Finding a job in Dammam

Updated 2022-03-03 08:29

Dammam, the Eastern province's capital city, is a very dynamic city in Saudi Arabia, almost as much as Khobar. It is the 6th largest city in Saudi Arabia. Administratively, it is a municipality headed by a mayor, with an estimated population of around 5 million people and the city of Dammam is the capital.

Dammam, along with Khobar, Dhahran and its suburbs, form the so-called Greater Dammam. The municipality is above all, popular for its airport, the King Fahd International Airport, deemed to be one of the world's biggest airports, in terms of land area, some 780 km², as well as the King Abdul Aziz seaport which is the Persian Gulf's most important seaport.

Good to know:

After Jeddah, Dammam hosts the Middle East and North African region's second import-export traffic.

Economy of Dammam

Fishing and pearl diving in the Gulf seas used to be the main pillar of the region's economy. Today, Dammam is considered Saudi's wealthiest region thanks to its position in the oil industry. With the development of oil exploitation and the establishment of Saudi Aramco in neighbouring Dhahran, the region has emerged remarkably. Even though the oil industry makes up most of Dammam's workforce, the city has turned into a more diverse and bustling economy.

The retail sector, education and construction fields have grown rapidly in the region over the past years. Attractions, food/catering, and entertainment have also expanded. Without a doubt, the influx of foreigners in the area has created a diverse and steady employment growth.

Job hunting in Dammam

In general, the best and most efficient way to look for job vacancies in Dammam is online — especially, since you need a confirmed job offer to get a work visa to come to the country.

You can start with a quick scan of some of the popular job websites in the region. This includes Bayt, Naukrigulf, Mihnati and others. International career websites also list job offers from Dammam: check out MonsterGulf, Glassdoor, Indeed and others.


When applying for a job in Saudi Arabia, keep in mind that Saudi Arabia employers are typically looking for very specific expertise when hiring expatriates. Especially, since they have to justify employing an expatriate as opposed to a Saudi Arabia citizen. This is why it is important that you highlight the specific skill set required for the position you are applying for — both in your CV and Cover Letter.

Another way to go about job hunting in Dammam is to send out your CV and Cover Letter directly to companies and employers you are interested in. You can run a quick search for the top businesses in your field and Dammam and then go on to check the Linkedin pages and websites of the companies that interest you for more information.

Networking and socializing can also be very helpful in your job hunt. If you have acquaintances in Dammam, reaching out to them can help you learn useful insights about the job market in the city. Joining local expat groups can also give you a faster introduction into the expat working world and offer much-needed guidance for navigating the employment process in Dammam.

Here are a few additional tips for applying for a job in Dammam:

If you are applying for an expatriate position, you can send out a standard Western-style CV.

You can use the chronological CV format (where you list your work experience in reverse order: starting from the latest position); skill-based format (where you center your CV around the skills and expertise that you want to highlight) or mixed format (a combination of elements from both formats described above).

In most cases, you will be able to send out your CV and Cover Letter in English. However, if you are applying for a position that demands a strong command of Arabic, it is definitely a good idea to also attach a copy of your CV and Cover Letter in Arabic, if you can. Taking a language course can also be a great way to stand out among other applicants and show your potential employer that you are interested in a long-term position.

When writing your Cover Letter, it is recommended to keep as specific to the position you are applying for as possible. Make sure to highlight what makes you the best candidate for the job: mention relevant experience, skill sets and career goals.

When composing your CV, take note of the local sensitivities and restrictions. For example, it's best to avoid making any references to religious groups or activities or certain countries like Israel or Iran.

Finally, make sure to do proper research on the company and position you are applying for. Take note of what the job requires, what skills are emphasized in the job ad as well as the tone of voice used. It can also be useful to check the company's website and social media pages — this can help you customize the content and tone of your CV and Cover Letter.

How to apply for a working visa to Saudi Arabia

To work in Saudi Arabia legally, you will need to apply for an Iqama. The Iqama is a national residency permit for foreigners living and working in Saudi Arabia. Your Iqama card will contain the following information:

  • Your name and nationality
  • Date of birth
  • Iqama number
  • Job title and employer
  • Your Iqama card's expiration date


You must carry your Iqama card with you at all times. Failure to present your Iqama card when asked by the police can result in a fine of upwards of SAR 1,000 and even a jail term of up to six months.

