Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Moving & Relocating to Saudi Arabia

Before you move into Saudi Arabia, I would advise you to first do some research on the type of housing. Typically, western expatriates stay in housing compounds. The rents are quite high, but in almost all cases, the employer takes care of it. Inside these compounds, life is quite free in the sense that there are no dress restrictions, particularly for women. Usually these compounds have luxurious villas and are quite secure. Do read my earlier post on this topic for western expatriates.
Non-western expatriates, on the other hand, are usually paid a House Rent Allowance instead of accommodation. Again, this depends on your job title. For junior and lower level positions, you would be provided shared company accommodation, but this again depends on your sponsor.
Big companies usually provide good accommodation, but if your sponsor is one of those small contracting companies and you are single, then rest assured that your accommodation is going to be quite uncomfortable and will probably be a shack where you have to share with 10 other people in the same room. This is why you must specifically find out about your housing from your sponsor and do quite a bit of research on his credentials before signing a contract and entering the kingdom.
If you are a non-western expatriate and are entitled for family status, the general standard is to provide 25% of your basic salary as monthly housing allowance. Remember, house rents have shot up exponentially in the kingdom in the past 6 months, so you must bargain well before entering into a contract with your sponsor.
Also, remember that house rents are paid in 2 instalments of 6-months each or in one annual lumpsome amount to the house owner, not monthly. House owners usually enter into a written contract with the tenants and collect the rent in advance.
If you are a non-western expatriate and are planning to stay with your family, please do some research on your locality. Some areas are quite notorious, so you must do some talking with people of your own nationality or colleagues before booking a flat. If you are not given a company-paid accommodation, I would advise you not to bring your family for atleast 3 months after you first arrive in the kingdom, because typically this is the time you would need to settle down and also to save some money.
Beware, that if you plan to move to another house within the 1-year period, you will have to pay the remaining rent for the whole year, otherwise you may be thrown into jail if you don't pay up. But if the house owner wants you to vacate, he may ask you to do so within the 1-year period. The contract with your house owner is supposed to be mutually binding, but in practice it is one-sided and a rather meaningless piece of paper, as most of the time you are left with no option but to comply with your house owner's demands.
Do not bring with you any electronic or house hold goods. You get almost everything here, probably at a price which is even cheaper than your home country. Certain ethnic food-stuffs from your home country may not be available, so try to do some research / ask friends. Also remember that certain items like khas-khas which are quite commonly used as an ingredient for sweets in Asian countries, is strictly banned here. Of course, it goes without saying that you should also not bring with you pictures of non-Muslim Gods, crucifixes and the like. Most of them are anyway available in the internet, so you can always download those pictures for your personal use at home (don't take them out of your house!). Avoid bringing video CDs - they may be harmless but again, it depends on the mood of the guy at the customs who may simply allow you to pass or may ransack your entire luggage looking for something suspicious, so why take the hassle?
Finally, try to avoid mixing with strangers and keep a low profile. Do not carry much cash with you and avoid walking alone in deserted places.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

salam expatguru,
I m Dr Fazal,dentist by proffession.i m in saudi arabia thru a visa with proffession MUBALATH .how can i change my proffession to doctor.is there any possiblity of doing the same.i m just 4 months now in saudi arabia .not yet joined for job so far.

Expatguru said...

Hello doctor,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I don't know what exactly 'Mubalath' means and even my Saudi friends couldn't translate it. Please first try to get it translated from any of your Arabic friends.

Irrespective of this, you can definitely change your profession. It appears that you are on a "free visa", in the sense that you purchased one, that's why you are probably not employed but are still in the kingdom.

Try to contact the Saudi from whom you bought this visa. You have to submit your original degree certificate (which should have been earlier attested in your home country by the HRD Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs and the Saudi Embassy). Once you have done this, you must get it translated in Arabic and get it attested by the Chamber of Commerce in your city. After this is done, you must get approved by MOH and would have to write an exam. It's a big process.

I would suggest that you consult a professional agent doctor, who would do all of this for you. In any event, you would have to make a trip back to your home country for getting the certificates attested personally. Good luck to you!

Chris said...

