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Expat Living and Working in Saudi Arabia - Rules, Regulations, Laws

Updated on October 25, 2016
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Tony spent several years working across Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Al-Khobar and Jeddah where he met his wife who has worked there for 12yrs

Rules, Regulations, and Laws in Saudi Arabia

Living and working in Saudi Arabia (officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or KSA) is like nowhere else in the world that I've experienced. They enforce their rules to the letter, and the punishments are severe. Punishments for foreigners may be even more severe than for locals; most Saudis in the kingdom would just get their wrists slapped.

You also have to remember that your employment is linked to your behavior. If you were arrested for drinking or womanizing for instance, you would not only find yourself jailed and deported you would also lose your job and any accrued benefits you may have earned. So that one drink could cost you a huge amount of money if you were expecting a few months' tax-free bonus at the end of a couple of years' hard work there in Saudi.

Saudi Arabia is also one of the most hypocritical societies that I have ever encountered. In a society that constantly preaches about not using alcohol and the sanctity of their women's virtue, the queue to leave the country at the end of the working week over the bridge between Khobar and Bahrain is at least 4 to 5 hours long. The queue is made up mainly of Saudis, and I don't think they are all going to Bahrain to visit the mosques. The fact that Bahrain has many bars and nightclubs where people can drink and chase women (and not the sort of women you can take home to Mother, I hasten to add) may have more to do with the length of those queues. But maybe I am wrong; perhaps if you visit the bars in Bahrain you can let me know.

Even within the kingdom it is very easy to find just about anything you want, on or off the compounds where most expats live. Most Saudis that I know have a bottle of two of the strong stuff hidden away for when they have visitors. So it is very much a case of "do as we say, not as we do" when working in Saudi Arabia.

That being said, with high wages and generous benefits it is a hard place to ignore for employment—and many expats (myself included) would rather endure the restrictions placed on us to work there and make that extra tax-free cash.

Where Is Saudi Arabia?

Working in Saudi Arabia

Just in case you are ever fortunate enough to visit or work in Saudi Arabia, I will summarize the main rules, regulations, and laws that you need to know.

Please, whatever you do, follow these rules—especially in public places. Saudis take their traditions and their religion very seriously. They are not known for their leniency towards foreigners who break their laws, and their prisons are for punishment, not reform.

Carry Your Iqama at all Times

Don't get caught without your ID
Don't get caught without your ID | Source

Don't Leave Home Without ID

You have to carry your passport/visa with you at all times unless you have your residency card (Iqama). Once you have your Iqama, you must keep it with you at all times. If you get stopped with no valid ID you will be treated like an illegal and taken off to jail. Most of the police officers do not speak (or choose not to speak) English and will not generally be helpful.

If you are with a woman, she'd best be your wife—and you must either have an Iqama that proves this relationship, or you must carry your marriage certificate.

Daily Prayer

Muslims pray 5 times per day. Here in Saudi Arabia everything stops and shuts down for prayer, which lasts 20-30 minutes each time. So if you are going out, check the prayer times before you leave or you will end up waiting. You will know when it is prayer time as every mosque will start its call for prayer. The first compound I stayed in had 4 mosques nearby, one just off each wall. The call for prayer begins at dawn—if you are a light sleeper this will be when you get up every day.

When prayer is called every business will close. You will be asked to leave smaller shops, but large supermarkets will allow you to wander and fill your trolleys during prayer (although I once witnessed a group of matawa, or religious police, drive everyone out of a Riyadh supermarket at prayer time, but that was only once).

Women Dressed in Abaya

Follow rules, regulations, and laws even at the beach
Follow rules, regulations, and laws even at the beach | Source

Laws About How to Dress

When working in Saudi Arabia you have to dress respectfully. For men this means no vests or shorts in public. Women must wear an Abaya (long black dress/cloak covering the entire body) at all times outside, and they must also cover their hair. Most foreign women do not cover their hair; however, it is good practice to always carry a headscarf. If asked to cover your hair, do so without argument.

No Pornography Allowed

Porn is against the law
Porn is against the law | Source

Pornography Is Illegal

Pornography is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and "pornography" can cover a surprising range of items. Even glossy magazines with scantily clad women will be classed under this category. Whatever you do, don’t bring anything like this with you when you arrive to work here. Remember, this is a country that is concerned about the naked flesh on cereal boxes and other items in the supermarket and uses black marker pen to cover it up!

I often get asked about whether your laptop and other devices will be searched when you come into the country. I have yet to meet or hear of anyone who has ever experienced this. Although a laptop search is not likely to happen to you, it is probably best to ensure that anything out of the ordinary is hidden away from the usual directories on your computer.

I have, however, known several women who have had cell phones snatched and searched by religious police, or mutawa. Quite frankly, most of these guys are just looking for an excuse to take away women from less well-off countries and abuse them. If you are a woman, be very careful with what you have on your cell phone, especially if you are in an area known for predatory mutawa.

Pork Banned

Pork is illegal
Pork is illegal | Source

Regulations About Pork

You won't find any bacon sandwiches in Saudi Arabia. Not only do they not eat pork, all pork products are actually illegal. If you are caught with pork, the police will throw you in the slammer!

If you know someone, however, who is able to open a tin can without leaving any evidence you can easily smuggle in bacon in a can disguised as fruit or something else. Not that I have ever done this (too often!). Forget banning alcohol, for me this is the biggest problem about living in Saudi Arabia.

Laws Regarding Mixing with the Opposite Sex

Unless you are married or a direct blood relative, you are not allowed to mix in private with someone of the opposite sex. This is generally extended to the public sphere, as well, so walking and talking to someone of the opposite sex is likely to get you into very hot water—perhaps even jailed or deported. Again, your origin will also affect how you are treated here. As a westerner I have never been stopped or questioned with any woman, nor have any of my friends—but it does happen, so beware (I hasten to add that I am actually married). On the other hand, I have both seen and heard frequent reports of Filipinos and Indians, as well as others, being stopped and arrested.

If you want some additional information about dating in Saudi Arabia you can have a look at my article about this subject using this link.

Illegal to Mix with the Opposite Sex

Rules Regarding Segregation of the Sexes

Segregation of the sexes is strictly upheld. If you go to a restaurant, even a fast food joint, such as McDonalds, there is a “singles' section,” which is for the men, and a family section, which is for women as well as for families. Even within the family section there are often screens arranged so that one table cannot see another, so that everyone is isolated.

When working in this country you will find that the sexes rarely mix in the workplace. The women are required to have their own areas within the workplace.

Segregation of the Sexes

Strict Adultery Laws

If you have an affair, be warned. The penalty for adultery here is death, and the penalty for a woman even “consorting” with a man can run to many lashes. Even a rape victim here recently was lashed, and her husband called for the death penalty in response to her “infidelity."

Rape Victim

Public Shows of Affection

When Saudi men meet they will often kiss each other on the cheek. Women will do this when they meet one another, as well. However, do not think that this gives you the right to kiss your wife in public! Affection between men and women is not tolerated in public. It is okay to walk hand in hand with your wife—but no kissing and cuddling, even if meeting at the airport for the first time in a year. Control yourself until you get somewhere private.

If someone tells you to stop doing something, stop straight away and do not try to argue the right or wrong of it. It is best to remove yourself from the area as quickly as possible in these situations. You do not want the people telling you to stop deciding that further action is required.

