Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Used cars in Saudi Arabia

Working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge, but driving in Saudi Arabia, as mentioned in my earlier post, is a bigger challenge! It is extremely difficult for an expatriate, particularly those with their families, to be without a car. Public transport is scarce in Saudi Arabia and taxis may not always be convenient or available when you need them :-(
Usually, expatriates prefer to buy used cars from other expatriates, particularly those who plan to stay for the short-term. This would be by either word of mouth or through advertisements placed in supermarkets or malls.
Of course, new cars are also available, but they don't come cheap. If you are going to pay for the car from your pocket, (i.e., not company-owned car), I would advise you to go in for a used one, preferably one that is less than 5 years old. With the current problem of traffic jams and parking space in cities, a smaller car would be preferable. Used cars can also be bought from auction yards, but since you may not always know the previous owner, it would be purely your luck if you get a good car. In any case, the procedure is the same.
The car has to be kept in custody of an "exhibition" ( a place where trading is normally done) for 24 hours. The owner of the exhibition is a government-registered broker to whom the buyer has to pay a commission as transaction charges. The broker transfers the ownership of the car from the previous owner to you, after the mandatory 24-hour lock-in period is over.
You would be given two cards. One is the ownership card which proves that you are the owner of the vehicle. The other is the registration card, called Istemara :-B You must carry these two cards with you, along with your insurance card and original iqama, all the time. Believe me, the wallet of an expatriate working in Saudi Arabia has more paper than money /:-)
And by the way, if you didn't know, women are not allowed to drive cars in the kingdom and expatriates are not allowed to own pickup vehicles.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bringing dependent parent into Saudi Arabia

I started this blog just as a hobby. However, at one point of time, work pressure and time constraints led me to stop writing. I have since been inundated with requests to keep blogging, which just proves how much scarce information is for potential expatriates planning to work in Saudi Arabia 8- So, I have decided to start writing again :) , although I would use discretion in answering questions from people.

One of the most popular posts in this blog seems to be that of bringing family on a visit visa to Saudi Arabia. I have been getting queries from people, particularly those planning to work in Saudi Arabia, whether it was possible to bring their dependent parents permanently to the kingdom. Answering this question could be quite tricky :-?

First of all, you need to convince your own sponsor that your parent(s) are completely dependent on you and that you would like to bring them at your cost into the kingdom on a permanent visa. The problem is that there is an unwritten rule which defines "family" as simply one's wife / husband and children. This definition does not include brother / sister / parents even though they may be your blood relatives ~X(
Once your sponsor has no objection to bringing your dependent parent, it would have to follow the same route as how your spouse / children are brought into KSA normally.
Whether the application would be approved or not is a big question, and it all depends on the mood of the officer who is approving the visa. The likelihood of bringing your parents permanently, if at all, is more bright to bring one's mother rather than father on a permanent visa. The logic (?) behind this is that there is a strong suspicion that the dependent father may start working illegally! True, this logic may sound as absolute rubbish, but that's how the system is #-o . As for bringing your dependent brother or sister, you can simply forget it.
Of course, it is much easier to bring one's parents on a visit visa. The procedure has been covered here earlier .
What I would advise the potential expatriate thinking of working in Saudi Arabia is to take into consideration all the above, before planning to relocate into the kingdom. Hope this post has been of some help to you.