Friday, August 1, 2008

Saudi Expatriate Expectations

Ever since this blog was started, it has become extremely popular among all the potential and existing expatriates by the day. This just shows the dearth of reliable information available for expatriates in Saudi Arabia.

I have been frequently getting comments from a few people voicing their opinions about working in Saudi Arabia. My attention is particularly drawn towards those which are rather negative, because it reflects either a lack of awareness or probably contempt or maybe a combination of both.

I have already covered in my earlier post about this, but would like to now emphasize a few points here. Before coming to Saudi Arabia, you must first decide what you need. Are you looking for a cozy life, lots of fun and frolic, alcohol, entertainment and enjoyment, etc? Sorry Sir, this is not the place for you. To put it bluntly, expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are here for tax-free money, nothing more nothing less!

There are a lot of blogs which paint quite a negative picture about this country and a lot more potential expatriates who have a pre-conceived mindset that this place is nothing short of hell on earth. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on anything. I have seen some expatriates, who at the end of the day, have nothing but a mouthful of abuse on the system. Agreed, it is not a bed of roses here, but who compels you to work here if you are not comfortable? You chose to come here because you wanted the money, no one invited you with a red carpet. One cannot enjoy the tax-free money and at the same time complain about the system and the society where one works. It's either take it or leave it.

I have my own opinions too, like everyone else, but they would never appear in public domain in this blog. The intention of this blog is just to provide factual, reliable and accurate information to potential expatriates planning to work in Saudi Arabia, which is what makes it so popular.

Working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge, no doubt, but it is purely up to you to make your world lovable. In certain ways, all of us are kind of mercenaries, working for money. So, love for your job is the last thing which should come to your mind. You are hired here because you are needed here, not because someone adores you. The day you are perceived as of no use to your sponsor, you are out of this place, so you must be ready to accept this fact. Love your work, not your job, and don't complain, because it's of no use anyway. Realize that every day you spend here is a day you have earned money, but that doesn't mean that it will be perpetual, because the only thing certain in Saudi Arabia is uncertainty!


Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,
Truely said.Having worked here for 10 years, the words are absolutely true.KSA is a place to earn money and moreover you live in peace too!!!
Appreciate for an excellent blog.Keep it up & keep writing!!

Ram said...

Hi Expatguru,

During 2nd week of June 08, i asked you about the attestation procedures, and you did mention the same, and to be done in Delhi, but the rules have changed now and the latest one is-
1) Degree Authentication is done by respective state where the degree is issued, for me it was chennai, it takes almost 3 weeks to get this procedure complete in some cases even 5-6 weeks, one has to follow up almost daily with them after 2 weeks of submission
- Application form, 1 rs Court Fees, copy of passport & copy of offer letter is enough
2)Then the certificates has to be sent to MEA- Delhi where it would take just 1 hour, anybody on behalf of the candidate can do it, no ID proof required and no charges also
3) once both the above are completed one has to submit to saudi consulate which is again full of uncertainity, they do it within a day and some time it they dont accept for weeks together

Thats the latest update on attestation!!!

Now i'm unfortunatelt back on Visit visa and again facing full lot of trouble, but this time i have got 90 days visa, but i cant bring my family, the sponsor say that the quota for visa is full and can expect anytime in oct or nov, then i need to get out to Bahrain or India to get work permit but again unsure of work permit this year. i strongly feel that one must come here on work permit than on visit visa and get with all the hassles
can you please tell me anyway i can transfer the money home while on visit visa?

Also can you throw light on probablity of getting work permit at the earliest when we have Ramadan and Haj on the horizon?

Thank you & Regards

Expatguru said...


First of all I would like to thank you for updating me and all the readers about the latest changes to the attestation procedure. Once I get some more details, I will update my earlier post accordingly.

I feel sorry for you that you cannot bring your family as you are on visit visa. However, you must surely have known that one cannot bring one's family when one is a visitor to the kingdom.

Strictly speaking, what you are doing is illegal, Bala, because people on visit visa are not supposed to work. If caught, you should consider yourself lucky if you are deported as usually people are jailed for a certain period. Having said this, I would also like to add that visit visa has its own drawbacks - you do not have an iqama and so can neither have a driving license nor can you open a bank account. The only way to send money home is to request any of your friends to do it for you, because these days, even for those with an iqama, you have to get the same verified at the bank before you can send money.