Kissing in Saudi Arabia

Don't Curse God in Saudi Arabia

Rules About Bad Language and Gestures

Do not swear or make obscene gestures. People are easily offended (or choose to be offended just to give you trouble), and things can escalate out of control. If someone takes a dislike to you, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. The general rule here is that a Saudi is always right. Even if you are in the “right” in a dispute, if the dispute is with a Saudi, you (as the foreigner) are wrong. Otherwise the decision tends to follow a hierarchy of origins: a middle eastern gentleman will always be given preferential treatment over a westerner (unless there is a possible diplomatic fallout), and the westerner will always win out over a Filipino or an Indian, and so on. There is a very definite pecking order here in Saudi Arabia.

Do not give the finger when you are driving, no matter how bad the Saudi is driving. This is not your country, and you will be in the wrong.

And never, ever blaspheme the name of God or the prophet!

Women Are Not Allowed to Drive

Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia; therefore they must have a driver. However, a problem arises because a woman cannot be alone with a man who is not her direct blood relative or her husband. Some men will not allow their wives to have a driver for this reason. There is a very real danger that a woman can be accused of having an improper relationship with her driver if the police want to cause a problem.

In order to get around this problem, I have seen boys as young as 10 or 11 driving their mothers around.

Women Driving

Rules About Women Alone

Women in Saudi Arabia who travel and walk alone are generally regarded with suspicion. Many people may think that she is a prostitute and will treat her as such. My wife occasionally walks from our apartment to the hospital opposite where she used to work (around 100 yards away); cars will often stop and men will beckon for her to get in—and we live in a “nice” neighborhood.

On one occasion in the past (several years ago), she was grabbed and dragged into a car by a man who tried to hold something over her nose and mouth to knock her out. Luckily she carries a knife, and the man stopped and let her out when she started to stab his seats and threaten him. My wife is a Filipina, not western. I have not heard of western women being treated in this way, but I have heard several similar reports regarding Filipina and Indonesian women, which have ended horrifically in rape and beatings.

Illegal Drinking

Alcohol Is Illegal

Alcohol is not allowed at all—not even in mouthwash and perfumes—so be careful what you bring into the country. It is not difficult to find alcohol in the kingdom, but don’t go asking Saudis unless you know them very very well.

Making your own alcohol is not exactly hard; it is easily made when sugar is fermented by yeast (ordinary baking yeast is sufficient). So sugar and yeast added to nonalcoholic beers or to fruit juices will quickly ferment to produce an alcoholic version. Fermentation normally takes 1-2 weeks, and it takes another 2-3 weeks for the cloudiness to clear. Or so I am told, as this is strictly illegal.

Finding alcohol on the compound is very easy—some compounds have their own residents' bar. Non-homemade quality stuff is harder to come by but not impossible. Expect to pay as much as $250 for a bottle of Jack or Smirnoff when supplies are low.

Penalties for having alcohol are stiff, so don’t travel off-compound with it. If you are caught you are likely to get sent home unless you are very lucky and someone manages to smooth-talk the police for you. If you have Saudi friends let them transport the alcohol—they will only get their wrists slapped if they are caught. (Most Saudis I know drink and have supplies of many types.)

Whatever you do, do not sell booze under any circumstances. If you are caught you will be so deep in excrement you will not see the light of day for a long time.

Drugs Are Illegal

Drugs are a big problem in Saudi Arabia. Hashish is a major problem here; many Saudis smoke far too much of it as well as other drugs. I am not in any way, shape, or form someone who uses drugs, but I know that they are freely available. The penalty, however, for trafficking drugs here is death, so before you bring some into this country with you, or try to pass to your “friends,” remember this.

Censorship in Saudi Arabia

Censorship

If you travel on Saudi airlines and watch a film, you may be surprised to see women’s legs and cleavage “fuzzed” out—as if they were people who should not be identified on a news program. The kissing scene where the hero steals a little peck from the heroine? Missing. I am not talking about a sex scene here; I am talking a peck on the cheek. Censored.

As for the internet, if it has to do with sex, drink, gambling, scantily clad women, anything that is anti-Muslim, news about Saudi Arabia they don’t like, etc., you won't be able to access it.

Even when you read the newspapers, you might notice that there is just too much good news about how wonderful everything is in Saudi Arabia!

Rules About Having Fun

Basically, if you think it is fun then there is a good chance that it will be illegal here in Saudi. Working in Saudi Arabia may seem very restrictive, but at the end of the day we are here for the money and the lack of taxes.

But remember, if it goes on behind closed doors, quietly without disturbing anyone, no one will stop you.

Working in Saudi Arabia: Additional Information

If you are still considering working in Saudi Arabia, then my full guide to working as an expat in Saudi Arabia will tell you everything you need to know.

Saudi Arabia is not somewhere to visit or work in unless you have done your homework. There are just too many things that you could do wrong and too many ways to easily offend the Saudis. Always do your research, and understand what it is that you are letting yourself in for. Punishment in Saudi Arabia can be severe.

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    • profile image

      NDLOVU KHUMBULANI 2 weeks ago

      QUITE ENRICHING GOT A JOB THERE AND IAM STILL HESITANT TO ACCEPT THE OFFER.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 2 months ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Cha,

      Yes it is always difficult to be with a girl in Saudi and the penalties if caught are severe. I hope that you are able to resolve things with your husband, especially for your son. Best of luck with everything.

    • profile image

      cha 2 months ago

      Thank you so much, Tony for taking some time to reply. Recently, I made an effort and tried fixing things again with my husband. At first, he was too hard that it seems that he did not want to put everything back to normal but then few minutes after, we began being okay again. After all, this has been our routine every time we had an argument. My 6yr old son unintentionally made it a joke when he said that his father has a new wife in Saudi. Guess what my husband reaction was? He laughed so hard. Is this reverse psychology not to be too obvious? Or if guilty, he could have denied and explained? What do you think? I asked him who that girl was, he said that she's just a friend and they go out always as a group. Probably, they just have some pictures together since they usually sit beside each other and that would be during those days when we were not talking. Now, it's Ramadan. He said he's going to go out with a friend/s to jog. Again, my jealousy started to arise again. I immediately asked him if it's a girl, if that's the same girl. He first laughed but became a bit irritated probably because of me being immature. He said that it's not easy there to just be with a girl especially that it's Ramadan today. Is it more strict there for unmarried couple to be together when Ramadan than those ordinary days? Should I start trusting my husband again and avoid thinking too much negativity? Thanks again. Hope to read your response once I open this page again. Thank you!

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 2 months ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Cha,

      Hi Cha

      Many people take the risk of hanging out with people of the opposite sex, after all they get lonely when they are separated from their families for so long. If this is a group and some of the people are married then often that will be OK. But being alone together if not married is a problem and they could be arrested if caught together. You are not however going to be able to report them from the Philippines.

      As to your actions, you are understandably angry and your choice of action is down to you; personally I would concentrate on building a better life and forget revenge.

    • profile image

      cha 2 months ago

      My husband works as an OWF in Riyadh. We usually fight and because of the distance, things always end up worse. He recently posted pictures with a woman who is also a Filipina. They hold hands, they sit beside each other so close, they even seem alone having a good time at the park/mall/taxi. There was also this picture where they were a group of 3 men, 3 women, seems that they are all partners. I am planning to sue the girl. How do you think it is possible? My husband converted to Islam few years ago but he was a Christian when we got married here. Please advise. Thank you.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 4 months ago from At the Gemba

      No; to live together or even just be together alone you must be married. That being said, if no one notices that you have moved someone in then you may just get away with it.

