‘Know the rules’ Expats explain what life is like as a foreigner in Saudi Arabia

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There are around 30,000 British expats living in Saudi Arabia with most expats settling in the capital of Riyadh or the port city of Jeddah. Most expats don’t tend to stay more than a few years.

One of the draws to Saudi Arabia for expats is the chance to earn a tax-free salary and save money.

Expats say that the sense of community is strong among foreigners who often live in Western-style compounds.

One expat told HSBC Expat Explorer: “Saudi Arabia is a wonderful place to stay. Keep your ‘ID’ card always with you.

“Transport of your own is a must. Let it be your first priority. Always keep some cash at home.”

An ID card is used for identification at Government agencies and third party service providers such as banks.

Another expat said: “Know the rules of the Middle East, particularly of Saudi Arabia which is nothing like Dubai or Bahrain.”

Saudi Arabia has stricter laws than several other popular expat destinations including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Publicly practicing a religion that is not Islam is forbidden in Saudi Arabia although some private practice is permitted.

Expats will be able to bring a religious text into Saudi Arabia as long as it is just for personal use.

Public displays of affection are forbidden and people should also avoid using profane language or gestures.

Men and women must wear modest clothing at all times. Clothing should cover people’s shoulders and knees in public.

Possessing alcohol carries heavy penalties and expats should never arrive drunk in Saudi Arabia.

The possesion of pornographic material or importing pork prodcuts is forbidden in Saudi Arabia.

Expats must familiarise themselves with Saudi laws before travelling as suspects can be held without charge if arrested.

Many expats choose to live in Western compounds which often have swimming pools and restaurants.

Some British expats will have their accommodation in Saudi Arabia paid for by their employer.

Many expat compounds also have social clubs where parties, meals, films and other gatherings are held.

British expats may struggle to get used to the intense heat in Saudi Arabia at first.

Temperatures can exceed 40 degrees in summer which can be difficult for foreigners to cope with.

Jeddah has some beach resorts that expats can visit but must cover up in public and women should always check if they are allowed to swim before taking a dip.

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