Finally, the chances of any government activity, leave alone work permit, during Ramadan and Haj are just nil. By the way, is your sponsor really serious in helping you bring your family? All this talk of quota being full seems unbelievable. If your sponsor has enough "Wasta" (influence), everything is possible. Even if what he says is true, then you do not have any chance of bring your family before 29th December, 2008, when the new Islamic year begins.

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,

Thanks for sharing the valuable information. I want to know about the final-exit visa process. That means, what are the pre-requisites for getting the same, its validity period and the precautions to be taken for a hassle free exit from Kingdom.

Thanks in advance.

Expatguru said...


I will write a detailed post on this soon.

Anonymous said...

Hello Guru!

I've been here for five months and have to say that you are quite correct in your descriptions. Doubly so entitling it 'Expat Expectations'. I have found that a large proportion of the problems I have encountered hear have been because no-one is willing to say publically that there are such delays in getting things done i.e. Telling the previous commenter that it is unlikely they will get anything done before end of the year, and that his sponsor may be selling him a line with the 'full quotas' explanation.

I can testify though, that once these iqama matters are sorted, life can be very good. I agree with you totally that you make your own happiness, and I get very disappointed with expats who spit venom yet take the money. I have had bad days here but the good days are plenty and my debts and mortgage are reducing. I know it may all end when I have served my purpose, so I'm making hay while the sun shines.

I do have a personal safty question though: Other than follow the basic steps you have previously mentioned, what other precautions can I take? I guess a previous questioner was asking about exit visa process because they are devising an emergency exit strategy??? Any practical tips on this appreciated also, as would any organisations I could contact to find out what the current threats really are. There are a lot of whispers about this sort of thing, the vast majority nonsense I'm sure, mostly by the venon spitters I'd guess, but that's humans for you.

I would actually be interested to know how you felt about the situation, I'm not sure how I'd feel if people were asking me these things in my home country.

Expatguru said...


Thanks for your comments.

As mentioned earlier, I would be shortly writing a separate post on exit formalities. I would attribute most of the loose talk and rumour mongering to a certain degree of insecurity of a few individuals. They feel that if they are out of a job, then the world would come to an end! This is my eleventh year in the kingdom, and let me tell you frankly, even if I spend the next 20 years here, I am at the pleasure of my sponsor who can send me on exit with 30 days notice at any point of time. Any expatriate working in Saudi Arabia must definitely realize this.

When I first got a job offer from Saudi, I too was equally confused with so much of (mis)information around! I approached one of my seniors who had spent over a decade here and asked him whether people's heads were chopped off in Saudi. He reassured me that it was only for hard-core criminals and drug addicts, not for normal people!

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to fill the gap of misinformation and to provide an honest and straight forward answer. Blogging is only my hobby, not my profession, and I have my own job. I do not get paid for writing here, unless people click on the ads around this blog. Of course, I never ask anyone to do so, and many times I have even thought of withdrawing this blog (too much time and effort, no benefit to me). However, the good feeling that someone unknown person is getting benefitted, some families are being united, just makes me keep going on.

On a parting note, I do feel irritated when people simply copy parts of this blog, paste it in an email and forward it, without even mentioning where it was taken from. I have myself received such mails several times. Some others have copied and pasted it in their own blogs, as if they were the authors! Fortunately, Copyscape helps me track down such people and block their sites. Oops, this comment seems to be as big as a post, so I better stop right here! Thanks for your views.

Anonymous said...

dear expatguru,
I have been working for one year in riyad. I went on for an emergency vacation. I was granted 22 days. But I was not able to return back after 22 days. Its about 3 months already and the validity of my re-entry visa is only good for 3 months. I was afraid that my visa is expired already. So I tried to look for another employer. I acquired a new passport and given another visa from a new employer. I am now scheduled to return to riyad with another passport and visa for a new employer. My question is will there be no problem of re entering again? Because my old emplyer did not know that I have already a new employer. Please help me. please give your legal opinion...

Expatguru said...


You want my "legal opinion". First of all let me tell you that I am not a legal expert. I have never claimed to be one.

