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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.