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Finding Employment

Saudi Arabia - Finding Employment


There are plenty of job opportunities for skilled and experienced expats moving to Saudi Arabia. The only downside is how restrictive the Saudi job market is in terms of offering migrants work. Here is what you should know about employment in Saudi Arabia and whether it is the right move for you.

The government of Saudi Arabia controls how many jobs go to international workers who are seeking greener pastures. Saudi Arabia currently gives priority to local people who completed their studies in a local university, or Saudi citizens coming from abroad for studies. As an expat looking to work in the country, it is important to realize that the best paying jobs are often filled up by Saudi people before an expat is considered.

However, expats with a unique set of skills and qualifications may be considered for the high paying jobs. Over the years, the Saudi Arabian economy has become more lenient to expats coming in with a skill set that is not available locally. Nevertheless, the only way for an expat to be sure of work is to do their research before traveling to Saudi Arabia.

Employment Sectors

Saudi Arabia is completing its last area of development, which is heavily focused on the private sector and industry. The financial sector is also thriving, with banking institutions forming a large portion of the Saudi commercial sector.

Expats seeking work can be absorbed in companies owned jointly by the Saudi government and a private company. The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation or (SBIC) is one such company. SBIC is one of the chief suppliers of petrochemical products, fertilizers and plastics in the Gulf states and abroad.

The mining industry in Saudi Arabia has also picked up over the years. Many of the Gulf States are now major suppliers of copper, phosphates and gold ore. Economic experts predict that the mining industry will grow to become the second stronghold for economic stability in Saudi Arabia. Besides mining, Saudi Arabia is also a chief manufacturer of cement, steel, iron ore and processed foods.

Employment in Saudi Arabia for an expat will mainly focus on with construction, government services or industry. Traveling through the Gulf States, you will quickly notice the industrial expansions happening in notable cities such as Jubail and Yanbu. Another vibrant sector in Saudi Arabia is that of agriculture, since the Gulf States are increasingly looking for ways to become self-sufficient in terms of food production.

Finding A Job

It is advisable for expats to be assured of a job offer before moving to Saudi Arabia. Given the strict control the Saudi government has on the job market, getting work after landing in the country can be quite difficult. There are also certain regulations that migrants will have to follow if they want to stay employed in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Arabian government only allows migrants to work on short-term contracts. Therefore, you can never be employed permanently in Saudi Arabia. If you would like to start a business in the country, the business must be a partnership with a Saudi national, who must be the major shareholder of the business.

The Saudi labor market is controlled by the ministry of labor and social services. This ministry regulates the number of work permits or visas issued to migrants. By doing this, the Saudi government is able to control the number of jobs going to international workers, as well as the number of people coming into the country. The government also controls immigration by introducing sponsorship of expats into the country.

Every expat moving to Gulf States to advance their career will require a sponsor. A sponsor is a person, company, or institution that will be your guardian and contact while you are in the country. The sponsor is responsible for arranging all the paperwork required on your behalf. Sponsors are also charged with the task of applying or reapplying for expat visas, signing rental contracts, opening bank accounts and applying for new jobs.

Expats employed in Saudi Arabia will have their employer as the main sponsor. Those arriving on holiday as tourists will be sponsored by the hotel or travel agency that welcomed them into the country. Students are sponsored by schools, colleges or the educational mentors accommodating them. If you want to establish a business in one of the Gulf States, your Saudi business partner automatically becomes your sponsor.

Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment agencies act as the link between the outside world and the labor market in Saudi Arabia. These agencies are normally located outside Saudi Arabia and source for the right talent to fill up advertised positions.

Through the years, recruitment agencies have been specializing on the kind of workforce they bring to Saudi Arabia. Agencies from regions such as America and the UK supply qualified staff to fill managerial posts and any other position of leadership in the commercial sector. Agencies from Asian countries such as India, Thailand and Sri Lanka bring in ample supply of manual labor for the construction and manufacturing industries. Some recruitment agencies supply qualified individuals who come to Saudi Arabia to work as nurses, accountants, computer specialists and engineers.

Once an agency has successfully found a job for you, the consultancy and agency fees go directly to the employer. Saudi employers often transfer this cost to the employee in the form of salary cuts. Expect to receive a deduction of 20 to 40 percent on your salary for getting a job via an agency. Fortunately, the fees charged are lower for top tier jobs such as company managers or certified engineers.

Freelancing And Temporary Work

For expats coming into Saudi Arabia without a job offer, freelancing is the next possible option. Freelancers provide professional services in various industries such as shipbuilding and repair, offshore installations, oil sector or construction. Again, all freelance job opportunities are advertised outside the country and qualified candidates are flown in. Expats hoping to freelance and arriving in the country without work are extremely rare.

Expats living in Saudi Arabia are allowed to find temporary or casual work before moving to something permanent. Temporary jobs available in the country include secretarial positions, retail in the tourism industry, driving for tourism companies or positions in bars and nightclubs.

Working Conditions

The Gulf States are considered some of the safest places to work as an expat. Another perk of working in Saudi Arabia is that no income tax is charged on your salary. Therefore, net income for most jobs advertised is often higher, another reason why migrants are eager to find employment in Saudi Arabia.


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