Saturday, June 16, 2007

Openings for expatriate women in Saudi Arabia

Working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge, particularly when it comes to working women. Very few professions are open for expatriate women to work legally in this country :( Doctors, (particularly gynaecologists and paediatricians ), nurses and teachers are in great demand. There is always a dearth of qualified and experienced women to cover these professions.

Do remember that Saudi Arabia is a very restricted society and it is quite rare to find women working, except probably as teachers, doctors and nurses. Life could be quite taxing for working women, particularly in the medical and teaching professions. However, it all depends on the individual requirement, as mentioned in my earlier post, how far one is willing to go. All said and done, woman expatriates do get paid reasonably well, depending on their skill set.

Some of the wives of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia do keep themselves occupied though. You can find excellent private tutors for children, translators, etc. However, all these occupations are strictly on one to one basis and purely private arrangements between individuals.

Usually, it is quite rare or rather even impossible to find working women among expatriates who are without their families. The only exception to this is nursing profession. Generally, the husband would also be working in the same city as the wife. Very rarely does the wife get separate sponsorship by her company and most of the time it is the husband who is her sponsor. In all such cases, the working wife must ensure that she bargains well with her employer citing that the processing charges for her visa are borne by her husband. She must also not forget that if her husband is the sponsor, then all expenses like annual tickets to the home country, renewal of work permit (called iqama) etc., are usually borne by the husband only. So, she must keep all this in mind while negotiating her salary with her employer. Make sure everything in the contract is written in black and white and do not sign any document on verbal assurances.

Nurses are usually housed in either the hospital quarters or in private houses. Usually, the hospitals arrange for regular shopping trips to downtown, to enable them to buy their essentials, as women aren't allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

Did you like my post? If you need further information on any topic, do write your comments in this blog. Your encouragement is my motivation.

29 comments:

Alifia said...

Hello! This is a great blog. Thank you. My husband is working for a company in which he receives 3 weeks off every two months in which we are planning to travel. I am wanting to find something to do while over there so I do not get incredibly bored. I understand from your blog that it is difficult for women to get most positions in different careers. I have a college degree in communications and worked for a year at an advertising agency. I know there are ad agencies in Saudi, but I am doubtful now that I will be able to even apply let alone get a job. I was wondering if you knew what requirements are needed in order to be a teacher? Also, is there any flexible jobs for women to have so that I can also get off during my husbands vacation time?

I'm basically just needing suggestions and ideas. What about furthering my education and getting a masters? Is this something that would be possible at any school over there? I need your thoughts. Thank you soooooo much for all the wonderful advice and help you are offering to us.

Alifia said...

Hi you have written a wonderful, helpful blog!

My husband is working overseas and I will be moving to saudi very soon. I have a degree in communications and worked in an advertising agency for about over a year in the US. I know that it is highly unlikely I will be able to work in an ad agency in saudi, however, I do want to have a job to fill in my free time.

I am not certified to be a teacher, however, I speak english fluently and have some experience working at a daycare. Do you think this would be enough for me to get a job?

Also, my husband has 3 weeks off every two weeks and I was hoping to find a position that would allow me to take off every 2 months. I know this sounds impossible but if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them! Do they have substitue teachers in Saudi?

I've also considered getting my masters. However, I do not know if that would even be possible and if it is would it hold any credibility in the United states. Please throw out any ideas or suggestions you may have.

Thanks a lot, seriously!

Expatguru said...

Alifia,

Glad to know that you found my blog useful. As you have rightly predicted, it is quite difficult for expat women to find jobs. Infact, the only professions open to women are in Medical and teaching categories.

There are plenty of opportunities available 'indoors'. For instance, you have a degree in communications. You could easily sharpen your skills a bit more and try to do some 'virtual assistant' programs - all you need is a pc with a broadband internet connection. With some effort and luck, you could be minting money without stepping out of your home. Home tuitions are also another option. Private tutors are in great demand and are paid quite heavily. Good luck!

Alifia said...

Hello-Thank you for your response! would it be possible you could elaborate a little more on your comment "There are plenty of opportunities available 'indoors'. For instance, you have a degree in communications. You could easily sharpen your skills a bit more and try to do some 'virtual assistant' programs - all you need is a pc with a broadband internet connection." What does virtual assistant mean? How would I go about trying to get one of these jobs? Thank you!

Expatguru said...

