Saudi Arabia is the centerpiece of the Middle East and is the home of Mecca, the Islamic holy site. Thanks to vast oil resources, Saudi Arabia has emerged from being an undeveloped desert kingdom to become one of the wealthiest nations in the region. Named after the ruling Al Saud family, which came to power in the 18th century, the country includes the Hijaz region- the birthplace of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Although life here can be very different to what you’re used to back home, it’s safe to say that it can be a rewarding, fulfilling and prosperous place to live. Crime rates are low, the weather is hot and the economy is booming!
• Money- Luxurious housing, paid education for your children, minimum of 30 days paid holiday, these are just some of the job perks that you can come to expect from life in Saudi as an expat. The cost of living is very reasonable in Saudi, for most expats housing and transport are part of your salary packages with your job. Fuel is extremely cheap in Saudi, with petrol costing around £0.08 per liter; food, entertainment and shopping are also very affordable.
• Travel and tourism- Being able to take advantage of the rich culture that Saudi has to offer is one on the benefits of living here as unlike other countries in the Middle East, Saudi doesn’t have a booming tourist industry and its near impossible to visit for leisure reasons. Saudi Arabia is home to some of the holiest cities in the world including Mecca and Medina, which are certainly at the top of the list for Muslim expats in Saudi. Along with ancient buildings carved into cliffs, Saudi also offers spectacular scenery when you venture out into the deserts beyond Riyadh including the mountains of Abha, or the beautiful beaches along the cost of the Persian Gulf.
• Society- The Saudi nation still has one of the most traditional societies in the world, despite aspiring to be a modern state. Expats must acclimatize to the firm religious beliefs, rules and traditions as the law is no more lenient on foreigners than it is on local residents. Living in Saudi, you will soon find out that family bonds are much stronger there than in many other cultures, even in the business world family is a main part of everyday life.
• Women- Although expats live with slightly different laws, local women in Saudi have fewer rights than men and play a very limited role in public. Driving is forbidden for women living in Saudi and all women, regardless of age, must have a male guardian to either accompany her in public, grant permission to travel, attend school or marry. Although female expats aren’t bound by quite the same restrictions as local women, they must still respect and submit to the same laws and customs of the country. Having said all this, Saudi is making slow progress towards gender equality.
• Food- From the internationally known brands to the local cuisine Saudi offers a great range of foods. The national dish of Saudi Arabia is called Kabsa, a dish of rice with meat or chicken served on a huge platter. This dish is traditionally served on the floor with everyone sitting around the platter.
• Transport- If you want to drive a vehicle, you will be able to do so with your current driver’s licence for a total of 3 months. When the 3 months are up, you will be required to gain a Saudi licence. No need for you to take another driving test as if you have a UK licence, this can be converted easily. There are reasonably priced taxi and bus services that operate around the country so even if you choose not to drive, getting around can be a breeze.
• Healthcare- Healthcare in Saudi is among the best in the world! There are a number of excellent hospitals that offer some of the best treatments in the world. There is also a very good chance that your employer will give you health incurrence as part of your job package.
• Things to do- You are never short of things to do and see in Saudi Arabia. A common activity that westerners enjoy is shopping! You may be surprised to hear that Saudi is considerably cheaper than the west; you will be able to find big brands that you can get back home. High end electronics and luxury items such as gold and silver are very cheap in Saudi. Eating out is something that is very popular among Saudis so going out and enjoying a good meal is certainly on the menu.
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