Relocating to Saudi Arabia (KSA)

Posted on Jan 6, 2009 12:54 PM by
This post is for those who would like to re-locate to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Confused about the whole Re-location scenario??? I understand, months back I was in the same shoes.

Until May’08 I was working in Dubai, a place where one experiences total freedom. The day came when my partner had to re-locate to KSA for professional reasons. Relatives and Friends were against our idea of shifting. According to them Saudi was a very conservative place and not a good place for expatriates. The decision was tough again since I would have to resign and it wasn’t so easy for women to find a job in Saudi. We were finally ready for the new change.

It’s been months now, So Far So good! I am quiet happy staying here and I don’t regret a bit on moving to this beautiful place.

Following are the Facts and Rules one should know before entering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

About KSA

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, about 2500 feet above the sea level. It is considered as the largest city and is divided into 15 municipal districts.

Riyadh is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
The Riyadh flag is green in color featuring in white an Arabic inscription and a sword.
The currency in the Kingdom is the Saudi Riyal, divided into 100 halalas. 1$ is about 3.75SR/-

The cities and towns in Saudi Arabia include: Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Dammam, Qatif, Ta’if, Buraydah, Tabuk, Khamis Mushait.

The atmosphere here is completely free from humidity. Winter out here is freezing cold, occasionaly dropping below zero during the months of Dec, Jan and Feb. It gets hotter during the middle of summer, especially during June, July and August.

Rules and Regulations in Saudi
  • Alcohol is prohibited in the country.
  • You should be 18 or older to apply for a Driving License.
  • Women can not drive, but the Ban would be lifted soon.
  • Every woman should follow the traditional dressing code– The abaya. (A full sleeved black colored garment that is head to toe length long)
  • The salah (prayer) time should be strictly followed. The entire community comes to a halt during the prayer time. Shops and Restaurants are closed until the prayer is over. Some of the Shops allow you to continue shopping, but they keep the main doors closed until the prayer is over.
  • No cinema Theaters here :(
  • No churches or Temples.
  • Women can enter only those restaurants that have family sections.
  • Every resident in Saudi should carry with them an ID card known as the IQAMA. Read: Visa Procedures.

Expatriates usually reside in compounds where the residents have far more freedom and wearing the abaya is not a necessity. The compounds have facilities like Gym, Swimming pool, tennis court, park, grocery shop etc, Shopping trips are also arranged for the ladies on a daily basis.
Flats and villas are also an Option of residence.
List of Compounds: Click here

Working in Saudi Arabia

Expatriates can try their luck in the defense, healthcare, oil industry, IT, telecommunications and banking.
Opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia.
Schools in Riyadh.
Colleges & Universities in Saudi Arabia.
Jobs in Banking Sector.

Basic expenses in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh

The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is pretty cheap when compared to the rest of the gulf countries.

Accommodation: about SR.25000/year- for a decent 3 bedroom flat in a good residential area.
Medical Insurance: SR.3000/- per year.
Oil: SR.20/- Full tank (oil is pretty cheap here, In Dubai it’s about AED.60/- full tank)
Internet: SR.100/month
Water & Electricity: SR.450 (for 4 months, depends on usage)

Saudi Arabia is a peaceful place to live, people tend to live here for years banking a huge some of tax free income. If you are open minded and flexible to other cultures this might just be the right place for you :)

P.S: The author has no commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned.
The information is as up-to-date as possible at the time of writing.



  1. Hello!

    I just loved to read about you, would like to know more from you and tell you sbout myself as well.

    Theres something very important about relocating that i really need your help and expertise with.

    My email add:

    Please let me hear from you.

    Desperately looking forward for a favourable reply,

    Rehana Ali

  2. Hi Rehana,

    You may subscribe to this blog for latest updates on this section.
    Please use the comments section for clarifying doubts, this will also benefit other users.
    Thank you for visiting the site.

    - Anita

  3. Greetings from Chicago. Have recently accepted teaching post in Tabuk. Am making VISA arrangements now, and getting ready for my KSA adventure. I will stay abreast of this site, but if you have any obvious suggestions about living in KSA, I am eager to hear/read them. Great Site! Mat

  4. Hi Mat, Thank you for the feedback and hey congrats on your new job!! I’ll try to post a few articles for newbie's in Saudi in a couple of weeks.

  5. Hi! I'm from South Africa and I'm considering a music job in Riyadh. It is quite daunting for me to be quite honest because I'll be relocating on my own. I'm also quite a fiesty person and I'm worried about how to behave properly there. I'm very flexible, so I will try, but I'd hate to offend the people! Are there lots of ex-pat communities there that I could easily become a part of? Well done on the site by the way. Catherine

  6. Hi Catherine,
    Look for an accommodation in a good Compound, There are no strict rules in there and you need not wear the Abaya. Yes, there are a few expat communities in Riyadh such as the ACS. I’ll post a list soon of them soon.

  7. Hi Anita, your article is really interesting. I'm a a UK citizen who was born in Iraq - would the Saudi authorities allow me into the country? I know relations between these two countries haven't been great. Many thanks.

  8. Hi anita,read u r blog.i m also in riyadh at present n i m an indian.its been only 2 months since i m in Riyadh.Worked in Delhi for 6 years as a cabin crew n as a customer service representative.Still siting at home n trying to find a job..jst wanna say one to those people who want to relocate to saudi..think 100 times before coming to this place..Saudi Arabia is a very conservative country...their r mant things which u ll find shocking when u ll come to saudi...think before coming here becoz money is not every thing in life..freedom is one of the biggest necessities of life.....u cannot do anyhting in saudi except....going to work n coming back in the evening....for women its more difficult......i myself was a bit shocked when i landed in the airport...they way we were treated in the airport.....i cannot write here.......i dont have anything against anyone jst wanna make people aware tht...everyhting looks greener from a distance..we only know reality when we experience certain things...

  9. Hello,

    Please advise if it is necessary that a first time traveller must wear "Abaya" right from exiting the aircraft?

    Thank you


  10. No VTR, You need not wear the Abaya the day you go/leave to/from the airport. But once you begin your stay in the kingdom, wearing the Abaya is a must.

  11. wonderful blog, you should also join

  12. As travel from one place to another place become easy the tourism also increased among the world in every country. There are many places around the world which are beautiful and memorable people from different countries visit these places in their vacations for relaxation with families and friends in the world. And goverments also giving importance to this places and providing better service in order to give all facilities to tourisists and tourism services also provided by different travelling agency villa for rent in jeddah


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