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      John 5 months ago

      Hi “Leanman”,

      A great article! In my experience it’s been that light skinned (i.e white) women have much less strict rules than women from Asian countries like my Philippines.

      My wife was usually able to go around in Saudi without a scarf, or if one was required worn very loosely. But my friend’s wife is from Malaysia and the mutaween always insisted that she wear a thick scarf. Sometimes they even told her to cover her face.

      Moral of the story is that the Saudis treat people differently based on race and whether they think you’re subhuman or not. Very very sad but true.

    • profile image

      ISurvived 15 months ago

      Interesting reading - I worked in KSA and Abu Dhabi for three years, returning home to Australia 11 years ago. My husband and I worked as Intensive Care Nurses and saw the very best, and the very worst of humanity in those countries. It is only now that I realise that I have been suffering from PTSD because of some of the things we saw and the stress we lived under and can only now talk about some of my experiences. Life is harsh in the KSA and the penalties even harsher, I'm glad I survived to tell the tale. I am more grateful for my freedom and safe society I live in as a result of my travels throughout the Middle East. Your accounts are frank and honest, nobody should ever work in the KSA without doing their homework first and I can vouch for the truth in your writing.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 18 months ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Joy,

      There is no one that you can complain to apart from your husband. He is taking a big risk and should be very careful with what he is doing there. You need to work with him to sort our your relationship.

      I know many that work there in Saudi end up with new relationships due to being alone in a strange country; some of these relationships become permanent destroying the families that they had back home while others are dissolved as soon as the participants return back to their countries of origin.

    • profile image

      joy 18 months ago

      Hi Leanman,

      My husband is currently working in Riyadh as engineer and to my surprised they were dating single nurses without our knowledge. I'm here in the Philippine taking care of my daughters and yet they're doing a shit behind my back. How can I complain them to KSA government. I want to stop those bad deeds before our family will be destroyed..

      Thank you

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 22 months ago from At the Gemba

      Why are you so intent on trying to ruin another persons life. Being arrested with a man that is not your husband in Saudi could see her jailed, lashed and likely deported with Prostitute stamped in her passport. There are many expat men and women there that have taken another partner while they are there. Most are there separated from friends and family for many years in an inhospitable country so it really is not surprising that so many will pair up for the time that they are there in Saudi Arabia. Stop worrying about what she is doing and concentrate on your own life.

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      petertravasso 22 months ago

      if a lady from India got married here in india and living with some other person in jubail saudia is a crime the why no action even after sending so many letters and Emails . the indian lady name is OMANA ANDAVAN working in almana general hospital, Billing dept. Why no action.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 23 months ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Joue

      The only rule that you have to be careful of is if the bachelor is left alone with a woman without a married couple there to chaperon him. So if he is left alone in the flat and the wife of the married couple is there alone with him then that is potentially a problem if anyone knows.

    • profile image

      Joue 23 months ago

      Hi

      Were staying in a Family Flat here in Riyadh KSA as a sharing flat we allowed a Bachelor to also share in our Flat by occupying a room good for him for us to save more for the rent.

      My Question:

      Is it allowed for a Bachelor to bring always a group of Bachelors in a Family flat consisting of more than 5 persons.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 23 months ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Salih,

      You are entitled to your opinion, but in my personal experience there are times when westerners are treated very poorly. If you look at my hub about how expats are treated there is a poll there that tells a very different story to the one that you are suggesting.

    • profile image

      salih 23 months ago

      I believe you have exaggerated big time. Westerns in the kingdom are treated better than the citizens and no one touches them even when they cross the line

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 23 months ago from At the Gemba

      Charlie, the rules in Saudi are very clear. You cannot socialize with a man unless your are a direct blood relative or you are married. So you risk imprisonment if you are found alone with him. Your compound would also not allow him access as they will be stopping any men from coming in if your compound is for single women.

      In addition to this it will be very difficult for him to get a visa to enter the country. It would be far easier for you to visit him there in Dubai if your sponsor will provide you with an exit / reentry visa which is at their discretion.

    • profile image

      Charlie Kelly 24 months ago

      Hi, I have been offered a job as a radiographer in Jeddah which includes accommodation on a compound. I am a female and have a male friend living in Dubai, would they be allowed to visit me? Would they be allowed to stay at my place and would we be allowed to hang out socially in public/ on beaches?

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi i.bon

      As long as you are legally married then it is no problem to live together - however do get your marriage certificate translated so that anyone that checks will be able to understand that you are married.

      What you should be aware of however is that your wife's Saudi sponsor may expect her to stay in their accommodation for female staff. This could be a problem and I have had several emails over the years from couples who have been separated by their sponsors expecting them to live in specific quarters. I also have many emails from couples where one or the other has had to move with their sponsor or been transferee to another part of Saudi away from their spouses. You are very much under the control of your sponsor there in Saudi.

      That being said most sponsors are very good to married couples but just be aware of the potential for problems. Good luck and I hope that everything goes well for you both.

    • profile image

      i.bon 2 years ago

      Hi LeanMan,

      I am working here at Riyadh and my wife is expected to come here by next week to work on a hospital. We are legally married in the Philippines - have our Marriage Cert stamped by Saudi Royal Embassy at Phils, not yet translated though - planning to process translation here.

      We will be working on different sponsors - would there be no problem if we stay/live together?

      Please advise what should we do make things work well.

      Thank you in advance.

    • profile image

      John 2 years ago

      Thank you Leanman, your advice has been very helpful and I look forward to our trip. Hopefully our short layover will go well...

    • LeanMan profile image
      Author

      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi John

      Long sleeved and a long skirt rather than figure hugging jeans are a better choice, while you may see women dressed less conservatively it only takes one over zealous individual to make a scene and you will have a problem there in Saudi. I would also advise carrying a scarf or something similar to cover her hair should the need arise although you should not need to. Good luck and safe trip.

    • profile image

      John 2 years ago

      Hi "Leanman",

      Thank you for your advice. I know that I will not be able to leave the airport; that's not a problem.

      I just have a few questions: when you mean the shirt should cover the arms, are you saying it should be long-sleeved? Also, would a long skirt be better than slacks? I think a long skirt might be more conservative so that that might be a better choice, but I'm wondering about it. What do you recommend, does it matter?

      Should we bring a head covering just in case, or is it safe to travel without one?

      Thanks,

      John

    • LeanMan profile image
      Author

      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi John,

      You will not be allowed to leave the airport during your 15hours unless you have a visa for Saudi which is going to be very unlikely unless you have a sponsor. While you do not need to wear an abaya within the airport your daughter will still need to dress respectfully which will mean long skirt or trousers and a shirt that does not have a cleavage and should cover the arms. Hair covering should not be necessary on a lay over within the airport.

    • profile image

      John 2 years ago

      Hello "Leanman",

      I have a unique question, in my opinion. In about 6 months, I'm slated to take a trip to India for my work, and I'm taking my 15 year old daughter will me because she loves to travel and it is her turn this year. I'm concerned about the long flight time so I'd like to try to arrange a layover so that she can rest a bit. The only option that appears right now is a 15 hour layover in Saudi Arabia, specifically, Jeddah (this is not set in stone, but appears likely at this point).

      I have heard a lot about the rather unique rules that girls and women must conform with to be allowed to travel and be within the country. I am wondering what my expectations will be for my daughter during the layover. Will she have to dress a certain way or cover her hair?

