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Expat Workers Treatment By Saudis; How Expats are treated in Saudi Arabia

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Tony worked across Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Al-Khobar, and Jeddah, where he met his wife, who has worked there for 12 years.

How are Expats Treated by Saudi People

If you asked me "how are expat workers treated by Saudis?" as a westerner working in Saudi Arabia (I am from the UK and I look and dress like a “typical” westerner) I will tell you that I am treated in general with respect and in most cases people are very friendly in the workplace and in public. However, this can be very different for expats working in Saudi Arabia from less affluent countries.

This hub will go through how I personally have been treated in Saudi Arabia and what I have seen in the way of abuse towards other expats here in Saudi Arabia. I will also recount stories told to me by my wife and other expats with regards to their treatment at the hands of their Saudi employers.

As a Westerner, my general experience is that the treatment of expats in Saudi Arabia depends very much on the Saudis educational level and ability to speak English, the higher the level the better the Saudi will treat you. A Saudi that speaks no English is likely at best to just ignore you.

I have on the whole found most Saudi’s very pleasant towards me and have been invited to parties, events and weddings just because I am a westerner, often by people I have only just met. Something that has rarely happened in the west.

How Saudi Class affects how they treat you

There appears to be a number of different levels, both socially and educationally within the Saudi society in much the same way that there is in any country, each group treating you very differently.

I have had little experience of mixing with the true “upper” classes here, having never met any big sheikhs or princes or the like so I have no idea myself only what others have told me. Again, these upper levels of society treat us westerners in much the same way that we treat each other if not far more generously.

The lower end of the scale, however are a very mixed bunch, varying from very aggressive arrogant, idiots to shy, retiring non English speakers, the latter generally avoiding any sort of contact at all. The “arrogant idiots” are a strange bunch, they look at you and treat you as if you are a low life as a non-Saudi and non-Muslim, I have never seen any abuse or shout at a westerner, however god help any Indian, Filipino or other similar nationality that should be in sight when they get pissed off, which they often do!

Treatment of Expats in the Saudi Workplace

Treatment of Expat workers in Saudi Arabia

Treatment of Expat workers in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Treatment of expat workers

Saudi Treatment of expat workers

Treatment of Expats in the Saudi Workplace

I guess that the bulk of the Saudis that I mix with on a day to day basis whilst working for a company in Saudi Arabia are on the whole quite well educated, having degrees, well traveled overseas, with a good grasp of the English language. In my experience these people act and behave in much the same way as any westerner in most situations, they are however very reserved in general with regard to their behavior in public and try to maintain a very decent front, but more about this a little later in my ramblings.

Treatment of Expats that have come from countries other than western countries is however far from ideal. I have witnessed verbal and physical abuse of staff from India, the Philippines and other countries that would have resulted in people being fired and staff making huge claims for compensation in the west. However, many Saudi's show no tolerance or respect for workers from these countries.

Treatment of Women

Discrimination against the lower classes of society

Discrimination against the lower classes of society

General Saudi Behavior

I guess the best way to describe the average Saudi is as a petulant teenager, they are on the whole mostly happy and friendly, however, take away their toys, tell them no, or fail to give them attention when they want it and you are going to get a tantrum.

They have no patience, jump any queue that does not contain other Saudis, interrupt everyone regardless, expect instant service and complain loudly and bitterly if they don’t receive it. I have seen them shout at shop assistants, even strike them and have to be restrained and treat maids and drivers in much the same way (I have never seen a woman strike anyone but have seen a few shouting at “lesser” races and at each other on several occasions!)

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some of the best, most compassionate behavior from the Saudis as well as the worst! I have been offered help by almost every driver passing when I have had to change a tire, and seen Saudis handing money, food, drinks and other gifts to beggars and lowly paid street workers (no, not that kind of street worker, I mean the Indians and Bengalis that are employed sweeping the streets.)

How Saudis Treat Women

Discrimination in Saudi Society

The society is strange with regard to racism, the Saudis are a very mixed race varying from almost western “white” to African “Black” and all treat each other equally as much as I can tell, most wear traditional dress, the long white Thobe, and they treat each other with respect in most cases. However, they treat other races and non-Muslims very differently, other Arabs are generally OK, but still not treated with the same respect, Westerners are tolerated and treated to their face with respect, other races such as Pakistanis, Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians and the like being treated like 3rd and in some cases 4th class citizens publicly!

Basically, they practice discrimination, but it is based very much on social class, many of the Saudis driving the biggest and most expensive car they can and acting as the wealthiest man in town even if they have nothing else.

How non-western Expatriates are Treated

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Results of Saudi Abuse

How are non-western Expats treated by Saudis?

If you asked me as a non-westerner "how are expat workers treated by Saudis?" then I would be giving a very different answer to the one above.

Most of the Expatriates working here are from countries like India, Pakistan, Philippines and Indonesia; they work in mostly manual or domestic jobs and are paid a very low wage (although still very good for where they came from).

They generally have to put up with verbal and physical abuse in the workplace, either industrial or domestic. Some of the treatment is truly horrific, there is a case of a maid who had nails and pins inserted into her whenever she upset her employer as her punishment! I know many maids and drivers who have run away from violent, abusive employers as well as various other general laborers who cannot bear their working conditions.

A large number of Saudis treat these poor expat workers in Saudi Arabia as animals, I have witnessed both physical and verbal abuse of workers here, something I have never seen in any other country! The treatment of expats in Saudi Arabia for these poor souls is on the whole terrible and I have found it very difficult to bite my tongue at times.

So difficult to bite my tongue that when a group of Saudis tried to convert me to the Muslim faith I used this as an example of their totally hypocritical behavior which they had to agree with and were totally unable to defend.

Problems Mixing with Saudis

As an expat working in Saudi Arabia I have had only three minor incidents in my three years here, none of which were serious. I was spat at from a moving car by a group of Saudi youths (around the 20’s mark I would guess), and I had another group of bored Saudi Youth overtake me whilst driving only to open both passenger doors on my side and the youths to hang out of the car shouting at me in Arabic and making gestures – they soon jumped back in when I put my foot on the accelerator and drove at them (Probably not a good move on my part!)

The worst by far was a driving incident (nothing to do with my nationality) which I include in the hub about traveling by car in Saudi Arabia.

On the whole I feel safer and more comfortable walking the streets here in Saudi Arabia than most other countries that I have visited or lived. I have had more problems walking in the streets in major cities in the west than I have here and felt far less comfortable!

However, I would still not like to be a non-westerner or a woman walking alone here in Saudi Arabia. A woman in my mind should never walk about on her own in Saudi Arabia, read the hub on Saudi Arabia rules, regulations and laws for examples.

Treatment of Expat Women in Saudi Arabia

If you are a woman and coming to KSA to work or be with your family, then this article about Saudi Arabia Women will help to keep you informed. Just remember that once you are in Saudi Arabia the only way you can leave is with your husband's permission or your sponsor.

If you are a western woman you will almost certainly be treated well within the workplace and even publicly; although you may get hit on by Saudi men quite aggressively if you find yourself alone with them; something that you should avoid under any circumstances.

