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Working as an expat for a Company in Saudi Arabia

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Working in Saudi Arabia

There are many opportunities for working as an expat for a company in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East, but working in Saudi Arabia as an expatriate is very different from any experience I have ever had anywhere else in the world. Finding employment in Saudi Arabia was relatively straight forward as quite frankly not a lot of people really want to go there!

This hub will inform you as to what it is really like to work in Saudi Arabia as both a western expat and also what it is like for those expatriates who hail from less affluent regions of the world such as many parts of Asia.

I am originally from the UK, in my early 40s with a fairly broad background, having worked in a number of different industries in management positions as well as some consulting and advisory work. I am reasonably well educated with a Masters Degree and heaps of training courses attended and so on. I have had the opportunity as a consultant in the UK to visit many hundreds of companies and during my previous positions I have worked for both US and German based companies and had the opportunity to work in these countries for several weeks at a time during my career.

I first came to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to work with a consultancy, I was actually interviewed for a different job which I was originally going to be employed in but the Arabic boss of the guy that interviewed me “stole” me! I came on a business visa, allowing me to work with the business for 3 months, during which time they were to sort me out with a work visa for Saudi Arabia.

Visa to work in Saudi Arabia

This essential guide to getting your Saudi work visa should be read before you consider traveling to KSA, learn the difference between a work visa and a business visa and which type you should have.

Arriving in Saudi Arabia to Work

I arrived in the kingdom early evening, was taken to my Saudi compound and was drunk before bedtime! A great introduction to the kingdom and compound life. The following day I was driven from the compound and introduced to everyone and given plenty of helpful advice about what to do and what not to do (Including staying clear of the illegal home made alcohol)!

Work was not exactly pressured, and I had the opportunity to visit a number of different companies in the kingdom doing both consultancy and various training courses. This allowed me to see how people worked and behaved in a number of different companies first hand as well as the stories that I was told by others.

Working in Saudi Arabia as an Executioner

Finding work in Saudi Arabia

If you want to work in Saudi Arabia there are many positions available for you to fill in many different industries. This guide to finding work in KSA will help you in your search for work.

Working in Saudi Arabia

Employment in Saudi Arabia

Employment in Saudi Arabia

Why do Companies Employ Expats in Saudi Arabia

Most companies in Saudi Arabia employ a large number of expats who do the work, but the government is trying to reduce the number of expats by making many jobs Saudi only due to high Saudi unemployment, forcing the companies to employ Saudis. Companies that do not employ enough Saudis being “blacklisted” when it comes to getting more visas for additional staff. This Nitaqat law gives each company a rating, with those companies in the red having to shed foreign labor and being unable to recruit more.

Most unskilled labor is performed by expats as it is very much seen as being beneath a Saudi, you will be hard pressed to find a Saudi working in any area that requires them to get their hands dirty or raise a sweat.

You will also find many management and engineering positions filled with expats, especially where those positions are vital to the functioning of the company. This is due to the fact that there are few Saudis who are either qualified or experienced to fill these positions. Some positions are always filled with Saudis such as HR as these positions are only available by law to Saudis.

Why Don't Companies Want Saudi Workers?

Saudi workers are “different”, that is about as polite as I will be about them, the Saudi society is not set up to create hard working well educated individuals. Whilst there are some real gems out there the majority are not what you would want within a company in the west!

Now there is a reason that most companies want to employ expats rather than Saudis. That reason is that they want someone who is both able and willing to do the job; the majority of Saudis failing on both counts! I have said in another of my pages (expatriates in Saudi Arabia) that most Saudis behave like teenagers, one minute they are helpful and friendly the next minute their mood changes and they are difficult and lazy! Trying to get a Saudi to do some work is like asking your teenager to clean their room, some will get on and do it, others will try to find any excuse possible not to. You have to keep on them constantly and it still may never be done!

The company that I work for currently is not a pure Saudi company, it pays above the average and is very selective as to who it employs, most of the people are hard working individuals who are very good at their job, however, there are still a number of individuals who will turn up hours late in the morning, disappear for a long lunch break, then go home early (if they came back from lunch). The work ethic is also sadly lacking.

My current company in my opinion is one of the better ones, a good friend of mine here has a group of Saudi managers at his company that turn up at 10 or 11 in the morning, switch on their play stations in their offices, play till lunch time then go home!

Most do not want to work, and there is little a company can do about it! It is almost impossible for a company here to sack a Saudi worker, the rights all belong to the Saudi! Some actually employ Saudis that never attend just to make up their required numbers, these Saudis being paid to do absolutely nothing, purely an overhead for the company to maintain!

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Where in Saudi Arabia will you work?

Working for a Saudi Company

Working in a Saudi Company

Working in a Saudi Company

The Phrase Insha'Allah in the workplace

You can almost always tell when something is not going to be done, when the Saudi promises you when they will do it; they will say “Insha’Allah” which means “God willing”(Pronounced in-shar-laa or not-a-chance-mate). This seems to be the get out clause to most people here! When you are working for a company in Saudi Arabia you will hear this phrase often and will as a westerner become quickly sick of it due to the hypocritical way that it is used!

Another of my friends in a senior position started to make a little note against every action to which a member of staff said “Insha’Allah” to, he then charted every action that was not completed or was completed VERY late. He did this for 3 months before presenting back his findings.

100% of the items that the people had said “Insha’Allah” for either did not happen or happened so late that they may just have well not been done at all, whereas all other actions generally got done, some failures but not too many – he then banned anyone from using it!

What Happens if You Challenge "The Way Things are Done Here"?

He barely hung onto his job and was moved sideways within the company for doing this!

In general thing are done at a very much slower pace than you would expect or hope, this is frustrating and annoying at best, if you cannot control your frustrations and your temper do not come to Saudi Arabia!

Can Women Work in Saudi Arabia

Woman working in Saudi Arabia

Woman working in Saudi Arabia

Women working for a company in Saudi Arabia

While I was in Riyadh for my first 9 months here in the kingdom I saw zero women in any business that I went into except the nurses in some hospitals that I visited. I saw no women in retail or food outlets; I saw no women working at all for 9 months! None, zero, not one!