      I spoke with a Muslim colleague of mine the other day, and she told me that my daughter should wear a basic headscarf just to be safe because Muslim men there will be expecting it. She also recommended that my daughter wear a long skirt (to her ankles) and a thick tee-shirt with long sleeves, because she does want to stand out. However, this colleague is not from Saudi Arabia and she admitted that she is not familiar with the rules of Saudi Arabia, only with what my daughter would be expected to wear in a Muslim culture.

      I can't imagine that they'd impose these rules on someone her age, especially when we will not be there very long, however I have read what you and others have written and I want to double-check first. 15 hours is a long time to be somewhere, and during most of it we will probably be awake, so I want to make sure she complies with the rules and cultural norms during that time.

      Do you have any suggestions? Thanks a million,

      John

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Can't say that I have seen any within Saudi but I am sure that many of the Saudis would not be very friendly due to stereotyping of the look.

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      rasterman 2 years ago

      Thanks for the insight, however I am interested to know the treatment of black Africans, dread lock hair styles, any information will be greatly appreciated.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi hiii,

      Saudi Arabia is hardly a safe place for women! My wife was attacked by a man on the street! Our friend was almost kidnapped by two guys that tried to drag her into a car. Many run away maids that we know had been raped and abused by their sponsors and other family members and so on! I have heard so many terrible stories and seen so many things with my own eyes. Too many men in Saudi treat women as objects not people; especially women from poor countries that are unable to complain!

    • profile image

      hiii 2 years ago

      after reading above article i just wanted to say that there is no safer place in this world except saudi arabia.Saudi arabia follows islam.and being me a muslim i am proud of it.For womens its the safest place being of any religion.please do not comment anything becoz allah has given an opportunity to work you here ,to earn for ur fly.I believe some people in saudi they take advantage but its all upon us to take precausions in the same.islam teaches gud rituals,culture and behaviour.so if we remain on safer side absolutely they will be no harm.so follow saudi mans for theire sins,follow what ua heart feels.saudi arabia never said come forcefully here to work,its independence decision.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Nalyn,

      You will be able to come to Saudi on a dependent (family) visa after he has gained his Iqama which usually takes 3 months after starting work there. He will be your sponsor as long as you are legally married not the company. Many companies will fund your visa as the souse of their employee especially as a senior employee. However if not he can fund and process the visa himself.

      As to finding work you can apply for any job that you like but you should be aware that you will be very much under the control of your employer and if they say you are moving to another city as part of your work or you will be housed in an all female compound then that is what will happen. I have emails from several married women who have been effectively separated from their husbands by the companies that they work for as well as being denied holidays etc. So think very carefully before taking any work if the aim is to be with your husband.

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      Nalyn Acosta 2 years ago

      Hi LeanMan,

      I read you article, thank you so much for sharing this information. I would like to ask something, I am filipina also and my husband is european, we are planning to move is saudi because he found job there as a Executive Chef in Restaurant, for now we don't know if they will give me Visa under his company, my question is, is it possible if I find job there as a Administration staff currently we are here in Abu Dhabi, UAE. and what is the procedure? thank you in advance.

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      Ahmed Sam 2 years ago

      i Also consider that the city called Jeddah is the most Free off strictions city, where there is Hookahs Cafes, and such! if you plan to visit saudi arabia then jeddah is the best place for tourers who don't want to be stricted too much.

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Ahmed. thank you for taking the time to write such a long comment about Saudi Arabia. It is always good to have a comment from a real Saudi rather than just us expats. You make some very good points and much of what you say is also true in many other countries not just Saudi Arabia.

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      Ahmed Sam 2 years ago

      Hello LeanMan, i believe what you've written is very well accurate i'm a Saudi Arabian, and i think everything you said is right, however i realized that you keep respecting the country rules and laws, as well as you keep standing on the complainers side, which is good because everyone has a different opinion, i'm a 18 year old saudi, i have studied in a pakistan international school in saudi arabia, jeddah, however that is how i came to learn the english language, otherwise, people studying in official schools of saudi arabia the gov ones will not be fluent in english at all, because most schools in saudi arabia focuses on Religion, arabic, and math mostly and strict behavior

      But i have to disagree on one thing i have read on here

      the woman, being weak, Actually they are Money leechers to saudi's

      The one who take advantage of the working saudi man is the woman, as to what he gets from her is her children, meaning sex.

      For example if a woman in public, was cursed at, or flirted at, touched, or abused, the penalty for that is severe to the man who did it, might as well all people around you will beat you to death to such things, the majority is the guys who have self respect and respect people, the rule is respect yourself to respect and be respected, as to looking sexually to a woman everyone will start looking at you in a discriminated way and dislike you and see you corrupt, however the part where woman get advantage all depends on the husband himself.

      And getting to the dating part...as a saudi guy dating must be kept in secrecy, some people of the individuals in the relationship will see it fine and most wouldn't, you can talk to her on the phone, at all times whenever she can, watch pictures of her its all fine, depending if she trust you she would give in to you, that is how woman here are, and most are just like so self respected as if you are thinking to recieve a nude, then thats gonna take awhile and a trick to it, and could be a severe weapon against that woman or girl, because you can spoil her image to people around her with such pics and she will remain forever single if word didn't get to mutawa or die if her family wanted to but most people wouldn't go to killing their children but try to cover things up and do whatever things to cover it up, it all depends on what kind of saudis they are there are ones which are the bado clan, which wouldn't tolerate such behaviors to their womans and are simple minded people barbarians there are many clans of saudi's as to racism against black people here doesn't exist which is why, at all what give a saudi a nice wife is his job and money, i dated a girl in here, and i love her very much we do hang out alot with her convincing her parents of another way that shes out somewhere else with a friend of hers which is a girl considering not to get caught by cops we always be respective in public as a married couple so people wouldn't ask for ID's considering the cop if he pulls you over, you have to act like he has no right to look at her, or ask for her id, might as well shove him as shes really your wife, and he wouldn't say much and go away, but the mutawa are kind of forceful whatever done to them is just they think they are right i most find mutawa to be pedophiles in way most of them, the thing about here that is hypocritical is drugs, as to no alcohol, and no adultry however, there is many secret places where there is adultry and hookers

      as to having sex that would make a great impact on the woman as she would never be able to get married to anyone no one wants a woman touched by another men, its a shame in here, so might as well if you want to have sex make sure not to do it from the front and pop her cherry, because a virgin woman is what keeps a woman pride and confident to get any kind of husband if you have a woman who is a virgin that is your girlfriend make sure not to touch her V spot at all deep inside because that would make her lose her future as a respectful woman, behind can be fine but its against the rules to being muslim. we can jump to the homosexual part, where homosexuality is strictly to be forbidden in our quran (muslim religious book) however due to the hard ways to get to dating a woman many guys and man result to sex among eachother which is too corrupt, but please i do not agree to threatening a woman or a girl, with her nude pictures have humanity inside of you at least, and the drugs, as to drinks and such all kept secrecy as to some people bring alcohol in the country illegally you can stay away from that or be it secret with you, yourself, in your home. enclosed, as to Police searching your phone and laptop, be it woman or man, it is not true, even if mutawa try to search you can just refuse to, because they have no right, also they have no right to touch anyone, as if they have caught nothing on you publicly they can't do anything at all, mutawa maybe forceful but easier to fight off, but to a police officer might as well be respectful that is all to it, however many people smoke weed around this country and smuggle alot of it and ecstasy most quantity of drugs are weed and ecstasy getting inside saudi arabia that is hypocritical i believe maybe higher authoruties of saudi arabia uses drugs in secrecy.