If you are from a less than wealthy country, beware; many Saudi men will see you as a fair target and will treat you as an object for their sexual gratification (Many Saudi men believe it is their god given right to have sex with their slaves!). I have met many runaway maids and other workers whose main reason for running away is due to physical and sexual abuse including rape at the hands of their sponsors. I have known women walking alone in the street be grabbed by Saudi men in broad daylight. Even my own wife was dragged into a car outside a souk (market) and was only let out of the car when she started slicing up the seats with the knife she carried for protection! Her friend was grabbed outside our building in a well to do area of Jeddah and managed to escape with significant bruising; the police refused to do anything as she was "only a Filipino!"

If you do come to Saudi Arabia; NEVER walk the streets alone, never allow yourself to be alone with Saudi men. Always follow the rules to the letter!

Treatment of Western Expats in Saudi Arabia

Treatment of Non-Western Expats in Saudi Arabia

Get Better Treatment in Saudi Arabia

The better you understand the country and the people, the better prepared you will be to look after yourself and avoid some of the many problems that you are likely to face. Dealing with Saudis is not easy and they are prone to behave very badly; the polls above demonstrate this very well!

You can get a huge amount of information by reading my whole series of hubs and information about Saudi Arabia by following this link about being an expat in Saudi. The very best of luck in working in this wonderful country.

Expat Workers Badly Treated by Employers

How to survive working in KSA

If you need to learn more about living and working in this country read my hub about being an expatriate in the kingdom so that you get a better understanding of how you are going to be treated by Saudis and everything else about living in KSA.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 25, 2016:


Yes comments are still being replied to.

If I were you I would read all of the related posts and comments as you may find some issues that will worry you. I personally know many Filipinas that have gotten involved with Saudis and it is unlikely to end well. I also have many Saudi guy friends that come to the Philippines, and I am sorry to say that they are definitely not looking for a long term relationship; but they have got the women lined up ready for them when they arrive here.

I get emails most weeks from at least one woman who has gone there to Saudi Arabia with their new husband, had kids, and then found that they have no rights over their kids, cannot leave the country, and a host of other issues. KSA is not the Philippines - it is very different. You will have zero freedom there compared to what you have here.

Think very hard before you take anything further and I would certainly nor recommend moving there to be with him, something that you would have to marry him to do.

Asdfghj on November 24, 2016:

Hi everyone, wow the comments are like posted 6 years ago and I don't even know if someone would still reply me here but I'm gonna post this anyway. I'm not a worker from Saudi but I do have a boyfriend who lives in ksa. I'm fully aware that boyfriend girlfriend is not a thing for Arabians so we are keeping our long distance relationship in discreet from his friends and family except for one of his best mate. Well I got scared with what I just read, that they treat people who came from the Philippines harshly, I'm a part Spanish, Fil and half Jap so I'm pretty scared I might have the same treatment like what other Filipinos are experiencing there. I know it's off topic but can I ask you guys something? Is it normal for a Saudi man to be very controlling, and has a hard-to-reach pride? He doesn't want me to work as well since I'm under "his protection" as what he said. Hoping I could get an answer from you bros and sis.

Sohail H on March 30, 2016:

I am in Canada since 12 years but still trying to go saudiarabia ... I believed everyone has own preference

Rashid Ahmed on December 24, 2015:

I am a 60 year old living in the UK , i arrived in the UK as a child in 1960,I can still remember the beating and humiliation I suffered in the east London mosque. ( I was made to go there by my father to study quran) well, I never did study anything, all I remember is the cruelty. And as I grew up I learned that man is a hypocrite, whatever religion he be. I have tried to understand religion, especially in my darkest hour of need,but I feel nothing. All I see is man's greed. I don't need Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, or anyone else to preach to me right from wrong. All religions have used religion as a tool to enslave and force weaker fellow humans to submit to their tyranny. Why would I want to be a member of a club, which arrogantly claims to be, God's chosen people? Or one that made vast profits, trading in human slavery, yes you! Muslims. Christians. Jews. All guilty. Christians, your hypocrisy is breath taking, while you praise your jesus and sing your hymns, you casually drop bombs on innocent civilians. Muslims, you preach to the world about your humanity, yet you don't know the meaning of the word. Jews, you have spread mischief since the beginning of time. As for you Hindus, you are as dumb as animals, as you worship mere animals. And continue to have in place a cast system, which denies millions of fellow humans equality.As for you, Saudi Arabians. The guardians of Islam. You should see the writing on the wall. You have found great wealth without labour. Soon it will disapear, along with your oil.You will be back to wandering in the desert. Why is my name Rashid? That was given to me by my parents.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 01, 2015:

Hi Cassy,

Read the article above and follow the links to all of the other articles where you can find more in depth information on working there in Saudi Arabia. Many expats that go there and just follow the rules and just do their work have few if any problems. Hopefully you will be fine. Just try to talk with other people from your home country that also work in the company that you are applying to so that you can find out more.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 01, 2015:

Hi Sorbet,

Unfortunately in my experience most Saudi workers that I have met just don't want to do anything and many of the employers will just turn a blind eye. Most employers that I know there, even Saudis, would rather employ an expat for any job as they know that they will get a days work done. This is not an exaggeration, if it were then I am sure more Saudi business owners would be employing more and more Saudis rather than having to be forced to hire them through legislation. The country has to legislate and force businesses to hire the local population; what does this say about the work ethics of the locals and the attitude of the Saudis that own those businesses.

The first company that I worked for had a group of Saudi managers that were responsible for all of the different departments, these managers - if they came in - would arrive after 10am, go to their offices and watch TV or play on their playstations openly, then go for lunch on expenses and not return in the afternoon. In another company they had a group of Saudi employees that were hired to meet the rules for employing Saudis. These Saudi employees turned up only on pay day as the company found that it was easier and more productive to not have them in the company at all!

Yes most expat workers come there for money and enjoy tax free salaries. But then many are exploited, abused and so on. But then those that have come from poor countries have little choice if they want to better their lives. Yes this is the fault of their respective governments and I don't disagree with that. But many Saudis will then treat them terribly, far worse than many would treat an animal. The majority of the workers are not enjoying high salaries, many are paid only a fraction over what they would get back home and end up living in slum areas or sharing several families to a single apartment. Many find that they are not paid or that they are denied the benefits that they were promised.

You can sit there and blame the immigrants but they are not the ones to blame. They are there because of your government, your business owners, and the attitude of many of the Saudi people. Address those issues not blame the poor immigrants that are there trying just to survive. Look to the true cause of the problem - not just blame anyone that points out the issues that you have.

cassy0909 on December 01, 2015:

I am busy applying to work in saudi. So thus far I am reading up about the way it works in saudi.. I Gt am given the chose to choose on where I would like to work.

So far jeddha appears to be the more friendly expat place to be. BT what happens if I decided I want to leave in 34 months of working their?

I am so scared of saudi. The laws and so scared I get accused of something By someone and get thrown In jail.. how safe are the compounds?

we-need-change on November 27, 2015:

i had tears in my eyes while reading this and going through some comments and i don't tear easily, it does kinda hurts that there are some truth to this.

i am a Saudi girl and i understand a lot of this i mean the discrimination against certain workers (like Indians and others you stated) and westerns valued in a ridiculous way just because of the race (wow its Americans) without knowing the actual person or anything..

it is funny because as Muslims we are supposed to treat everyone equally, no one is better than anyone regardless of race, wealth,looks..ect .

i use a public school bus to commute to school and one day we got hit from the back by a car who a kid in 6TH GRADE been driving, many girls in the bus blamed the driver and practically told the kid to run , call his older brother to pretend that he was the one driving then they would all go and blame the Pakistani bus driver. people.. really? no.

there are many many problems we have to discuss i really really want us to be a better country, a country that actually practice Islam not make it a facade. when you ask someone why they doing something wrong with knowing it being wrong they put that stupid grin and be like har har im just a bad Muslim.

what piss me off is the education, its screwing us here from a young age, and traditions ugh traditions. these are the bad roots hat need to be changed. i had conversations with people with really closed mindsets all because of bad early teaching and old traditions. traditions that should STOP.

regardless of the corruption of the country itself the people normally and generally are very nice and light hearted they are fun generous and all and i will continue living here because i love it there are just things that need to be changed.. things that some people need to realize its wrong.

