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Jobs in Saudi Arabia:Finding Saudi Employment: Expat work in KSA

Updated on January 21, 2015
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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.

Finding a Job in Saudi Arabia

Jobs in Saudi Arabia are becoming harder to find as fewer positions are now available for westerners due to the policy of defining jobs as being for Saudis only. But there are still many employment opportunities within companies available, finding Saudi employment is not yet impossible.

Using western agencies to search for Expat work in Saudi Arabia you can often find many positions advertised from jobs teaching in the various schools in the kingdom through to senior management positions in the oil and gas industries.

Construction is also another major area of growth and employment in the kingdom, Saudi Arabia is heavily investing in their infrastructure and in building several industrial cities to attract foreign companies to invest here. They know that they need to have their eggs in more than just the oil basket, so they are trying to attract as many businesses as possible to provide an income for the future of the country.

With zero tax to pay here the wages for working in Saudi Arabia are very attractive, especially as the cost of living is quite low and most employment covers the cost of your accommodation as well as return trips home each year. Because of this Saudi Employment is very attractive, in fact many people from third world countries are looking for jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Competition for jobs is not as great as people fear as many people are worried about working in countries such as Saudi Arabia, but personally I find working here just fine! Working in Saudi Arabia can be very good for your bank balance!

Working In Saudi Arabia

Jobs in Saudi Arabia
Jobs in Saudi Arabia | Source
Saudi Employment
Saudi Employment | Source

Where to search for a Job In Saudi Arabia

If you are looking to find employment in any part of the middle east start with the usual websites that you would use when searching for employment back home such as monster, many companies will advertise in these areas. Also use the regular newspapers such as the Telegraph in the UK which advertise many positions in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

If you want to better target your chances of finding work in KSA then there are a couple of other sites that I can recommend, the best being, which is a specialist job search site for the middle east.There are many positions advertised here for almost every industry you can think of.

The second is, this website charges a fee to join and says that it will translate your CV into Arabic. I joined to find out how good the service was but at the end of 12 months I never received my Arabic translation.  Also the service has many jobs, but they are all taken from other websites such as monster and It is useful still however as you can find jobs that you would not otherwise find that are advertised on some of the smaller sites.

Industrial Cities in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh Industrial city:
Al Madinah As Sina'iyah (Industrial City), Riyadh Saudi Arabia

get directions

Industrial City

Saudi Employment with Aramco

Interviews and Hiring

As you can imagine, for a company to hire a westerner from Saudi Arabia there is a lot of expense involved, especially if they want to interview you face to face. It is not uncommon to be interviewed by just the agent who will select the best candidate, or to go through a phone interview.

I do not like phone interviews, especially if they are international where you can often get very bad lines, coupled with language and accent difficulties they do not make for the most comfortable of interviews. Some people are hired based only an agent and/or phone interview.

I went through an interview process in the UK when I was first looking for a Saudi job, I was interviewed by an English guy who was working as an expat in Saudi Arabia, his boss (an Arab) sat in on the interview and made comments and interrupted at completely the wrong points for the guy trying to run the interview! Eventually the Arab took over the interview and offered me a different job to the one I was being interviewed for, obviously making the English guy very upset as he clearly wanted me for the position that he was interviewing for!

I was offered the job officially within a few days and was expected to fly within the week, which was one of the conditions of the employment in Saudi Arabia as they wanted someone urgently! This is often the case as people often just leave a job in the middle east if they can’t handle the change in working environment – it is not always what you expect.

Jobs in Saudi Arabia with Aramco

Things to check before working in Saudi Arabia

The following are things that I would suggest that you check and agree thoroughly before you accept your Saudi Employment and travel to avoid problems later. If possible try to talk with another expat working with the same company before taking jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Visa status, what sort of visa are you getting?

If it is a “Business visa” try to get a six month multiple entry visa, I kept being issued a 3 month one despite requesting 6 months! If you are on a business visa you are not employed by the company, you are working with them not for them! You normally will need a letter from an employing company in the UK or to have your own “consultancy”. My experience with these visas is not good, see my hub regarding Saudi Arabia work visas for more information.

