Moving to Jeddah in 2021 – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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Foreigners living in Jeddah benefit from moving to Saudi Arabia’s quietest major city. However, it is not always easy to navigate the daily life of the Saudi Kingdom. This moving to Jeddah guide will help you with all the information you may need as an expat.
Life in Jeddah
- Culture shock in Jeddah can be tricky to overcome, but if you research your options carefully, you will see that there are many opportunities for foreigners to escape the strict local traditions.
- Saudi Arabia’s public health system is of a high standard – just make sure you research health insurance and vaccinations to prepare for your arrival.
- Jeddah still does not have a developed public transport system, and the easiest way to get around is by car, be it a taxi or with a personal driver.
Sometimes future expats are a little skeptical about life in Jeddah. Both the extreme climate and the rules governing social behavior make life there somewhat repulsive to outsiders. However, while Jeddah can indeed be a little quiet, it is far from boring.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located on the Arabian Peninsula and is washed by the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. This country has the largest oil reserves. It is difficult to obtain Saudi Arabian citizenship, but under certain conditions it is possible.
What you need to know about the country?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or KSA, is the largest state in the Arabian Peninsula and one of the most influential in the entire Middle East. The country is mainly engaged in the extraction and processing of oil.
All power in the kingdom is concentrated in the hands of the Al Saud clan, which founded the state at the beginning of the 20th century. Saudi Arabia is formally ruled by King Salman, whose power is limited only by Sharia law (Sharia is the name of Islamic legal norms closely related to religion).
In fact, the country is ruled by the king’s son – Crown Prince Mohammed, who is the youngest defense minister in the world, he is 35 years old. Now Muhammad is busy with reforms and modernization of the laws of Saudi Arabia. He seeks to return moderate Islam to the country, which is why he is popular among Saudi youth.
It was Prince Mohammed who initiated the Vision-2030 program in the country in 2016. Actually, it is a plan to reduce the dependence of the KSA on oil prices.
To do this, the Saudi authorities need to diversify the economy, attract foreign investment and develop health care, education, infrastructure, and tourism. The program became the reason for numerous changes and provoked a kind of religious “thaw” in the country.
Saudi Arabia is often mentioned in the world media as a country where the death penalty is actively used. It can threaten for premeditated murder, rape, homosexuality, terrorism, as well as possession, distribution and use of drugs.
According to Amnesty International, about 149 people were executed in 2018. From January to April 2019, 104 more people were executed, and most of them were executed for drug-related crimes. Public executions, through the beheading of an Arab saber. Nowhere else in the world is this done.
Saudi Arabia is far from the most desirable country for expats. Nevertheless, of the 26 million population of the country, 10 million are foreigners for whom emigration was an opportunity to change their lives for the better. But, before deciding to move, you need to be prepared for a number of negative moments of life in Arabia.
- The country has a rather hot climate. The average July temperature is plus 30 degrees. In summer, the thermometer often rises to fifty degrees.
- It is a religious country where the observance of external norms of behavior is controlled by special police. In addition, public display of any religion other than Islam is severely persecuted.
- In Saudi Arabia, there are serious gender restrictions; women are significantly limited in their rights.
- In terms of its political structure, this is an absolute monarchy, in which there is no place for parties and public organizations.
It is difficult for a European to adapt to the manners and customs of Saudi Arabia; it is easier for people from Muslim countries to do this.
Moving to Saudi Arabia for permanent residence, as a rule, is associated with purely pragmatic considerations, since here:
- high salaries;
- low crime rate;
- cheap gasoline;
- low taxes;
- good pension provision;
- high level of medical care;
- there is an opportunity to get a good medical education.
Saudi Arabia citizenship is possible for people who invest in the country and conduct their business here, as well as for specialists in the most demanded sectors of the economy (oil refining, information technology, telecommunications, banking).
It also welcomes promising students who wish to study at local universities and those who have married a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
Despite the closed nature of the kingdom, there are still several ways to immigrate to one of Saudi Arabia’s cities called Jeddah.
Main methods to move to Jeddah
Method one: marriage
Aboriginal Arab men are allowed to marry a woman of another faith. However, after marriage, the wife must accept to become a Muslim. After marriage, the spouse, with the permission of the spouse, is issued a residence permit for 5 years.
After a five-year period, at the request of the husband and a positive testimony from the abbot of the temple, a woman can obtain Saudi Arabian citizenship. However, it is worth considering that women in the kingdom have very few rights.
A woman cannot drive vehicles. It is forbidden for a woman to go out unaccompanied by a male relative. It is necessary to walk the streets in black national dress, with a covered head and, in some cases, a covered face.
