Image 1 of 13: Riyals, riyals, riyals: It’s no coincidence that many men leave their families behind to work the Saudi track for a while. With the high salaries for expats, no taxes and little spending temptation (although there are as many malls as mosques in Saudi cities), moving to the Kingdom is a tried and tested successful way to build up that nest egg.
Image 1 of 13: Holiday haven: It pays to live in Saudi for more ways than one - never mind the bulging paycheck, the Kingdom knows how to holiday properly. With 11 days off for Eid Al Fitr alone, this laid back country is not stingy on the down time. So put your feet up and enjoy the sleepy desert existence, Saudi-style!
Image 1 of 13: Saudi boasts the world’s second largest gas reserves, which can only mean two things. A beautiful alliance with the US and cheap fuel! Gas guzzlers eat your heart out as a gallon of gas will set you back around $0.50! Roadtrips galore.
Image 1 of 13: Gated Arabia: Enjoy the expat high-life? What happens in compounds STAYS in compounds - notoriously debauched, all nature of sins and vices go on behind closed doors in the Kingdom. If not a compound, then a plush villa. And if you’re lower down on the Saudi foodchain, then there’s always the vast expanse of desert to do dirty deeds in.
Image 1 of 13: Through the keyhole: Arabia is home to hundreds of beautiful sites and although there’s been a recent boost for tourism, its strict visa requirements mean that many of Saudi’s secrets are only available to residents. With divine deserts, ravishing religious sites and charming city scapes, what’s not to love about the residential privilege.
Image 1 of 13: Costa del Saudi: With vast expanses of beautiful coastlines, the KSA is perfect for a beach getaway too. Jeddah shouldn’t only be a stepping stone on the way to Mecca and Medina - a vibrant Red Sea resort, the snorkeling here is unparalleled. Never mind not wearing a bikini - with all this scuba diving, you’ll be wearing a wetsuit anyways!
Image 1 of 13: Easy-escape: Saudi’s central position in the ME makes it a perfect base from which to plot a cheeky weekend getaway, and neighbor Bahrain's one of your best bets! With the delights (and spending potential) of the UAE only hours drive away by car and the Levant at your fingertips, those high salaries can be put to good use exploring the region.
Image 1 of 13: Healthcare in Saudi is top notch and the sector is expected to grow by 20% in 5 years - handy, just in case you pick up the MERS virus! A country boasting dozens of first class international schools -- your kids in the Kingdom have it made: Saudi is spending $21 billion on an education ‘renaissance’ and adding 16 universities.
Image 1 of 13: Perks of covering up: As a non-Muslim, or a barely practicing one, you'd be scorned if you donned a veil elsewhere in the Middle East. In Saudi, it’s a must for all, infidels or not. Make the most of that abaya - bad hair days and zits are hidden as soon as you pull on the niqab. Embrace it! No risk of sun-burn to boot!
Image 1 of 13: Legs-up! Ladies - frustrated that you’ve been stripped of women’s lib and your license to flaunt it by driving? Who wants to drive when you can get your chauffeur to deal with that Arab road rage? If a chauffeur is not your thing (or within budget), at least it’ll be a male behind the wheel, putting your blood pressure at ease.
Image 1 of 13: Keeping up the morality! Jealous partners can rest easy in Saudi as the handy mutaween (Islamic religious or virtue police) patrol the malls making sure that no hemline falls short and no hanky-panky goes unpunished.
Image 1 of 13: Crime-free: Although it goes hand in hand with conservatism, there are positives about living in the holiest place on earth -- due to the Quran’s strict rules against stealing, the crime rate in Saudi is low. It seems thieves would rather keep their hands than nick a few Riyals.
Image 1 of 13: Keep the mother-in-law at bay! Strict visa requirements make the Kingdom a great escape if you want some time away from irritating relatives & nagging neighbors. The visa process alone, paired with the need for a sponsor for females traveling solo is enough to put anyone off visiting -- and means you can keep low and not have to play tour guide.
Although only unified in 1932, human habitation in Saudi Arabia goes back 20,000 years. Those Saudis must be doing something right for all the bad rap they get as running an inhospitable Kingdom (but for its salary/oil reserves)!
In honor of Saudi Arabia’s 81st national day, we’re going to show you why living in the Kingdom is nothing short of majestic.
A vast expanse of desert with no form of centralised control in the 19th century, rival tribes and sects battled it out for control of Arabia for hundreds of years. Defeating his British-sponsored Hashemite rival Sharif Hussein bin Ali (whose great-great grandson now rules Jordan) in the 1916 Arab Revolt and the battle for Arabian hearts and minds, Abdul Aziz Al Saud was instated as the first ruler of Saudi Arabia in the early 20th century.
With family ties to Wahhabism and a decent relationship with the Brits (the most fickle of colonialists) Al Saud can be credited with the creation of Saudi Arabia as we know it today. It’s even named after him! Forcing the Brits to recognise it as autonomous from colonial control in 1927, perhaps the most important date in the Kingdom’s calendar is its independence day, 23 September 1932 - the date that Al Saud unified the country and Saudi’s modern history began.
Popular with the Western states thanks to its massive oil reserves, Saudi nontheless carries a heavy-duty bad reputation - with its conservative Islamic ideology and political system rubbing people up the wrong way in the post-War on-Terror era.
We beg to differ and think Saudi deserves a second chance and even a re-'visit', or indeed first time visit (visas allowing), as well as lashings of praise. Although there are some definite limitations on freedoms enjoyed elsewhere - for ladies in particular - there’s no reason why moving to Saudi Arabia can’t be the best decision you’ve ever made.
With plenty of expats flocking to the Kingdom for the tax-free lifestyle and big pay packages, many compounds (the hub of expat existence) enjoy their fair share of sin and naughtiness! There may not be a liquor store in sight, but with access to the embassy commissaries for ‘essential’ supplies, there’s no reason for your Arabian desert dream to stay dry.
A beautiful country and a beautifully big pay check - what could go wrong? It’s time to turn your preconceptions on their heads with Al Bawaba’s guide to living the high life in Arabia.