Moving to KSA – Understand the culture

When most people think of moving to Saudi Arabia, they think of public beheadings, flogging and amputations. These things tend to happen only if you do something wrong, but ordinary life there doesn’t sound like a very difficult life.

The excitement is that, as one booming economy after another crumbles into dust, this is a land of opportunity.  So, is it time for companies and individuals to revisit this overlooked market to see if the potential rewards outweigh that initial apprehension?

Is it really Worth to Enter into KSA?

The first good news is the Kingdom is not as bad as it sounds – although it is very much a man’s world. Riyadh, the capital, is more conservative than other parts of the country, such as Jeddah, and is an undistinguished city, but it is not unpleasant. The dry heat means you can walk around comfortably and, unlike the UAE, the streets are lined with shops, which makes it feel less anonymous. Expats are fairly positive about living there, although some say it’s boring

What it takes to live here, is it boring?

The question “What’s it like?” will be at the front of people’s minds when contemplating a move to Saudi Arabia. Well, for one thing, salaries are usually 30% to 40% higher than in the most emerging markets. Of course, salaries varies from organization to organization and some times purely depends on your origin country and the qualifications.

No Income tax, but there are a lot of other Govt fees like Iqama renewal, transfer fee, Degree holders engineers to pay Engineering council after every certain period, Licence fee, this fee and that fee….so many. almost it becomes equal to income tax , nominal compared to what you earn , but good news is usually covered by the company that sponsor you.

However, there is no doubt that life is much more restricted: alcohol is banned; women can’t drive and must wear the abaya – a long black cloak – and cover their heads in public. There are only 100,000 western expats in Saudi Arabia, so it’s a close-knit community. You need to be the right sort of person to live here; it helps if you are sociable.

What is a “Social Life”?

People complain that the main problem is that there isn’t much to do. There are no cinemas, bars or theatres and no social life but there is satellite television and the internet.  But one must ask themselves, what do you define a “Social Life”?.  If you believe no social life means “No pubs/ club, No free mixing of sexes, No Inter sex socializing, No Free flowing alcohol (at least not openly), No gambling and other such activities”, then KSA is not for you and you better not to think of coming to KSA. Better not to come rather than coming and trying to get frustrated. 🙂

Most religions including Islam teach how to lead a discipline life, how to conduct a happy, safe and healthy life.  One must respect, tolerant to other religions if you need to survive and live happily in KSA. If you respect Islam, and respect Saudi Culture, and you adhere by their rules, you are the best person to come in.

It is vital that expats respect local cultural and religious customs. 

 There are no positives in KSA? 

Lot of times, when it comes to talking about Saudi, people tend to talk about a lot of negatives, atleast I heard a lot of negatives where people literally asked not to shift when I decided to shift.

However, like many countries, KSA also have its own share of positives.

  • Big savings: housing and air tickets are often free and there are few distractions on which to throw away money; most people save a bundle.
  • Natural wonders: dunes, desert, coral reefs and caves offer extraordinaryhiking and camping opportunities.
  • Nearby travel opportunities: fascinating countries like Jordan, Eritrea and Greece are not far away.
  • Unusual attractions: the Nabatean tombs of Madain Saleh, the ancient architecture of Jeddah and Najran, the Hijaz Railway (destroyed by Lawrence of Arabia) are interesting sites seen by few outsiders.
  • Extreemly friendly Expatriate Network: You make great friends with people from all over the world.
  • Peace and quiet: Cities are really safe. The crime rate is extreemly low.
  • Good education for the children. 
  • Great restaurants and the old souks are wonderful to shop at. Lots and lots of shopping to be done, in fact, and electronics are especially inexpensive.

In one sentence, KSA, especially the capital city of Riyadh can be described as the place with a network of bridges, fly-over, over-passes, under-passes, grade-separated intersections, clover-leaf intersections, beautiful Malls & super markets, white-colored limousines (Taxis), flood of cars & vehicles on the road. Besides all of these above, I bet one would never miss the opportunity of having to come across too many Asians around mostly from the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.

Will cover in details about the life of Asians and the most common places one will chill out and the their life style in a separate blog.  I love this part and will call it “DESH in Pardesh, a little Asia in A foreign Land KSA” Stay tuned 🙂

Life in KSA

If you choose to work in Saudi then you must realize that they are human beings just the same kinds that you will find in your home country. Good, kind, helpful, crooked, mean, thugs… I mean all kinds.

Inspite of all the negatives that are highlighted, I dont consider saudi hell, far from it and a nice place to be in and work as long as you know what you are doing and working and abiding under the laws of the land.


3 thoughts on “Moving to KSA – Understand the culture

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