The company that I work for is the first that I have seen in the Kingdom that has women working for it, but it's not a pure Saudi company and is run from Dubai. The Saudi Arabian women in general are better motivated than the men and often better qualified! There are others that employ women, but I have not been into them!

Women working in Saudi Arabia

If you would like to learn more about women working in Saudi Arabia and the many rules and restrictions that are placed upon them read this article about women in Saudi Arabia.

Working Conditions for Women in KSA

Women here are not allowed to work in the same general area as the men, they are separated, have their own office space, their own area to relax and so on.

The company is inspected on a regular basis to ensure that this separation is in place as well as how they are dressed and treated in the workplace.The law here is that women are not allowed to be alone in private with a man who is not her husband or a direct blood relative (brother, son, father). Many argue that the workplace is not in private as most areas are open with other people about, but there is still huge amounts of trouble regarding this!

They claim relatively high levels of employment for Saudi women but quite frankly I do not see it!

They have made moves to increase the number of women employed by making some jobs available to women only, this includes working in places such as lingerie stores.

Working in the Saudi Oil Industry

Getting Paid when working in Saudi Arabia

I have no problem with this aspect of my employment with my current employer, however for some it is a major issue. The bigger, better organized companies pay by direct bank transfer, which means zero problems. Some, however pay by check which can cause some severe problems and delays.

There is a real trust issue with Saudi management, and often things like checks are only signed by the guy at the very head of the company and maybe one or two others. So if these are on vacation or out of the country on business, there is no one to sign the checks, this has happened to me twice in my previous company delaying payments by a week or more.

Some others report to me about delays that take months and having had to threaten to quit, leave work unfinished and make other threats before they are paid. Thankfully, this is not a massive problem with westerners, but it does happen!

Salary Issues in Saudi Arabia

If you are not a westerner and you have come here from the Philippines or India or some other “poor” country, then beware, especially if you are working “house”! Many families will give you a contract with one wage and conditions and then pay you less and give no time off! Sometimes wages are not paid for months at a time. This is a VERY common practice and is why so many maids and drivers run away from their employers here, along with the bad treatment!

I have some friends (Filipino) that work for a group of hospitals here, they have not been paid for six months, they survive by doing part time work and borrowing from friends. They cannot officially work for anyone else as they can only legally work for their sponsor and they cannot leave as they need to get a visa through their sponsor! This case does not affect a few workers, I am talking about hundreds of workers for this one company all in the same situation! This is now being tackled by the embassies and the labor office due to the scale of the problem, but there are many smaller problems that go unseen for many months before the staff just leave helpless and work illegally to support themselves and their families.

How Saudis treat expats

For a fuller discussion regarding this subject you can follow the link to read about how expats are treated by Saudis.

Working as a Domestic in Saudi Arabia

Treatment of Expat Workers in Saudi Arabia

I know of few westerners with real complaints about treatment, but again if you are further down the ladder in the working world you can have real problems. Treatment of expat workers in Saudi Arabia is a real issue for those from less wealthy nations!

I have often witnessed Indians, Filipinos, Indonesians being shouted at and even struck by their employers over minor problems! If you follow the link to the hub about how workers are treated you will find a poll conducted there; some 65% of non-western expats report having been physically or verbally abused by Saudis.

I have also heard from many women (Filipino and Indonesian) about sexual assaults and rape at the hands of male members of the families that they have worked for, they have had to endure this treatment as they are literally locked up and have no contact with the outside world. Many of the other female workers feel very pressured into a “relationship” with male household members, they do not call it rape but in my mind it is. The men are using their position of authority to pressure these girls into doing what they want as they fear losing their jobs and income etc.

Runaway Workers in KSA

Many of these women suffering abuse try to run away the first chance they get when they are on the outside and join the many illegal workers or camps of people waiting to be deported!

In one area of Jeddah there are thousands of workers living rough waiting to be deported by the authorities, the embassies arranging flights as often as they can to send them back home.

These people really have few rights, most cases will never come to light as the workers are too scared to report them or if they do, they are dismissed by the police as the Saudis can do no wrong!

Termination of Employment in Saudi Arabia

I have mentioned earlier in this article about the process of making more jobs Saudi only to improve the rate of unemployment within the country and also the fact that it is almost impossible to get rid of a Saudi worker no matter how poor they may be at their jobs!

I have now fallen foul of these rules and found my employment terminated! The company refused to give me the notification period stated within my employment contract and the related pay, and took no notice of my lawyer letters who pointed out my true entitlements through Saudi Labor Laws.

Worse than this, the first lawyer that I attended turned out to be on retainer to the company that I worked for and gave all paperwork and other information that I shared with him directly to my employer!

Taking Your Employer to The Saudi Labor Court

My employer's attitude was very much along the following lines; "take us to court if you like, your case will not be heard for several months, during this time we will not pay you, you cannot work for anyone else, you cannot leave, we will not give you a car, we will not pay your housing! If you accept our offer, we will give you a reference and let you transfer your employment."

In the few months prior to this the CEO had me redesign the whole company structure and was telling me how my role was to be expanded, after my letter he just refused to see me! They also waited just 1 day after I completed a major piece of work that no one else could have done before giving me my notice.

The guy in the Saudi Labor office confirmed it could take a year for my case to be heard, and the company would not have to pay me during this period and that I would not be allowed to work for anyone else! It also transpired that the guys in labor office were also regular dinner guests for one of our senior directors!

My lawyer's response to all this was to sue, as I would win, but I would have to pay him the equivalent of 2 months salary in advance, and still have no income for the next year!

Needless to say I had zero choice but to give in and accept what I could get from the company or face losing a year of my life! During this time I was intimidated and threatened by various people in the company, never have I ever been treated so badly!

