moving to saudi arabia

Moving to Saudi Arabia : What You Need to Know

In this article, we aim to provide a tangible glimpse into life in Saudi Arabia. We will delve into the cultural norms and values that form the foundation of Saudi society, the workings of its education system, as well as its economic structure. Our goal is to equip you with all the answers to your questions for your expatriation to Saudi Arabia, a country promising a brighter future.

What does life in Saudi Arabia look like ?

Life in Saudi Arabia is marked by a blend of tradition and modernity. The Kingdom is known for its rich cultural heritage and adherence to Islamic laws and customs, which are deeply ingrained in the society. The country’s bustling cities like Riyadh and Jeddah offer a cosmopolitan lifestyle, with luxurious shopping malls, international cuisine, and a thriving arts scene.

In Saudi Arabia, recent years have seen significant strides in various sectors. The educational system has undergone extensive reforms aimed at enhancing education quality and equipping the younger generation for a diversified economy. Simultaneously, healthcare facilities have been upgraded to state-of-the-art standards, reflecting heavy government investment in public health infrastructure.

Economically, while the Kingdom upholds its dominant position in the global oil industry, it’s progressively embracing economic diversification, actively promoting sectors such as tourism, entertainment, and technology.

A key part of this diversification strategy is Vision 2030, a comprehensive plan aimed at transforming the Saudi economy and society. One of the most ambitious projects under this vision is NEOM, a $500 billion mega-city that promises to be a hub of innovation and sustainability. With plans for zero-carbon footprint and cutting-edge technology, NEOM symbolizes Saudi Arabia’s commitment to creating a sustainable future.

By opening up its economy and investing in futuristic projects, Saudi Arabia is positioning itself as a country ready to offer a better life for the future. While challenges remain, particularly in terms of human rights and political freedoms, the strides made towards modernization and diversification are a testament to the Kingdom’s determination to adapt and evolve.While life in Saudi Arabia today is shaped by its traditional values and norms, there is a clear shift towards modernity and progress. With initiatives like Vision 2030 and NEOM, the Kingdom is paving the way for a future that promises economic prosperity and improved quality of life.

Does Saudi Arabia offer a good quality of life?

As Vision 2030 has made headlines since its announcement, many workers and businesses have already made their first moves and established themselves in Saudi Arabia, sparking the question in many heads if the migration to the kingdom is worth it and if its quality of life can be compared to the big centers across the world.

According to statistics revealed by the website US News & World Reports, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia lies in the 30th position in the ranking of the globe’s best quality of life, being one of the three nations to live in the Middle East, together with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, to be included in the list.

In 2018, the Saudi government launched the Quality of Life Program, which intends to transform the country into a ‘world-renowned sports and entertainment location’, according to its official website.

“Enhancing a wide variety of sectors, the program focuses on the empowerment of arts and culture, the promotion of sports and leading a healthy life, and the development of more livable urban areas. As well as creating exciting new sectors and diversifying economic activity,”
its official website states.

It is also reported by several expats that the fact that the kingdom offers warm weather throughout the year is a positive aspect.

How is Saudi Arabia economically ? 

It is also considered that working and living in Saudi Arabia can be a remarkable experience, as the country reportedly offers tax-free salaries, career development prospects, and prestigious employment packages.

With its mega projects, such as NEOM, the kingdom seeks to reportedly offer over one million job opportunities by 2030, as well as 250,000 employment offers just with Expo 2030.

As the project’s intention is to diversify the country’s economic basis and reduce its dependency on oil, many sectors, including tourism, hospitality, and the real estate industry, are likely to receive a rare boost in the next few years.

“Vision 2030 has enabled an economic transformation that has in turn driven a cultural transformation in Saudi Arabia through the digital economy and new sectors like tourism, gaming, entertainment, and culture. We are connecting the Saudi people to the world, and the world with Saudi Arabia,”
said Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.

How is Saudi Arabian society ?

Viewed across the world as a closed country, where its population has limited rights and must follow strict rules in order to avoid potential penalties, Saudi Arabia has come a long way in the past few years to change this view and has invested in the world of sports to do it.

