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Being an expat in Saudi Arabia comes with its own set of challenges and diversions. Saudi Arabia polarizes expat opinion like few other places. Either way, though, guest workers, as expat staff are referred to, agree on a couple of things: life in Saudi Arabia is vastly different from anywhere else.
An expat posting can be enormously lucrative here, but any prospective expat is bound to have plenty of questions. So, what is life in Saudi Arabia like? This helpful article attempts to answer some of the most commonly asked questions. Like everywhere else, life in Saudi Arabia is what you make of it. You can make the effort to integrate by learning Arabic and getting to know the local Saudi culture ; you will be welcomed warmly, too. On the other hand, stay within the expat bubble, and you are likely to miss out on the incredible adventures living away from home can bring. For expats moving to Saudi Arabia, a little understanding of its culture can go a long way.
Islamic observances underpin the Saudi way of life and Sharia principles underlie its legal system. For decades, Saudis have interpreted their religion rather more conservatively than elsewhere. Furthermore, women needed to wear black outer robes called abayas and cover their hair in public. Many also covered their face. Residents report that men and women can now work together more freely, and even go to the cinema and play sports matches together. Women can drive and hire cars and remain free to go around without a male guardian.
And the moral police, who controlled social interactions and pulled over men with long hair and women whose abayas were too short, have been defanged and are now only seen infrequently. Expats have generally enjoyed a lifestyle closer to their home countries on compounds maintained by foreign companies. Life in these self-contained holiday villages is relatively unconstrained; they offer greater security and a wide range of facilities, such as shops, restaurants, swimming pools, and sporting facilities.
Foreign residents also welcome the relatively relaxed rules, saying it is now much easier to go out and watch a movie, for example, or to hang out with friends of any gender. Similarly, workplaces are much the same as anywhere else — so long as you keep it professional. Officials have dismissed reports that hotels and restaurants will soon be able to serve alcohol. Indeed, the government Expat dating saudi arabia also responded to hardline critics who feel the reforms have gone too far. In addition, it penalizes violence in public and the destruction of community property. As of Julythe law had not yet been enforced.
In general, Saudis are far more private than in Western countries, and everyday activities traditionally revolve around the family. As a corollary, some areas are family-only, and single men may not be allowed in; this includes shopping malls. Furthermore, all restaurants have men-only and family sections. Many local customs, such as the focus on home life, have been at least partly influenced by the searing heat. It is almost as if the weather in Saudi Arabia conspires to make you stay indoors in air-conditioned comfort, as some expats put it.
On the other hand, it does mean that there are over days of sunshine a year on average. The capital, Riyadh, is a modern but conservative city on par with regional powerhouses. Meanwhile, Jeddah blends old and new in a relatively relaxed atmosphere. The east coast areas of Khobar and Dammam, on the other hand, are busier — and often sought-after, thanks to their proximity to liberal Bahrain.
By some estimates, Riyadh has become a much more expensive place to live as the country seeks to diversify its hydrocarbon-dependent economy. The global consultancy Mercer ranked the Saudi capital the 37th costliest city on a list of over expat hubs. Yet, Saudi Arabia remains one of the few places in the world that continues to offer expat packages that include accommodation or an allowance in lieu; as well as transport and education payments.
That said, residents say these are being trimmed as the economic climate remains uncertain. In terms of expenses, rent is the biggest outlay for expats without these allowances; this can for up to a third of your local salary. Scroll to the property section to find out more about housing costs across the Kingdom. Family life in Saudi Arabia comes with other costs that expats may not have encountered before. As of Julyexpats bringing their families into the Kingdom typically, a man sponsoring his wife and children must pay a dependent fee of SAR per person per month.
The fee is expected to increase gradually to a maximum of SAR in On the flip side, Saudi Arabia levies no income tax, petrol prices remain low, and cars are relatively cheaper than in Western countries. In general, expats in Saudi Arabia have a high standard of living and can afford luxuries often impossible in their home countries. Finding a prince anywhere requires kissing an innumerable amount of frogs. Dating in Saudi Arabia carries its own distinct set of rules and challenges and is a secretive affair.
As it is considered both immoral and illegal for two people who are unrelated and unmarried to spend time together, you will need to be both careful and creative when seeking a partner. First dates must be low-key affairs. Some restaurants in big cities also offer private cabins and are lax about letting genders mix within their establishment. Asking around in your expat circles is a good way to discover date spots with relaxed attitudes.
Outside of these spaces, it pays to remember that dating, sex, and romance remain taboo in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, once you do find your prince, be sure to dress conservatively and avoid being publicly affectionate. However, women, in particular, may still shy away from sending photos over messaging apps for fear of family repercussions. You may also be asked directly for your phone. Saudis from more conservative families might ask to arrange initial meetings in more relaxed countries around the region.
No corresponding figures are available for Saudi men married to non-nationals. Only Muslims can marry in Saudi Arabia, therefore expat couples of other faiths need to wed outside the country; or at the embassy of either partner.
They must hand a translated version of their marriage certificate to the Ministry of Expat dating saudi arabia Affairs to be authenticated. Marriages are still often arranged between conservative families, and the bridal couple may sometimes not even set eyes on each other until a few days before the wedding.
