Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Are you Planning To Work in Saudi Arabia? Think Twice..

Al Faisaliah Tower - Riyadh, K.S.A.

Right now the question which people are asking is not ‘if YOU want to come to work in Saudi Arabia’. Rather the question being asked is ‘Why in the world would I want to come to work in a place like Saudi Arabia

All the biggest economies in the world, whether West or the East, thrive due to diversity of cultures and a hybrid mix of people.

Saudi Arabia is built and prosperous today with high rise building, long highways, aviation, banking, fuel stations, groceries, trading and every big or small business.. thanks to the entrepreneur vision of expats and their expertise since the 80’s. Their contribution cannot be denied.

Sad to say, a vast majority of companies in Saudi Arabia still base expatriate packages on the country you come from and not on your skills sets, personality, experience and knowledge levels including educational background.

Our company, a 100% Saudi owned family corporation, refuses to employ Westeners. Instead, they prefer to hire Arab skilled workers with a 5 digits salary no matter what their levels of experiences are. They are paid not because they know the job better but because they hail from a certain country or race.

They are also given hefty benefits, like 4WD vehicles not because they really use them but because its considered as a perk but the in the same position an Asian expat is given a saloon car. So its not dependent on the nature of your job because both of them do same job.

During Ramadan, just like Muslims, non-Muslims are also obliged to refrain from eating, smoking and drinking from dawn till dusk, just, but must complete an 8-hour works while Muslims have to work only 6 hours a day.

Arab expats are given yearly contract with year-end vacation privilege while other foreign workers have to spend 2 years before they can avail their end-contract vacation.

Kingdom Tower - Riyadh K.S.A.

Most of Asian expats are restrained to travel within GCC countries unless on a business trip.

No Objection Certificate (NOC) and transfer of sponsor is seldom issued to foreign expats, resulting to inability to find better employer and preventing them to go back to the Kingdom immediately.

Higher management position is limited to GCC Nationals and Muslim religion.

Opening a bank account needs approval from the employer.

All expats are working in Saudi Arabia for the tax free salary and for the great lifestyle they would have never dream of achieving back in their home countries..

A company is as great as its employees. The more you take care of them, the longer they stay, the stronger your relationship with them, the more experience they bring to the table and the more profitable the company gets.

And because of this insecurity and discrimination, this country will stall and be thrown 20 years back in time in terms of economic development. Ghost cities anyone?

Besides, scriptures of all religions encourage equality, brotherhood and humanity. But as the Arabic saying goes, "If I'm a prince and you are a price, who will mind the donkey?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm a Saudi national and I would like to say that I agree with most of the mentioned points with some alteration/clarifications, it is very much important to be subjective and transparent and nothing is perfect in this world:

- Employment Packages: This is true that most of the companies pay salaries based nationality and by the way Saudis are not on the top of this scale, the following is the scale for SENIOR positions, because it differ if we are talking about labor forces:
1- Americans
2- Europeans
3- Saudis
4- Arabs: Lebanese then Jordanians
5- Arabs: Egypt ions and others
6- Filipinos
7- Pakistanis and Indians
8- Bengals
9- Nepalis

There is a reason behind this and it doesn't mean it is valid, talking about Filipinos in specific, from my 15 years carrier experience I didn't meet any senior executive only few mid management, and this including places like Saudi Aramco, which is the biggest oil company and they don't pay per nationality. I would like to mention that Saudis have a great respect for the Filipinos staff, because they more professionals from others and they take bigger salaries than many Arabs in jobs like car mechanics for example. I would like to conclude a point, the relation between the employ and the employer is based on befit relation, many makers can always demand and this has no relation to the nationality.

- Ramadan: Ramadan is a fasting month for all Muslims including Filipinos Muslims, where people fast from food, drinks, smoke, and swearing from sunrise to sunset, as a respect for the Muslim community it is not allowed to eat in public, but you can make your food in home and also most of the companies dedicate a room for non Muslims to eat their lunch, I remember I was traveling to Turkey and I was eating in an outdoor restaurant, I couldn't finish my meal, because a poor hungry child was looking at what I was eating and I cared about his feelings. Working hours are 2 hours less for Muslims in some of the companies and other companies are 2 hours less for all employees including non Muslims.

- Contract period: This is differ from company to another and not nationality based, I have seen companies with one year contract for all staff, other company mixed, and other company is based on seniority, for senior staff it is one year and for non senior staff the contract is 2 years, because always in any country try to pay less and get more, but some governments enforce their rules, for example the Filipino government enforce a salary pay from SR800 ($215) to SR1,500 ($400) for Filipinos housemates.

- Travel within GCC: I will not behalf of GCC countries and this is not a Saudi related issue also it is not 100% correct, for example Bahrain will automatically give you a 3 days visa if you are working in Saudi

- Higher Management: This is not religion related at all, nationality yes, also recently company owners has reached a conclusion that investing in a Saudi will bring more financial results, as explained earlier the work/business in Saudi is based relations and recommendations and nobody other than Saudis in Saudi can play a better role in this job. Saudi females didn't complain that 95% of the nurses in Saudi are Philippines ! why, because we know they are the best for this job.

- Opening a bank account: The same applicable on Saudis also