Category Archives: Expat Guides

Living in Saudi Arabia: Expat Guide From Globaleye

Not far ahead from Globaleye offices in United Arab of Emirates, Saudi Arabia has the largest economy throughout the MENA region; with an enormous amount of oil exploration and production, along with more industries growing from the oil industry and a plethora of contracts, the Kingdom is becoming an even bigger destination for foreign workers. While the rule of law can be a bit of a culture shock for British expats, as it adheres strictly to Islamic law, once knowing the customs and lay of the land, it’s quite simple for British expats to live in Saudi Arabia and live a comfortable life while holding an excellent job.

Employment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi holds over a quarter of the world’s oil reserves, which means that most jobs available for expats are centered around the energy industry and contracts to build infrastructure stemming from it. Yet, surprisingly a large amount of people are working within the services industry (approximately 30 percent) due to a growing population and demand with a flourishing economy. Foreign investment has always been sizable in the country, but a new boom of building up infrastructure is taking place; telecommunication networks, power grids and new exploration for natural gas are what’s fueling this economic boom. On top of that, the government of Saudi Arabia is trying to recruit people with technology backgrounds, healthcare experience and teaching to come work in the country. Though, it’s important to know that as an individual you are not eligible for a visa, rather, a company based in Saudi must apply for you.

Local Customs and Culture

After moving from the UK, one can easily experience culture shock, as religious law is strictly enforced, encompassing every part of life. Segregation by gender is commonplace and for western women, can be a shock and difficult to get used to in public places. Also, inappropriate dress, public displays of affection and drinking in public are punishable by law, so make sure to be well acquainted with the laws as to not end up in trouble unnecessarily. After getting used to the slight shift in lifestyle, it’s surprisingly comfortable and easy to get along.

Planning Your Financials

Like the UAE, one of the perks of working in Saudi Arabia is your income is tax-free. On top of that, costs of basic consumer goods, food and petrol are drastically cheaper than in the UK, which is one of the many contributing factors that’s bringing so many expats to the country.

But after basic cutting of costs, saving and pensions come to mind; unfortunately, foreigners are not eligible for Saudi’s generous welfare system. However, there is a particular pension a majority of British Nationals use in Saudi Arabia, known as the QROPS pension. QROPS allows expats to legally avoid UK taxes while also having pension funds being managed in the Riyal, Saudi’s currency. Tax planning is an absolute must as the chief reason for working in Saudi is the tax incentives; smart investing and pension planning are imperative. Though, QROPS can be complicated and it is important that you fully understand how it works, talk to an advisor at Globaleye today to find out more on how to save.

Moving to Qatar: Expat Guide From Globaleye

If you’re among the 500 new expats that move to Qatar each day, then you’re probably curious what living in your new home will be like and want to get to know the ropes before arriving. So here’s a general guide of what you should know before coming, what to expect, and how to get around in the ever-growing Gulf nation. This list from Globaleye will give you the key things you need to know in order to be prepared and to plan your financials so you’re not caught off guard.

Visas for your family

While you may have a visa for yourself, visas for you family are not necessarily a right. For one, you must be able to prove you’re earning more than 10,000 QR (£1,775) a month in order to act as a sponsor. In case your application to be a sponsor for your family is denied, the first thing you should do is ask your company to appeal and make your case. However, due to conservative laws, couples must be married if they are to live together and children cannot live in a household if the couple is not married. But if you do meet the requirements, family members who are sponsored can enter Qatar with a special entry visa and are required to apply for residency within a week of arrival. The full process for residency includes finger printing, blood tests for hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis. Check with your company on their specific policy on helping you apply for family visas, as some employers will require a waiting period of up to six months.

International Schools

As more and more expats flood into Qatar, so are many of their children and with them comes a demand for adequate education. But the problem is that the demand is higher than there are spots; waiting lists can take up to a year and some parents are even paying deposits to ensure a spot for their child.