I first would like to thank you for your tremendous efforts in helping people such as myself who are in need of answers and information regarding relocation to a foreign country.
I am entertaining a job offer in Riyadh for a construction firm as construction manager.
In reading your blog there was no mention of pets. Would I be allowed to bring my dog or is this just not part of the equation there?
Thank you again for the great work!

Expatguru said...

Chris,

Thanks for your comments. I am planning to write a post on this shortly.

Rehan said...

Dear Sir,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the loads and variety of topics covered relating to expats in KSA. This would certainly help me and keep me mentally prepared.

Iam Rehman, recently been offered a job in Riyadh as an IT specialist/Network Administrator, my recruitment happend through a consultancy in India, and I have receieved offer letter direclty from the Employer in form of Soft copy. Offer letter mentions my salary, family visa, yearly family ticket, 6 months accomodation free, medical insurance for me and family.

A few concerns/question that I have, would really appreciate if you could help me.


1)My consultancy in India has asked me to submit my highest degree orginals, 10th original marks card and original passport for visa processing. Request you let me know is it really required for job visa to submit the originals.

2)I have not received a hard copy from the Employer yet, is it ok if I go ahead and ask him, or will the employer be offended.

3)Is it possible to take my wife along in the first trip itself else what would be the process to get my wife to KSA later.

Thanking you in anticipation,
Rehman

Expatguru said...

Rehman,

Thanks for your comments.

1. You must definitely submit your originals which would be attested by the Saudi Embassy / Consulate. Make sure they are not laminated, as there is a chance of damage to your originals (they usually fold a corner of your degree and then put a rubber stamp, half of which would be on the fold.

2. It doesn't matter whether your appointment letter is in hard or soft format, first find out about the reputation of your prospective employer. Once you are into the kingdom, you dont have any rights, remember this. A cheat is a cheat always, so be carefuland enquire thoroughly about your employer.

3. If you are planning to bring your wife, first please go through the process of attestation as mentioned in this link

http://workinginsaudiarabia.blogspot.com/2007/06/attestation-formalitites-for-indians.html

You have to do it personally, not through any agent. Also, it is not possible to take your wife along, because your iqama itself would be ready only about 3 months from the day you land in the kingdom. Your wife has to join you later only.

Anonymous said...

I am considering working for KAUST in the KSA.

Has anyone heard about them?

Thanks!

Michael

Expatguru said...

Michael,

KAUST is a reputed University and has the backing of the Government. Just negotiate a good package before arriving. Good luck!

Daryush said...

Hello Expatguru,

I wanted to thank you again as many have for your blog ... My helicopter instructor here in the States got a job offer with Aramco and has a family of four children all under five years of age ... The job pays well but he is hesitant to go ... What would you say are some advantages / disadvantages of making the move? Does Aramco have a reputable employee relationship? Anything else you could tell me would be of extreme value ... THANK YOU!

Expatguru said...

Daryush,

ARAMCO is the biggest oil company in the world and the pay is one of the best in the industry. Life is quite good for ARAMCO employees. Make sure that your friend is a direct hire, i.e., not working for ARAMCO through any contractor. Also, I would advise him to read my entire blog and in particular the link below:

http://workinginsaudiarabia.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-do-you-want.html

Anonymous said...

Hello ExpartGuru,

Ur information r really useful to everyone.My congrats for ur great effort and i wish u to continue this.
Of course i am in need of some details. Iam a doctor working for MOH in Riyadh for past 1 year.My family(wife & 1 daughter) was here till April 2007 and went back on 6 month re entry visa.But unfortunately it's not possible for them to return in time.Now we also have another baby,just born.The iqama of my wife and daughter is only valid till 16th Jan 2009.But iam planning to bring them in March 2009.So i want to know whether i have to go for a new visa or what else to do?
I also want to bring a house maid(my wife is also a doctor,planning to get a job after coming to Riyadh)to look after my children.wt's the procedure to apply for a house maid visa by an expart(Indian)?is it possible to bring a housemaid by an Indian expart?

Thank
Dr.Muthu.(rajsiv27@yahoo.com)

Expatguru said...