Transgender individuals moving to Saudi Arabia should be aware that it is illegal for men to act and dress like women, and vice versa. Homosexual activity is also against the law and attracts the death penalty. That said, same-sex men and women may find it easier to meet and socialize with potential partners. There are several ways to find an expat joband Saudi Arabia is no different from other markets. As a result, some 1. Foreigners usually have interviews from overseas and accept jobs after companies advertise the position to Saudi nationals.
Obtaining a Saudi work visa can take up to two months. Employers — or sponsors — apply for and obtain authorization from the Ministry of Labor. Following this, you will need to undergo medical tests for contagious and lifestyle ailments from approved centers in your home country. Workplaces, especially in the private sector, are international, with a healthy mix of expats from around the world. Outsiders may take a while to appreciate that religious and cultural elements often make their way into the workplace.
Furthermore, business owners often employ family members because family ties are so important. Finally, get ready to work on Sunday. In Saudi Arabia, the weekend spans Friday — the traditional day of rest in most of Expat dating saudi arabia Middle East — and Saturday; so it may take some time to adjust to the workweek. Confusingly, working hours vary. Government offices run from to By law, you can only work eight hours a day 10 with overtimeor 48 hours a week including Saturdays 60 with overtime.
Untilexpats have been unable to acquire permanent residency and put down roots in the country. Consequently, foreigners in Saudi Arabia prefer to rent apartments or villas when not provided with company accommodation. However, foreign residents can now purchase property units in most parts of Saudi Arabia, subject to approvals from the licensing authority. Only Saudis may own property in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina; although inheritances are exempt. Non-Saudi Muslims can take out renewable leases of up to two years within these cities. Foreign investors can also buy personal land over the value of SAR30 million for construction and investment.
The nascent mortgage market offers few local options for expats, therefore your best bet would be to consider an international bank operating out of Saudi Arabia. The country also faces a housing shortage to meet the needs of its expanding population. The Kingdom is adding new capacity across the major cities, particularly in the affordable sector. New developments are particularly popular with investors across the country. When it comes to renting, there are plenty of options outside the expat compounds. Unfurnished one-bedroom apartments are available from about SAR27, per year; you will need to post-dated cheques for six-months to a year in advance.
However, you should expect to pay double that for a home that suits your needs, and between SAR, to SAR, for a three-bedroom villa. Contradictions abound when it comes to the status of women in Saudi Arabia. Again, recent reforms have played their part in bringing women into the workforce and giving them wider social roles.
Women have been able to nominate candidates for municipal elections since and allowed to drive since The landmark move was accompanied by other freedoms; namely, the ability to take part in physical education classes and attend sporting events.
A July report said the country plans to ease travel restrictions for women, too. There is now a ban on forced marriages, and a woman must consent to any wedding in writing, That said, contracts may still be hammered out between the bridegroom and his father-in-law. What is life as an expat woman like? By and large, society remains male-oriented, and women may find themselves unable to do things on their own that they take for granted elsewhere. Trailing spouses may find the culture shock unsettling; living on a compound with a support group of others in the same situation may ease the process considerably, though.
For those on work visas, their companies will generally facilitate the transition and provide health insurance. However, mixed-gender workplaces remain uncommon outside customer-facing and creative fields. By law, companies must provide separate facilities for women; this includes bathrooms, prayer rooms, and private Expat dating saudi arabia.
They must also adhere to specific legal requirements about working hours and times. Although women may drive and even take public transport if they have their own iqama, they must wear the abaya; a long outer robe in public. However, head and face coverings are not mandatory. And yes, you can wear a bikini on a private Saudi beachaccessible at a fee, or on a boat. Given these rapid changes, it is advisable for female expats in Saudi Arabia to learn about and stay abreast of changes in local laws.
Children who grow up in Saudi Arabia can count on an international network of friends in later life. However, making Saudi friends can be difficult, and the expat bubble they grow up in can leave them without the street smarts they need to deal with real-world situations. Public schools are only accessible to citizens and naturalized Arabs, and few local children attend international schools in Saudi Arabia. There is a range of private schools that teach country-specific curricula; from British and American to Indian and Pakistani. Arabic is generally mandatory in most schools, where the academic year runs from September to June.
Higher education has come a long way in Saudi Arabia. English is a primary medium of Expat dating saudi arabia, and there are special scholarships for foreign students. However, young expats tend to prefer overseas universities, either in their own countries or at globally recognized institutions. Expat dating saudi arabia addition to a wide range of parks and museums, parents can find classes and clubs for everything; from yoga and ballet to horse-riding, chess, and Koran lessons. With few outlets for entertainment, birthday parties are a highlight. These may feature two-story inflatable slides, magicians, face painters, and three-tier cakes — even for five-year-olds.
At home, nannies and domestic helpers are common, even among expats. That said, domestic workers must have a sponsor or contract through an agency. Saudi family law is complex, and when multi-cultural marriages end in divorce, expat women can end up back home without a visa or access to their children. Foreign parents cannot take their children out of Saudi Arabia by law. However, these are extreme situations, and women typically have custody up to the age of nine.Expat dating saudi arabia
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