UKmitra on October 25, 2015:

Hey what a wonderful article and i can see you won't get votes from any Saudi's. But most of what you wrote is true.

But I do see some hope with falling oil price and govt pushing saudization and more educated coming in market place, i really hope things will changes.

As for other racist behavior, its everywhere. Its in my country India, in my state Maharashtra and its in my city Mumbai.

And I know, all true Gods Children know how to fight it and I know the Good Lord is all watching.


Fatima on July 05, 2015:

Add Your Comment..I'm also an expat and I live in Saudi

I chose to move here and I'm sure we all agree we in EARTH so it's not HEAVEN and yes in every place we will find Good people , bad people crazy people

Strange how the" Westerners" talk of discrimination when they are the Architects of Apartheid !! Yes the Architects of the most horrible discrimination system

Secondly in the Middle East at least you can get a Job in K sA ask the Palestinians whose homes have been stolen by the Israelsi or the Ethiopians who were born in Israel or even any Black or Non wrote what treatment they receive in Western Countries

I was walking down the street near my hotel in Berlin when I heard the click of a shoes and " passport please " barked at me !!! I was a paying tourist and the plainclothes man insisted he was from immigration and needed to see my documents as I was in hijab

I was affronted and refused to comply with his demand and this. Showed me that Racism is Alive and Kicking in all these so called civilized states

So if one does not want to stay and work in Saudi please feel free to go elsewhere as Stirring trouble is not welcome ( yes Not welcome )

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 27, 2015:

Hi Micheal,

I don't think you like Saudis or working in Saudi Arabia at all..

Michael on June 27, 2015:

Truth hurts, huh? Original Saudi, lol. You people are LUCKY that I am here. That is the real truth. I know the truth about everything, even Islam. The truth that you Saudis are too dumb to understand. You quote obscure passages about Islam, when you don't even understand it. You people refuse to say "audhu billah mina sheytan iregime". Why? It is the whole foundation of Islam. You don't curse satan because........You can't fool the real divine......When you pray to Makkah-Allah, do you even know who you are praying to? Or too dumb to figure that out too? You pray to Mi Cha El. And we both know why no Muslims are allowed to have this name, except one coincidentally. You people are disloyal Abduls. I see right through you. The qiyammah as you call it, or the safak as we call it, won't pass overe saudi, but more like right through it. Making deals with satan won't stop this earth's end. It just made you fall from grace in the eyes of the real divine.

Michael on June 27, 2015:

To Original Saudi. You should know this. The demand for oil will plummet by 2020. The U.S. doesn't need Saudi oil anymore. Whatever the U.S. does, the world follows. Saudi will be peddling oil at 2 for 1, $10 dollar a barrel prices. Saudi could try to get into solar, but that market won't be dominated by Saudi. Africa can produce far more solar than Saudi could. You morons should realize that your way of life is coming to an end. It's part of the qiyammah actually, since you only understand things in religious terms. And if you think that the leverage you have with illuminati will still hold after oil, think again. Illuminati will drop Saudis like a 2 dollar whore when it is no longer profitable. America already dropped Saudi, as current events have shown. You think that loyalty can be bought, wrong. Saudi is surrounded by enemies, even your own citizens are you enemies. Do you actually think Turks will run to protect Saudis? Maybe Iranians? Or Pakis? Or Israel? Or France? Or Russia? Or England? You Saudi morons can't see the truth. Just because Muslims pray towards Makkah doesn't mean they care about Saudis. And your bought alliances are all unravelling. America was the only thing protecting you idiots. But America has no interest in protecting Saudis anymore. Like your King Faisal said, you lived on dates and milk and hou will go back to them.

Michael on June 26, 2015:

And something else. Saudis have no right to lecture anyone about Islam nor do they have any right to control Makkah and Madinah. Saudis bring women here to use as sex slaves. They even specialize in child and sex slavery throughout the world. They destroyed what Islam is and was supposed to be. Bahrain was created just so they could bang whores, do drugs and drink. All of their wealth is actually America's money. Before, I could tolerate Saudi idiocy. What I saw in Makkah during Ramadan made me take being Muslim less seriously. Saudis are total morons. And something else. You Saudis treat indians and pakistanis like trash, most of time rightly so. But you Saudis should look in the mirror, because you guys straight up look, smell and act just like them. I actually am pretty certain that saudis are the descendants of indians that migrated here 2000 years ago. This explains their pagan past pre-Islam, and their total resemblance to indians, along with their preference to bring so many pakis and indians and the like here.

Michael on June 26, 2015:

And something else. Saudis are totally useless and moronic people. Even as a Muslim, living here is like living in an open air prison, or a desert hell. The country is rich, but totally under-developed. There are no taxes, but regular stuff costs 3 times as much as in the west. If I could make the same money teaching english in Turkey, I would leave. Saudi Arabia is only good for working and saving money. There is no life, happiness, entertainment, or anything interesting here, except for Makkah and Madinah if you're Muslim. Also, if you come here, there is a huge cultural and population idiocy factor that you have to deal with. Like the visa and residency procedures. Also like the illiterate and totally dumb people that all want to be taxi drivers. Or the ones that think they are superior because of oil. You basically get paid a lot to babysit idiots and make sure they don't trip over themselves. I have never met dumber people in my life than Saudis. They also make Islam look so horrible.

Michael on June 26, 2015:

I first came here because I am a Muslim from America and wanted to live and work in the "holy land". Now, I am just here for the money. That's all.

tony on March 18, 2015:

Im a filipino.. A reverted in islam...

Its my dream to step on saudi arabia...

Alhamdulillah... I got here...

What u said are mostly correct...

U westerners are treated more better than the likes of me...

I agreed to u that saudi must improve the way they treat us expats esp. The maids and drivers...

We are working the best as we could and still paid less amount.. I think, your food allowance for a month or less is my salary for a month... :)

Anyway, i love islam and i know islam is the best... Only this people (not all) are very proud and disrespectful to us expats.

The males are more easier to talk and they understand better... But as for the female "madam" most of them are very BaD...

Although not all... I just wished that my country will stop sending maids here in saudi... Wallahi, a lot of maids here are living like in hell...

In the yawmul qiyamah, those oppressors will pay for what injustice they made to us...

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 06, 2015:

Hi Merican,

I am pretty sure that you will not have any more problems In Saudi Arabia than you would have in the US. In the workplace most people are treated with respect if they are in a senior position no matter what their origin. However in the street you would be looked at just the same as any other Asian, more often than not this means that you will be ignored and Saudis will push in front of you in lines and such like. I am sure that you will be fine there; as long as you are not going to argue over every perceived slight; it is certainly an experience.

Merican on March 04, 2015:

Hi LeanMan,

Many MANY thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts and experience in the kingdom.

