The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is transforming into one of the world’s most competitive economies and has long attracted workers from other countries. Skilled expats are usually managed in a fair but controlled way, and are generally paid well and rewarded for their efforts.
Salaries in Saudi Arabia are typically similar to or greater than those paid in Western countries, and no personal income tax usually means greater net income. Provisions for medical insurance, car payments, education, paid annual leave and air tickets back home are frequently included in contract packages.
Job market in Riyadh
Expats working in Riyadh find themselves in the Saudi capital, a hub of commerce and industry. Saudi Arabia is the world's largest crude oil exporter, so the oil and gas industry remains the largest sector in the country's economy. Riyadh is also home to many government offices and embassies, making the public and diplomatic sectors one of the city's biggest employers.
As the city’s infrastructure expands, so do opportunities in banking, construction, engineering, IT, agriculture and medicine. Teaching English in Saudi Arabia is well worth considering – it's taught as a second language in Saudi public schools, but there are few native speakers in the city. Private English lessons are popular with local families.
Finding a job in Riyadh
Most of the companies that recruit expats aren’t based in Riyadh and operate outside the Kingdom. Very few expats arrive in Riyadh looking for a job, and those who do usually have local contacts.
There are online job portals that may be worth a glance for those in search of work, but these only rarely generate actual leads. Recruitment agencies are often the best source of job opportunities.
Many agencies specialise in particular fields such as healthcare, teaching, accounting, construction, executives and operations as well as administration. Employers normally pay agency and consultancy fees.
Work culture in Riyadh
Expats working in Riyadh will most likely need to educate themselves about local workplace etiquette. It’s one of Saudi Arabia's most conservative cities, so it's important to respect local customs in everyday life and in the business world.
Men and women should wear modest clothing, with their shoulders, stomach, calves and thighs well covered. Expats should also avoid discussing politics and religion with colleagues as these are sensitive subjects.
The working week in Riyadh is Sunday to Thursday, and employees are expected to work between 40 and 48 hours a week, depending on their employer.
►For more on culture and etiquette in the Saudi workplace, see Doing Business in Saudi Arabia
Are you an expat living in Riyadh?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Riyadh. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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