My first contract in Saudi was in '79 and my last ended in '96.
Driving - If Allah wants you to turn then turn! Turning left at the lights, then squeeze into the right hand lane and cut across. Transporting your 17 Indian employees from Jeddah to Taif? Pack them all into your oldest GMC Suburban and pile their mountainous luggage about 20 foot high onto the roof rack. Kids bored on a long journey? Turn your car into an amusement park ride and let them sit on the roof rack.
Relationships - the mutawaa (religious police) went into Dairy Queen in Taif and saw 4 Filipinos sitting at the same table (2 male and 2 female - unrelated). Dairy Queen was shut down immediaately!
Mutawaa - some are religious zealots, be careful in town when the latest class has just graduated!
Books and publications. I was at Riyadh Airport customs; in front of me was a family with a 4 or 5 year old boy who was holding a child's book which the customs official snatched out of his hands. All references to Mr Pig was inked over with a thick, black marker but Mrs Sow was untouched! Imported newspapers are very expensive and suffer the same marker pen treatment and the ink goes right through the paper.
Airport Customs (I don't think anything has changed in the past 13 years) No green or red lines, everything is searched. Be prepared for a long wait at Ramadan and Hajj - my record is nine and a half hours from getting off the plane and into the terminal to getting out.
Swan non-alcoholic lager (if it is still available) - the alcohol was taken out but it's simple to put it back in again, friends of mine used to do it!
Not an urban myth! There was and possibly still is a pork butcher in Jeddah, just wait until all the locals have gone and ask for 'special meat'. His pork chops were great.
Sand fever - a word of warning. A lot of us have a love/hate relationship with the country and the people, when we return home after the contract is over we are itching to get back - resistance is futile!
Do whatever you want to do inside your own compound, within reason, but not outside; a Jamaican acquaintance was caught near the Sony shop in Taif, smoking amd supplying pot. He had a great defence argument that did not work - 'I am Jamaican, smoking pot is my birthright!'
There is actually a thread about the organization that's offered me a job over on Dave's ESL Cafe, so I guess it wouldn't hurt to give some more details. The work is with King Saud University; they offered 12,500 SAR (roughly $3,300) per month. I believe there is also a 10% travel allowance, but I'll have to work that out.
Does this sound like a reasonable deal for someone with a BA, CELTA and 5 years of experience (non-Gulf, obviously)?
Thanks, TC. I am definitely interested in short term work to begin with - the thought of signing a 2-3 year contract in Saudi scares the crap out of me! Maybe I'll feel differently once I'm there....I don't know what kind of contract you'll be working under, but it sounds fairly good for someone interested in short term work...
Thanks again for all of the input/advice. I was not all that serious about the offer but this thread has made me reconsider it.
Can anybody recommend any decent websites/forums for teaching/working in Saudi Arabia please?
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." George Orwell
teachsaudi.com is also a great resources on teaching abroad in Saudi Arabia...
What everybody has failed to tell you is if you don’t have Saudi ID you are fucked. You can not have a bank account to send money home, so you have to rely on other people to do it for you. You can not get money sent to you. You can not own a vehicle/car as you do not have Saudi ID the list is endless.
Everything depends on the type of visa that you enter the country on. If it is a 90 day business visa this is the one that you will be fucked on. Some companies say that they need you right away and the business visa is a temp thing, and you will get the regular one later be careful. The best way to go is direct hire, and that way you don’t have too many problems.
As suggested go to Dave’s café (even though the website discriminates against other websites it is very good for information, and not jobs) go to the Saudi forum, and check it out.
Roaming the wild blue yonder
And there you will see that the issue of biz visa vs work visa is heavily debated.
Each side has its benefits, as with the work visa you can settle in with less effort. With the biz visa you can feel it out and escape if necessary.
-After you’ve turned the page of slight annoyance into total acceptance,
you’re well over ˝ way there.
^It depends on the company. With my company you are required to get a work visa/Iqama (takes about 6 weeks to receive after you've arrived). There is another American company which is also recruiting for KSU; they are bringing people in on business visas and are paying them significantly less.
I think - and this is just a guess based on very little time in Saudi - that the more reputable companies will always insist on a proper work visa.
So you apply after you've arrived?
I guess that wasn't very clear. The first step is to apply for a work visa, which you do before you arrive. The process can take up to three months when you include the time needed to prepare all the paperwork. Once you have that visa, you can apply for an Iqama (resident card) after you arrive in Saudi. The Iqama takes about 6 weeks to receive through my company (although it should be ready much faster).
The Iqama is what allows you to open bank accounts, transfer money etc... On a business visa, you can't get an Iqama. In fact, the business visa explicitly states that you aren't even allowed to work at all.