I'd like to know if you have any knowledge on discrimination of a very specific population subset. I'm a US citizen, of Indian (South Asian) descent, who practices in medicine in the US. I'm contemplating an opportunity in SA, but because of my ethnicity, I hesitate.

Can you please comment on this sentiment? Is it valid? Or do you think I likely won't have anything to worry about?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 28, 2015:


I assume that you are not going to be starring at women or touching them in public so you should be OK. Many other men work in these places and in general most manage to earn their living without too many problems just as they would working within the malls or in a restaurant. Just follow their rules and work as your sponsor directs you and you will be fine.

Rajeah on February 27, 2015:

Dear Leanman thanks for your reply. I am worried about if suppose to be any local woman blame us without any mistake like I touch her or look at her then what , how to clear from that.what is your experience in Saudi Arabia theme park.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 26, 2015:

Hi Rejeah,

If you want to know about the company and the people that work there I would check for people who work there on sites like LinkedIn or even Facebook. As to working where there are families and women I would suggest that you will be fine, you are not going to be alone with them if you are working in a public area. But of course be respectful and don't try to initiate conversations with women.

Rajeah on February 26, 2015:

Hi leanman,Alhokair group are going to hire me as a ride operation manager at riradh. Will you guide me about company. And what is atmosphere in theme park. I am worried about there culture because ther will be local women come to entertainment. So how to be there . Please guide me.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 24, 2015:

Hi Nones

Glad to hear that you are enjoying life there. Jeddah is also quite relaxed as far as covering the face and hair; however I have known women to be stopped and be told to cover up. So it is always best to carry a scarf to be able to cover your hair if requested to avoid trouble.

Nones on January 23, 2015:

I am in khobar we don't wear the hijab as women and I've enjoyed the life there. Never been harassed and it's pleasant. I am a Black female single parent. With a British Passport. Apparently it's not as strict because it's close to Bahrain

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 20, 2015:

Hi Indian,

Not quite sure exactly what you are asking. However the way that expats are treated both in and out of work has not changed very much in the last few years. I hope that answers your question.

Indian on January 19, 2015:

Hi Lean Man,

I have got an offer letter from a big co. I just read above topics and i am very confused that all started 4 year earlier and i want to know that circumstances sill same like 4 years ago. Nothing change. one thing is my mind that all will change with time but slowly slowly and please tell me if you find any changes from 4 years ago to till date. changing in expat rule or human rights against expat.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 08, 2015:

Snnn, many people there speak English so you will not have any problems with language.

The western compounds are very much like holiday camps with many having their own stores and other facilities. Read this article to get a full overview of what it is like to be in Saudi Arabia; follow the various links in each section to find more details;

Snnn on January 08, 2015:

I forgot to mention that I'm from England but and don't speak Arabic or Urdu. So how many people could actually talk to? And do you live in a western expat compound? because I thought they where a completely different environment and people in them are also foreign so would relate and understand me.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 07, 2015:


I am sure that within your working environment in Saudi Arabia that you will be treated with the respect that you deserve as a doctor. However outside of work you would likely be treated just the same as any other female Pakistani.

Snnn on January 07, 2015:

Hi I'm a doctor, would like to work in Saudi arabia as a single female Pakistani Muslim, I just curious as to what I should expect? I mean I be treated like one of the other Pakistani road sweepers?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 20, 2014:

The lack of social life is a problem for some and people should ensure that they are aware of what the rules are and what it will mean to them before they take work there.

However the poor treatment that many expats receive at the hands of Saudis is not as a result of the person having broken social rules within the country but just as a result of the very poor attitude of the employer.

Juan on December 20, 2014:

I am done with work in Saudi. It's simple; work in Saudi and live outside Saudi. The social life in Saudi is only for Saudis, but workers tend to forget and raise concerns on abuse. The deal is clear; "you're hired to work without social life", take it or leave!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 13, 2014:

Hi Sarah,

There used to be a Gym for ladies very close to where I used to live until it was shut down by the Matawa - religious police. I used to watch many of the ladies get dropped off by one driver only to re-emerge a few minutes later to be picked up by another - obviously off for a completely different workout....

sarah on December 12, 2014:

lisainjedda, there are gyms only for ladies in Saudi Arabia, you can find some of them on the internet or ask someone for recommendation, so you don't have to worry about the skipping gym and your workout routine! for anyone in Riyadh, i can recommend NuYu, i'm very satisfied with the service! thank you and good luck

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 11, 2014:

Hi Sahir

ARAMCO is a good company to work for, especially if you have been offered a senior position there in Saudi. I am sure that you will be treated fine within your work there and you should not encounter too many other problems. In a senior position you will be living on a compound and should have everything that you need.

Sahir on December 11, 2014:

Hi Leanman,

Thanks a lot for your information and patience to respond each comment.

I am Indian and Architect by profession. Lately I have been offered a job in ARAMCO at a senior position. Though I am Muslim by religion but liberal kind of Muslim in terms of practice and thoughts. I am skeptical and loads of concerns about my journey in SA. Kindly guide. Thanks again

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 23, 2014:

Thanks for commenting Sami, I am sure that Saudi will improve over the coming years. I hope that they will bring in better controls to ensure that expats and people in general are treated better than they are now.

I am sure that money is part of the problem and that maybe people would be a little kinder to others if they did not have this superior feeling driven by the fact that they have more money.

Sami on November 21, 2014:

Do you really think wearing abaya makes Saudis muslims ?

Muslims are ao rare now.

Nobody follow Islam anymore like before.

We are going down look at middle east now .. It's choas !!

Syria, Iraq, lebanon.

We don't know what future hiding for us.

saudis wasn't racists in the past.

It's new thing after finding oil and establishing Saudi Arabia ... Money make them like this.

In this Earth every high society look down to low society or poor.

Especially if they are not democratic country.

Nardz on November 17, 2014:

Well.. for me I am now working in Dammam as a Graphic Designer

My experience here is quite good and some minor bad aspects, They threat me good as they can see me doing some things they didn't know. They are easily get amazed and for that, I can get the respect that needs.

My Iqama is a problem because my boss give my iqama which is not similar to my profession and I immediately go direct to him and ask it to change (He said that he will change that! And he should!)

Most of the people here threats me good as in return I also threat them good. Some of the people here are good but in terms of sexual aspects they are so "maniac" as we are in a same gender who thinks that I am a girl, I will not mention of what they done but the thing is I can defend my self, also I can say unacceptable words to them (Job Position wise).

I am from Philippines.

titu on November 02, 2014:

I have witnessed both physical and verbal abuse of workers here, something I have never seen in any other country! The treatment of expats in Saudi Arabia for these poor souls is on the whole terrible and I have found it very difficult to bite my tongue at times.

RB on October 25, 2014:

Thank you. You post opened my eyes to descriminiation in ksa. Was thinking of relocating there and maybe teach at a university but now am not so sure. Even though I am a Muslim but this has nothing to do with the religion but everything to do with culture. Good bless.

Archie on October 19, 2014:

I am a Filipino and is currently working in Saudi Arabia too, and I completely agree with the substance of this article. Fortunately for me I am employed and treated in very good, decent and normal conditions, but as to some of my countrymen, what is stated here is true. Alas, the poverty situation and unending dismal corruption in the Philippines forces many OFWs (overseas filipino workers) to endure and tolerate such abuses by their superiors all for the love of their families behind. Filipino family breadwinners will rather endure the shame, hurt and insult, if that means the families at home will have a sustainable lifestyle. At any rate, on a general note, the Philippines is particularly thankful to Saudi Arabia. As for the cases of discrimination and abuse, I gues that's just how the cookie crumbles.

