There are many exchanges and banks from where you can send your hard-earned money home. There are no restrictions on remittances from Saudi Arabia in the sense that 100% of your earnings can be repatriated back home.
However, not all the banks are popular. The exchange rates, particularly in some of the banks, are extremely unfavorable. To top it all, there is no such thing called a customer service or an ombudsman in these banks. Some of the staff in such banks have nothing but utter contempt for the expatriates, as though they are here as bonded slaves, going by the way they treat them. Naturally, these banks are the ones having the least expat crowd. An absolute textbook case of how not to run a business!
On the contrary, some of the exchange houses work 12 hours a day, Saturday through Friday, except for prayer times and on Friday mornings. There are several counters and the staff are manned by expatriates too, who are courteous and understand the problems of fellow-expats. The exchange houses have, what is known as 'Correspondent Bank' arrangement. What it means is that when you send money through these exchanges and you have a bank account back home in one of these correspondent banks, money transfer is immediate.
Usually there are two ways of sending money home. The first one is the traditional Demand Draft whereby you pay the money plus the commission of the exchange house and get a Draft. Make sure that the draft is signed by atleast two authorized officers of the bank for amounts greater than SR10000 (this is usually the norm unless confirmed by the bank that it is not required). I have personally seen people walking off with drafts, without having even one signature. People simply assume that they are signed when they are issued, so do make sure to double check before you leave the counter, because without a signature these drafts will not be honored back home.
The other method, and more convenient one, is money transfer direct into your account. The commission for MT is a bit higher, but is very safe and almost instantaneous. My personal favorite is the MT.
A word of caution is not out of place. Some of the expats have a habit of accumulating their savings over a couple of months or more and send them as a lumpsum amount. When the amount becomes big (typically amounts above SR20000), questions are raised. You will have to take the printout of your bank statement with the rubber stamp of the bank and also the mini statement from the ATM machine of your bank. As per the new rules of Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), these will be verified by all banks and exchanges as a measure of safety against money laundering, so it is better to go prepared with these documents to save your time. Also, SAMA has now made it mandatory for all banks and exchanges to have the iqamas and the passport copies verified for everyone, particularly when any of these documents are renewed.
The exchange houses are not complaint-free, though. The most common problem with these exchanges happens in case of Demand Drafts. As long as things go smooth, there is no problem. The moment a Draft is struck up somewhere, then there is a long-drawn process before you can get your money back. This is why it is so important to keep the counterfoil of the form which you have filled in, till you are sure that the money has indeed reached your account back home.
You must take care to fill in all the details correctly in the form. Afterall, it is your own money and you do not want to throw it away. You must know the email address / phone number of your bank back home. This is to ensure that in case of a delay or non-delivery of your money, you can immediately mail them and sort things out.
Finally, as most expats do, it is advisable to keep multiple accounts in the various exchanges. All it needs is a photocopy of your iqama and that of your passport with your company's stamp to open an account. This is just to ensure that you get the best exchange rate available. Remember, the exchange rate you see in the newspapers is not what is offered by the banks / exchange houses.
You will find different rates in different exchange houses, all in the same road, so you have to be alert, keep your eyes and ears open and strike the best bargain. After all, the happiest day in the life of an expatriate is the day his hard-earned money goes into his bank account :)