Saudi Arabia is a sparsely populated kingdom. This however, comes as no surprise because a large part of the geography is a desert. Of the roughly twenty seven million people living in Saudi Arabia, 83% live in cities and towns. The above figures include more than 6 million foreigners living in Saudi Arabia, mainly of Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian origins. The number of expatriates of Western origin living and working in Saudi Arabia is estimated at 150,000. There are a number of important facts that you should know if you intend to be living and working in Saudi Arabia.
One of the aspects that you need to learn about this Kingdom if you are planning on living and working in Saudi Arabia is the society. In spite of its efforts to become one of the modern countries in the world, Saudi Arabia still has one of the world's most traditional societies. The society in Saudi Arabia is directed by strict religious traditions, rules, and beliefs. Therefore, expats living in Saudi Arabia have to get accustomed to that since there is no way around it. The attitudes and traditions of Saudi Arabia are shaped by Muslim law and ancient Bedouin culture.
It is also important that you have good knowledge of the culture if you are preparing to begin living and working in Saudi Arabia. The cultural life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has to conform to the stringent interpretations of the Holy Quran. What this means is that the visual arts, for instance, are restricted to abstract, floral, and geometrical designs because representations of human beings are not allowed. Even though there are some cinema halls in the larger cities, letting go of the joy of cinemas is a part of life for expats in Saudi Arabia.
Music and dance are an integral part of the culture in Saudi Arabia. This also includes Bedouin poetry. However, the literature in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is restricted by stringent rules of censorship. If you plan on living and working in Saudi Arabia as an expat, you should be aware that, just as there is no freedom when it comes to religion, freedom of expression is not a reality there either. It may surprise you that the cradle of Islam lacks sites of religious heritage. This absence is as a result of the fear of idol worship in Wahhabism of Salafism.
Expats planning on living and working in Saudi Arabia should also do some research on the job market. Although it is not the easiest country to find employment in, there are a number of opportunities for working in this country. Some of the industries that expats have a chance to work in including construction, telecommunications, teaching and education, banking and financial services, health care and medicine, IT and engineering among others. A majority of the expats working in Saudi Arabia got their jobs while they were still in their original countries. They rarely come to look for work in Saudi Arabia.
Another thing to consider when planning on living and working in Saudi Arabia is the sponsors and work permits. It is not possible for you to get a work permit in Saudi Arabia if you do not have a solid job offer. As a matter of fact, an individual cannot make an application for a work permit by himself; his sponsor applies for the permit on his behalf. Every expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a sponsor. Typically, the sponsor is the employer. The sponsor acts both as the guarantor and the guardian. The role of sponsor can be held by an individual or an institution.