Working as an expat in Saudi Arabia?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have any recent experience working as an expat in Saudi Arabia?

    For those who haven't, would you consider a job there?
  2. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    Would caution you to consider this carefully. While I haven't been there, I knew a few people who’ve taken contract work there, both short term and long term. Everything I've heard about short term contract work or consulting there, has been great. Everything I've heard about short term contract work is fine and generally lucrative. I personally would not consider long term contract work there, but that's certainly a personal decision. Just carefully consider any family obligations, relationships, lifestyle, and future career prospects after this. I did have a former coworker retire to the Philippines/Thailand while in his early thirties, after working there a few years though.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  3. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Another factor to consider, Chris: You have been quite vocal here on DI in terms of your support for LGBT issues. You have never said, however, whether you are gay (and considering your relationship with Liberty University, have smartly evaded the question).

    you are gay, keep in mind that there is a significant difference between, say, enrolling in Liberty and moving to Saudi Arabia. In other words, it might be appropriate to ask: Are you nuckin' futz? Achmed or Abdul may be hot looking, but an encounter with them could literally get you stoned. :D
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  4. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your feedback. What do you consider long term? For me, that's anything beyond a year. The prospective position is as -year contract, renewable indefinitely. I have no relationship/family obligations. I'm in my upper 20's. I am also not big on social life. I've been watching several expat videos online and contrary to the beliefs of many, there is some amount of social life. A common theme among the interviewees is their ability to travel regularly, something they couldn't do in their home country. I still have at least a year and a half at Liberty, so I'd focus most of my free time on working on my dissertation. My goal is to save as much money as possible.
  5. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I know all too well about the LGBTQ issue in Saudi. In fact, I wrote a research paper on Saudi last spring in my Comparative CJ class. In one of the sections I did an analysis of human rights in Saudi. Even things like drug trafficking will get you beheaded. I'm also aware that things like porn websites are blocked. I'm looking beyond the legal stuff. I think any smart individual will respect the Islamic laws while in the Kingdom. After this post, I went and found so many real experiences on YouTube and I must say Saudi seems appealing if you can adhere to their rules.
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    This is true of all people, except, of course, the Dutch.

  7. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Lol. :D I was referring to the country but I should have used "its" instead of "their." Of course, I've heard that the people are curious and friendly.
  8. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    Personally, I would consider long term at the point where you'll actually picking up an apartment or home there and not staying in hotels or company owned apartments. Look very carefully at the tax situation, generally you want to be out of the country for at least 330 days of the year for advantageous tax purposes... but it becomes complicated. I worked in the energy industry, and had many colleagues and friends who regularly traveled there for short term contract or consulting work, generally 2-4 weeks at a time. Everyone I know who did that, enjoyed the experiences and often had regular work doing that. At my former company, about the only other large conglomerate that would poach from us was Saudi Aramco. We'd occasionally lose a young high performer to them or a senior professional who was fully vested in our legacy retirement system. Everyone I knew who went there for the one year renewed contracts enjoyed it, and yes they provided very ample time off, and often would provide essentially all expenses paid vacations to any destination in the world. While I never heard real complaints about living there, most were very excited about when they had banked enough and could move elsewhere. Expat salary and benefits very greatly, my industry paid very lucrative for work there, others not so much nor is your treatment as respectable or the benefits as impressive. Really consider the living expense, moving expense, what they cover, visa restrictions, passport possession, and the tax ramifications carefully. As for having a contract renewed indefinitely, I would question how realistic that is. Most of the people I used to work with who worked there long term stated that they generally only would allow contractors to stay for x number of years at most, which is apparently a common practice in the Middle East. I had an senior managing engineer working for me who spend most of his career traveling through the Gulf, working as a plant manager for a variety of energy facilities, until they wouldn't renew his visas any longer.

