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about the Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia is considered to be both the homeland of the Arab peoples, and of Islam, the world's second-largest religion. Muhammad founded the religion there, and it is the location of the two holy pilgrimage cities of Mecca and Medina. This, as well as the fact that the legal system is based on Sharia law, has led it to develop a strongly religious self-identity. The country was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 1500s to its eventual fall after WW1, but gradually lost power to the Wahhibi Islamist movement and the Al Saud family, from which the country derives its name.  The ruling family came to power in 1932, when King Abdulaziz (also known as Ibn Saud) became the first monarch. Since then it has grown economically from a nomadic desert kingdom to one of the wealthiest nations in the region, thanks to its vast resources of oil.




  • Full name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Population: 28.83 million (2013)
  • Urbanized population: 28.83 million (2013)


  • Arab


  • Non Saudi


  • Capital: Riyadh
  • Area:2.15 million km2
  • Major language:Arabic
  • Major religion:Islam
  • Monetary unit:Saudi Riyal
  • Main exports:Petroleum and petroleum products (85% of exports)
  • GNI per capita:US $53, 640 (2013)
  • Internet
  • International dialling code:+966
  • Time:GMT +3

useful information for expatriates

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    Except for the province of Asir on the western coast, Saudi Arabia has a desert climate characterized by extreme heat during the day, an abrupt drop in temperature at night, and very low annual rainfall. The average summer temperature is about 45° C between May and September, but can reach the 50s in the hottest months of June and July. In the winter the temperature can drop to freezing at night.

    • Electri


    230V 60Hz. The following power sockets are used: A / B / F / G

public holidays

Muslim holidays are set according to local sightings and lunar phases. Therefore each year they fall on slightly different days. These are:

  • Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet)

  • Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)

  • Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)

  • Islamic New Year

  • Ashoura

  • 01 Jan: 1 Jan: New Year Day

Rental Properties/ Estate Agents

Most expats live in compounds, particularly if they have a family. Normal Saudi dress codes, religious strictures and gender segregation do not apply on compounds, and they are also off-limits to the mutawwa (religious police). Prices start at SR30,000 per year for a one-bedroom apartment and vary from SR50,000 to SR500,000 per year for a villa.
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    Saudi Arabia has excellent health care services, and insurance for expats in compulsory, although most employers provide this. The extensive King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh is the main tertiary referral centre for the country’s 27 million citizens. It specialises in diabetes management and neurosciences, and has an advanced haematology and cancer centre. There is also a rehabilitation centre and specialist hospitals for women and children.

    • School


    Foreign students attend international schools by law, which cater for different curriculums.


    American International School of Riyadh (AIS-R)

    The British International School - Riyadh

    King Abdul Aziz International School (AIS)



    Al Waha International School

    American International School of Jeddah

    The British International School of Jeddah

    The City School International

    Jeddah Preparatory & Grammar School

    Ecole Française de Djeddah

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    Expats can drive with a foreign or international driver's licence for up to three months, after which they're required to apply for a Saudi licence. Women are not allowed to drive. Taxis are widely available in Saudi cities and are the only viable public transport option for women.

    • Shopping


    Bahrain’s shopping consists of the traditional souks and modern shopping centers and department stores. The biggest of these is the Seef Mall, an indoor shopping and entertainment center, which comprises of more than 40 specialty stores, 7 department stores, and over 300 outlets.

    There are some western-oriented supermarkets selling imported groceries, such as the Alosra Supermarkets and convenience stores, which are popular among expatriates and wealthy locals for the quality and freshness of their produce, and imported goods.

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    Cost of Living

    The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is generally on par or lower than other Middle Eastern countries. The standard of living is generally high, and expat housing in compounds, international schooling and imported goods can be expensive.

    • WorkVisa

    Residence Permit/ Work Visas

    To obtain a residence permit, the applicant needs a sponsor, i.e their employer to apply for it in their behalf. It is easier for a man to obtain a permit, who can then apply for a family visa for the rest of his family. However, if the wife also wishes to work in Saudi Arabia she needs to apply for a separate visa. All members of the family should have a separate passport. If you are in Saudi Arabia on a permanent basis, you need to obtain an exit visa every time you wish to leave the country for any purpose

    For more information for British citizens please see:

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