How to Survive Working in Saudi Arabia

Read the whole of my series on Working as an Expat in Saudi Arabia to fully understand exactly what you are letting yourself in for when you consider working in this inhospitable country. Deciding to work for a company in KSA is not a decision that you should take lightly, do as much research as you can and fully prepare yourself.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 14, 2016:


Buying a visa to work in Saudi Arabia is not a good idea. You can only work legally for your sponsor who is the one that will get you a visa. So if you get a visa from someone that is selling visas just to get you in the country you cannot work legally for anyone else. I get so many people contacting me about not being released by the sponsor of their visas or being forced to work by them for free before they say they will be released and a host of other issues.

I also get a huge amount of mail from those that take jobs on the black market without a proper visa that are then not paid or denied all of their benefits.

If you want to work in Saudi Arabia search for a job first online, apply, get the job and then your employer will be your official sponsor and you will be protected as well as you can be in Saudi.

UMAIR HASAN on March 08, 2016:

Hello Sir, i am from pakistan and i have done my graduation in civil engineering and recently i decided to moved from pakistan to suadia and i am also a fresh engineer so i got work viza for this purpose so basically my question is what are the chances for fresh civil engineer in suadia to get a job is that good idea or not??

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 07, 2016:

Hi Shahid,

You should be paid for all days that you actually worked for the company. However getting the company to pay you there is not always that easy. They should however provide your exit and fly you home.

Good luck.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 26, 2016:

Hi Cleto

The law in Saudi Arabia is very clear; you can only work for your sponsor. So you are not going to be able to go to the labor office and demand that your sponsor releases your iqama and passport to you so that you can work illegally for another. However the labor office may be able to get him to pay a salary for the work that he wants you to do and may even be able to force him to pay you for the months that you worked with no pay; you must have come with some form of job description and salary expectation so the sponsor should be liable to pay that - unless of course he just claims that you absconded and did not work.

By working illegally in Saudi you open yourself up for abuse as you have zero protection and no way to make anyone pay you . I have met so many people that have worked illegally for a few months and then received ZERO salary. This is not uncommon and there is nothing that you can do about it.

cleto tanilon on February 26, 2016:

hi Sir, Assalamualaikum I am a filipino Expat I have a problem with my sponsor Kafeel He got all my documents Iqama passport and drivers license, which is my iqama renewal is under my own expense not him. and force to work in his Establishment with no contract and no salary pay for almost 4 months then after that he allowed me to work outside then he was not release my document then he ask me to go back to work with him with no salary again then He allowed me to work then after all he put me in huroob and asking the larges amount to release my Passport iqama and drivers license. until now I hv no work at all because my iqama was already expired last Augost.. what can i do for this I am not going to labor office because i have no iqama to file a complaint against him. do you have any Idea how to file my complaint to the labor office? even without any documents in my position?

ddd on November 03, 2015:

hi, i am a saudi who worked in the States and the UK, i dont understand why you didnt go to your embessy, if you would have even mentioned it to your employer he would have paid you with a smile

i do agree with you about many lazy people but not only saudis, the good saudis who work and understand how to be proffesional in the work place never get a chance to be employed and the reasons are: 3rd world country labour lobbies who make sure these qualified saudis dont get hired in order not to take their job and this is the dumbest theory i have heard because business owners dont want saudis, i worked as a labour worker in the UK and the USA and got paid more than a person who works in an office due to labor laws being a lot more fair hence the blue color and white color jobs, but here the business owner can hire a bengali and pay him 300 dollars a month to work long hours 6-7 days a week and the labor worker cant even complain and thats the truth of how we are one of the worst countries when it comes to labor laws

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 21, 2015:

Hi Sanjoy,

If you want to know all about being an expat worker in Saudi Arabia I suggest that you follow the links in the article above and they will take you to a whole series of information about working and living in the kingdom.

Sanjoy on September 18, 2015:

Hi, I am from India. I have applied for a training managers position for an international hotel chain at their pre-opening property in Al-ahsa. I guess I will be on the payroll of the local owner. What should I expect?

Elina ponting on August 20, 2015:

Great and a very useful blog for me. Thanks a lot for sharing the blog.

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

Hi Panaka,

There are no taxes levied on salaries in Saudi Arabia.

panaka on June 26, 2015:

Is it true that there are 20% taxes on the oil and gas expat salaries? on June 07, 2015:

I'm Saudi man and i'm very proud and also i'm very happy for your clear and honest article. I agree with you almost 100% .

i wish Saudi Arabia go on to highest level of rights.I stablished construction establishement then I closed it because of new rules of employment which makes it too difficult to pay salary and afraid to injustice employees. Also, i hope the government inforce the companies to have good place for their own employees.

Thanks again for honest which makes other trust you when they work with you.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 23, 2015:

Thank you for your comments A.S.Shaikh. I did not follow the case as I went to another job and I would not have been able to do that if I had taken the case.

A, S, Shaikh on May 22, 2015:

Dear Leanman,

Your article is very realistic, and you surely have the guts and patience to sue a Saudi Company. But you did'nt mention what happened in the end. Did you follow the case or returned unfollowed.

However I agree on a lot of things with you. Your answer to one of the commentor "Mohammad Abdul Mujeeb" also is inspiring.

Muslims need to learn certain things from people like you and accept them unbiased (without dogmatism).

this certainly will help the Muslim society Insha Allah (Not Hypocritically, Ha ha).

jeygi gideon on May 11, 2015:

very interesting article.. i've seen extreme laziness of saudi employees in our company, abuses to us expats. some of my colleagues cried literally. We felt exploited, abused in some ways, but the key is observe, be patient and learn to say sweet words. I initially worked as site engineer to random distant substations, but due to manpower exploitation and HR's poor performances on safety issues, I found chance and switched position and take advantage of office work, managing contractor autocad drawings, and observing office politics. On few occassion I seen some of my older colleagues envying my work status and role, and my salary. I worked less and had more salary than them, and i am more of a rookie. What strikes them more is that our manager and my colleauges are of one nationality, yet i found my natural position and screwed them. Though as much as the rest of my colleauges I too experience the bad on occassion and had odds that are against me, but friendliness can go a long way. Just be vigilant, patient, and friendly. Dont fight with authorities. Just be watchful. I am a Filipino Engineer

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

Hi Tony

You can find salary information for different roles within Saudi Arabia on Bayt dot com. However you should just write what you really think you should be paid. If you are looking to maintain that $500 a day rate then request that as your wage but give it as a monthly rate so as to avoid any confusion. Most management roles do come with all of the usual car, compound accommodation, health care, holidays, paid tickets and bonuses at the end of your contract. Good luck with your negotiations and I hope that you enjoy your time there in Saudi.