Applications for schools are usually accepted over a several week period in January, and if you miss it, you’re out of luck until next year. You can look at lifeinqatar.com to find a list of schools and other helpful information.

So bottom line, plan well ahead if you don’t want you child to miss a step in their education. Also, check with your employer if they have education fees included in your employment package, as tuition fees can range from 30,000 QR (£5,285) to 51,000 QR (£8,985) a year.

Health

Unlike other countries in the region, Qatar has a good state health care system offered to anyone who registers, and surprisingly is available to expats too. However, long waits should be expected and if it’s urgent, many people go for private care, which can get to be expensive without proper health insurance. So it’s probably a good idea to look into if your employer offers health insurance, and if they don’t, a law is expected to be introduced this year requiring companies provide health insurance for employees.

Drivers License

Driving can be a bit stressful as roads during rush hour are packed and tend to be chaotic. Taxis are an option, but for long term they don’t make economic sense, as the price is quite high. When you first arrive, any valid driver’s license from any country is valid for one week while driving a rental, but after that you must get an International Driver’s License (IDL). But remember, once your residency approved, your IDL will be void and you must apply for a Qatari driver’s license immediately.

Exit permits

Since Qatar uses the sponsorship system, meaning every expat employee is represented by their employer, it means that they decide when you are permited to leave the country. And yes, even for those untimely emergencies. Depending on the company you’re working for, you can apply for annual multi-exit permits, or do it on a case by case basis. Best advice is to demand your employer includes multi-exit permits in your contract if you’re able to, otherwise you might be out of luck if your boss is out of town when you need them to sign a permit.

Living in United Arab Emirates: Expat Guide From Globaleye

The United Arab Emirates is very much a worldly country; after all, of the over 8.2 million people living there, roughly 17 percent are local Emiratis with the rest of the population being expats. While a great deal of expats are Indian and Pakistani, a large and constant influx of Brits are coming to the UAE, and most of them living in the financial hubs of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.
For the past 8 years the rate of UK expats moving to the UAE has stayed constant at over 10,000 a year, while also steadily rising as jobs in energy, tourism, construction and architecture, banking and other international trades have come to find the UAE as their new corporate home. And the wages are so good that less than 700 Brits are drawing from their UK state pensions.
While moving away from one’s country of birth can sometimes be a melancholy choice, trading the UK’s less than ideal winter weather for the UAE’s sunny skies, warm sandy beaches and pristine water makes coping with homesickness much easier. And although living expenses can be a bit high in places, especially Abu Dhabi, it’s still much more affordable to obtain a higher quality of life in the UAE than the UK, and that’s thanks to generous tax laws, you don’t have to pay any income tax to the UAE on money earned in the emirates.
If you’re planning on, or contemplating going to the UAE, whether for work or just for pleasure, there are a few things you should know and Globaleye can help.
Before you go you’ll need to apply for a visa, and each Emirate issues them separately. Along with the visa, if you intend to work in the UAE, a work permit, residence visa and Emirates ID card are obligatory. Employers will generally take care of this for you, but always double check to make sure nothing has been left out. And keep in mind for a residence visa, which is valid for two years, you must prove your salary is no less than AED 4,000 (£288) a month. Also, if you’re family will be moving with you, all birth and marriage certificates must be legalized by the UK Foreign Office, because you must be married to live with a partner in the UAE.
Unfortunately the UAE does not offer any pensioner visa, however if you are looking to retire there and can find someone who’s working there and earns enough so that they can sponsor you, it’s possible to obtain a visa that way. But keep in mind that once you move to the UAE and begin drawing from a UK state pension, the level it was at when you left the UK will be frozen, rather than growing each year.
Lastly, make sure to check that your employer has your medical insurance covered, such coverage is mandatory and you have a legal right to it. If you’re just visiting, you’ll still need to buy the most basic health insurance available upon entering the country.
Beyond those basics everything is very accessible in the UAE and while the official language is Arabic, English is commonly spoken, so if don’t expect to have any difficulty finding lodging, explaining directions to taxi drivers, or doing day to day activities.