Alifia,

Virtual Assistant is the 'In-thing' these days. It is not restricted to just women. Anybody who has a broadband connection, a pc and of course some skills, can do this sitting at home.There are millions of jobs available for those who want to make money. It is not restricted only to the tech-savvy. For instance, you could take to on-line teaching for kids, being a remote secretary to some top executive in some other part of the globe, consultancy, etc. The opportunities are enormous. I would strongly advise you to go through my friend Deepa's blog, http://deepagovind.blogspot.com. The link is given on the left hand side of this blog. It will give you some insight on what VA is about and the opportunities available. Once inside, you will get hooked on to it. Like me!

Deepa said...

Hi EG,
Thanks for recommending and spreading the word about VA. I shall be glad to help . Thanks again.

Expatguru said...

Thanks, Deepa.

Anonymous said...

hello, I just want to ask if woman as teacher in her iqama is allowed to get her husband and kids thanks a lot !

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

You certainly can sponsor your husband and kids, but note that your husband cannot work while he is under your sponsorship because he will be your dependent!

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I got a job in Saudi as a photographer-yes,one more profession for women!But the trouble is I was told the working visa would take about 3 weeks to obtain and itś been 3 months now and still waiting.Every week the same story-hopefully next week...I heard that it can take up to 9 months for female applicants???My employer is a woman too,could it really be the cause?Any idea how long it ussually takes?Itś a bit hard to arrange everything to leave within 3 weeks and then stay unemployed for months so I am not sure if to wait longer or just to quickly take another job.Thanks a lot!This website is great source of information!!!Jana

Expatguru said...

Jana,

The delay is because of the reason you have mentioned - a woman working as a photographer! Note that this is an extremely conservative society where even driving a car by a woman is banned. I would advise you to just take up another job in another country. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi and thanks for your reply. If I understand right you are saying that although my employer keeps saying that for sure I will get the visa in the end,it is likely to happen that i won`t get the visa?Or this is their way-to let you wait and give up by yourself?I dont undrestand how my employer ever got anyone in the country to work for her...Honestly I was really eager to get to know Saudi inspite of all the warnings but this is putting really bad light on the country.I was told there are non female photographers inside the country and the only people who can take pictures of women and kids are of course women so this bussiness is dependent on foreigners as the job is about commercial portrait photography not newspaper or other potentialy unfriendly photography bussiness.Thank you for your time answering all the questions!Good luck there!

Anonymous said...

HI Expat Guru. Please correct me if Im wrong. I read in one of your previous blogs that in general men over the age of 18 is not allowed by Saudi law to be a dependant and then I read today another blog, dated 13 April, that a wife can sponsor her husband and kids, but he is not allowed to work, because he is your dependant.

Can you please clarify this for me since I would like to sponsor my husband to join me in the kingdom. I have already been granted sponsorship of my daughter and she's with me on a recidency visa.

Yours thankfully,

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I see no conflict between the two. The crucial word is "employment". For example, let us say that a couple had a son who was in their iqama. The moment he turns 18, he will be issued another iqama, but cannot work in the kingdom as he is still considered a dependent. The moment he turns 21, even this iqama will be stopped. Similarly, just as how a dependent wife and kid cannot work, in your case, a dependent husband and daughter also cannot work. Hope this is clear.

Anonymous said...

Good day Expat Guru.

Thankyou so much for your quick response. One more question. If I sponsor my husband to join me in the Kingdom I understand that he's not allowed to work, however if he finds work and the company is prepared to sponsor him,is it allowed for him to leave the country and return under the new sponsorship or would it be better for me to initially bring him over on visit visa instead until he finds a job with company that will sponsor him.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Your husband has to leave the country and re-enter on a fresh visa in case he wants to work. As long as he is on a visit visa, he cannot work, but he can definitely attend some interviews while he is here. Also, more important is that he will be with you and your daughter and you will all be together. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thankyou so much for your support and much appreciated advise with regard to getting my husband with me a and my daughter. You are really a gift from god to all expats who know about your blog.Your advise is sincere with hidden agenda's.I will definately spread the word of this good fortune that I discovered by chance.Have a great day

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,
I am going to work to Saudi next month.
I am single, but in long-term relationship.We do not want to get married yet. I will be provided my own flat by employer and my driver. Me and my partner are hoping that we would somehow be able to bring him over for visit time to time.lets say 2-3 times a year for 6-8 weeks. I assume that he would have to come as a tourist,not mentioning me at all, as we are not in legaly approved relationship?Is there any chance that he could be staying in my apartment with me or is it rather risky?I have no idea to what extend the pollice tolerates foreigners having relationships and how couples do it over there. but for sure like anywhere else people must have relationships outside marriage and stay overnights with their partners,so we should be able to do the same,no?Please advice us,what is the best solution. I don`t want to experience imprisoment in Saudi or some physical punishment for having a partner who is like my husband,but without paper for it...Thank you for your time.Your blog is awsome!Sussie

Anonymous said...