Tony on April 05, 2015:

I am offered a Security Manager position with a Saudi Arabian Company. I was asked to write up a proposed package but I am not aware of what type of package I should expect. I was told that I will be given accommodations on the compound (was told compound is a 5 star) and given a car also. I will be working for 11 months and be given a round trip ticket back home for 30 days paid vacation. I was also told during the interview that I will be given a bonus at the end of my completed year. I have worked in Iraq for over 7 yrs as a SM for $500 a day. What would be your suggested package I should advise the company?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 09, 2015:

Hi Tom

That is a clause that you will see in many contracts in many countries to protect a companies intellectual property. However it is a clause that is often hard to implement for an employer and many people ignore it. However please note that it could be enforced but it is unlikely.

Tom on March 09, 2015:

I have been offered a contract with a Saudi company. The contract states that when once my contract is over I can't work for a competitor for 2 years. Is that normal and is it legal ?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 22, 2015:

Hi Warda; I have generally found Saudi women far more responsible when it comes to work. Unfortunately this view of Saudi work ethics is shared by almost all expats that I know.

Warda on February 21, 2015:

Well, you face the bad situation but this is not the majority. I'm a Saudi woman and I work. I've never been enslaved to money. I work to help my people. help people and I do my work. I've never played play station at my office! !! Well this is a bad image !!

kbr1971 on February 01, 2015:

Thank you very much for you patience. Really appreciate your willingness to help people with your advice, knowledge and experience.

Thanks to people like you, there is a lot of clarity with which people like me can travel to SAUDI for working.

God Bless and best wishes on all your Endeavors. : -)

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

Hi again KBR,

The company has to apply for your visa and it is allocated against a specific job role, in this case "supervisor". That is the job that will be mentioned on your Iqama when it is issued.

Job titles can be changed, however if the company is not allowed to hire for the new job title they will not be allowed to change the title on the paperwork. The reality is that it will have little or no impact on your job or how you are treated in Saudi. I have never had a job title on my Iqama or visas that has ever matched the job that I was employed in. I would not worry about it as long as it does not just say laborer or driver; supervisor is fine.

Police will only ever want to know that you have a valid Iqama, they will never get involved in checking your employment conditions and contracts to see that everything matches. It will not be an issue to you where you are working.

kbr1971 on February 01, 2015:

Thank you very much for the response

Few more questions

- Is the profession mentioned on IQAMA dependent on type of VISA?

- If the VISA allotted is "LABOUR VISA" will it hinder the Profession / Designation to be mentioned as "STORE MANAGER" / "MANAGER" on IQAMA?

- Does the Employer / Organization have the authority / power to show my Profession/Designation as "MANAGER" or is it upto the SAUDI EMBASSY

My understanding is as below

- If the VISA is LABOUR VISA then the Profession / Designation correction in IQAMA will be difficult as it will be against verification / certifications of Graduation or Diploma . As I am a non graduate , more precisely I have completed 12 years of schooling attended college but not completed the course hence I don't have any Certificates for verification / attestation by SAUDI Embassy or HRD at my country. My employer is aware of Education background , has considered my profile and offered me the role purely based on my Experience.

- If the VISA TYPE and PROFESSION/Designation on IQAMA doesn't match then I can get troubled / harassed / detained by the local police and deported back to my country.

Please advise if my understanding is correct .

Looking forward to clear my doubts 100% before going forward with the VISA Processing to avoid any kind of inconvenience to self as the ORGANIZATION once I land up at Riyadh.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 31, 2015:


Supervisor is your job description which will be indicated on your visa. It is very common that the job description will be different to the actual position that you take. You actual visa is a "work visa" or "labor visa" which is the proper visa for employment within Saudi Arabia. If you are happy with the offer letter then you should be fine; note however that Saudi labor law takes precedence over any contract if the contract offers less protection than the law there.

Take a look at my hub on Visas if you would like more information about Saudi Arabian Visas;

kbr1971 on January 31, 2015:

Thanks for reverting Sir.

Apart from the Supervisor what are the other class of VISA? As they want me to join within 60 days time they are suggesting to go for a Labour Visa. What may be the cons? They have given me a Offer Letter (pdf attachment) . Can they revise the same while signing up the contract at KSA?? They have mentioned the Salaries will be credited thru a Bank account.

Would have any feedback regarding TAMIMI Markets as an employer or Organization??

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 30, 2015:


You will almost certainly provided with a "work visa"with the job title of "supervisor" going by what you are saying. Your visa will be converted into an Iqama within 3 months which is your residency. Your sponsor (employer) will hold your passport and you will require an exit-reentry visa to leave which is issued by your sponsor. You cannot leave without their permission and you are not allowed to hold your own passport - so be aware that if you have bad relations with your employer you could have problems.

As to family once you have your Iqama you can apply for your family to join you, however if you are being told "single status" then your sponsor will not be going to help you with the expense of bringing your family.

kbr1971 on January 30, 2015:

Hi Sir,

I have an offer fromTamimi Markets (Safeway) for "Store Manager" role. I have been offered single status, 12500 sar per month , fully furnished house, car with fuel and maintenance, 30 days paid leave with return airfare and an option of taking a leave additional one time in a year.

I am undergraduate and have been considered for this role purely on experience.

