The Middle East, comprising various Asian and African countries from Egypt to Iran, offers many opportunities for SAP professionals. In this article, we focus on Middle Eastern countries with the most prospects for SAP, which tend to be situated in Arabic nations, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Kuwait.
SAP consultants are presented with many advantages towards working in the Middle East, including the enticing combination of high income with zero income tax, immersing yourself in a new culture and, of course, a favourable climate.
SAP Opportunities in the Middle East
There are a variety of industries in the Middle East that are on the lookout for SAP professionals, although the level of experience varies. SAP projects in the Middle East generally require a specialised skill set, with the ideal candidates knowing the latest SAP developments that may not be available within the local talent pool yet. Our clients in this region are consistently pushing to adopt the newest technologies, so consultants must stay up to date. As a result, contractors with experience around the world are very desirable in the Middle East, as they can bring the latest practices and technologies from around the world.
Junior roles tend to be filled locally or via neighbouring countries due to cost considerations. Whilst cost is one of the significant factors, there are also more benefits for businesses to recruit locally for these roles. For example, SAP consultants with regional experience may integrate within the company faster due to their understanding of the region’s cultural differences, project environments, and work dynamics. Therefore, if you already possess regional experience, it can be highly beneficial for securing an SAP role in the Middle East.
All of these roles, whether junior or senior, could be fixed-term or permanent, and the daily rates are similar to those in the UK. Contracts may also require travel and accommodation, which the client may provide and organise. However, levels can vary regarding the accommodation type, flights and expenses.
SAP Day Rates and Salaries in the Middle East
Remuneration for SAP roles in the Middle East varies depending on experience, seniority, and expertise. Permanent salaries in the region are generally lucrative, but the true allure lies in the comprehensive benefits package accompanying these positions. Such benefits may include housing, vehicle provisions, education allowances for dependents, bonuses, visas for the consultant and their family, and health insurance. The same benefits offered depend on the hiring company.
Income Taxes in the Middle East
Many countries in the Middle East have no personal income tax, such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, which also happen to be some of the most popular destinations for SAP consultants. In Egypt, consultants are required to pay taxes after residing there for half a year (183 days) within a 12-month period. It is also worth noting that consultants may still have to pay taxes in their country of origin, so research must be done beforehand to ensure you understand all tax implications.
Getting a Visa to work in the Middle East
Rules for attaining a Visa will vary depending on which country you are looking to work in, but generally, you will be expected to have a business as a sponsor for your Visa. You may also be able to go through a Visa partnering agency to work in the Middle East. In some countries, such as UAE and Saudi Arabia, Visas are valid whilst working for the company sponsoring you. However, you may also be able to work elsewhere with permission from your sponsoring company. Those considering SAP roles in Egypt can apply for a residence permit and work Visa in the country or from abroad.
Clients often prefer candidates from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region to streamline the Visa process. Still, as mentioned above, the priority for these businesses tends to be on getting the best person for the job for senior and niche roles. Expertise and experience is the most critical factor for any potential candidate.
5 Key Considerations for Living in the Middle East
There are many places where English speakers will not have any problems on a day-to-day basis, such as in Dubai, where English is spoken by a majority of residents. English is also a primary language for many businesses across the region, especially those with Western influences. Modern Arabic is the main language used across all of these countries, although there is a huge diversity within the region, and as such, there are many languages in which it would be useful to learn the basics. This includes Hebrew, Kurdish, Persian, and Turkish, amongst many others. Of course, the level to which learning these languages will be beneficial varies depending on the country in which you will be residing. Generally, you will be fine with English, but locals will appreciate it if you show an effort to speak their languages.
The Middle East is rich in ancient history and breathtaking locations, making it an ideal base for adventures and sightseeing. From Petra in Jordan to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, from the Great Pyramids of Giza to the bustling beauty of Dubai, there’s always more to see.
Not only can you explore the rest of the Middle East, but you are also much closer to other exotic locations, like the rest of Asia and Africa. You can see even more of the world without the extended journey times we have in the West.
There is a big mix of cultures and religions within the Middle East, particularly within the big cities. It is a great place to experience many cultures all in one place. This has also led to a diverse food culture, with Middle Eastern cuisine featuring bold flavours and aromatic spices. From kebabs and mezze platters to baklava and kunafa, you’re in for a treat! Explore the local markets (souks) to discover fresh produce to recreate your favourite dishes at home!
Speaking of the markets, the larger cities are major shopping and cultural hubs, featuring many of the big brand shops you see across Western civilisation, with local brands adding to the ensemble. There are also restaurants, bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues to keep visitors busy. If you’re wondering about drinking alcohol in the Middle East, some of these countries have strict bans on alcohol consumption, while others have more relaxed rules. It’s best to check on a per-location basis, as the rules can even change depending on which city you are in.
You won’t be surprised to hear that the climate across the Middle East tends to be either hot or, depending on the time of year, very hot. In the summer months in Dubai, it is common to rarely venture outside during the day, when temperatures can reach the high 40s. Even the sea temperature averages at 33 degrees in the hottest months. However, other countries, such as UAE or Yemen, have lower temperatures whilst remaining nice and sunny all year round.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Middle East tends to be lower than in the rest of the world. Only one city in the Middle East enters the top 50 most expensive cities to live in worldwide, with Tel Aviv at 48th. In comparison, London is 16th, being about 30% more expensive. Combining this with high salaries and no personal income tax, you can expect to live comfortably in the Middle East.
Fancy making a move?
Considering the myriad of advantages, it is no wonder that working as an SAP consultant in the Middle East holds immense appeal. The opportunity to embrace a new culture, enjoy favourable climates, benefit from competitive salaries and comprehensive packages, and gain valuable professional experience make the Middle East a compelling destination for those seeking rewarding SAP roles. Explore our latest vacancies and embark on a transformative journey in the Middle East. Check out our SAP jobs in the Middle East.
About the author
Whitehall Resources is the leading specialist SAP recruitment agency across MENA. We have curated an expansive network of SAP talent drawn from direct relationships and personal referrals. Consequently, we are renowned and respected among the most seasoned candidates in the market.