In case your Iqama card is lost or has been stolen, you need to immediately report it missing. Failure to do so can result in a fine of upwards of SAR 3,000. Additionally, overstaying your Iqama can result in deportation.

You can only apply for an Iqama via your employer. They will need to submit an application to the Ministry of Labour and Social Development. If the company's application to sponsor a foreign employee is approved, your employer will receive a Visa Authorisation number and a Power of Attorney via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia.

Once you arrive in Saudi Arabia, your employer will have 90 days to apply for your Iqama visa. Once you have received your Iqama, you will be able to apply for an Iqama for your family members who plan to come and live with you in Saudi Arabia. Note that the Iqamas issued to your family members are not tied to your employer. Instead, they are attached to your Iqama and will have the same expiration dates.


Note that working in Saudi Arabia without an Iqama is illegal and can result in serious consequences. On the light side, you will be asked to pay a fine of up to SAR 10,000. In more serious cases, you can face immediate deportation and even arrest. The company employing a foreign worker without proper documentation will also be facing heavy fines and other forms of punishment. Learn more about Iqama System Violations & Penalties.

Special privilege Iqama

Recently, the Council of Ministers approved the Special privilege iqama law, for qualified foreigners. The new law allows the holders of the special Iqamas (permanent one will cost SAR 800 000, the one year temporary — SAR 100 000 ) to enjoy many privileges, like owning real estate, renting out properties and more. A Special Privilege Iqama Center has been created to regulate everything related with the new Iqama.

Good to know:

If you plan to work in Saudi Arabia for a shorter term, you can apply for a business visa or a work visit visa — the application process for these is much easier.

On a business visa, you can conduct business transactions with a Saudi company.

On a work visit visa, you can come to Saudi Arabia as an employee of a foreign company and stay in the country for 30 to 90 days.

Working in Saudi Arabia: daily routine

A standard working day in Saudi Arabia lasts from Sunday to Thursday from 8 am to 6 pm or from 7 am to 7 pm with a longer lunch break.

Fridays and Saturdays are days off. The working week lasts for a maximum of 48 hours and is shortened to 30 hours per week during the holy month of Ramadan.

Most employees get 21 days of paid leave. After you've been in employment for five years, your paid leave will be extended to 30 days.

There are three main public holidays in Saudi Arabia. The number of days off you receive during each holiday depends on whether you work in the public or private sector:

  • Eid Al Fitr (three to seven days)
  • Eid Al Adha (three to seven days)
  • Saudi National Day (23 September)

Work-life balance and workers' rights in Saudi Arabia

The idea of work-life harmony is not something that gets a lot of traction in Saudi Arabia. Most expats employed in Jeddah are here to work and save money. Working in a Saudi company also means that you will often be considered “on call” way past your official working hours.

Flexible hours and remote working options are very limited.

Unfortunately, foreign workers' rights violations are also not uncommon in the country — especially when it comes to manual labor. Common labor law court cases deal with work contract disputes, workers' rights, salaries, work injuries and related compensations.

Another problematic practice that is still in force in some companies in Saudi Arabia is the confiscation of passports of foreign employees on their arrival in the country. Basically, when employed in such a company, foreign employees will need to ask their employer for permission when they want to leave the country.

Another potential complication is that there are no trade or labor unions in the country.

The absence of proper representation makes solving work-related disputes and protecting workers' rights more complicated.

Women in the workplace in Saudi Arabia

One of the primary goals of Saudi Vision 2030 is to encourage women to play a bigger part in the country's economy. As of 2020, close to one in four employees in Saudi Arabia are women. However, this was not always the case — in fact, until quite recently, the role of women in the workplace in Saudi Arabia was very limited. With more women entering the workforce, however, the gender pay gap remains an issue: women in Saudi Arabia make 50% less compared to their male colleagues.

Saudisation policy in Saudi Arabia

As we've mentioned earlier, employers hiring expats in Saudi Arabia are typically in search of very specific skills and qualifications. This is, to a large extent, due to the new Saudisation policy being enforced across the country, which prioritizes the employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector. The new policy has significantly decreased the number of vacancies (especially high-level positions) open to foreigners and has also made the expat hiring process more complicated for employers.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.