Please help in understanding

- what level of visa will be issued to me? I had asked them to give me a family status and Mudir Visa but they have declined the same stating my non graduation. They are mentioning a Supervisor Visa

- what is Supervisor visa?

- does it allow my family to visit me?

- Does it allow multiple entry / exit

Thanks in advance.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 29, 2015:

Thanks for reading Horatio and good luck with finding a job in Saudi or elsewhere in the Middle East. I am sure that you will enjoy working there.

Horacio on January 26, 2015:

Hi Tony,

Very good your post (I followed him closely and you talk seriously about the reality of the Saudis workers)

I laughed a lot with this phrase "Trying to get a Saudi to do some work is like asking your teenager to clean their room"

I'm trying to take a job in the middle east, after I can comment also about these events.

Thanks for your post Tony

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 15, 2015:

Hi Awais

I have also replied to the email that you sent to me but I will repeat much of what I told you here;

When you work legally in Saudi Arabia you can only work for your sponsor; the person that requested the visa for you. If you are working for anyone else then you are illegal and can be deported as well as having no protection through Saudi labor law.

Many people enter Saudi Arabia on an "Azad" or paid visa - these are just visas being sold by people in Saudi Arabia - they apply for a visa for a driver or menial laborer and then sell that visa to allow someone to come to the country and work in the labor black market.

While some people will come, find work, and then transfer sponsorship many find that they cannot. Some sponsors refuse to allow you to transfer as they can force you to keep paying them so that you can stay in Saudi Arabia.

Many companies will also not hire people without valid sponsorship, or if they do they hire on reduced wages and there are no guarantees of being paid or any other benefits.

While you may be lucky and find work and not be caught it is far better to use the normal channels.

As an IT graduate you should have no problems finding a job on one of the many websites that service the middle east and Saudi such as Employment through one of these sites will be legal plus the sponsor/employer will pay your visa and also your flights so it will not cost you anything.

AWAIS on January 14, 2015:


I have done Masters degree in IT/Networks and looking forward to come to saudia on paid Visa for a Job...What do you suggest ..As a fresh graduate (1 year experience)..would I be able to get Job related to my profession..

AV on December 10, 2014:

This is very useful.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 29, 2014:

Shuvendu, thank you for reading.

As to answering your question; only you can decide if what you have been offered is enough for you and if it is a good job. I do not know the company but if you search on LinkedIn or even Facebook you may find others that work for the company that you can talk with.

Shuvendu Dasgupta on November 28, 2014:


I am Indian & got a job in KSA in the company named Rowad al jazeera 4000/months+ others facilities for 2 years contract. Is this suitable? Please guide.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on October 24, 2014:

Hi Waseem, I do not know the company that you are referring to. The best thing is to look them up online and see if you can kink with your countrymen that work with them through LinkedIn or even Facebook.

waseem on October 23, 2014:

hi, i got job in saudi aramco with contractor arabian fal. the Arabian Fal is a good company or not.they are giving 3000+300(food),free accomidation,transport.can saudi aramco give permenent job after getting please tell about Arabian Fal company.

Kenneth on October 09, 2014:

this is worth reading. Thank you for the good info.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 29, 2014:

Hi Uma,

I am glad that my Hubs on Saudi Arabia have been of help. However I know nothing about the company Jai international limited, try searching on LinkedIn as this is often a good source of information and may even introduce you to people who work there.

uma on July 28, 2014:

Hi .. I studed Every inch and centimeter of entire hubs on Saudi.. and it is very informative and eye opening.. After going through i feel like withdraw the offer .. By the way may i know about Jal international limited.. i will be obliged if you can help me with this piece of information.. though i found it average in my Google study.. Thanks..


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

Hi Yogendra, you left another comment about working as an expat in Saudi Arabia but it did not make sense in English.. Feel free to try again.

yogendra singh bisht on July 06, 2014:

Lean man abdhul who is that parsan you can half mi

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 12, 2014:

HI Abdul,

Just start searching for jobs online and start applying. I am sure you will have as much chance as anyone else.

Abdul Syed Faisal on June 11, 2014:

Hi LeanMan,

I wish you are doing fine. I am currently working in Saudi Arabia. I wanted to work in Europe that coming from here. Is it hard to transfer to Europe starting from here? I am in the finance industry by the way.. May you help?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 04, 2014:

Hi Hannes,

You can check salaries through for similar positions across the middle east. Cost of living is relatively low. At the end of the day you have to decide if the offer is enough for you.

Hannes on June 04, 2014:

Hi, I got offereda job as a Paramedic, Afras based in Riyadh, at King Khaled International Airport, Saudi Arabia for $4800, do you think it is reasonable, what are the general salaries? And what is the cost of living in SaudiArabia? Thank you

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 04, 2014:

Hi Bill,

Only you can decide if the salary is sufficient. Just be aware that every countries rules are different as to what can be claimed as tax free income and it will normally depend on the amount of time spent overseas during the tax year.

As to short term accommodation, depending on what you are looking for you can find cheap hotels or even a short term apartment on some of the compounds. Ask your employer as to what is available where you will work.

bill kramer on June 03, 2014:

Someone have offert me a short term consulting

assignment of 6 month for about 15k USD/month incl. housing, medical etc. Is that reasonable and where can I find accommodation for such a short time? Thanks!

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

HI Tinnu

It really has to be your own decision if you want to go to Saudi Arabia. Most people choose to go purely for the money and if the salary is right for you then why not?

tinnu on May 18, 2014:

I am PhD in marketing with 15 years of expe.Have a job offer from Dammam uni @10000/-.Want to know about the quality of life for me as an academoician.Do you suggest me go there?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 17, 2014:

HI Lyn,

Not sure what contract status is, it maybe something relating to your employer rather than an "official" status used by the authorities. However if anyone knows different I am sure they will leave a comment here.