The residence visa or work visa will enable you to get your Iqama (your residence permit) and you will be formally employed by the company. Without an Iqama you will not have a formal contract with your employer, you will not be able to open bank accounts and various other problems.

If your first visa is not a residence visa, when will it be issued and does the company have problems getting them? My first company had major problems gaining visas and made my working life hell because of it!


Most companies offer accommodation as part of your Saudi Salary Package, but does the company pay for it directly for you, what are you entitled to? Do they have accommodation already arranged? Many of the Saudi compounds are already full and you will need to get on a waiting list for somewhere to live if the company does not have something available.

If you are getting a housing allowance what can you afford, a simple three bedroom place on a small “cheap” compound will cost you from 100,000 SAR per annum, utilities and so on are cheap so don’t worry too much about these. You also need to consider furnishing, not everywhere is furnished although most compounds are.

If you are a westerner and it is your first time do not consider living off compound until you are fully aware of what there is available and where.

How will you be paid?

When will you be paid? What currency are you being paid in? (You can check average salaries in Saudi using

Do holidays include weekends?

Most holiday entitlements include the weekends as holiday days, and they expect you to take the whole entitlement in one long holiday, not two weeks here and a few days there.

What is the working week?

The weekdays here are Saturday to Wednesday, most companies work a half day on Thursday although there are some that work a full day, check as you may be signing up to a six day week!

Check out family type payments such as the additional housing costs, the need for a driver as your wife will not be allowed to drive, schooling costs and so on!

What Salary can you Expect in Saudi Arabia?

Salaries in KSA are generally much higher than you are likely to receive in your home country plus you are currently not going to be paying any tax. However you should check carefully the rules within your home country regarding tax. For instance in the UK you are only exempt from tax if you are outside of the country for a large percentage of the working year, so if you take a job in the last few months of the financial year you will likely to be liable for tax.

Salaries for Westerners

Most people that I know that have been offered their first position in KSA from the US or the UK generally get offered salaries that are a little higher than the top salaries for an equivalent job in their home country. However once you get into the country you can often easily improve on this salary either by internal promotion or by changing your job (if you can escape your sponsor!)

My last position was paying me around $11,000 (40k riyals) per month tax free. Most people I know earn between 15k to 40k riyals per month for engineering and management positions tax free.

Unskilled Salaries

However if you come to the kingdom to work as a maid, laborer or driver from a country such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines you may be offered wages that vary from 1k to 2k Saudi Riyals which is about $375 to $750 per month. While this may be very high when compared to available wages back in their home countries it can be a real struggle to survive in KSA.

Some are offered less, I know street cleaners from Bangladesh that are working for only 650 Riyals and Filipina cleaners working for cleaning agencies working for the same. This really is slave labor in KSA!

Skilled Salaries

Highly educated and qualified individuals from countries such as Pakistan and even some Arab countries can get similar wages to Westerners however it is more likely that they will be paid considerably less. I know many Engineers and Managers from Pakistan and the Philippines who are paid between 5K and 12K for their roles.

Saudi Labor Law

Your contract of employment should be based around Saudi Labor Law as should your terms and conditions. Should your contract specify anything less than that within the Law the Law takes precedent. You should familiarise yourself with the contents of the document (It is not too long and easy to read) so that you can become familiar with your entitlements as many companies will try to give you less!

You can look at an English translation here, however you should be advised that any translation may be open to interpretation and only the Arabic law itself is official.

Overseas Working

Would you consider working Overseas

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Do you Really Want a Job in Saudi Arabia?

Working in Saudi Arabia is really not for everyone, the rules are very proscriptive and the culture is very different to any other country I have ever been to. You can find out more about working as an expat in Saudi bu following this link; Working as an Expat in Saudi Arabia,

Saudi Arabian Job with Aramco


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