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In retrospect, would you move again to Saudi Arabia?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Saudi Arabia, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Saudi Arabia so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!

Christine

In retrospect, no I would not come here again. I am a hypocrite in that I am on my third and definitely final tour/job of Saudi. I can say having traveled through different parts of it, mountains deserts beaches and andplains that no it isn't an interesting, accepting or friendly culture in comparison to every other culture Ive been in which is about 50 others. I am here like everyone else for the MONEY. I live an ok, although pretty boring life where I make a decent amount of money for not working that hard, but that's it. I've met no one here in my time that seems seriously more interesting  than other places I've been. I take my earned cash and in about 5 minutes in any other country, I'm have a much more fullfilling life than I have here. Simply crossing the Causeway to Bahrain which is nothing great, but is a more rewarding and interesting life. This place even for Muslims I've talked to is about money. Yes, Muslims may go to Mecca for Hajj since they are here and it's in their list of things to do, but every Muslim Ive ever talked to has said that Saudis are bad representations of Islam. So what am I to think of a country and culture that according to other Muslims isn't a good Muslim country.

If you've got some finances/debts to pay and are willing to give up some personal freedoms, yeah Saudi works.  Not particularly fun, but it works. If you can make a little less and go anywhere else you should be out of here tomorrow. If you love Saudi I'd suggest you haven't traveled much and Id recommend you try any other country that's pulled at your heartstrings to travel to. I don't even love the US per se,  but I'm happy to be back there when I go home. Yes, Ill finish my last year here as a teacher on rent, but as a general rule no I'm not impressed with anything or anyone Ive met here versus other places Ive been in my life. I've made some ok money on the days that I don't want to kill one of my students by the end of the day. It's been easy as a rule, but the lying, cheating, stealing and generally rude low standards of this country does nothing for me. And so I accept what I'm doing, but as has been written on many websites before. This place is what it is and that's not saying much. You make your money and enjoy life when you're out of here.

By the way, this applies to every GCC country, It's just easier to apply to Saudi.

I would like to go back to Sudi Arabia because two things are very special there. One the law is for is equal and second I start my profession life there and learn many professional thing their. One thing that I was there in Huawei at FTTH project. And we did FTTH in 2012, when come back to my country some one told me that their  Hawei also start FTTH in Pakistan. They start that in December 2014, he advise me to apply for FTTH engineer post because you have experience in that. When I apply thaey completely ignore me. One of my friend said that u need any minister of Central government to recommend you for that post. Now from one in a half year I in search of some one to say that to Huawei to gave me a interviews chance...Now you people told me as Pakistan is a leaving place......

Regrettably I have to say "no" -   unless the pay was even better than it was before!
I found the country to be rather boring, the cities uncared for and almost dilapidated, the Saudis to be arrogant and ignorant, the culture almost non-existent and life in general very self-centred.
In short, it all came up to my expectations.
The one ray of sunshine was the weekend trip to Bahrain which was certainly worth the horrendous wait at passport and customs halfway across the causeway.
The other advantage was to be able to go swimming outdoors but that had to be at the local Hilton which levied a ridiculous charge for the priviledge.
I will not be going there again.

No, agree with the above posts

Yes we would have done it again. It achieved what we wanted to do. We enjoyed our time in Saudi. We were living in Jeddah which is much more relaxed than Riyadh. Due to the location we were able to travel in and around Saudi to many places that we would not have been able to if we weren't there.

I have met some wonderful Saudi woman and got to experience their culture. We had the attitude of accepting the people and their culture. We made many friends there and shared some great memories on my blog livinginjeddah.com

It was a great experience which we will always remember fondly.

It's depend where we live, whom we met, where we worked, what was our life here, etc..
Opinion can't be same, can't be agreed or disagreed with anyone, because we can find good and bad part of worlds everywhere and in every country,... Over all my viewed since 2003 I am here, I feel safe by health not by wealth.

Let me explain you some of things, regarding food everything fresh here and we can find different kind of foods which import from all over the world.... lot's of places to have outing, fun, historical places, mountains, sea side, Holy cities, etc...

Well regarding business is not that much secure like other countries, most of times if your business start growing and you are earning good, on spot your sponsor will interrupt and put you on one side on monthly paid and take over hold on your business, and you have nothing to do with it or any law going to safe you.