      Ahmed Samer.

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      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Hi LeanMan. Thanks for a wonderful and realistic write. With all its goodness, be it KSA or UAE, things have gone to drains. I feel ashamed of their moral degradation, of course they may be in minority, but you know when a black spot appears, no matter how small it may be, on a white cloth it strikes our senses. Similar is the case here. With strict adherence of some of the Islamic principles they fall short of meeting the Islamic expectations. I have many relatives and friends over there, their narrations are sad. I just wonder how they can oppress people with exploitative laws in particular the labour laws?

      I think in view of the huge natural resources and solid economy they should focus on scientific development of the nation and intellectual development of the individuals. As whole of the Arab countries they can't compete even with European country like Spain which is believed to be at the bottom of European industrialist nations. Else the persistence of present conditions will never help attain Allah's pleasure.

      I feel sorry for men like you LeanMan. Being Muslim we should always think with a fair mind with a 'strict no' to emotive feelings. May Allah bless you all with His abundant mercy.

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Heavenly being,

      I am sure that things will change eventually for women in Saudi Arabia but it may be a long time before they change all of the rules.

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      Heavenly Being 2 years ago

      Hi LeanMan

      I see your message

      yeah, its true, that many Saudi do that,,,its hypocrisy that exist in this country, were men can do every thing they want(must be outside saudi), but woman for small things, can be killed

      the problem is from Islam, people don't know this..this is anti-woman religion..and free for man

      for me almost nothing to be proud for saudi arabia, except that doesn't approve alcohol, and adultery, though big numbers of saudi men do these things, and no one care, or do to them anything

      glad that you concern for woman, thought the change for woman situation need a very long time to go through

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Adbul,

      The problem is that if you are working in Saudi your sponsor/employer fully controls your life. It is far easier to just put your head down and finish your contract and leave on good terms with all of your bonuses intact. You have less than a year to complete and you will probably find that if you were to take them to the labor court that it would take more than a year to solve the problems and you would still lose money. People have to realize that if they sign up for a contract in Saudi that they will almost certainly be unable to back out. If you did not want to return you should have stayed home during your vacation.

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      abdul majid 2 years ago

      I have signed contract for 2 year and I have completed 1 year and I have gone for vacation and came back from vacation.Know I am having some family problem and want to go back on exit but my company is forcing to finish contract. But I stop doing working. My employer sending mails that he take disciplinary action according to saudi law.

      I want to know how to go on exit.

      I want know if i want to break the contract how much penalty I have to pay according to saudi law.

      My employer is asking some of 20 thousands for giving exit.

      He told me that he will take my driving licence which is on my expenses.

      Please give me the solution to come out from this problem.

      I am very thankful

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Heavenly Being ,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment about your country. Most foreigners that go to Saudi Arabia fully accept the rules there and abide by them, of course there are those that will still seek out drink and women as that is their way - there are also many Saudis that do the same. You only have to see the bridge into Bahrain at the weekend to see how many Saudis are going across to chase girls and drink beer.

      Most foreigners come there for one reason only - money! Saudi Arabia pays good wages without any tax.

      Women's rights are the things that upset me the most there, I see women being treated in a vile way and there is no way for them to help themselves. I know women who have been raped and abused yet they are afraid to even inform the police as they know that it will not be the men that have abused them that will be punished but them!

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      Heavenly Being 2 years ago

      Hello Lean Man

      I enjoy reading your experience as an expat in My country..Saudi Arabia

      I am a Saudi woman who don't like Saudi Arabia!!! not even like Islam..I convert to another religion, and kept this secret!

      any way, I understand for people here complaint about Saudi Arabia, and I am not defending Saudi Arabia at all!!!

      what I don't understand, is why people coming to Saudi Arabia, and then complaint too much!!!

      every one read, the rule, and hows is country is, if you decide to come here, and you knows about all this things..then don't complaint!!!

      Yes, I do complaint about Saudi too much, as woman here live is exactly like hell on earth, for men its much better, and in fact, I was planned to escape from this prison, but luckily, after convincing my father to study abroad, I am not their, don't even want to live their again, only may be few days to visit my family

      as we saudi, we don't choose this country, but all forigner did choose to come here!!! I see this always as weird

      as Saudi is my country, there is of course few things I like and proud about this country, like the fact that alcohol is forbiden, and adultery etc...but I don't like how woman have no right, and every one have forced to follow islam...the religion I hate the most

      I feel annoyed when I read forigner complaint why alcohol is forbiden, pornography, girlfriend, boyfriend etc..they know the rules before they come..so why complaint?

      but I feel more good, if forigner speak about woman rights, and how woman is heavily oppressed, and about religious freedom, rather than focusing about the misbehaviour things mentioned above!!

      thats my opinion any way, not intending in offending any one here!

      Thanks

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      It is not a country that you would visit for a holiday that is for sure Snakesmum!

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      Jean DAndrea 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Very interesting hub, and I didn't know you couldn't go to Mecca or Medina if you weren't a Muslim.

      The society seems very restrictive, even if you are not a woman. I don't think KSA is a country I'll put on my bucket list. :-)

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Singapore

      All visas have to be applied for and processed prior to entry to Saudi if that is what you are asking.

      Business visas are not specific to an area, you can travel anywhere within the kingdom, however you will need to be a Muslim if you want to go to Mecca or Medina.

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      Singapore techie 2 years ago

      Thanks LeanMan,

      can a work visa or employment visa be applied even before entry into saudi?

      On a business visa- suppose my work area is dammam. Can i travel outside Damman or go to Mecca or Medinah or any other parts of Saudi?

      or the business visa is specific to an province?

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      You can only get your Iqama if you are on a working visa and your sponsor must apply within 90 days of you arriving - this is normally treated as a probation period by the company.

      Business visas are not really meant to be for "workers" but they are misused constantly by employers in Saudi to bring in workers short term of if they cannot get a work visa. The following hub will explain more; https://hubpages.com/travel/Saudi-Arabia-Visa

      Note that on a business visa you may have problems with everything from opening and account or cashing a check to even getting a sim card for your phone as many will refuse without an Iqama.

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      Singapore Techie 2 years ago

      Thanks LeanMan for the quick response.

      Do you know how long it would take to apply for a Iqama?

      What are the restrictions of comming into Saudi Arabia in business visa apart from not being able to bring the family?

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Singapore..

      A commercial or business visa will not allow you to bring your family; you will need a work visa and then an Iqama if you want to bring them.

      Your wife would also not be able to work legally as you may only work for your sponsor and that means you. They have relaxed the rules for the international schools so she could work as a school teacher in one of those but that is it!

      If you want to find out more feel free to follow the links in the article above which will take you to a huge amount of info regarding Saudi.

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi MartyO

      I have not been back to the UK for 8 years but it used to depend on the number of days you were out of the country during the tax year as to whether you would have to pay tax. Which does mean that if you go to Saudi "now" that you would be liable for tax on everything that you earn up until the end of the tax year.. HOWEVER.. The reality is that the tax man does not what you do unless you tell him! SO unless you want to declare a lovely "tax free" wage from KSA it will only be your business!