Dr. Muthu,

Since the iqama of your wife and daughter would have expired by March, 2009, the only way is to bring them on a new visa. While your family is in India, ask them to take a passport for your new-born. Also, the birth certificate of the baby has to be translated in Arabic and attested by the Saudi Embassy.

It is not possible for an expatriate to sponsor a maid.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your social service.

My Iqama has expired two months before and is pending for renewal as I do not have Social Insurance (Tawuniya). I approched most of the insurance companies for my individual insurance but all of them refused to do so. Please let me know the solutions.

Anticipating your timely solution and thanking you.
Mohammed

Expatguru said...

Mohammed,

It is the responsibility of your sponsor to take your insurance, not you. Urgently contact your sponsor and ask him to do the same. You will still be required to pay a fine as your iqama has already expired. Do it fast, as right now you are an illegal stayer in the kingdom with no valid iqama.

Anonymous said...

sir,
aperson
working insaudi arabia working as a sales man but having written proffession house driver on his visa,he wants to bring his family there,can he do so without changing the proffession written?is thr any other way 4 this plz let me know

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

The only way without changing the profession is to go on exit and return on a fresh visa with a supervisory category profession.

Rehman said...

Dear Sir,

I am Rehman, I had been offered a job at Arab open university in Jul 2008 and since then I am waiting for visa stamping, I have been in touch with my employer in KSA as well the consultancy in India. Till January my employer was replying to mails and assuring me of the job and visa stamping at the earliest. Since last few days my employer is not acknowledging or replying to my mails and to the mails from consultancy. I have the offer letter from Employer, visa number and have also submitted my medical.

What can I do in this situation. I would appreciate if you could give an advice on this situation.

Regards,
Rehman

Expatguru said...

Rehman,

It is obvious that your prospective employer doesn't want to reply to you. Recession is at its peak in Saudi Arabia and already the reverse flow of expatriates has started. Unless the current financial crisis gets over, I do not foresee anything positive in the near future. Do not resign your current job, if you are already employed. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

HI,

I would like to know that, my wife and daughter came on visit visa and in there presence on visit visa here in KSA, can I apply for residential visa?

I appreciate your reply

Regards,
pasha

Expatguru said...

Pasha,

No, it is not possible. They have to go back and return on a fresh residence visa.

Jake said...

Hi Expatguru,

Have a good day to you.

Just want to ask, I already acquired visit visa for wife to come to saudi arabia last Febuary 08, 2009, my question is How many days the validity of the visa before I bring my wife to Kingdom, i'm planning to go on vacation on March 15, 2009 and to return with my wife on 15 May 2009, is the visit visa for my wife still valid?.

Please help me on this matters.

Your Reply is higly appreciated.

Jere Rabelas (rabelasj@yahoo.com)
Jubail KSA

Expatguru said...

Jake,

I presume what you have is the yellow slip approved by the system. This is not the visa, it is only a permission to apply for a visa. When you submit this along with other required documents to the Saudi Embassy in your country, they will stamp the Saudi visa in your wife's passport. Your wife has to arrive in the kingdom within 30 days from the date of stamping in her passport. There is no such time limit for the yellow slip.

Anonymous said...

Assalam Alikum, Expatguru

I got visit visa for my parents for 30 days, they are planning to stay with me till 9 months & perform Haj, my question is

1 - I got visa for 30 days I can renew it till 9 months or there is any restriction.

2- Are my parents allowed to perform Haj as they are on visit visa

Thanks in advance for your help.

Regards
Khorram

Expatguru said...

Khorram,

Only 2 renewals are allowed. You can apply for 90 days for each renewal, but it depends on the mood of the policeman who is approving the visa of your parents. In both the renewals, if he issues 90-days visa, then your parents can stay only for 1+3+3=7 months maximum.

Note that they cannot perform Haj while on a visit visa. Some bus operators do take visit visa people illegally for Haj, but remember, it is a question of luck. If the policeman at the checkpost allows, then they will be allowed to perform Haj, otherwise they have to come back. So, it has an element of risk.

Anonymous said...

