Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Five Things to Consider Before Relocating to Saudi Arabia

Every year plenty of expatriates move to Saudi Arabia mainly for employment and business purposes. The main attractions for foreign workers and professionals consist of tax free wages, low cost of living. Some companies give generous allowances in the form of housing benefits and four to six weeks paid leave. But expatriates who are coming for the first time, or who hail from liberal societies may experience a culture shock. So kindly consider these five things before relocating to this desert kingdom.

Hot weather

Expats who hail from cold Western countries will face a lot of discomfort initially since the temperatures often soar to 50 degree Celsius in daytime during summers. Generally, companies provide housing known as compounds which have air conditioned facilities. But there are lots of restrictions on the dress and costumes for both foreign men and women, once you are outside the compound. The main reason for this extreme heat is that the country is mainly a desert.

Document legalization

Saudi visa rules requires that all foreigners who wish to work or do business in Saudi Arabia have to get their educational, personal and commercial certificates legalize from the Saudi embassy in India. These rules vary from country to country. For complete information, please contact the Saudi Embassy/ Consulate authorities in your home country.

Timings of prayers

Saudi Arabia is governed by strict Sharia law and therefore all shops, offices close down for the five times prayers as per the Islamic rules. When you reach Saudi Arabia, you will be notified of the prayer timings in your workplaces. The call to the prayers is made through loudspeakers. You are expected to strictly abide by the prayer timings. Nowadays for the convenience of expatriates, special prayer apps have been designed which will keep you updated.

Religious restrictions

There are several restrictions for non-Muslims with respect to practicing their religion. Public worship of all religions except Islam is forbidden. You are not allowed to bring alcohol legally in the country. If you wish to consume alcohol, you will be issued a special license to purchase alcohol from certain hotels.  Consumption of pork is prohibited. Also, possession of narcotics and weapons is forbidden. If you are on medication, then you must always carry your doctor's prescription.

Restrictions on women

Women who wish to live and work in Saudi Arabia have to face many restrictions. They are not allowed to drive and must always be accompanied by a male relative when they have to travel.
Both Muslim and non-Muslim women have to wear a long black covered robes called abaya. Then there is complete separation of women and men in public. For example, in restaurants, there are separate sections for men. Women cannot enter the men's section.

It is to be noted that since Saudi Arabia is governed by Sharia, the punishments for violating the rules are very severe. For example, public flogging for consuming alcohol is a common punishment.

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