Working as an expat for a Company in Saudi Arabia

Working in Saudi Arabia

There are many opportunities for working as an expat for a company in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East, but working in Saudi Arabia as an expatriate is very different from any experience I have ever had anywhere else in the world. Finding employment in Saudi Arabia was relatively straight forward as quite frankly not a lot of people really want to go there!

This hub will inform you as to what it is really like to work in Saudi Arabia as both a western expat and also what it is like for those expatriates who hail from less affluent regions of the world such as many parts of Asia.

I am originally from the UK, in my early 40s with a fairly broad background, having worked in a number of different industries in management positions as well as some consulting and advisory work. I am reasonably well educated with a Masters Degree and heaps of training courses attended and so on. I have had the opportunity as a consultant in the UK to visit many hundreds of companies and during my previous positions I have worked for both US and German based companies and had the opportunity to work in these countries for several weeks at a time during my career.

I first came to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to work with a consultancy, I was actually interviewed for a different job which I was originally going to be employed in but the Arabic boss of the guy that interviewed me “stole” me! I came on a business visa, allowing me to work with the business for 3 months, during which time they were to sort me out with a work visa for Saudi Arabia.

Visa to work in Saudi Arabia

This essential guide to getting your Saudi work visa should be read before you consider traveling to KSA, learn the difference between a work visa and a business visa and which type you should have.
Arriving in Saudi Arabia to Work

I arrived in the kingdom early evening, was taken to my Saudi compound and was drunk before bedtime! A great introduction to the kingdom and compound life. The following day I was driven from the compound and introduced to everyone and given plenty of helpful advice about what to do and what not to do (Including staying clear of the illegal home made alcohol)!

Work was not exactly pressured, and I had the opportunity to visit a number of different companies in the kingdom doing both consultancy and various training courses. This allowed me to see how people worked and behaved in a number of different companies first hand as well as the stories that I was told by others.
Working in Saudi Arabia as an Executioner
Finding work in Saudi Arabia

If you want to work in Saudi Arabia there are many positions available for you to fill in many different industries. This guide to finding work in KSA will help you in your search for work.
Working in Saudi Arabia
Employment in Saudi Arabia
Employment in Saudi Arabia | Source
Why do Companies Employ Expats in Saudi Arabia

Most companies in Saudi Arabia employ a large number of expats who do the work, but the government is trying to reduce the number of expats by making many jobs Saudi only due to high Saudi unemployment, forcing the companies to employ Saudis. Companies that do not employ enough Saudis being “blacklisted” when it comes to getting more visas for additional staff. This Nitaqat law gives each company a rating, with those companies in the red having to shed foreign labor and being unable to recruit more.

Most unskilled labor is performed by expats as it is very much seen as being beneath a Saudi, you will be hard pressed to find a Saudi working in any area that requires them to get their hands dirty or raise a sweat.

You will also find many management and engineering positions filled with expats, especially where those positions are vital to the functioning of the company. This is due to the fact that there are few Saudis who are either qualified or experienced to fill these positions. Some positions are always filled with Saudis such as HR as these positions are only available by law to Saudis.

Why Don’t Companies Want Saudi Workers?

Saudi workers are “different”, that is about as polite as I will be about them, the Saudi society is not set up to create hard working well educated individuals. Whilst there are some real gems out there the majority are not what you would want within a company in the west!

Now there is a reason that most companies want to employ expats rather than Saudis. That reason is that they want someone who is both able and willing to do the job; the majority of Saudis failing on both counts! I have said in another of my pages (expatriates in Saudi Arabia) that most Saudis behave like teenagers, one minute they are helpful and friendly the next minute their mood changes and they are difficult and lazy! Trying to get a Saudi to do some work is like asking your teenager to clean their room, some will get on and do it, others will try to find any excuse possible not to. You have to keep on them constantly and it still may never be done!

The company that I work for currently is not a pure Saudi company, it pays above the average and is very selective as to who it employs, most of the people are hard working individuals who are very good at their job, however, there are still a number of individuals who will turn up hours late in the morning, disappear for a long lunch break, then go home early (if they came back from lunch). The work ethic is also sadly lacking.

My current company in my opinion is one of the better ones, a good friend of mine here has a group of Saudi managers at his company that turn up at 10 or 11 in the morning, switch on their play stations in their offices, play till lunch time then go home!

Most do not want to work, and there is little a company can do about it! It is almost impossible for a company here to sack a Saudi worker, the rights all belong to the Saudi! Some actually employ Saudis that never attend just to make up their required numbers, these Saudis being paid to do absolutely nothing, purely an overhead for the company to maintain!