JKParody on June 21, 2014:

Dear Tony,


Any country with a failed judicial system and lack of law enforcement would be in similar crisis especially when there's considerable wealth in the land.It has nothing to do with Saudis or British or any other national it's just human nature to exploit those at lower vantage points.

things are the way they are!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 14, 2014:

Hi Chris,

I did not see very many people from the countries you have mentioned there in Saudi, most laborer types are generally recruited from the poorer countries within Asia while professionals typically are recruited from places like Pakistan or Europe and the US where they will tend to have good English. I would guess they would be treated in a work environment with respect in much the same way that any westerner would be, however beware outside as most Saudis would think that they were Filipinos or Indonesians and treat them accordingly which is generally very poorly.

Chris on May 13, 2014:

Hi Leanman

Really enjoy readibg your blog. Informative, fair and balance. Thanks a lot ...... :)

Chris on May 13, 2014:

May I seek your opinion how Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are perceived and treated in everyday life in KSA?

Pharma6 on May 12, 2014:

Very nice site!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 14, 2014:

Hi Zeeshan,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It is a very true what you say about women, never go out alone if you don't have to.

Zeeshan on January 14, 2014:

I’ve lived in a nearby Gulf state for over 15 years, so, so ,so very true. Saudi is times 10. Agree with all your observations, you’re better off if you’re from the West (and white) and poor you if you belong to any other nationality. Their ignorant behavior is the result of overnight riches, sexual frustration from having all this money and no channels to openly practice vice. A sad state of affairs in the Muslim world, embarrassed by our behavior because it tarnished the image of Islam. Hope your stay in Saudi remains pleasant. And I reiterate your warning….if you’re a woman, please use caution…never go unaccompanied anywhere. This also applies to younger males, if you’re new to Saudi, avoid being in a closed or alone situation with Saudi youths.

Muhammad Madni on January 11, 2014:

Saudis are Bastards even more then USA & Europe the difference is Saudis do illegal sex & abuse in back of the curtain & rest of I mean USA & Europe is do openly

Abdul on January 07, 2014:

Thank you so much for your reply,

Last year I traveled to UK and believe me people of UK are very generous and caring.....but KSA? may Allah save and protect all foreign brothers & sisters (amen) and proud to be Indian Muslim who believe in humanity and brotherhood.....

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 06, 2014:

Hi Abdul,

I am very sorry to hear about what happened to your relative, I hope that they recover quickly. I have never witnessed such severe violence within Saudi (although someone did attack me with an iron bar once but that was a road rage incident).

I have however witnessed people from countries such as India and the Philippines being verbally abused and even struck with bare hands in stores and in the street. Something that would never be tolerated in any other country. But there are no ways for these people to complain and many of the abusers are the employers controlling the livelihood of those being abused.

Many of these people are maids and drivers and they eventually end up running away from these abusive employers and get caught up in the labor black market in Saudi Arabia. I have met many runaway maids of various nationalities that have told me about sexual abuse and even rape by family members for which they could do nothing and complain to no one!

You only have to look at the polls above these comments to see the large percentage of people that are saying that they have been abused both verbally and physically within KSA.

Abdul on January 06, 2014:

Hi LeanMan

Want to begin with the point saying I hate Saudi people from today 06/jan/2014

Thanks for your article, its really very true and most of the thins I found out today after talking to my relatives and friends who worked in KSA ....I am really shocked...Islam never thought such things and my friends say most Arabs are not real Muslims, they are Muslims for the name sake.

Let me share what I wanted to share on this blog.

I am Indian Muslim with CMA & MBA degree and always wanted to go Saudi for work due to salary and the Mecca & Madina the holy place of all Muslims and even I got call from one of reputed MNC company in Saudi but unfortunately there was an incident yesterday with one of my relative who work in KSA Taif, around 7 pm he was returning home after work, midway he was stopped by few young Saudis and beaten him with Iron rod and Pepsi bottles for no reason and he is seriously injured and now he is planning to come back to India. I am very Sad even hearing he can not complaint as the police will support only there citizens and there is no justice.

After this I spoke to one of my friend recently came back from KSA, he says "the Arabs are animals and has no value for the life of non Arabs", they through bottles on the running CAR and I was shocked to find out many of my friends and relatives work in Saudi are beaten on the street by Saudi youth for no reason, looks like they enjoy troubling others.

I am planning to reject the offer I got from Saudi and don't want to leave in a hell for few more penny.

I would request all my Indian brothers irrespective of their religion not to travel to Saudi for work as there are many walking devils on the earth.

Islam always believes in brotherhood and peace but these uneducated Saudis are making to look like Islam is bad, I am very sad to learn so many bad things about the country on which our beloved prophet (SWS) walked and leaved, I always thought that people of KSA should be very kind and humble towards every one but they are not.

Don't understand why all the foreign countries can force KSA to bring new law to safe guard the people of different country who work there?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 05, 2014:

Hi Mitz,

My wife was also a nurse working in the hospitals there in Saudi. Thankfully she did not have to deal with attempted suicides and such like during her work. It is very sad how Saudis treat so many of the workers there, especially those that they see as being at the bottom of the social ladder! Many people do not believe how bad they can be but from the fact that you had to deal with many maids that have tried to commit suicide just to escape from their employment it should open a few eyes!

Mitz on January 04, 2014:

All u said was correct ..iv been working here in saudi arabia for 4years ..and its correct that they treated people base on their looks and education...i was working in hospital and i had patient mostly maids which tried to do place is far from city so most saudi here are not well educated and they have poor ethics.. Iv seen many nationality but i guess saudi are the worst..they dont know how to be humble.,, if u go to other country like america or canada europe i guess they will not treat other expat the way this saudi people treat us...hope allah will change these people...

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 01, 2014:

Hi Sree

There is always room for negotiation in any job offer if you want to try. However you should note that salaries can vary considerably across companies in KSA. You can get an idea of salaries for different positions using

What you should be asking yourself is this what you want and is it enough for your needs.

Sree on December 18, 2013:

This blog has helped me get a good idea on working in Saudi, thanks for writing this.

I am from India and I was interviewed for the position of project manager in IT division of Dar AL Riyadh, Riyadh location. The final interview is also done (offer pending) and the pay is approx. 16K SAR per month + med insurance and child education expenses. Family visa is also provided by company and I think also has 30 day leave per year.

Wanted to know if you think this is a fair deal ? Is there a room for negotiation ?

Thanks in advance.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 15, 2013:

Hi Bander,

I think that you underestimate the many maids and drivers that are there in Saudi Arabia, all that I have met are far from illiterate and ignorant. In fact many that I know are in fact graduates that are unable to find paying work in their home countries so have to take any work that they can find.

This is in many ways the fault of their home countries governments which need to improve dramatically also. This is a global problem not just down to the individual countries but to all other countries that look on them as sources of cheap labor and products and tolerate the corruption while it benefits them.

Bander on December 14, 2013:


I am from Saudi Arabia, and I think you wrote an accurate report about Saudi Arabia. Well researched and provide a complete coverage of the status of expatriates in Saudi.

House maids and drivers are treated in the lowest form of humanity. They come here and work for families as slaves. They do not even know what are their rights because most of them are illiterate and ignorant.

