The Middle East is an attractive work place for many Oracle Consultants – they get to experience a new culture, a great lifestyle and a hot climate, as well as the benefit of paying low or zero taxes, as is the case in Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled by the Saudi Royal Family, is the largest economy in the Middle East and the second-largest producer and exporter of oil in the world, offering lots of opportunities for foreign workers.
In Saudi Arabia, there is no division between religion and other aspects of life, including business and politics, therefore it is common to hear religious phrases or well wishes doing business meetings. When scheduling appointments, it is important to take into consideration the five daily prayer times as well as the religious holidays.
Business meetings in Saudi Arabia are preferred to be conducted face to face, it is therefore common to meet a few times before getting to a final agreement. There isn’t always an agenda or time limit either, and business is often based on friendships and reciprocity of favours, which means patience is therefore important.
Saudi Arabians usually shake hands with foreign visitors, but also kiss on both cheeks when meeting close friends. When greeting, it is a custom to shake the hand of the most senior person first, and then the rest of the group anti-clock wise. The decision maker is usually the one who speaks the least during the meeting, the one who is listening and observing.
Family ties are important, it is common to find different people within the business who are related to each other. It is important to have good relationship with your business partners and wide your connections network, as you could be speaking with key people.
Although raising your voice is common in meetings to get the others attention, communication must remain courteous at all times to preserve the other’s dignity and avoid refusals or disagreements.
If you are in a senior position, subordinates usually expect to be given direct and unambiguous instructions rather than being proactive. Always make sure you are being clear to ensure you get the expected results.
The Saudi work weeks is Sunday to Thursday, with Friday being the main day of rest. Working hours are usually from 8 am to 12 pm, and from 3pm to 6pm. However, for Oracle Consultants in Saudi Arabia work usually finishes at 4 pm, which means they have lots of free time in the evenings.
During the month of Ramadan, employees across the country work only 6 hours day, with no reduction in pay.
Saudi Arabia Oracle salaries and day rates
There are Oracle contracts in lots of different industries in Saudi Arabia, with opportunities in banking, large group corporations, property and real estate, logistics, supply chain, manufacturing, the medical sector and more.
Most Oracle contracts in Saudi Arabia are expected to work on-site on a full time basis although there are sometimes opportunities for remote work, in which case the visa process is simpler.
Oracle contracts are mainly either short term contracts with possibility of extension – initially for 3-6 months – or for permanent positions. Permanent positions are convenient for some consultants due to the strict visa laws, whilst short term contracts are preferred by those who are not planning to stay – with the added benefit of higher rates than for permanent positions.
Contracts for locals are aligned to local rates. Some contracts to work in Saudi Arabia include the reimbursement of all expenses, but it can vary depending on the contract. Other companies prefer to provide an all-inclusive rate, in which case the consultant covers their own expenses, enabling them to take other decisions like their accommodation and means of transport.
Salaries for permanent positions are also aligned with the local market rates. Sometimes the basic salary is not very high but most companies provide a very good benefits package for both the consultant and their family i.e. medical insurance, air tickets, family status visa, education allowance for the children. Schooling in Saudi Arabia is very expensive and since the majority of the consultants in the Kingdom are not local Saudi Nationals, benefits like this and the opportunity for their family to join them in Saudi Arabia are more appealing than the basic salary itself.
The main locations where Oracle consultants are hired in Saudi Arabia are Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Jubal, and Al Khobar.
Visas and other documentation
Companies in Saudi Arabia prefer Oracle consultants who are familiar with the working culture and the language. Residents of the GCC region – which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrein – tend to be successful candidates for Oracle vacancies for this reason. Having strong local experience and having a work visa are also beneficial for consultants from other nationalities as to enter Saudi Arabia you must have a working visa.
The work visa is either arranged by your employer or by a visa agency – Whitehall Resources can offer this service via one of our partners. If arranged by your employer, you will usually receive a letter of invitation via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the specifications and conditions of your visa. After your contract finishes or if you wish to change job, you are required to leave the country and apply for a new visa.
Dual nationality is not recognised in Saudi Arabia, and second passports can be confiscated. The recommendation is to only carry one passport when entering the country. You should also always carry a copy of your passport when in the country to be able to proof your identity, along with your emergency contact details.
Spouses of male foreign workers are able to apply for their own work visa.
The income tax rate for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia is 0%, which is a huge advantage of working in Saudi Arabia. You might still need to pay taxes in your country of origin, therefore always check with your local authorities.
Cost of living
The cost of living is around 25% lower than in the United Kingdom, whilst renting is 60% cheaper. This means if you manage to secure a job as a consultant with a similar rate to a job in the UK, you should be able to enjoy a much better lifestyle, considering the income tax rate is 0%. See more details here about the cost of living.
Travelling and driving in Saudi Arabia
The transport system in Saudi Arabia is not large or widespread, therefore people prefer to drive or to take a taxi. It is also common to hire a driver. Many companies provide a company car or car allowance to sponsored consultants.
Following new regulations effective from June 2018, both men and women are allowed to drive in the country. A British driving licence is valid for up to 3 months, and after this period, you can seek assistance from the sponsoring company to apply for a Saudi licence.
There is public and private healthcare in Saudi Arabia, both monitored by the Ministry of Health. Medical healthcare should be provided by your sponsoring company or paid as private healthcare separately as this will not be automatically deducted from your income.
Generosity and hospitality have an important role in the Saudi culture. Saudis usually offer coffee with dates and sweets, and burn incense to welcome people in their homes.
The Arabian cuisine is very traditional and the type of food consumed by the locals has been around for thousands of years. Some of the common food includes wheat, rice, lamb, chicken, yogurt, potatoes and dates. Eating pork and drinking alcoholic beverages is completely banned in the country.
The most important holidays are Ramadan – a month of fasting between dusk and dawn – and the Hajj season – during which millions of Muslim pilgrims from around the world visit the city of Mecca. Foreigners are expected to respect the local traditions and to be aware of actions that can offend others. The laws are strictly enforced, therefore it is important to have a good understanding of their local regulations before your arrival.
The dress code in Saudi Arabia is strict. Women are required to wear a full length, loose-fitting abaya and cover their head with a scarf whilst out in public. For meetings, you should stick with formal business attire. Men should not wear shorts in public places. You will also find many public areas in Saudi Arabia are gender-segregated (e.g. restaurants and shops).
Although the law has had some changes in recent years, women do not have the same rights as men in Saudi Arabia and should have a male guardian, whose proof of consent is required for a number of formalities. You should research local laws and customs further to avoid causing any unintended offence or insult.
Leisure and entertainment
Art and literature are important in the Saudi culture and part of their heritage; poetry, literature and folk dance being the most popular. The most famous cultural event in Saudi Arabia is the Jenadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival, which is held every year for two weeks and which focuses on giving a glimpse into the past.
Both old and modern sports are popular in Saudi Arabia. Some old sports include horse and camel racing, falconry and hunting with hounds. Football is the more popular modern sport and the country has also its own national league.
Locals enjoy doing outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. In the waterfront, they enjoy swimming, fishing and water sports, whilst in the cities, they do picnics in the hundreds of parks available to the public.