      As to where you live you will find that some areas such as Riyadh are far more strict than areas like Al-Khobar and Jeddah and the people also more friendly in the less strict areas. However just remember at all times that this is Saudi Arabia and you cannot do half the things that you would do back home and the penalties are severe!

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Mehh,

      If you have searched for it online there is not going to be anyone banging on your door; just relax! A few searches is not going to get a major man hunt underway, if it did they would be arresting every man in Saudi Arabia!

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      SingaporeTechie 2 years ago

      Hello there,

      I am contemplating to move to Dharan, i have an offer from Aramco on contract basis however it is on Commercial visa. I currently reside in Singapore.

      Can i move my family on commercial visa? what are the things to consider moving family here to Dharan?

      Wife would like to take up work and son(4 years) would like to enroll him in a good montessori schools..

      please advise.

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      MartyO 2 years ago

      Hi LeanMan,

      Super informative hub you have here, a little advice if you please. The middle east has always intrigued & appealed to me, I have been offered an 8 month position as a engineer in a newly built hospital in the KSA. Not aware of location at present does this matter, also someone informed me that coming from the Northern Ireland (uk) to work in Saudi you must stay away for a certain length of time (100+ days?) or else face paying the higher tax when arriving back home. As I have a young family is their anyway of coming back every 5 - 6 weeks to see them without Mr Tax knowing. Can I set up a wages account there and have direct debits coming out? God bless you & thanks in advance.

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      MEHH 2 years ago

      Hi leanman! I just wanted to ask if I will be arrested/deported if I watched porn? Basically, I didn't watch porn, I just search for pictures or gifs something like that. But now, I am really scared because I didn't know that pornography isn't allowed here in KSA. This issue regarding to the pornography thing really keeps bugging me. Anyway I'm only 16 and I am scared if someone will knock on my door and turns out it's a police. Please help me LeanMan :( I arrived here in KSA with my mom last April 2014. I know we are new but I should've searched for the laws first. :( I really am scared and I really have phobia now. Whenever we go out or someone uses doorbells in the apartment, I always get startled/nervous. Ughhh! This is so hard. :( I still want to live tho. LOL!

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      I have never been to tabouk Stef, however please ensure that you are very careful when you take any domestic position in Saudi Arabia. Make sure your family know exactly where you are going and who with.

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      stef 2 years ago

      i want to ask if tabouk saudi arabia is it a good place? because i will work there as a domestic helper and i will be there by september 2014.. and i have lots of thoughts about living of saudi arabia especially domestic helper in the house... im hoping u can answer my question thank u and god bless...

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      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi HappyDay,

      You can bring your husband and your children with you on a dependent visa (As long as the father of the children agrees). You will have to process the visa once you have your Iqama which you will have after 3 months. Processing their visa is usually quite quick and will take all of the paperwork that you used for your own visa so make sure you have it all.

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      HappyDay 3 years ago

      Hello Leanman,

      I am considering taking a position as a western woman and Muslim, and I want to bring my family (spouse) and children. Most iqama information talks about spouse. If the position is verified by the Saudi Embassy as eligible for dependents, then can the female worker bring her spouse and children? My employer says yes, but my other half of the question is that do you get the work visa for them and bring them with you when you go, or do you have to go on your own and then bring them afterward on the Iqama? Thanks in advance for clarifications.

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      Mad Max 3 years ago

      i work and live in Saudi. Illiteracy is the biggest disease . i keep asking myself will this ever change in 1000 years to come, and the answer is NO,,,,KSA is here to stay how it is if not even more strict, i respect their way of life,,just have to wait my time and go party back home with anything i can get my hands on :-)

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      Gabby 3 years ago

      Thank you so much my friend!

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Gabby,

      The rules/laws in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries are very clear - A woman is not allowed to be alone with any man who is not her husband or direct blood relative (Father, son, brother). Hence why they are segregated in public places. While most police and other people will turn a blind eye to a woman in the back of a car with a driver there are those that will at times seek to use the rules to their advantage.

      This is such an issue that there was a Saudi cleric that issued a decree a few years ago that women should breast feed their drivers to make them their sons and thus be allowed in the car with them! Search it on the internet, you will find it easy enough.

      As to providing a direct quote I neither speak Arabic nor am I an expert on the Koran. Shariah law is based directly on the Koran and the various interpretations of it. However feel free to test their laws and argue their validity but don't be surprised if you find yourself locked up, lashed and deported as a prostitute. When in their country follow their rules to the letter or you will find yourself in some serious problems, Saudi Arabia is not a place to go and argue about their culture or their religion, it will not be tolerated at all.

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      gabby 3 years ago

      Hi mr LM, can you please furnish me or quote to me the exact provision of shariah law in saudi prohibiting non married couple on board a private car or a taxi?

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      Meheraj 3 years ago

      Thanks bro

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Meheraj

      Read the article above and follow the links to the other hubs here about Saudi and you will find out just everything you will need to know about working in Saudi Arabia. If you want to know about the company search on LinkedIn or even Facebook and see if you can find others that work there.

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      Meheraj 3 years ago

      Hi

      I got a job in jeddah .The company name is Al Baik.I want know about their lifestyle.Company will renew my visa or I have to do myself?can I wear jeans t shirt ?

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Senju,

      When you are working in Saudi just do your work and keep your head down if you do not want to draw attention to yourself... Most people go there to earn the money and that means following their rules and respecting their traditions not chasing girls and getting drunk. Follow the rules and you will have no problems working in Saudi Arabia.

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      senju-in-Japan 3 years ago

      Hello Leanman,

      I am a US Citizen and will be going to Saudi Arabia. I will be under contract with Hitachi coming from Japan. I will be staying at Jazan city which looks to be very close to Yemen border. I will basically have no security as I am there to help create a new infrastructure (new city) out in the desert (1 hour drive I hear). I feel a bit uneasy but work is work! Any advice to try to stay a low profile?

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      HI Doubleminded,

      I don't know the company that you mention so will not be able to tell you anything that you have not already found out checking online.

      Many people come into the country on visas that state positions other than those for which they have been hired, these rarely get changed in my experience but there is no need to get too hung up on this. As long as it is not a labor/driver visa then you are really not going to have anything to worry about anyway.

      If you don't travel on your Visa to Saudi Arabia then you are not going to be in any trouble; they will not come find you. You also should not have any problems getting another visa at a later date.

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      Mr. Doubleminded 3 years ago

      Hi LeanMan,

      Your compilation of rules and experiences is commendable and very much appreciated. LeanMan I have few queries with me and would appreciate if you could advise me..I have a job offer for Saudi (work location till date...unknown) and company's name is Azmeel Contracting company which as per site reviews is found to be a decent company. Now I would appreciate if you could share your views about this company(if you happen to know this name). And second area of concern is whether to rely on company's word that they take full responsibility of changing my visa category from lower category i.e., technician to Engineer (as per the post designated). Lastly what happens if after having a valid visa I dont travel.

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      AmeriCan 3 years ago

      Excellent advice, very much appreciated. Thank you!

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      HI,

      I think carrying a weapon such as that could be a problem with regards to the airlines. As to Saudi I have known people go armed with pistols and my wife had a similar "toy" to the one you described that she carried, but I bought that from a friend within Saudi.

      Men are not to be trusted in Saudi Arabia if you are a woman, not at all! I would carry a weapon and ask that you have a driver assigned for you rather than using a taxi. A company such as Aramco should be able to find you a driver that can be trusted. Aramco is one of the better companies to work for and you should be ok with them there in Saudi.