Govt. have rules but not applying for everyone, any time can change any rule and you will falls from sky to earth. You have nothing sure here related to your job or business. Companies hiring employees on one contract which you sign the time you got interview on your home land, once you arrived here company will let you sign another internal contract which will show you low salary and maybe not included transportation or else.....

I will not really prefer to come back here unless for Holy cities Makkah and Madinah.

Yes,,, i would like to work in saudi till i retire...  there are two reasons.
1) easy money with little hardship.
2) peace of mind.  most people will disagree with me on this.. but i have worked in india for long before coming here. i worked in many indian cities..  the people are uncultured there, they start fight on the drop of hat,  Rapes, murders, theft and countless crimes makes it very much unsafe place to be. No round the clock water and electricity in almost all major cities.  here we have all the basic facilities at cheapest prices.  i agree people get bored here, but blame it on your self.  if you omake a social circle of your own and plan regular meetups and events,  life will be interesting.  most of people who feel Saudi boring are from Europe or western countries.  they feel the only way to enjoy life is by going to pubs, dance bars, movie theaters and having relationships with multiple partners... these things might give them for  a while but there are drawbacks as well.  first of all these things are Haraam not just as per islam but as per jewish and christain laws as well.  we have to live this life without indulging in sins so as to get rewarded in hereafter.   so it is a matter of faith and choice.... either u live this life in so called "boredom" and expect a reward from lord or live life on your own terms and be ready for chastisement hereafter....

I am hypocritical in that I have come back here more than once, of course to save money - but I have also achieved some personal and academic goals. So I am thankful for the opportunities I have been afforded, and ultimately I took the decision to come back here twice, albeit because of very specific and highly challenging circumstances. 

However, if I have to answer truthfully in retrospect, I have to say no. I think it is a complex question, in that it depends on so many factors that are out of your control once you actually arrive here. The culture is very hard to get used to and you easily become a recluse, even if you are outgoing and sociable like me. Other factors like where you are from, also contribute - I am a South African and our embassy here is just about non-existing - it never hosts any events that one would want to attend or invite guests to (like the Australian, New Zealander embassies) and getting on the social list of other embassies is a challenge. So socially it is a harsh place to live.

The gender segregation in all public places irritates the living daylights out of me, not to mention the closing of all shops during prayer times. There's no culture here - no music in restaurants since it is frowned upon, and nothing beautiful.  Women cannot drive or appear in public unaccompanied my a male guardian, and have to conceal themselves from the world - I cannot get used to that, ever. I guess it takes a specific kind of person to love living here - that person is not me. It is an unfriendly place - people in general  do not smile, and everyone and everything seems "closed off". 

I guess it is a very different experience if you live in places like Dharan or even Jeddah, with beaches and easy access to Bahrain on weekends (from Dharan) for a bit of normality and options to do things like going to the movies or eating out with a mixed group of male and female friends.   

I find too many things here too unacceptable; the lack of civil rights, the lack of freedom, and the fact that in this labour market you can easily be kicked out without notice as an expat. The labour law here is all for the employer, and clearly against the expat worker. I find it extremely challenging to work with the local population and I constantly have to do three or four people's work, including my direct manager's work - for which he takes the credit and the promotions. 

Yes, I signed up for it. Yes I accepted it and have had success in my jobs here. But is it nice? A big fat no. In retrospect I would not have come here - I should have gone elsewhere in the world where I could have enjoyed my life and not just have saved money and bought an education.

Yes... as a Muslim KSA is my 2nd home...
Here Makkah and Madina.
Thank you...

. .. The South African embassy in Riyadh does host events .  Call them to register your name in their data base.  They email invitations when they have events,  for example - last week Thursday they held an event at the embassy celebrating Freedom Day 😊

My husband and I have been here for 3 years,  lucky for me I am going back to Johannesburg end of June.

I wish you all the best in your career endeavours here. As for living here,  it has been nothing but frustrating for me,  I will never come back.  I am going back home to boost my career and live life!

This country has its people,  but definitely not for me. I will admit though,  being here has given us great financial freedom and an opportunity to accumulate what we would not have been able to obtain in a short period while back home.

All the best!

"From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most? "

Pay day and the taxi to the airport.