Lyn on March 17, 2014:

Hi Leanman, let me commend you for your great hub, very informative and helpful. Keep it up! Just have a couple of questions. I recently got hired at Security Forces Hospital in Makkah, still on the process of my deployment. I read in my offer letter that my contract status is International Type B (S), do you have any idea what does it mean? does it have any privilege? Thanks and hoping to hear from you. JazakaAllah khair!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 26, 2014:

Hi Marghoob,

It all depends on your motivation and reasons for working for a company in Saudi Arabia. If you are coming for the money and you have been offered a well paying position then go. But if you are looking for somewhere where you are going to always be treated with respect and valued then maybe it is not such a good idea.

Many people actually enjoy working in Saudi Arabia, I do! But others find it just too much stress.

Marghoob Ahmed on February 26, 2014:

Guys .... I have to join a Saudi company in coming month...but after reding above I'm confused ..... Should I come to KSA or not?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 09, 2014:

Hi Ahmed,

Thank you for taking the time to comment about working for companies in Saudi and about the Saudi work ethic. Yes there are some really nice, hard working and effective Saudis out there, just the same as there are some work shy, incompetent westerners. But unfortunately if you go into almost any company you will find that the majority of the Saudis are very much as I have described them above.

There are problems that need to be addressed in Saudi and unless people recognize them and "accept" them they will never be corrected.

Ahmed on February 06, 2014:

Good article,

After reading the article, I went through some of the comments, and I have to say as a Saudi national, I agree (not completely). Granted, lots of Saudis are lazy workers, and the some have crazy expectations (Overnight managers), which is sad. Having studied, and worked in UK for the past 6 years, after returning the working environment was different than what I have expected. A lot of companies will pay you well, and will give you good money if you're a foreigner, and if you're a Saudi you will get probably half the pay. Granted, as you said, most Saudis won't work, but at the same time there are some gems, and those gems are lost in because of that.

I have been working for a company that by far gives little to none wages, and the "Canadian" GM earns SR55,000 doing absolutely nothing. Other than delegating all his tasks to his Saudi secretary.

We do have women in my company, and they do have their own space, but they also share our working space (have in mind this is a 100% Saudi Company). Either way, working for a multinational company is a lot different than working for a company that is based in just one country, and that I believe is a general thing that won't change no matter what country you work for.

Eventually, if you're planning to work in Saudi try and choose an International corporation, or a Bank, other than that you won't get paid as much.

I have to say felt some anger, which I couldn't help due to the fact you're talking about my country, but at the same time it's not that I had to keep in mind that most of it (even though a bit harsh) was true. Keep in mind a lot have changed since when you wrote it.

Thank you for the article.

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

Hi Girdhari,

Just remember that the company that is going to employ you is responsible for all of your recruitment costs etc. So the intermediate should not be asking for you to pay anything - if they are beware!

girdhari singh on December 17, 2013:


I got a call from saudia arebia paint industry for job as chemist. But there is a intermidiate from hedrabad india between me and that company. What type of precaution should i take before giving approval of that job.?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 04, 2013:

Hi DawnBreaker,

Housing costs in Saudi can vary considerably depending on what you are looking for; you can find a "room" for less than 1000 riyals a month, a basic apartment for less than 10k per year or a luxury one for 40k per year. These will be off compound. If you want a place on a compound then prices can be as little as 40k to as much as 200k for a villa, and availability is usual very tight. This will help

Cars can be bought fairly cheaply and rental is also fairly inexpensive.

DawnBreaker on November 28, 2013:


Just got an offer to work as contractor for Aramco but employer will be Jal International. As not direct through Aramco, will need to find housing. Any idea how much housing cost in Abqaiq (Biqayq)? The contract includes basic salary + 40% for accomodation, food, family status, 3 holiday flight tickets but no car/transport. I guess I need to buy a car once over there. Anything else can you think of need to be stipulated in the contract? many thanks

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 21, 2013:

Hi AG23,

The following hub will give you the bulk of the info that you need as well as providing links to all of the other hubs in this series so you can get in depth information about working as an expat in Saudi Arabia.

AG23 from Bangalore, India on November 20, 2013:


I have a offer as civil engineer based in riyadh for a company dar al riyadh. Can i get sme reviews abt the company and tips on likfe in riyadh. I m frm maharashtra, india.



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

Hi, thanks for spending the time to read and make comment. Yes I am very aware that people from third world nations are treated very badly when working for companies in Saudi Arabia. I have seen the treatment with my own eyes, it is very hard at times not to get involved!

NoNickName on November 09, 2013:

Thank you for sharing. And let me assure you that you have been treated much better than other people from third world nations


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 06, 2013:

Hi Manohar,

Congratulations on your job offer, I hope everything goes smoothly for you. If you follow this link to one of my hubs it contains an overview of everything you need to know about working in Saudi Arabia as well as links to more detail for each subject area;

manohar on November 06, 2013:

hii i jst got job visa in saudhi from riyadh pharma how is the place riyadh and what precautions i should take going to work in ksa

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on October 08, 2013:

Hi Sri,

Dress code in the work place is generally specific to a company, however within Saudi Arabia is is important to dress conservatively and respectfully. So shorts should be knee length when in public and t-shirts should not be of the sleeveless variety.

You should be treated reasonably well within the workplace as your position is a professional one, just be aware however that many Saudis will treat you poorly in public as most Indians are seen as third class citizens by the bulk of the population and they will not ask to see your resume before they decide how to treat you.

Sri on October 08, 2013:

Hi LeanMan

I was reading all blogs from past 2hrs :) I am having question as I am Indian and IT professional with 15years worked across Glob except middle east, It was never in list or tried. I don't know what god and fiat decided, I got offer in Saudi on condition that I will stay in Bahrain. I had been offered around 10,000USD per month all inclusive, Now my question is how professional are treated at work place? Because I had never faced any issue either in europr, USA or Asia? Is there any dress code to follow?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 23, 2013:

Hi Saleem, have you thought about professional help? Maybe a good psychiatrist may be able to help.

saleem on September 23, 2013:

bing bam boom,,,,,yes i am forgot lean if you go out to your kingdom all the people here in KSA will Die HHHHHHHHH,,,,,,,,i am sure if i meet you at Dammam i will marry you first then i will shoot you like insect

Syed on September 22, 2013:


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 21, 2013:

Hi Syed,

Tell your cousin to contact his embassy for help. If he is working legally he can raise a case through the Saudi Labor Court and he will eventually win his back pay and get his passport returned but this can be a lengthy process.

syed on September 21, 2013:

Hi LeanMan,

My cousin working in Saudi Arabia for Limited Company as a QC Inspector from last six months he didn’t get single month salary. When my cousin asked for transfer or exit they are not willing to give & asking 6000 SR for his passport in this case what should he do please advise. He is from India.