Helo,thanks for this useful blog.i am a doctor and i want to change my job.It seems that my sponsor is not going to let me leave easily so i want to buy a visa for a medical job.can u tell me is there any office here in Riyadh where i can get a doctor's visa?thank u again for these nice posts!

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

The issue is not that difficult to get a doctor's visa as it is to get an NOC. If you are an Indian, you do not need an NOC and can return immediately, provided you left on exit (not exit/reentry). Approach any of the good hospitals and arrange for a visa / job before you do the groundwork with your present employer.

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,

I am working as an Executive Secretary but my profession in iqama is labour...and my wife is working as Physiotherapist

I need to know whether i can bring my mother in a visit visa?

If yes, what are the procedures?

Thanks in advance for your kind help.

Regards
George

Expatguru said...

George,

You will not be able to bring your mother, but since your wife is a physiotherapist, in case she is on a supervisory category visa of her employer, she can sponsor your mother on a visit visa.

ivykristel said...

hi expatguru,
ur such a great help to a lot of people...i will be working as a staff nurse in one of the military hospitals in riyadh and my mom is there too with the same profession..my flyt will be on may last week...my husband will be working too in Riyadh as a service crew in a fastfood chain...my question is can i take my son in riyadh?

Expatguru said...

ivykristel,

It all depends on whether you or your husband has a supervisory category profession mentioned in your respective iqamas. Only then can either of you sponsor your son. Otherwise, he can be brought on a visit visa for short periods.

ivykristel said...

hi its me again...can my mom take my son?she is a charged nurse in one of the prince's palace but still afiliated with the hospital...thank you so much for your tym...God bless

Expatguru said...

ivykristel,

Unfortunately, your mom cannot sponsor her grandson. The rules allow only either the children or spouses to be sponsored. But now that you have mentioned that she is in one of the prince's palaces, you can actually use that 'wasta' to sponsor your son yourself.

Anonymous said...

Hi ExpatGuru,

Is it normal for a reputable employer like KAUST to ask prospective employees (from North America) for a copy of their Pay Slips as well as a personal Photo?
Thanks

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

It depends on the employer and there can be no generalization.

Rehman said...

Dear Sir,

I have got an job opportunity to work in Saudi for a reputed IT company. Interviews were conducted here in India by local consultants. I have been selected for the job, for further processing they are asking me to submit "No Objection Certificate from Bank if I have Home Loans, Personal Loans or Credit Card"

They mentioned that NOC will help them to clear CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau India Limited) Verification Check.

This is the first time I am hearing some one asking for NOC from bank. I humbly request you to give your advice/suggestion about why it may be needed.

Thanks and Regards,
Rehman

K. Shravanth Gudivada said...

Hai Its shravanth, i offered by a job in Riyadh by a company Saudiorge,
offered with 4700 SAR and with other benifites like Acc+FOOD+Transport+ Laundry,
home travel yearly once. is it a good one for a post as Architectural Design
Engineer. is the life at saudhi is very conservative as i had read may reviews
by many people. befor reading i was ok to relocate any were in the world but now
reading different reviews i my self little bit confused. please suggest me is
the salary is good / can Indian(pure veg) can live her. please also advise me if
any thing to be checked out before signing the offer letter and a contract and what should be
the basic things to be demanded from the employer.



thank you

with regards
k shravanth
from andhra pradesh

kshravanth2002@yahoo.com

Expatguru said...

Rehman,

I am not aware of the requirements of your employer. It certainly is not a requirement from the Saudi immigration authorities. But I think it is not such a big deal to get such a certificate from your bank, unless you do not want to.

Expatguru said...

Shravanth,

I never comment on whether a salary is good or not, because it depends on you. My general advice would be not to convert the salary into your local currency. Don't simply jump into a job because it is outside your country. Read this blog completely from the beginning, including all the readers' comments and make your own judgement.

rao ahmed said...