      As a woman there do not go anywhere alone with any man!

      As to driving it is still a NO, even in the eastern provinces. Manal Al Sharif the woman that was jailed for driving and raised the issue to an international level was actually fired from Aramco over that incident and her continued support for women's rights to drive. So don't do it!

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      AmeriCan 3 years ago

      I recently purchased excellent taser/flashlights with a great pin wrist strap that disarms the taser should an attacker be able to grab it from you (preventing it being used against you). Do you think I could bring one or two into the country in order to protect myself? I, as a Nordic looking very middle aged woman who is interviewing for a position for Saudi Aramco, would be working off compound. As a single I’m concerned. I had a taxi driver that I asked my hotel concierge in Dubai to personally select as “safe” make improper suggestions to me while I was trapped in his taxi. Luckily my frosty response got the message across. However, I would be working at a lavish (unnamed) public institution where 1) I’m concerned about the work environment, if a colleague corners me in private 2) getting to and from work, based upon the previous taxi experience I’m concerned. Someone said here that women are able to drive in the eastern areas where Saudi Aramco is. Perhaps I could lease a car and drive myself? Do the larger corporations offer any protection for their women workers? Does their name hold weight? Would the lavish institution’s name and reputation offer a sort of built in protection? Also, I’d like to have the taser for my home as well. Do you think I could bring one in luggage without incident? I’m very well traveled, but very cautious from many years of experience fending off trouble elsewhere. (I always dress conservatively and already have an abaya ready to wear should I be offered, and accept the position.)

      I do plan to accept the position, if offered. I want to ward off any trouble.

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Pzycho,

      Revenge is never sweet, live your life and do your very best - leave him to whatever happens in his life.

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      Pzycho 3 years ago

      سلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاتة

      I want to complain my husband, he is commiting adultery.

      We are married and have 1 child, my parents took me and my son from my husband because he is irresponsible.

      My parents wants us to be divorce, and my husband doesn't respect my parents and he is bringing woman to his house and doing not halal things

      What should i do to capture him and his woman in our house, i am now living with my parents and my son

      I am legally married and my husband woman is a christian

      I just need some advise to my problem

    • LeanMan profile image
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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi HeadedEast,

      Prices for villas on some of the bigger western compounds do indeed exceed 100k, but you can find much less than this but of course the standard may fall accordingly. You will be able to find for less than 50k but it will likely be an apartment or similar. Compound accommodation can be very hard to find in Saudi, I called over 20 compounds in Jeddah a few years back and found only one vacancy coming up. This link will help; https://wanderwisdom.com/travel-destinations/Expat...

      https://hubpages.com/travel/Being-an-Expat-in-Saud... will help you with many of your other questions also.

      There are many different types of compounds and they often contain many different nationalities (but not Saudis). The bigger ones with the better facilities are usually the most expensive but there are many smaller compounds that you will only find by driving around or asking when you get there. It is always worth asking your employer for any recommendations as they may have contacts within one of the compounds to help you find a place.

      I lived off compound for several years and had no real problems, however as a woman you may find that very restrictive as you will not be able to easily travel anywhere alone so you will on the main be stuck in your home. But it is much cheaper; I rented a 4 bed, very large apartment in a nice area for just 32k. Some people rent apartments for less than 10k - 2 bed in "ok" areas. Many apartment owners refused to rent to me saying that westerners were not allowed to live off compound, however I did but I only knew one other that did the same.

      If you want to contact me just click the "Leanman" icon at the top right and you will be taken to my profile and you can email me from there.

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      HeadedEast 3 years ago

      Hello LeanMan,

      First things first. Your dedication to helping others learn and transition to such a new environment, during what is usually a complicated period for any individual or family, is beyond commendable. Hats off.

      My question is in regard to housing. I am an American moving to Riyadh with my Middle Eastern husband. It is his work opportunity and I believe because he is not a U. S. Citizen (or because of the hiring company policy), they have provided a housing allowance but left it to us to find the housing. I have done preliminary research online regarding housing prices and based on our housing allowance, it would seem renting in a compound (with most listing prices I have seen priced well above 100,000 SAR annually) would present costs well above our housing allowance. I'm hoping you could help me with a few questions:

      - Are listing prices online a pretty accurate depiction of quoted/negotiated prices on the ground?

      - Are compounds predominately western or are there also mixed nationality compounds with those from the Middle East and Asia as well?

      -Are there any small western expat communities (even perhaps small blocks of houses) outside of compound living?

      Thank you ahead and if it is more appropriate to respond via email I will be happy to forward my email address.

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Robin

      When you get there you will be able to make a more informed decision by seeing how the other young girls are dressed wherever you end up. On compound you will be able to dress normally it is only when you go out that you will all have to cover up.

      As to how people find each other when they are all wearing the same; get your daughter to carry a distinctive bag or put a small design on her abaya.

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      Robin 3 years ago

      I think we'll have her wear a hijab and cover her hair and maybe parts of her face. But I'm not having her wear an abaya, at least not yet; I don't want her to be a walking black mass among every other walking black mass.

      We dress conservatively enough where I don't think she'll have a problem. I'll have her wear a loose tee shirt or blouse with a high neckline and a skirt that reaches the ankles. We have a relatively conservative family so skirts and necklines won't be a problem for her. :)

      When my daughter does get to the age where she must wear an abaya, how would you recommend we keep track of her? I need to be find her if she wanders off or (God forbid) something happens to her. She'll be in a black abaya like the locals and I so we can't do it by color or by pattern...

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Robin

      Many foreigners do indeed fully cover up so that they are not seen as being foreign and this in some areas can be helpful. Foreign women do get harassed on a regular basis so take care, if possible always remain with your husband and keep your kids with you. It is up to you if you want to dress her in the abaya, if you are in Riyadh I would say do so, if in Jeddah then not so much need. There is a lot of difference between different cities as to how the people behave. But try to keep skirts as long as possible even for children, they can be very strange there!!

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      Robin 3 years ago

      Do you recommend that we dress her up in an abaya? She definitely is not the required age but we absolutely do not want to stand out. What would be the minimum required skirt length? She normally wears ankle length (our family doesn't do jeans, except for my husband and son) but we live in a cool climate... with Saudi Arabia being much hotter we'd like to make sure she's comfortable for as long as she can before she needs the abaya.

      Also, I have seen comments from other women who said that they cover their faces and their kids' faces completely to avoid being harassed. Is this something we should do, especially with a young daughter?

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Fazal,

      Many companies will issue visas to people for positions other than where they will actually work. This is not unusual and I have never had a visa that has reflected the actual work that I have done. This is usually because they cannot get the right visa due to exceeding quotas or because the job is not available to a non-Saudi. However taking a labor visa could cause you problems with travel and with any entitlements that you may have such as being able to bring your family. It is very much up to you if you accept the position, but you should ask the company about the visa and if they can correct it.

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Robin,

      I know many families that will dress the younger girls in an abaya also just so they do not stand out from the crowd. But you will see even Saudi girls wearing modest but normal clothes if they are still young. Obviously don't dress your daughter like her favorite pop star with mini skirt and tiny t-shirt. Long skirts or jeans with normal t-shirts would be fine.

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      fazal laiq 3 years ago

      Hi lean man....

      I am from india. I am electrical engineer recently I has been shortlisted for the post of electrical engineer for Marine Force Co. Contractor of ministry of defence & aviation ( MODA ) saudi Arabia but the problem is that they issue a labour category visa instead of electrical engineer visa.......please suggest me what to do. ....if possible give information about the company. ......I am waiting for your response. ..