Thanks and regards.

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

Hi Saleem,

I am sure Saudi Arabia would do fine if all of the expats got up and left it to the Saudis... I can just imagine how things would be with no drivers, maids, laborers or anyone else to do any work.

The oil will not last for ever, at least your king is trying to build economic cities to secure your future but I don't see many Saudi's working hard to make successful Saudi companies to locate there.

Saleem on September 20, 2013:

hayyyy,go to hell and let saudia for saudis,,,,you are growup here and your shoulder become very fat from this country bounties,,,What you think yourself??? are you qualified to talk about Saudi Arabia??? i dont think so.You need 1000 then you talk about KSA .....thats reality we are life in 2013 and the degenerates talk about KSA

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

Hi Richard,

I know people that are paid more and also people that are paid less. You have to ask yourself if it is enough for you. It would be a great salary for you back home in the Philippines and if you are sensible you will save well and invest your money back home.

Once you are in Saudi you have the chance to look for promotion and pay rises within the company you are in as well as look around at other companies; the important thing is to get that initial position to get there.

Richard on September 19, 2013:

Hi LeanMan! I just would like to obtain your opinion relative to my salary offer. Im offered a SR5000 +transportation and accomodation as an accountant for a construction company in al khobar. Is this rate fair? Im from Philippines.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 16, 2013:

Hi Bandar, I love working in Saudi Arabia; I love the money, I love not paying tax, and I love the fact that there are so many jobs available as most companies cannot find a reliable hard working Saudi to fill the post. Yes there are some hard working and very nice Saudis, but I am very sorry to say that the majority are far from hard working!

I think that maybe instead of justifying their behavior and allowing it maybe you should do something about it and make your society better for everyone instead of calling the people that you invite there to help you "stupid"!;

Bandar on September 16, 2013:

I think this man who wrote the article is a looser layer. If Saudi is not a good place for you why you are still here? We have met many western people who are thankful to Saudi Arabia and not like you. And to your information we are not lazy worker and many expats form western countries are so stupid and I am wondering how they got a qualification degree. Don't misguide the people by telling lies on Saudi society. There are negative things I agree but when compared to UK it is nothing to mention. Go back to your home country and taste happiness in paying taxes and insurance and counting your bills every month.

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

Hi Cat,

Most European women from overseas get employed in teaching positions or medical positions. Unless you have skills that no other man has you are going to find it next to impossible to find employment in Saudi. They will prefer to employ men and would only consider a woman if there are NO male applicants with the required skills, and even then they may just continue looking.

For a business management position there will likely be many men available so they would be very unlikely to employ a woman with all of the issues that will be involved.

That being said, you never know, apply through all of the usual websites and see what you can find.

Good Luck, let us know how you get on.

Cat on August 23, 2013:

Hello LeanMan

I am considering to work in KSA (Jeddah) and I am seeking for employment. However, as you know its very hard to find work as a sinlge European woman; nevertheless, I would like to ask if you have any advice where I could apply or rather which companies employ women. At the moment I am finishing my Masters in Oxford (Business Management), previously I did my Bachelors in International Management in Germany, I am multilingual (German, English, Italian, Spanish) and think that my broad theoretical background might be from advanatge for finding a job. However, it is very difficult to find comanpies in Jeddah employing women, so I hope that you might be able to help me. Kind regards.

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

Hi Unnik, sorry you have had such a bad experience working within Saudi Arabia. I know that many companies do not treat their employees well but also there are many that do. You should always try to do your homework on any company before you work there.

Contact other employees through linkedIn and facebook or other social media and look for reviews and comments by searching the web. In today's internet age it is simple to research a company before you accept a job.

Unnik420 on June 02, 2013:

I would like to sincerely share my bad experience with one of the Manpower Company in Saudi Arabia Eastern Province by name Mohammed Al Zoabi Corp. (MAZCO). This company exploits its employees by delay in payment of salary, Provide cheap airline ticket with multiple transits points instead of providing direct flight ticket, vacation schedule problem, delay / hold in paying vacation amount, not paying End of Service benefits, etc. So I advise all my friends who are seeking job in this company to think again before taking final decision.

Alimjan Abla on May 11, 2013:

Thank you very much LeanMan...

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

Hi Alimjan,

Not being an academic and moving in those circles I cannot really answer your question, That being said I often get emails from fresh graduates who are asking whether they should take teaching positions etc so I would guess that they are often employed there in Saudi Arabia.

Alimjan Abla on May 10, 2013:

Hi LeanMan,

I am very happy to join this conversation. I am about to start a PhD in Petroleum geology in King fahid University of petroleum and minerals. Could you please tell me the situation of fresh graduates ( non-saudi) in Sadui Arabia? Is it possible to take academic positions in colleges after PhD graduation? or they only hire people with western degree? Please give some suggestions, Thank you.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 05, 2013:

Hi aimpower

Don't worry too much about the tattoo, but do try to keep it covered up in Saudi and don't make a big deal of it, I know Saudis that have tattoos although they are frowned upon! It is unlikely that he will get arrested just for that, as long as he follows all of their rules and stays out of trouble he will be fine. Many Filipinos go there and spend many years without any problems.