By bringing world-class stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, as well as big sporting events, such as enormous boxing bouts in the likes of Fury vs. Ngannou, the kingdom wanted to show the big public that it wants to change the image of a ‘closed oil-rich territory’ to a big center and bring varied investments to the land.In the upcoming years, other than the sporting events, including the 2029 Asian Winter Games and the 2034 FIFA World Cup, the kingdom will also offer its population and visitors several cultural events, including music festivals, fairs, and exhibitions.

How is it to be a woman in Saudi Arabia?

One of the main characteristics of Saudi Arabian society is that its norms and values are based on Islamic laws, with restrictions on alcohol and pork products, for example. Because of that, many people across the globe, most of them women, who are interested in the idea of moving to a Middle Eastern country seeking a better professional opportunity, think twice before making a first move towards the kingdom.

However, what many of them do not know is that, despite the fact that there is still a long road to cover in terms of women’s rights, a lot has changed in the past few years.

According to local media reports, since 2019, the country has eliminated some of the restrictions imposed through the male guardianship system, which now allows women aged over 21 years the right to obtain a passport and to travel without the permission of a male guardian.

It is also reported that now women over 18 years old are allowed to register the birth of a baby, the death of a relative, marriage, and divorce.

Of course, if we compare these simple rights with those of other nations in the world, it seems like nothing, and many consider that more has to be done. However, by taking these steps, the government of Saudi Arabia wants to show the whole world that it is willing to open its doors to people coming from different backgrounds.

“The Kingdom established reforms dedicated to the promotion of women’s engagement in economic development by setting an equal age for both genders, preventing gender discrimination in terms of wages, occupation, work field, and hours, and enabling women to incorporate and practice commercial business without obtaining prior consent,”
states the government’s official website.

Healthcare and Education in Saudi Arabia 

Many of the expats are likely to move to Saudi Arabia with their families, and knowing that the country offers a good health and education system makes it easier.

According to an article published by the National Library of Medicine in May 2023, the country has a ‘well-established’ healthcare system that provides all citizens and residents with free services provided by the government, as it is the primary funder.

“The healthcare system in Saudi Arabia has undergone significant improvements over the years, with the government’s significant investments in healthcare infrastructure resulting in increased access to healthcare services across the country,”
it writes.

In terms of its educational structure, the kingdom offers its students over 30,000 schools, including around 500 international schools, which are the most common educational institutions among expats’ sons, and approximately 50 universities.

According to the official website of its government, Saudi Arabia’s educational system is open to all citizens, with free education, books, and health services, and the study of Islam is one of the core values of Saudi Arabia’s program.

Is the study of Islam required in all schools ?

When reading that Islam remains one of the most important subjects in the Saudi Arabian educational system, expat parents might consider sending their children to schools over there, as they might come from different backgrounds or have different beliefs.

However, according to the official website of the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia, private international schools are required to teach Saudi students and Muslim students of other nationalities an Islamic studies course, while non-Muslim, non-Saudi students may receive a course on Islamic civilization or alternative coursework in place of the curriculum designed for Saudi students.

Real estate opportunities in Saudi Arabia 

The real estate market in Saudi Arabia keeps growing, and it is expected to expand even more in the near future, as many companies have announced that they will be operating in the kingdom, including GE Healthcare, Bechtel, and Huawei.

“To attain a housing supply of 4.96 million residences by 2030, the Kingdom will need to build around 1.2 million additional homes during the next decade. Housing demand is predicted to rise from 99,600 houses in 2021 to 153,000 houses by 2030, with an average of 124,000 dwellings built per year over that time,”
states a report published by the website Mordor Intelligence.

The kingdom’s market is estimated at $69.51 billion in 2024, and it is expected to reach $101.62 billion by 2029, as its housing ministry aims to build 300,000 housing units over the next five years in partnership with the private sector, shifting its focus especially to the city of Riyadh.

Key words : Saudi Arabia, NEOM, Vision 2030, Moving to Saudi Arabia

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