they are scared you will leave and not return. My friends warned me about going to Saudi before I left and I had no idea how it really was. It can be exceptionally dangerous. However, like a lot of you the money was extremely attractive and I went. I will never return as I value my life more than any amount of money, but the choice is up to you. Nothing I have written here is a lie, but check it out for yourself if you don’t believe what I’ve written and you’ve visited the links here.

    1. Jameela Deen says:

      Thank you very much Terry for posting about your experience it\’s great to hear another view from another expat. In Saudi like everywhere else expats have different experience, depending on the city they live in, their employer as well as personal limits.

      From what you wrote it seem al Ahsa is very different from Jeddah, which is considered more \”liberal\” whatever that words means in KSA. Here women walk alone whereever they want, I checked in hotels with my husband without problems or questions.

      Employers also are different, mine give me 60 days paid holidays and while they DO keep my passport (I always keep my Iqama/ID card with me) i can have it back anytime i want and if i want to exit the country, they take care of getting me the exit-reentry visa i need (and they organise FREE airport transfers too).

      In the end, and this is why it\’s important to share expat stories so thank you again, Terry, Saudi is like any other country: some people love it, some people can\’t handle it.

  3. Selva says:

    hI,

    I WANTED TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICALE BECAUSE NOT EVERYTHING IS TRUE! APOLOGIES.

    I DID APPLY TO SOME JOBS AND CHECKED SOME OUT. mOST JOBS PAY not MORE THAN oMAN! FOR EXAMPLE: SALARY CAN GO UP TO 3000omani riyal… BUT YOU CAN MAME AT LEAST 3000us/MONTH AT MINIMUM. jUST LIKE Saudi.

    aS FOR HOLIDAYS. oMAN OFFERS 54 DAYS OF PAID HOLIDAY, WHERE SAUDI PAYS ONLY 30 DAYS.

    OMAN GIVES YOU THE FREEDOM TO WALK AROUND, GO TO THE BEACH DO WHATEVER, AND DRIVE…WHEREAS IN SAUDI YOU ARE RISTRICTED!

    PERHAPS THE ONLY THING IS THAT SAUDI IS BETTER WHEN IT COMES TO PURCHASING FOOD! AND OMAN IS NOT BAD THERE EITHER.

    SO WHAT IS THIS HYPE ABOUT SAUDI HIGH SALARIES!!!! I DON’T SEE IT UNLESS YOU ARE A MALE TEACHER AND AN AMERICAN CITIZEN AND WORKING FOR A MILITARY COLLEGE….

    LET ME KNOW WHRE ARE THE HIGH PAYING JOBS IN SAUDI.

    1. Jameela Deen says:

      Hi Sleva

      First of all no need for apologies, constructive comments are always helpful and therefore welcome.

      I agree with you that Oman has loads to offer and in some cases, salaries are similar to Saudi. But what makes Saudi so special and the reason it attracts so many people is not just salaries, it\’s more the long, very long list of perks that comes on top of the basic salary. I have shared my earnings in this article.

      And FYI i am FEMALE, NOT American and i don\’t work for a military college. I do get more than 4000 USD as a basic salary and probably double that when you add all the perks. And i get 60 days paid holidays + 10 national days holidays, that 70 days paid holidays per year.

      Now i\’m not saying everybody earn that but Saudi offers some financial incentives that Oman cannot meet. When it comes to the lifestyle, here again Saudi is not what many people think it is: i personally love it here and don\’t feel restricted in my life at all.

      As for letting you know where the high salaries are, i\’ll be writing more about it soon but here are a few pointers for ESL teachers: Eastern Regions, Direct Hire, Petroleum companies.

      Feel free to comment any time you want, i am only one person and this blog therefore is limited so any other perspective is always welcome. Thank you.

  4. Faisal says:

    I am an Indian and want to be in mecca.I am looking For job.I have done CSE AND LOOKING JOB AS A FRESHER.IF ANY LET ME KNOW

    1. Jameela Deen says:

      Hi Faisal
      i hope you soon find what you\’re looking for unfortunately this is a personal blog, i do not have any access to job offers other than the one you can find online. I suggest you look for recruitment websites in your field. Another possibility would be to use Google to find names and contact details of some companies hiring fresher then you can go on their website to see if they are recruiting and send your CV. Good luck with the job hunting.

  5. Rashad pharaon says:

    Jameela, first of all i hope this doesn’t show up in caps, because i don’t have my caps lock on but it’s typing that way ON MY SCREEN!

    second of all, i love the look of your site. and you are so right, we have to weigh what we get out of the experience, and it is a cultural awakening that few get to experience. in my three years there i can honestly say there is hardly anywhere else in the world that is so unique–good and bad–as saudi arabia.

    it changed my life for the better, so i really can’t knock the strict laws. THOUGH THE CONSTANT CLOSING TIMES IN STORES FOR PRAYERS KIND OF GOT, WELL, REDUNDANT. EVEN RESIDENTS ARE UPSET BY THIS RULE. BUT I DEVIATE–i learned how to photograph there, and i started my blog there, and i wrote the first drafts of two novels there, as well as made great money. I USED TO SAY I’D NEVER WORK THERE, BUT I GUESS FATE HAS A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR.

    saudi arabia took the distraction out of the equation and helped me focus. i’m so glad you’re there and look forward to reading more of your posts!
    Rashad pharaon recently posted…6 Travel Blogging Myths Debunked

    1. Jameela Deen says:

      Thank you so much Rashad for stopping by and sharing your experience there. One of my aims with this blog is to break down the barriers and the stereotypes when it comes to countries like Saudi Arabia or Libya. Having comments like yours really help. I’m a fan of your blog and i can’t wait to read your books.

  6. Jameela says:

    Thank you for your comment, you raised an important point for women expats, i'm affraid i can't confirm however, as i've said i never made it to Saoudi, ended up in Libya instead haha.Maybe another reader will be able to comment some more on your topic. If you read this and you know the facts, please help. Thank you

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have also been told by someone living in Saudi that a woman must have a male guardian or representative before she is even allowed to enter the country and he must give permission for her to leave the country. A friend of mine could not leave because it would mean he would leave his sister without a representative. He didn't want her to have to lose her job, so he stayed.

  8. Jameela says:

    Hello, first of all i've never been to Saudi myself but i have made some research and i actually know a few people who live there. To answer you questions:Yes it is true that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, this is a law and it applies to local and expat women alike.As for the dress code, i assume that by "black clothes" you refer to the abaya that all women are expected to wear in public. As far as i know black abaya is in fact required but expat women, it seems, don't have to wear the hijab – head scarf or the niqab – face covering. I've also read in some expat blogs that most women don't wear the abaya within expat compounds grounds but the dress code still has to remain modest.I hope this helps, just ask again if you have more questions.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jameela, I've been looking into ESL position abroad and it's true, offers from Saudi can be really interesting but is it true that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia? Is that for expat as well? Are women also obliged to wear black clothes and cover their head and face?Thanks

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