Method two: education
There are medical, humanitarian, technical universities here. However, the quality of education in Arabia does not quite meet international standards. The inhabitants of the kingdom themselves prefer to send their children to receive education abroad.
The exception is the spiritual higher institutions. They occupy leading positions in the education system of the Islamic world and are quite prestigious. In order to become a student of a spiritual university, you can pass the entrance exams remotely or by arriving in person on a tourist visa.
Training lasts from five to seven years. Initially, a residence permit is issued only for a year, after, on the recommendation of the leadership of the theological university, until the end of the training.
Permanent residence can be obtained after 5 years of study. With a permanent residence permit, you can already apply for citizenship.
Method three: employment
The kingdom requires narrow specialists in the field of medicine, oil refining, bankers, teachers of foreign languages, programmers.
The employer inviting the employee bears all the costs associated with obtaining a visa and the arrival of the employee in the country. Also, the employer must provide housing or compensation for its cost.
Entry for an employee is provided on a work visa. With this visa, you can stay in the country for a year. Then you can get a residence permit for a year, and then for five.
Method four: investing and starting your own business
If there is a desire to invest money in the industry of Arabia, then it must be borne in mind that projects from 300 thousand dollars are being considered. An investment application is considered remotely.
If the project is of interest to the General Directorate of Investment of the Kingdom, then an investment visa is opened for a year. After the interview and approval, a temporary residence permit is given for two years.
After that, if the project has justified itself, a residence permit is given for five years. And then you can stay for permanent residence. Starting a business or buying a share of an existing one is similar to investing.
The only condition is at least 33% of the shares owned by the businessman. A commercial visa is opened, a residence permit is obtained for a year, and then for 5 years. After that there is a chance to obtain citizenship. Family members can enter Saudi Arabia with an investor or entrepreneur.
Stages of paperwork for immigrants
Visa opening. Visas are tourist, commercial, investment, work, student. The visa is opened at the Saudi Arabian Embassy or Visa Application Center after receiving permission to enter the kingdom. The residence permit is given by the Saudi Arabian Immigration Service. The initial term is 1-2 years. After that, you can get a residence permit for 5 years.
Permanent residence. Available after living in the kingdom for five years. To obtain permanent residence, you must pass the test in English or Arabic. The questions in the test relate to religion, laws, traditions and life of Muslims. It is also necessary to have grounds for obtaining such a status.
Citizenship. After 10 years (5 with a residence permit and 5 with a permanent residence), provided that you are absent from the kingdom for no more than 6 months, you can become a citizen of Arabia. For the wives of the Aryans, this period has been reduced to 5 years.
To do this, you need to score a certain number of points, which are awarded for education, type of activity, knowledge of the language, belonging to the Muslim faith and much more. If a male applicant does not score 23 points out of 33, then citizenship will be refused. It is worth considering that there can be no dual citizenship in the country.
Thus, the dream of an amazing East and the transportation of personal belongings to Saudi Arabia, in certain cases, can become a reality. However, one should not forget that the way of life and traditions of Muslims are significantly different from those familiar to citizens of other states. Therefore, before migrating to a sunny country, it is necessary to take into account all the “pitfalls” that you will have to face when moving.
Getting Saudi Arabian citizenship
It is believed that it is impossible to obtain Saudi Arabian citizenship, but this is not the case. The country has a specially executed law that describes the rules on how to get Saudi Arabian citizenship and regulates the entire process of the Saudi Arabian Citizenship System.
The application of getting citizenship can be submitted by both men and women who have been born in the country or have family ties with the Saudis, as well as foreigners who have lived in the KSA for a long time and are suitable for all conditions: long-term permanent residence, knowledge of the Arabic language, permanent place of work, no criminal record etc.
A point system is used to evaluate candidates. The maximum can be scored 33 points, while the papers will be accepted for consideration if the applicant managed to score at least 23 points.
For example, a doctoral degree in medicine or engineering will immediately receive 13 points, and for a degree in other sciences only 10. A master’s degree will add 8 points, and a bachelor’s degree – 5.
For 10 years of permanent residence in the country, 10 points are given. The Saudi father or Saudi mother (if her father is also a citizen of the KSA) will add 3 points, two or more Saudi children – 2 points.
In addition, you need to collect an impressive package of documents, confirm your religious beliefs, knowledge of the language, and much more. An important condition for obtaining citizenship of the KSA is the renunciation of the citizenship of any other country. Every application is reviewed on an individual basis, and the applicant can be refused without any explanation. In general, in practice, citizenship of the KSA is really very rare.