I think the problem is not only from the Saudi side, I think their home country also is partnered in the problem. Because if you see how they live their origin country and how corrupt their governments are, you will be surprised why they tolerate working in harsh conditions in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi is not the only culprit, they home countries are a violators as well.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 11, 2013:

Hi iqbalsaqib,

I am sure that within the workplace you will be treated fine, however in the street and the malls you will be treated according to how you look. The polls above show that 88% of non western expats have experienced problems with Saudis with 41% suffering physical abuse at their hands. Not being sure of your ethnic origins it would be hard to tell you exactly what to expect. But generally stay out of trouble, respect their rules and culture and you should be fine.

iqbalsaqib on November 11, 2013:

Hi LeanMan,

i am planning on coming out to KSA, maybe Riyadh. What have you seen the treatment of non-white expatriate coming with Canada or US nationalities. I did grew up in Jeddah, but left more than 15 years ago. i mostly have fond memories of that place but i was only 13 when we left so...

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 19, 2013:

Hi Nathouse,

You will face discrimination in Saudi, mainly for being a woman! Follow the links in my hub above to read about being a woman in Saudi Arabia. It is not easy being a woman alone in Saudi Arabia however you will probably be treated just fine in your work as you will mainly be working with other women.

nathouse on September 19, 2013:

Hello I am a black South African female and I have been offered a lecturing job in Saudi. Will I be discriminate against? So worried now...

farhan on July 25, 2013:

if this Saudi believe in God or in Allah and if Allah is created every thing including non Arab and non Muslim people and if this people respect the invisible us they are saying why the are not respect us even like camel.

i live here for more than 5 years i have one thing to talk 99.99% Saudi are living with out any humanity.

Bharath Renati on July 11, 2013:

Hello Dear LeanMan

Thank you very much for your valuable information and quick response which enables my plans for my trip to Saudi.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 11, 2013:

Hi Bharath

Only you will know if the offer is acceptable to you, that being said it looks like your allowances will cover just about everything else allowing you to save most of your basic salary and your bonuses. You can review salaries at if you visit that site but please note that it averages a lot of information so it is not going to be that accurate. Once you get to Saudi however you will have the opportunity to network there and maybe find much better paid work.

The country is generally very safe for male Indians and other expats, but do not expect to practice your religion anywhere other than in private.

The general working culture is very very slow. Most of us westerners find it very frustrating but you get used to it after a while. You may also find that as an Indian you will not be treated that well by the Saudis, that being said if you keep your head down and do the work well you should not have any problems. This varies a lot between companies; hopefully you will be working for a great company.

Good luck

I hope that you enjoy working in Saudi Arabia and that it is profitable for you.

Bharath Renati on July 10, 2013:

Hello LeanMan, I thank you for your humble response. I am 24 year old bachelor from India, I am really glad to share my doubts after reading your valuable answers to many foreigners who get opportunity to go to Gulf.Firstly appreciating your fabulous job for expats willing to go to Gulf countries. Recently have got an abroad job offer from a company in Dammam, KSA. My monthly pay split is SAR 3000 Basic + 750 Accomodation + 300 Food + 100 Personal stuff +400 Phone calls+ Car with Fuel and Maintenance + Medical Insurance + To & Fro Air tickets once in a year with 30 days paid vaccation + Iqama Renewal + Marriage and New born baby allowances and still more allowances for Ramzan and Bakrid festivals in addition to very good incentive structure of 3% on my sales as my job role is Sales & Business Development Engineer + One month salary Bonus with a 2 year aggreement.

Here i go with my questions

1. Is it an acceptable offer? If so, how much could i save?

2. How safe is the place for Indian Hindus?

3. How is the general working culture of the companies over there?

Brief explanation on this is highly appreciable as i am unaware of this place.

Thanking you in advance.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 10, 2013:

Hi Riya

Within work I am sure that your husband will be treated very respectfully, however on the street and in the stores you will be seen as just "another indian" and treated as such. That being said it is fairly easy to keep to yourself or mix with your own country people within Saudi so you should be able to minimise any issues.Many Indians work there for many years without problems. If you are happy to get there, follow their rules and stay out of trouble then you will have no problems.

For many the increased salary and zero tax is more than enough to compensate for the restrictions. Life in Saudi can be very pleasant, especially if you are living on a nice compound and spend your free time in the bigger malls and resorts.

As to safety, do not let your daughter outside the compound alone, always keep her with you when you are outside and if possible go out with your husband or a group of friends rather than alone. Women are not that well respected.

As to you working you should be aware that you would not be able to work legally for a company in Saudi unless you transfer your sponsorship from your husband to your new employer. Alternatively there are many options to work within IT online and you may actually find that you can earn more through that route.

The decision is yours to take, but many people will take the Saudi route as it is a great opportunity to earn and save very good money in a relatively short span of time.

Good luck, let me know how you get on.

riya1princess on July 10, 2013:

Hello, after reading all this I m really hesitant to go to Saudi. . We are indian. My husband has done PhD in US. He works for Shell petroleum (royal dutch Shell co). We are in Tx USA on intra company transfer. We will be here for 4-5 years with I have work permit and can work here in USA. My hubby got an offer from sebic riyadh. Sebic is a fairly big petrochemical n oil company of Saudi Arabia. He gets 120000 $ /annum in USA as a package plus bonus and other benefits. So of course in saudi Arabia he will more salary than here. we will choose to go to Saudi he will be working as an expert or a scientists. So in this situation do you still think he will not get a good treatment there or treated as a 3rd class citizen?

How is that place? I mean riyadh? Is it good place to stay with family for a hindu indians? Most importantly is it safe for me and my daughter?

What about me? Can I work? How they will treat me? In which sector if I will work I will be treated better? In US I will be working in IT.. (presently at home with my baby)

What you would suggest? Staying here or grabbing the opportunity? ?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 07, 2013:

Hi Bharath, should you ask a question I would happily answer it. However you need to actually tell me what it is that you want to know.

Bharath Renati on July 03, 2013:

Hello Lean Man, I would like to clarify my doubts after reading few of your answers to many people who need them the most. Quick response is highly appreciable.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 20, 2013:

Thanks for taking the time to reply Khalid, at least you have replied in an intelligent manner without feeling the need to use profanity unlike some of your countrymen. I do agree that in the west we have treated (and still continue to treat) people very badly for a host of different reasons from the color of their skin through to which religion they are. We are far from perfect and in many ways I do see superior behavior from many of the people there in Saudi Arabia. However I think you still have your head firmly buried in the sand if you feel that poor treatment of maids and the like is by a very small minority.

You make very incorrect assumptions about how I lived in Saudi, I don't live within a compound and I have many Saudi friends who I mix with both at their homes and at various events. As to speaking Arabic I will admit to being a complete failure with languages being far more at home with numbers but then I don't need to understand the language to understand that someone shouting and striking their driver is doing wrong!.

I have observed poor treatment of maids, drivers, and other workers in both peoples homes, in the street, the malls and within many companies with my own eyes on a regular basis - something I have never seen in other countries. I have mixed with many of the runaways working within the illegal labor market and listened to their stories of rape and beatings. I am sorry but if it is 1% as you claim then it is 1% too many and you should not turn a blind eye to their behavior and let them continue! Would the prophet say stop talking about it as it is only a small minority? Too many people resort to attacking the messenger rather than listening to the message! Too many people in Saudi Arabia treat their expat workers like subhumans and this has to stop, whether it is 1 person in 10 or 1 in a million it is still too many.