It is not uncommon for people to be asked to do work other than for what they have been hired for; if your husband is happy with the work and is being paid correctly then it is very much a personal decision. That being said it would be pretty difficult for him to say no and refuse to work!

aimpower on May 05, 2013:

Hi Leanman!As I have read the comments, I know that this will help me a lot from my worries. My husband just arrived a few weeks in Dammam Saudi, Arabia.We are both Filipino, you said that they are very strict in checking your permits if you are Filipino in nationality. My husband seems to enjoy his work there which is owned by an Arab National thru an agency here in the Philippines, believing that he will survive his stay for two year contract, but He admitted to me last night that his having worries and something bad might happened to him because of his tattoo. He passed the medical exams and nothing to worry about it, the only thing that frightens him is that people around him told him that if Motawa saw his tattoo, they will put him in jail with no question asked and that bothering him right now.But his employer saw his tattoo and reminded him to cover it whn he goes in Saudi.

Do we have reason to be frighten if he does nothing wrong?

And another issue, his work designation should be as trailer driver, but now he becomes an asphalt machine operator because Pinoys working there for 20 years need someone to train before the company gives them a vacation and my husband, being young, fast learner and has a good built has an eye for him. Is this a common scenario?

Does he have an authority to complain to his employer or just accept the work as long as the salary is still based on his contract.

Please help me resolve this issues..Thank you so much.You have been a big help!

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

Hi Badshah,

I only really use facebook and linkedin to keep track of what is going socially. I am sure that there are many other forums and websites that you could go to whatever your problem may be. Feel free to post your Saudi issue here if you need some advice.

badshah on April 27, 2013:

Good day Leanman,

I want to now what kind of forums and platforms are available for expats especially the Indians as the Indian Embassy is not strong enough what i see till now.U just give the proper website or any link so that i can get the proper answer for my problem which i am facing now.

Kindly,look into it waiting for your positive response..


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

Hi Arief,

You can find answers to all of your questions by following the various links in the sections above which will lead you to many different subjects. You can also download a full copy of the Saudi Labor Law if you do a quick search for it online.

You cannot work part time officially as you should only work for your sponsor, that being said many people do find additional employment there.

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

Hi Pooja

The only reason that anyone goes to Saudi Arabia is to earn money, something which can be done very easily in this country. Not knowing the job your husband has taken or what nationality you are it is hard to say if the salary is appropriate but it is a reasonable salary.

If your husband is coming to work there and not to break any of the rules then he will be fine, there are many expats working for companies in Saudi Arabia and I am sure that your husband will be fine.

arief on March 10, 2013:

Good day LEAN MAN

This is mohammed arief from INDIA, I got job offer from GALVANCO RIYADH as mechanical engineer through a consultant based in MUMBAI INDIA, The company is offering SR 3500, I would like to know how the company work & timing in SAUDI for the people who works under SAUDI LABOUR LAW, Im a graduate engineer B.TECH MECHANICAL , The company said they are going to provide me TECHNICIAN VISA, but the work will be related to ur degree, & moreover company is going to provide me accomdation & food, Im interested to go SAUDI bcozz i need to earn money for my family . I had a contract with them for 2 years. I have to leave INDIA in one week bcoz my VISA already dispachted from SAUDI....

1. I would like to know how i can be treated thee

2. working timings

3. Can i get part time job to work there

pooja on March 06, 2013:

Hi I am pooja... my husband has got a job in Al khobar in a company named Electronia in Hussain building... He has been offered SR 16,000 per month... is this a good salary over there??? The experience which I read in your blog is actually telling me that my husband should not take this job... need your advice

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

Hi Siva,

They cannot legally change your contract without your approval and signature. However if you sign it you accept it! If they try to force you to accept it and refuse to pay your contracted wage you can take them to the Saudi labor court. Do a search online and you will be able to find a copy of the Saudi Labor Law.

Siva on February 27, 2013:

Dear Mr.Leanman,

I came to KSA on Dec’12. I’m working as a Mechanical Engineer in a private company. Before some days I got a call from my friend who was selected along with me and staying in India(waiting for visa). He told his job contract was revised from 8k to 6k. When he contacted the company they told “this is not only for you. First we’ll revise the contract for the people those who didn’t came here. After that we’ll revise it for the people those who are all joined/working here.If you want sign it otherwise leave it”.

My question: Is it possible to revise/deduct the salary which they mentioned in contract after they joined? If it happens what legal steps I have to take? Please advise us. We’re more than 40 nos. of people. Your reply is valuable to us.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 22, 2013:

Hi again Marc,

It would be best not to make roll ups in public for those reasons, you may find yourself with some unwanted attention and they are as likely to arrest first and ask questions much later!

As to your gel, do not bring it, find an alternative; even things like mouthwash and so on in Saudi are produced in alcohol free versions. There really is no alcohol on sale legally in any form - although you can get as much of the drinking stuff as you need if you know the right people; they are very hypocritical when it comes to booze!

Marc on February 20, 2013:

Something else I just realised... I follow a medical treatement consisting in applying a gel on my shoulders (not really drinkable!). I must take it everyday for life. I just checked its composition, there is ethanol (Alcohol) in it... Will a paper from my doctor be suffiscient or should I seek another solution?

Marc on February 20, 2013:

Thank you LeanMan you for your re-assuring answer. I actually can't wait to visit that other planet (I am very culture curious even if I know I will have to remain cautious with my interactions and my behaviour). I might even extend a little my stay a few days more than my work duties for tourism...

I meant for the tobacco that I do not smoke industrial cigarettes due to the additives, besides I can't stand them. I actually smoke roll ups by choice not for any other reason... Because of the aspect of roll up tobacco, I was wondering if that could not get me into trouble...

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

Hi Marc,

Certainly do not try to take any pot with you!!

That being said, most of my Saudi friends smoked the stuff so if they started to randomly test at the airport they would arrest half their own population!

There is no random drug testing at the airport so you will be fine.

As to using tobacco, I can't say I noticed anyone ever using it as cigarettes are very cheap there, my friends that used tobacco to mix with their other products would have to split open cigarettes. you could also try the "hubbly bubbly" pipes in the various cafes if you want to smoke something a little milder and different.

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