Jobs and salaries in Jeddah
In Saudi Arabia, there have been discussions over the past few years about setting a minimum wage. You can find regularly posted news about the government’s plans to fix or increase the salary amount for both Saudis and foreign workers.
The minimum wage in the country has not been officially established. But some media reported a figure of 3,000 SR per month for public sector workers. In the private sector and for foreigners, the minimum wage is also not fixed in any way.
According to the General Department of Statistics of Saudi Arabia, in 2018 the average salary in the country was 6300 SR. At the same time, the Saudis received an average of 10,300 SR, and foreign hired workers – 3700 SR.
At the same time, the real amount of remuneration for similar positions in different companies may differ by several thousand SAR. As in Russia, salaries for different professions in KSA can range from 1,000 to 50,000 SR per month. For example, housekeepers are often paid a little more than 1000 SR, but at the same time they are fully provided with food, housing and other necessary things. And 50,000 SR per month can be received by top managers of oil corporations.
This is how the average salaries for various occupations in Saudi Arabia look like, according to payscale.com:
neurosurgeon – 48,000 SR;
anesthesiologist – SR 25,000;
dermatologist – SR 20,000;
general practitioner – 14,000 SR;
sales manager – 14,000 SR;
internet marketer – 11,000 SR;
English teacher – 10,000 SR;
developer – 11,000 SR;
dentist – 8400 SR;
data analyst – 8400 SR;
civil engineer – 8000 SR;
nurse in dentistry – 3000 SR;
waiter – 1500 SR;
housekeeper – 1400 SR;
cleaner – 1000 SR.
You can find jobs in Saudi Arabia at Linked-in, the Middle East job search sites bayt.com, naukrigulf.com and gulftalent.com, and indeed.com internationally.
There are many expats in Jeddah from Europe, USA, Middle East and Asia. Highly qualified and experienced professionals in various fields – for example, in the oil and gas sector, IT and medicine – come here for high salaries. The service sector is generally occupied by employers from India, Pakistan and the Philippines. According to the same Main Department of Statistics of the KSA, 75% of employees are newcomers. The unemployment rate for Saudis is around 13%.
The government is worried about enough high level of unemployment in the country and that is why they have developed a program to “Saudize” the labor market. Their main purpose is to create more job opportunities for the Saudis. To reduce the number of labor migrants, the country changed the quotas for the number of foreign workers in companies and identified areas in which mainly or only Saudis can work.
Today, job descriptions are increasingly being labeled “For Saudi Arabians only”. In addition, the country is gradually limiting the hiring of foreign employees for some positions.
Pension in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has old age and seniority pensions. Both women and men can retire at 60. Retiring after more than 20 years of work should be agreed with the current employer, but after 25 years of work, the consent will be no longer needed.
The regular old-age pension is calculated using the following formula:
Old-age pension = (Last fixed salary × Service life in months) / 480
If a person retired after 20 years of work and his last recorded salary was 10,000 SR. then his pension should be 5,000 SR. If a person loses the ability to work outside of work, then he will be paid 40% of the last fixed wage. Some people here, continue to work after retirement.
In the public sector, the employer is responsible for the deduction of pension contributions. People employed in the private sector need to make their own payments towards future retirement. All this applies only to official employment. There is no social minimum pension: a person without official work experience can only count on social assistance and only if he himself applies for it and are able to prove that he has no relatives who will support him.
For example, upon reaching retirement age, a woman who did not have an official job and has been engaged in housekeeping and raising children all her life is not entitled to a pension. She must be supported by her husband or adult children. In case she was left alone, only after that, she will have the right to apply for social assistance from the state.
Except for these women, social assistance can also be applied by orphans or disabled people and families who have no income. The amount of payments in each case is individual and is determined after consideration of the documents. Families who have taken into the care of an orphan child are paid SR 2,000 per month for a child under 6 years old and SR 3,000 for a child over 6 years old. Orphan girls can also receive a one-time marriage subsidy from the state – 60,000 SR.
Health insurance for expats in Jeddah
As a foreign resident, you no longer have free access to the national health care system. Since 2005, foreigners living and/or working in Saudi Arabia must have health insurance.
In many cases, their employer offers them and their dependents a health policy, but it is strongly advised to check what is in the small print. Sometimes coverage may not include treatment for pre-existing conditions, dental care, or other medical services.
Therefore, you can decide to take out top-up insurance or find your own insurance. Notable service providers in Saudi Arabia are Bupa Saudia Arabia, MedGulf Arabia, and Tawuniya. Most large international companies also have an expat policy in Saudi Arabia. Due to the high competition in the Saudi Arabian insurance market, prices should be relatively reasonable.