What I can tell you for sure is that you are asking for trouble if you come to Saudi Arabia again, that too within such a short time. Your case is messed up too much. For whatever reason, you have chosen not to return and then did a completely illegal thing of taking another passport. Your new prospective employer obviously does not know about this background, and worst of all you want to work in Riyadh, the same city you were working earlier. Friend, something is definitely not okay. I am not sure whether you had given your fingerprints while you were in the kingdom. In any case, if you are caught, you will be jailed immediately and then deported for 2 crimes - a) for ditching your present employer and joining another and b) for coming on another passport, which is an extremely serious criminal offence, in this age of global terrorism. You might as well stay in your home country and not even try to go out, so as to stay out of trouble.

Ahamed said...

It's very dangerous !!! If jawazat caught him with new passport and new identity, and got his old record, the punishment ranges from min 2 to max 6 years of jail plus permanent ban. I think it's better not to do so. Recently, I saw such a incident and the person in jail now. I don't know when he will be deported.

Anonymous said...


I was working in KSA in 2006 i went on a exit re-entry in June 2006 and did not return back , the exit rentry was valid until Aug 2006.During this period of 2006 and 2007 and 2008 i was working in UAE and Qatar and now i have a new passport issued from Indian Embassy Qatar.
I now have an offer from KSA , can i enter the kingdom without an NOC from my previous employer.

Expatguru said...


You are free to return to the kingdom for employment.

Sundar said...

Dear Expatguru,

It was very nice and true of what all you have penned in your blog posts. I am a prospective entrant to KSA. I am a doctor and have been offered a job by MOH. I wish to take my family (Wife and kid) along with me right at the beginning itself. Because that was what my agent advised, as becuase taking a family visa later would be tedious and a big procedure.

In fact I have sent my documents and those of my family to the Saudi embassy in Delhi thro my agent. As I am travelling to KSA for the 1st time please clarify my following doubts.
1.Is it possible for me to travel with my family right at the first time.
2.What would be your opinion about MOH as an employer.
3.If I am allowed to travel with my family what all preparations do I need to make.
4. Do I need to translate all my documents in arabic or any particular documents only?

Thanks very much indeed in advance.

Expatguru said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments. First of all, let me make it clear that what the agent told you is rubbish. You simply cannot bring your family here right at the beginning. You first need to arrive in the kingdom, and your iqama (residence permit) has to be processed. Without an iqama, it is impossible to bring one's family here. Also remember that you need time to settle down, and so does your employer during the probationary period. This is why normally the iqama is processed at the end of the probationary period.

MOH is a permanent government job. It is better if you ask any of your friends about the salary and the work atmosphere as I am unaware of the same.

Regarding the formalities of bringing your family, please click on the dropdown menu in the calendar on the right hand side of this blog and choose the appropriate topic which I have written (the topic will appear below when choose a particular month). Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,
I was working in Riyadh in a company in 2003. And In one that case I get sentenced for 45 days and 80 jilda. I went back to Riyadh through another passport. But this time I scaped from my job to come back to my native. When I went to jawazat they told that, your finger prints are here and they kept me in jail for 6 months without knowing that I have been escaped from my employer.
In Oct 2007, I deported to india. And Now I accept my guilty and want to come back Saudi Arabia on duplicate copy of passport which I left there.
How is it possible? Please help for sake of my childs.

Expatguru said...


Just forget about returning to Saudi. Once deported, you can never ever return to the kingdom. Try to find employment somewhere else in an honest way.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

Thank for providing such a valuable information.
I have recently got job in Saudi local contractor as an Electrical Engineer. I have received contract written in English and have all facilities as per Saudi laws. Is it necessary that the contract should be in Arabic. Will the employer infringe the contract that is in English.

Your guidance would mean alot to me.

Best Regards,

Expatguru said...


It all depends on the reputation of the employer. Enquire about his credentials well before taking up the offer. It doesn't matter whether the contract is in English or Arabic. After arrival here, you will have to undergo one more medical test and only after clearing this, will your iqama be processed.

K. Shravanth Gudivada said...

Please can u brief types of contract in hiring an employee for saudi / riyadh and the details of visa of each type of contract. Like :

type of contract- Type of Visa
B Architect/engg/etc.

Please kindly give us ur valuble suggestions which will be a very help full for others. as this blog contains a very vaulbe information for any new member to enter in to Saudi.

With regards

Expatguru said...


Please go through each and every single post in this blog including the readers' comments. That is itself more than adequate to cover your requirements. Choose the archives from the dropdown menu given on the right hand side of this blog.