      Thanks

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      Robin 3 years ago

      Hello again LeanMan,

      Took me a while to find your site again, as I forgot to bookmark it. :)

      I understand everything that you have said. I just have one additional question. If my daughter is young enough where she may not need an abaya, then what should she wear? I know you say that "normal clothes" are okay, but considering that this is a society that covers women from head to toe, I'm not entirely sure what "normal" would be. What would be a safe dress code for her? Should we just put her in an abaya and hijab anyway to be safe even though she is not of age? She pretty much just wears a conservative tee shirt (nothing low cut or revealing) and a longer skirt here in the States... should we do that in Saudi Arabia as well?

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Mustafiz,

      I am glad that you enjoy living and working in Saudi Arabia much as I have done. However you need to count yourself lucky that you are among those that are not being abused or being forced to work without pay. People come to work in Saudi Arabia typically for the money; they need to be aware of the very real problems of working in this country. If they break the rules and laws in the country then they should expect to be punished and not complain, however people have the right to be treated as human beings also!

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      Mustafiz Khan 3 years ago

      Hi Leanman,

      hi to everyone, I know that everything is correct, its only how you think,

      no one force you to come Saudi for work its your own choice so why you blame to the Saudi government or its laws, rules and regulations.

      I worked in Saudi Arabia for 5 years and when I was go back to country , my own country , living there is like a living in a hell, after 1 years six 6 month later i am in Saudi Arabia and I am very happy to living here.

      thanks to Saudi Government,

      Mustafiz khan

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Robin

      You can wear what you like under your abaya, you may see some women wearing their abaya unbuttoned so that they show off their designer clothes underneath - beware of doing this as a foreigner as you could get yourself in trouble!

      As long as you don't use something totally outlandish to cover your hair I am sure that you will be fine, this society is very conservative so you need to blend in and not stand out.

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      Robin 3 years ago

      Hi again,

      Point taken about the abaya. What should be worn underneath? I mean, could my daughter just wear a tee shirt and shorts underneath? It is probably extremely hot there and with my daughter in a black cloak she will likely be inside of an oven...

      About the headscarf... that isn't actually an issue for us, as we are conservative Christians and typically cover our heads anyway, so this is no change for us. The thing is the head coverings that we wear are different from Muslims', and so I don't know if they are still permissible. Can it be any covering that covers the hair, or must it cover the head in the exact way that Muslim women's do?

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Robin

      I am sorry but the only way you are going to be getting out is by wearing an Abaya to fully cover your entire body. Children can dress normally without an Abaya but once a girl reaches puberty or looks as if she should have then they need to be fully covered also, typically you will not see anyone over the age of 9 or 10 without an Abaya.

      Do not think that you can go there and force your views on them with regards to what is acceptable for dress, if you do not conform you could easily face arrest or worse.

      Jeddah is far more relaxed and you will see women wearing decorated abaya and even different colors. Head covering you will probably get away with most of the time in Jeddah but always carry a headscarf just in case you are told to cover up. Never ignore someone who tells you to cover up and definitely do not argue! Just cover up and get away quickly in case more trouble follows.

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      Robin 3 years ago

      Hi Leanman, my husband is looking at getting a job in KSA. I am interested certainly but am concerned about the restrictions forced onto us, particularly in regards to dress. I understand the head covering but is the abaya really necessary? I found this photo of a girl on the Internet, would something like this be conservative enough for my daughter to wear with a headscarf and be okay? We are looking at Jeddah or a more liberal city:

      http://i1375.photobucket.com/albums/ag446/YAMirand...

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Robby,

      Far better to be going to Saudi Arabia as a man rather than as a woman.. You should be OK in a professional position although you need to understand that Saudis do not treat anyone particularly well - but as you yourself pointed out the money is just too good to ignore.

      Look at this hub; https://hubpages.com/travel/Being-an-Expat-in-Saud... for a lot more info on KSA. It has links to all of my other Saudi hubs so you can get a better idea of what you will be letting yourself in for.

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      robby mark 3 years ago

      lean man you are indeed doing a great work to keep informed. i am a Malawian citizen and have been offered a teaching job at King Khalid University in Rhiyad. i am a man and never worked in Saudi neither is Middle east. the money is good hence i am thinking of taking the offer,but on the other hand concerned about my well being and the level of culture shock . any advice on how i can be able to settle and manage? thanks

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      SAM ELDER 3 years ago from Home

      Great share.. very informative article

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Linux..

      If they are worried about returning there are many other countries in the middle east to which they could go.

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      linuxhidhaya 3 years ago

      thank you lean man for the response ,,,that you told using new passport is on the previous day is run by our people but these days u know they are getting stored finger printing.that's why i need clear this doubt in this matter.i know he not deported,he got small punishment.if possible he will try for another work...but he sure and not doing same fault again.and he afraid cos they may will behave UN- respect ......

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      HI, I am guessing here about your friends ability to return but if they did not deport him when he was punished then I would suggest that he will be able to return without problem. If he applies for the visa and he is approved then you know that he will be ok. I have known some people who have been jailed and then left to return but many of those have used "new passports".

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      linuxhidhaya@gmail.com 3 years ago

      hello freind i need clear a doubt ,my friend used alcohol who work past ten years and he got punishment for that 80 slashes and he return to work in his company.but he not like to continue his work in Saudi that time and himself he like to return his home country (India.)and he request "exit' visa.(kurz). now my question if he like again working in Saudi is it possible to visit Saudi ? already three year passed after his exit ?what the rules of if a ex patriot after get punishment ?can he got

      a new job to another company ?please explain the rules after punish a expatiate /...?

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      linuxhidhaya@gmail.com 3 years ago

      hi friend(lean man) u told in your this summery of rules and regulation is OK ,but u mentioned not difficult to find alcohol in the kingdom.thats not true.very hard to find.but also expatriation (Filipino, srilankan and some Indian) making alcohol .and these saithans making collapse the good-will people thats true.i am worked past ten years many expatriate get punish for using alcohol and also some Saudi's also.

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Julian

      I refer to them as slave labor as that is exactly how they are treated in many companies. Many of these people would love to remain home and work where they would be treated as human beings but there is not the work available to them. Many of them come on the promise of good wages and conditions but then find that the wages are a fraction of what was promised and they are then treated like animals by many companies. I have met some earning as little 700 or 800 riyals a month!

      They cannot leave as they are not allowed to exit and they cannot complain about their treatment. Many run and join the black market for labor; however they soon find themselves working back on the construction sites illegally as they have no choice if they want to earn to support their families.

      Yes they have a choice before they come but many do not realize the true reality of what they are being offered, once they are in Saudi they are stuck!

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      Tony 3 years ago from At the Gemba

      Hi Ram,

      I don't know SEC with regards to working conditions, but Dammam is one of the more relaxed areas to live and work so you should be fine.

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      Julian Smith 3 years ago

      In reference to:

      "As to real estate, I worked in real estate in Saudi Arabia and the industry is run mainly by expats... and the construction crews are the slave labor Indians that you are so fond of!

      It is true that it is hard to find citizens in Saudi Arabia working in any field especially in hard labor or strategic planning areas like real estate. But calling expats as slaves is too harsh a word. People who choose to work there are doing so on their own will and they do so because the package is worth it.

      https://www.facebook.com/RealEstateLebanon?ref=hl