If I were a lone voice out there making these claims then you could say that I was talking rubbish, but look at the results of the polls within this hub and see how many have claimed to have suffered abuse of one form or another at the hands of Saudi's only 30% of the westerners claim to have been treated with respect while only 12% of poorer expats claim to have been treated with respect and 41% claim to have suffered physical abuse! The figures above speak for themselves. Please do not take this personally, I have many friends in Saudi who treat their workers very well and are as disgusted by the behavior of some other Saudis as much as I am. Instead of trying to dismiss my claims why don't you do something about them and help to prevent the poor treatment of expats within your country.

Khalid on June 20, 2013:

I don't need you to tell me to go and observe i do see majority of people treating their maids very well many non-muslims labor and maids are emeacing Islam because of the bright side and treatment they were shown by their Saudi families. (Islam is growing thank God). exceptional bad treatments happen here and there like ( 10 crime for like per 100,000) but why do u only keep repeating 1% u just another hater who want to bash n bad name Saudi people why do not u also mention the good examples u seen or heared while u r here? What's all this unjustified hatefull remarks about? Is it hate for Islam or hate for Arabian ppl? Did u mingle n enter every hous of the 20 million saudis and see how they treat their maids and labors? Does the "Saudi ppl behavior expert" speak Arabic? I guess non! locking ur room door at some 4-sided wall compound n giving lectures regarding social issue sounds fun for time killing hobby. My father own a supermarkets and during Ramadan we every day eat from the same dish form long time ago while ur western (r u from uk?) country ppl were treating black ppl as subhuman even till today many of u guys r racist scums especially in euroupa we treat u much more better here. Ur blog is like 80% false info! In Arabic we do have an old say "dogs keep barking,, the caravan keep marching!". Not waiting for a reply coz i will never stop by this hatefull spreading page again. I feel sorry for ppl like ya! Pathetic!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 18, 2013:

Hi Khalid

Nice to see you defending the behavior of your country men and trying to deflect the blame elsewhere. Yes westerners are just as guilty of discrimination as Saudis and I do say that I see very little in the way of discrimination between Saudis themselves no matter what the color of the person. However there is a very definite discrimination against "lower class" expats from poorer countries by all but a small minority. This is obvious in the way everyone behaves, sorry to say that this behavior is contagious as I also see it reflected in the way other expats treat each other even though they would never do so back in their own countries.

Generally expats from the west are treated well but those from the poorer countries face treatment little better than animals from many Saudis.

My comments regarding the ability to speak English are more to do with a reflection of the education that the individual has received rather than their ability to speak another language. My observations are that the more widely traveled and better educated the person the less likely they are to behave poorly towards others, simple as that.

You are entitled to your opinion, however I would suggest that you go out and observe how your countrymen treat their maids, drivers, shop assistants and waiters and then come back and tell me how perfect the Saudis are!

Khalid on June 18, 2013:

I want to add something here,, as Saudi we don't care what color u r u guys r totally wrong. If u r black, white, green we care more about how much respect and passion you give us locals and to respect for our customs and religion and based on that we will pay it back in the same amount and way of respect. Its not because you r "western" that's total hogwash and naïve to say. Nevertheless, it is a matter of fact that "western" expat in particular have succeeded to -through out years- to build good perception "good sterostype?" About how respectful and good attitude n behavior they show to the host country n its ppl.thats Y. One last thing, its naïve to say Saudi person who speaks better English = more respectful! Thats so naïve! Character n personlty have noghing to do with being able English! Actually ppl who think this way show how education level they are. Salam! = peace in Arabic.

Khalid on June 17, 2013:

What about discrimination from ur own country citizen UK against Arab and Muslims? I can tell million stories! Ur trying to tarnish our image because we are Muslim. I read ur blog from top to last end n i can rest assure u that ur hatred is obvious. Ur the one who being hypocritic not us Saudi. I f we see some thing wrong we say it on the face! Regardless ur westerner or from less wealthy country labor with bad attitude and behavior and who don't respect customer will have to expect the exact same behavior back! Thats why most western expat treated well here simply becuz they tend to respect the culture and maintain a good attitude towards the locals so they r payed back the same way. I my self encounter and observed some rude (to Arab culture stadard) from other Non-Arab labor but i try my very best to ignore it and i dun blame them they might did not have opportitunity to learn or did not have good education or disciplin back at their countries. At the end, if ur not happy with it please go find better place we meed ur job. If u like it n u respect the country we will treat u like a king and u r very welcome. Salam! Excuse my poor English.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 02, 2013:

Yes I have heard the same stories about expats who have taken large loans or used credit cards to run up large bills and then left without paying. This is in some ways the fault of the banks and the Saudi government as the banks are very quick to offer credit cards and loans which are available to expats. You are not meant to be able to final exit the country without paying off all of your debts however it is all to easy not to return after a vacation and then it is not simple to repay your debts. With some companies treating employees poorly it is hardly surprising that some individuals will just cut and run without paying debts.

That being said there are a number of people that do come to the kingdom purely to do this, I have heard stories of expats that have taken jobs, gotten loans and cards and then walked away with hundreds of thousands of riyals. However when I have inquired about loans to buy a car it was based on a few multiples of my monthly salary but you would still be talking about 100k riyals plus!

Failure to repay debts is a criminal offense in Saudi Arabia and you could find yourself detained should you ever return there. I have read that the worst thing to get detained for is debt as there is little that your embassy can do to help you and you will have to have your family and friends pay off your debts before you will be released. However I doubt if there will ever be a move to extradite non payers back to the country.

The horror, the horror on June 02, 2013:

Hey man,

I enjoy your posts, a lot of really good information. I work for a very large company here in the 'Kingdom' and I was recently refused a car loan on the basis of I am a foreigner!now I told my colleagues, whom indicated that a lot of expats come here, don't like it, get loans , cards and do a runner! Which is stopping us hard working folk getting the benefits of low interest etc. Now I do work with a bitter lot haha and try told me of at Least 7 different incidents one most recently a month ago, about a chap who came and left with $7000 on a card, another about a guy who stayed for 6 months got a 100,000 riyals loan and ran away on the weekend! is this true? What are the implications of something like this? I'm not thinking of it myself as I've been refused haha. But I'm interested in what effect this would have on an expat elsewhere? What power does the saudi government have?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 27, 2013:

Hi Elena,

I don't have experience with Nas air but I do know several women working with Saudi air and other airlines; most are happy enough with their work there but don't fool yourself into thinking that you will treated perfectly. Women are seriously discriminated against.

elena on May 27, 2013:

Hello! Thank you for all the is really healpfull. I really need an advice. I am from Romania and in one week I will go to an interview for a Nas Air cabin crew member job. It is really dificult to decide what to do...because I am a little scared. So, I need an advice...what to do? Do you think that it is ok to work as a cabin crew at Nas Air company? Will they treate me as an usual foreign woman in Saudi Arabia? Do you ever traveled with Nas Air? How do you see the cabin crews? Thank you very much in advance !

liquido on April 21, 2013:

I will share some of the news 2 years ago a pregnant Filipina woman was about to deliver in just 1 week, she was walking from the hospital to their accomodation when a service bus of that hospital offered a ride to her accomodation instead of going to their destination was raped by saudi teenagers inside that bus.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 28, 2013:

Hi Eric.

Life in the UAE is generally a little more open than in Saudi Arabia but you still must ensure that you do not upset them by breaking their rules.