Hahahahah!  I wouldnt have put it any better!  So so very true Full Monty :lol:

I enjoyed 5 times prayer azan ,
I enjoyed Ramadan here ,
I enjoyed keep distance from minor sin just like keep distance from Music,wasting time etc...
Every moment I enjoyed it's good or bad....
Thanks Allah you give me chance as a Muslim...
Today I have no greed ... I love and respect myself and Saudi Arabia because two holy cities bring change in my life by grace of Allah.
Saudi Arabia is beautiful and citizens here respect able....

Relax u guys... it is'nt that bad... I mean take it easy.. If it becomes inevitable try to enjoy it!!!

to directly answer Christine's questions:

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Saudi Arabia, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

yes, definitely. i was 90% sure of what i was getting into. the other 10% really is just expecting the unexpected and trusting that you'll be able to handle the unknown. yes, there are clearly issues with Saudi society that i find problematic, but i prepared myself to face those challenges and look for the non-monetary benefits that come with immersing oneself in a completely new culture.

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

i enjoyed interviewing people before i came to Saudi in order to gain some information on their experiences. i enjoyed exploring my new city (Jubail) upon arrival and seeing what it had to offer. once i was settled, i enjoyed teaching my students! it is completely the opposite of any teaching experience i've ever had, but it was a growth moment and generally speaking i had warm and respectful interactions with all my students. people drone on about how "there is nothing to do" or that Saudi is "boring." personally, i liked the solitude and the quiet space Saudi gave me to do some things i've wanted to do for a while. i enjoyed nothing more than to wake up early on a Friday, go on a long run or bike ride, and simply be by myself. if you are bored in Saudi, then maybe you're a boring person.

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?


the three things i would've done differently are a) figured out a way to get a car for daily use. i relied on a wonderful driver and i would rent a car if i wanted to go to Khobar or Bahrain, but i misjudged how necessary a car could be. b) i would have negotiated certain non-salary related points in my contract (i.e. initial site location, housing, and vacation) in order to alleviate frustrations that later arose and c) i would've liked to travel inside Saudi Arabia more.

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Saudi Arabia so far?

salary is, of course, a benefit. but money can be fleeting. i met some wonderful people during my stay and found a lot of space for personal and professional growth, which is exactly what i wanted out of my experience. i set goals for myself and achieved them, this after having a lifelong laissez-faire approach to life! it was nice to strike a happy balance and Saudi Arabia let me do that.

Muneer.dar :

Yes,,, i would like to work in saudi till i retire...  there are two reasons.
1) easy money with little hardship.
2) peace of mind.  most people will disagree with me on this.. but i have worked in india for long before coming here. i worked in many indian cities..  the people are uncultured there, they start fight on the drop of hat,  Rapes, murders, theft and countless crimes makes it very much unsafe place to be. No round the clock water and electricity in almost all major cities.  here we have all the basic facilities at cheapest prices.  i agree people get bored here, but blame it on your self.  if you omake a social circle of your own and plan regular meetups and events,  life will be interesting.  most of people who feel Saudi boring are from Europe or western countries.  they feel the only way to enjoy life is by going to pubs, dance bars, movie theaters and having relationships with multiple partners... these things might give them for  a while but there are drawbacks as well.  first of all these things are Haraam not just as per islam but as per jewish and christain laws as well.  we have to live this life without indulging in sins so as to get rewarded in hereafter.   so it is a matter of faith and choice.... either u live this life in so called "boredom" and expect a reward from lord or live life on your own terms and be ready for chastisement hereafter....

Do i like KSA? Nope... The Saudis always think they are superior than any other nations. and think we are less than them. The one that I really cant tolerate, women are being deprived of their right to drive.

But not all Arabs are bad. You got good and bad ppl everywhere. Though I loathe here and there, nvthless I found peace in here.  i can relax and sip drink at the back while driver weave through lanes of traffic...holaa..feeling princess here. The most precious thing, that I could not get elsewhere is a solace and tranquility when I was in front the Holy Kaabah. Alhamdulillah as a Muslim it is the best place to live in seeking the meaning of life.

insyaAllah if given a chance I would like to perform hajj as well before leaving KSA for good.

Hello Arno. Thanks for your meaty response. It sketches a realistic picture of what to expect. I am from Cape Town and about to embark on a teaching stint in Saudi, Riyadh in September. If you wish to share some more, please do so. In your last sentence you've mentioned "bought". Do you mind unpacking that for me, please.

Don't expect any help, remember you are there for the money, the country does not generally want or offer anything else to western people.

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