    From what you described, I would strongly consider it in your situation. Would just really encourage that you perform solid due diligence. Wish you the best with your choice.
  9. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for this comprehensive response. If I am offered the position, I will ask questions about the areas of concern you mentioned. It's a college teaching position (a college within a government ministry) with a summer vacation. They stated that there is an annual home airfare allowance, annual summer leave, housing paid, transportation paid. They also provide a resettlement allowance (guess this is equivalent t0 moving cost), which is one month's basic pay. Let me clarify the indefinite contract renewal. It says based on the ability to meet the requirements of the work visa and I'm sure performance as well. I think many colleges in the U.S. offer such renewal faculty positions, usually contingent on funding and performance. I will definitely ask about all this stuff anyway, especially passport possession. When reading about KSA on the U.S. Dept of State website, it stated that it is illegal for them to take your passport and provides information on who to contact if it happens. However, I know it does happen to some people, maybe private employers and especially domestic workers? Idk. Thanks again!
  10. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    If you're looking at a faculty position within their government ministry, I'd imagine you'd be very well taken care of. In fact, I'd implore you to really consider the opportunity. Most of the issues I've heard with problems or passport confiscation, were with private employers and generally non-professionals. I don't believe you'd have any of those issues with a government ministry organization. I've never heard of passport confiscation by a major employer or government ministry, it's generally with private employers and workers that they can take advantage of.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  11. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Some ideas are just crazy. For example, I was happily teaching grad school and writing books, and one day I had the crazy idea of learning how to drive a tractor-trailer. I promptly dismissed it - for all of ten minutes, and realized that if I didn't do it I would probably kick myself in the ass ten years later and say, "If only I had . . ."

    When I went over the road the first time, I was hooked. I never missed teaching or writing (I would do plenty of both, but within the transportation industry, which was a lot more fun than higher education), and never had to kick myself in the ass. Ultimately, I would throw everything I owned into storage, move on board a truck full-time, and bop around the country on a constant vacation until I retired in 2018. No roots, nothing holding me down, and lots of opportunities to pursue my favorite addiction - live theatre - all around the country.

    So the question is, if you don't take the opportunity to spend some time in Saudi Arabia (or anywhere else as long as you're single and can be without roots), would you end up kicking yourself in the ass and saying, "If only I had . . ."

    As for me, I would personally pass on Saudi Arabia. When you travel on a U.S. passport and your last name is obviously Jewish, it doesn't really seem like a cool place to be.

    By the way - a note for the old-timers here on DI - we had an active member of the forum who spent two years teaching at the American University in the United Arab Emirates - let's call him "Dennis H." Dennis was one of our more famous forum members, having earned over a dozen degrees, all of them RA. Finally, like many of our past well-known denizens, he got a case of the degree forum fuck-its and moved onto greener pastures, although he still teaches in the online world.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  12. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I told my mom yesterday that if I am offered the job, I will be going. She's a devout Christian and always supportive of my decisions. I don't want to be the person who ends up saying "If only I had known..." I continue to research KSA and watch videos of expat's experiences. I may go and like it and I may go and not like it. There's only one way to find out.

    Btw, I don't have a Jewish name lol nor am I Jewish. I'm 100% Baptist :) I heard that if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport, you will be denied a KSA visa.
  13. copper

    copper Active Member

    My experience is not recent. Basically, you are hired help treated like second class citizen. Drive a car and an Arab hits you, its your fault because you shouldn’t have been in the Kingdom in the first place. Food was abundant and first class quality! Red sea great for snorkeling. My colleague wasn’t wearing a headscarf and got hit with a stick by the uniform police. Expect prayer time a lot! My hotel was next to chopchop square and witnessed half dozen beheadings, mainly drug smugglers. Lots of shops, jewelry, watches, etc. I’m sure you’ll live in a community of expats. UAE is completely different and Dubai is very luxurious. I don’t know what to say except I was relieved to leave. Not a good feeling basically.
  14. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing your experience :)

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