Good day,
You seem to know everything so I have two health related questions on you.Firstly- contraception pills-do i need to carry prscription with me?And should I bring enough for the entire stay in Saudi or can I buy it without/with prescription there?Also do you recommend any travel shots before entering the Kingdom? I heard that one type of meningitis vaccine might be a good idea.Your reply will be greatly appreciated.Thank you for your time,it is amazing that you are doing this for us.V.

Anonymous said...

Hello again,i was asking earlier about bringing my partner over to Saudi for short vacation. I completely forgot to ask- do you know anything about obtaining regular tourist visa?Will he need to have a hotel reservation at least for first few days? And the main concern-how long does it usually take for the tourist visa to be issued (his vacations are quite tight so we dont want to waste time) and for how long can one stay on tourist visa in the Kingdom?Thank you so much. All the best.Sussie

Expatguru said...

Sussie,

I am glad that you asked this question before you landed here rather than after. Saudi Arabia is an extremely (I really mean the word "extremely") conservative country with very strict rules pertaining to conjugal relationships. It is impossible for you to sponsor your partner even on a visit visa without showing proof of marriage. Secondly, even if he does arrive on a tourist visa, the risk of getting caught is extremely high. In fact, both of you would end up not just with imprisonment, but also being sujected to public lashing with a whip by the religious police for "immorality". Don't even take the risk of bringing him here on a tourist visa and staying with him together. Please think really hard before coming here. If you do have to come here, an option would be to have your partner visit Bahrain. You can then visit him during weekends. Of course, this is an expensive option, but there is no other choice.

Expatguru said...

Sussie,

I am glad that you asked this question before you landed here rather than after. Saudi Arabia is an extremely (I really mean the word "extremely") conservative country with very strict rules pertaining to conjugal relationships. It is impossible for you to sponsor your partner even on a visit visa without showing proof of marriage. Secondly, even if he does arrive on a tourist visa, the risk of getting caught is extremely high. In fact, both of you would end up not just with imprisonment, but also being sujected to public lashing with a whip by the religious police for "immorality". Don't even take the risk of bringing him here on a tourist visa and staying with him together. Please think really hard before coming here. If you do have to come here, an option would be to have your partner visit Bahrain. You can then visit him during weekends. Of course, this is an expensive option, but there is no other choice.

Expatguru said...

V,

I would advise you to bring the pills adequate for your entire stay, along with a doctor's prescription. There are condoms available here in all major pharmacies. For contraceptive pills, you will have to go through a doctor here and the rules are quite rigid. I would also advise you to get yourself vaccinated before arriving here.

inspiron said...

Hi Expatguru, this is AB can you please advise few of the Advertising agency in Riyadh wherein my wife can work. She use to work as a Visualizer in one of the Ad agency in India, and she is willing to start her carrier again. Further can she work being on dependent visa?? Looking forward for your valuable advice

Expatguru said...

AB,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Alexandru Tudose said...

Hello Expatguru!
I would like to fill the forn for a personal advic3 regarding the advertising job for my wife, but I cannot find it. Looking forward to receive an abswer from you! Regards, Alexandru

Expatguru said...

Alexandru,

The form is very much there. You will have to wait sometimes for it to load fully, in case of slow internet connection. If you still face difficulty, please pay my fee of US$10 through Paypal in favor of expatguru@gmail.com and send me an email. You will receive a personalized, detailed and confidential reply within 24 hours of receipt of payment.

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,
I got a job position at Saudi Aramco. They told me that I can only travel with single status because I am a woman and that I cannot sponsor my husbands visa in order to be a resident. Is this true? Also, they told me that I can only sponsor his visa to be a visitor and he can only stay 6 months per year. please let me know if you have any info on this subject.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email.