Hello Sir, this is a great job that you r doing to giving informations to peoples, Boss i want to ask some question regarding family vist visa for my mother and father.
i m working as a telecom tehinician in a sub con.company in saudia,but when i arrive here 1 year ago my compnay give me visa of labour (AMMIL TARKEEB),so my iqamma is also as a labour,but now i want to change my profession on my iqamma to telecom techinician(fanny eitesalat) i have diploma of associate engineer in telecom also(passed from pakistan)so whats the procudure of change of profission on my iqamma n how much charges i have to pay or my employer will pay this fees?
and after change of profession on my iqamma can i sponsor vist visa to my father n mother at a same time? is it possible? secondly i want to ask how much is the fees for this visa or other expenses that i have to pay? and can saudi embassy give me vist visa for my parents ? later on when i will get marry can i sponsor vist visa to my wife also ?
please tell me about this n tell me what documents needed for vist visa for my parents now ?
and wich documents required in saudi embassy from me and from my employer?i have listen some news that saudi goverment have banned for vist visa for telecom techinician also, and now only engineer can get the famiy vist visa. is it correct or not ?plz reply about my all quries thanks alot
sir i m waiting for ur reply very ansiously because i request u already but i didnt get any reply from u u can mail me also if u dont mind my address are
farhan_ahmed6@yahoo.com , raoahmed47@gmail.com
my contact number iz 0545-753875 plz sir reply me as soon as posible thanks again
FRHAN RAO

Expatguru said...

Farhan,

Unfortunately, with a profession as "labour" in your iqama, it is impossible to sponsor anyone even on a visit visa nor transfer your profession. There is no such written rule, but this is what is widely practised. The only way is to go on exit and return on a fresh supervisory visa. Good luck.

wewf said...

Hi Expatguru,

My profession in Iqama is Civil Engineer and i want bring my parents to KSA. Currently my parents are in UAE as my father is working in sharjah. Kindly let me know procedure of getting them a visit visa and bring them to KSA. I am from India.

Expatguru said...

wewf,

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.

Usman Sheikh said...

Hi There,
I am Pakistani living in KSA since 30 years. Previously i was under sponsorship of my father and now i get it transferred to a company and got an engineer profession on my iqama. My father is a retired person and now i want to take him under my sponsorship. Is it possible? My brother and sister are also on the iqama of my father as students. Kindly Reply
Thanks...

Expatguru said...

Usman,

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.

Anonymous said...

Hi Expatguru!

My visa profession in Iqama is Muhasib Aam - General Accountant. I am here in Saudi since last 3 years!

Now I wish to change the company and got an offer from a Saudi-Govt.

But the they are saying me that My Visa profession is not transferable in Govt. Department. So I need to go back and come again on any new visa. But one of my friend with the same profession get transferred his Iqama with new sponsor...

Now, I need to know that the person here in Govt. organization are saying right or they just playing with me! They are saying me that your visa profession can be transferrable to any private company but not with Govt. Is he true???

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 reply by email.

Jahanzebmalic said...

Hi Mr. Guru,

Can I call for my parents (on Visit) plus my wife (on Iqama) at same time, in same flight.

My profession is of "Engineer" in Iqama.

Thanks

Expatguru said...

Jahanzebmalic,

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.

Sarfraz Yakub Shaikh said...

Dear Expatguru,

Thanks a lot for your valuable feedbacks provided on this web...it is very informative.

I have a question : My Mother expired in the year 2009. So I and my brothers got my Father married for the second time. Now I want my Father and my mother to visit us but unfortunately I have my real mother name in my passport. So do you have any idea whether I can invite my Step-Mother along with my Father...Please reply.

Expatguru said...

Sarfraz,

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.

dr sabih ahsan said...

Assalam this is dr ahsan from saudi arabia. I have applied a visit visa for my parents.my dad's passport got stamped but mom's failed.now i want to get them along with me after my 40 days vacation .will it be possible withthis same visa for my father esp.or i need to apply a new visa for him as i heard he should fly within 30 days as his passport is stamped.

Expatguru said...

Dr. Ahsan,

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.

Sachin said...

I am Indian Resident and recently got an Offer from KSA company giving Family Status. I would like to discuss that, in my Passport (PP)address is different and in my Wife's and Daughter's PP adress is different. Will there be any problem while arranging visa for my family.My Visa process is going on and after going their I or Company will arrange for their visa.
Sachin
sachin140278@gmail.com

Expatguru said...

Sachin,

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.