Pay is generally based on your country of origin, so if you come from a poor country you will be payed poorly even if it is more than you would receive in your home country. Westerners generally receiving very generous salaries.

As to still working there, I have found employment elsewhere for a while but I may still return as I truly enjoyed working there as well as the salary.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 28, 2013:

Hi Varvar, thank you for returning to give us your insights. Glad that you have some good memories to smile about even if you did receive some poor treatment at the hands of the Saudis.

Eric on March 27, 2013:

Hi LeanMan

Thank you for a lot of interesting and terrifying information. I am just considering making the biggest mistake of my life. I have a couple of questions for you.

1. Do you have any experience in living/working in UAE? Is life in Qatar or Bahrain any easier? Do Saudis pay more to lure expats?

2. I was told that your passport is your rate of pay. Is it true that your salary depends on the passport you hold? If so who gets the fat chunks? I am asking because I am a lucky one who has a choice.

3. And lastly – are you still in KSA? Did you find another job?

All the best to you,


Varvar on March 27, 2013:


This is an update from my post a year ago inquiring about a two months business trip to KSA. I forgot to thank you for your helpful insight upon returning to the States and extend my apologies!

My business trip (ended up being just a little over three weeks) to KSA was extremely entertaining. It allowed me to see and experience so much that is fascinating, not all pleasant, but certainly worth the price of admission. As it turned out, international law firms in KSA only have Saudis around for show...most of the actual people who conduct a law firm's business are westerners. That made my life a lot easier.

Interactions on the street and out in public are a different story. I am not "toned down" by nature and experienced quite a bit of rudeness if not outright aggressiveness from the Saudis in the first few days. Being shoved aside by a striding Saudi woman or sneered at by Saudi man was quite common. Having read your blog though, I was prepared for my social experiment. I later draped myself with the massive amount of jewels that I had brought for just such a purpose (an amount that I would not have dreamed of wearing at the same time in the US without being in an asylum) and lo and behold, people are suddenly a lot nicer, still not "nice", but so much more on par of what I believe to be civilized behavior toward a stranger. Seriously, I could not help but laugh. Those people are ridiculous! Where is their warmth of humanity? Of course, that may be just a matter of cultural norm. On the other hand, if I was walking in Philly or somewhere dressed like that, I would have been robbed or even killed in short order. So in comparison, Saudis are downright saintly. What a country! Is it wrong to just giggle at the memory?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 26, 2013:

Hi Kasiopea, as a woman you will have to cover up and follow their rules for segregation. In public with a Lebanese husband you should be treated fine. However be aware that most Saudis do not respect women!

Kasiopea on March 23, 2013:

First , thanks for all the information that u give us ! Its very helpful !

I have a question, a read about a lot of the treatment to differents nationalities, but what about latin american people ? Did u see any latinaamerican ppl in KSA ? How saudis will treat us ? Im a woman, ma boyfriend is from lebanon, if we married its probably that we live there because his work, so what kind of treatment i have to expect as a latinoamerican woman ?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 24, 2013:

Hi Salem

I think the choice of whether to work and live in Saudi Arabia or the USA is very much a personal one. There are many pros and cons to both. In Saudi your wages may be higher and tax free but your freedoms are seriously limited. In the US your wages will be taxed but you will have much more freedom to do as you wish. Obviously this is a major simplification and if this is a decision you need to make then I would suggest that you spend a long time together with your family researching and making your decision.

Salem on February 23, 2013:

Hi leanMan

I'm happy to find such a post about Saudi Arabia and, everything you said is right. As I live in Saudi Arabia. But the question is: where is it better to live in Saudi Arabia or United States. Regarding, wage quality of life safety and everything

I'm Yemeni and hold Green Card and my family American.

Plenty of thanks for your posts

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 27, 2012:

Thank you for your contribution Pramod, I wish that I had managed to work there during the boom times, I knew several people who had and they did VERY well for themselves indeed. The wages are not as good as they were back then and the conditions that many expats have to endure in Saudi Arabia are far worse, although they are trying to make improvements!

pramodgokhale from Pune( India) on December 26, 2012:


I have been to Saudi Arabia for employment,in 80s boom time of oil kingdom and their economy,Our company both time was under British and German management, Our employer honored conditions and commitment to employees as per employment agreement.

In some companies Asian workers were complaining about Saudi Employer , were paying salary one time after three months working.

i heard that they say " beggars are not Choosers' Poor Asian countries and poor Asians has to listen such comments.

In general my Saudi job was economically sound and respectful.

pramod gokhale

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 21, 2012:

Yes Ahmed,

If you are perceived as coming from a poor country by how you look they will treat your poorly.

Ahmed on November 21, 2012:

"As a Westerner, my general experience is that the treatment of expats in Saudi Arabia depends very much on the Saudis educational level and ability to speak English, the higher the level the better the Saudi will treat you. A Saudi speaking no English is likely at best to just ignore you".

You forgot to add mention the colour of the skin and the expats nationality

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 17, 2012:

Hi Burki,

Sorry to hear of your experiences, but unfortunately you are right. There are a minority or Saudis who treat non-western looking expats very poorly indeed. Like the rest of the expats there just swallow your pride, move on and earn whatever you can to take home.

burki on September 17, 2012:

hi everybody, i m working i s ksa since 3 years, and i advise to everyone that plz if u want to come to ksa do come but only for pilgrimage or other religious purpose. bcz non-western expats are treated as animals or some servants who r born to obey them, i like ksa but the people behavior have made my mind sick, e.g today i was drawing money from atm an old saudi started shouting behind my car to leave atm as he as to get money i continued but he came down from his LANDCRUISER and started kicking my card and snatched my atm card, what u people think are we animals???? we r nt human beings, i controlled myself and left atm, else either i would have gone to prison for beating a saudi. this is just a minor example, anywhere if expats are waiting for their turn they must wair and if any saudi came he is free to go and be addressed without waiting for his turn, i think expats in ksa are just like donkey working hard for their masters and at last they get beaten as reward,,,,,,,, i feeeel deeeeeeeep pain in my heart, because every one backhome thinks that we r living here comfortably,

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on August 30, 2012:

Hi Memyself&I

Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. Will be interesting to see how your views of the society there in Saudi Arabia change during your stay. Stay in touch and give us some updates as to how things develop for you and your family and how you get treated there.

Memyself&I on August 29, 2012:

Hi Lean,

Just wanted to let you know that I have made it to Khobar. Only been here 5 daysbut boy do have some beef against this society already!

This place is so hot & humids my glasses get foggy when I step & oh that abaya is awful. Why can't they be in linen or 100% cotton huh, so we can suffer more?

And stares, people openly stare. So far I have only been out with my husband & w boys. Haven't dared venture out alone yet.

Why can't foreign women drive? If Saudi women are happy not driving they should stay like that, but please C'mon already.

Will keep in touch

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on August 27, 2012:

Hi Francis

As long as the person you will be working for part time is your sponsor then that is fine. As an expat you may only legally work for your sponsor, anything else is illegal.

That being said there are many expats that do little extra part time jobs around the country. But beware, you cannot make your employer pay you if you are illegal and you could be in serious trouble even deported if you are caught.

francis215 on August 27, 2012:

LeanMan,is it doing part time job here in riyadh are allowed or not?pls enlighten me as I have interview this coming week.i informed my boss regarding my application and there is no issue for him on my part time.