There are some peculiar features of working in Saudi Arabia which the would-be expat must know. One cannot change jobs just like that. It's hire-and-fire policy, but only one-way. In other words, if your sponsor decides to fire you, then there is nothing you can do about it. But if YOU want to resign and if your sponsor isn't too happy about it, then you had it! :-S
There is something called NOC, an acronymn for No Objection Certificate. If you would like to work for another employer in Saudi Arabia, unless your present sponsor gives you an NOC, it is impossible to switch jobs. Of course, officially the law says that NOC is no longer required if it has not been specifically agreed in your original contract, but in reality the law has not been implemented. Surprised? :-? How can there be a law but which is not implemented? Read on. What this means is that there is a law which says that you don't need an NOC any more to change your job (unless you have waived this right in your contract), but this law has not been put into effect in practice.
One of my friends, a safety officer, got an offer from another company which he could not refuse. As a matter of precaution, he did not resign but went on vacation to his home country on a short leave. He visited the Saudi consulate and enquired personally about this to the officer in the consulate, whether he could visit the kingdom on another visa and work for another sponsor. He was simply brushed aside with the typical Arabic comment "Kalli Valli" (loosely translated, this could mean in this context "just forget it" or "nothing doing")! When my friend insisted that a law has already been passed, the officer said that for him to implement the law, he should be instructed by his Foreign Office and by nobody else! In short, it means that whatever the law says, if it is not implemented, you simply have no chance for re-employment in the kingdom if your current sponsor would not agree for the same. The grapevine is that the law was implemented on paper only to satisfy WTO requirements, but obviously this cannot be verified.
So, if you are a first-timer who is looking forward to working in Saudi Arabia, then you better know about this important rule and choose your employer carefully. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry.
There is also another category of job transfer called "Release" but more on this in another posting.
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