In the Wrong Business in Saudi Arabia

I have begun to think that I am clearly in the wrong line of business in the Kingdom.  I work 5 days a week, 9 hours per day with a 30 minute lunch break…which is pretty standard in the Kingdom.  Except when it comes to Ladies banking…  I need to make a transaction at my bank so I called the number to find out their hours and which evenings they stayed open later as is the custom here in the Kingdom (at least with the men’s branches).  I learned that while men’s branches of banks will work 8 – 5 as well as have evening hours at various branches plus have some branches open for several hours on Thursdays (the first weekend day), the ladies branches are strictly 0930 – 1630 Saturday through Wednesday.  No evening hours or weekend hours as well.  Is it just me or does this further allude to how women in business (and in general) are not taken as seriously in the Kingdom?  Due to these working hours if I am unable to conduct my business either over the phone or via online banking, I must then take time off from my job to conduct my business at the bank.  And from past experience, one must always allow at least an hour once inside the bank for the business to be concluded. 


Now in fairness, if one works for a large employer there usually will be a branch of the bank which the employer has contracted within the facility.  This bank will also likely be co-ed (ie, non segregated) if located in an institution such as a hospital.  Unfortunately though in my case the bank located where I am working is not the same bank with whom I do business so I’m out of luck in that capacity.


While on the subject of banking I have also learned some other interesting tidbits which is useful for an expat in the Kingdom to know about.  Allegedly wire transfers both within and outside the Kingdom can be performed through online banking.  I am saying allegedly as I am still working on doing one and it has not been completed yet.  For example, I wish to transfer some funds back to my home country (USA).  First I have to go to online banking and create the beneficiary (ie, the entity to whom I wish to send funds).  While I am asked to complete the details such as name and location and account number I was not asked to provide the ABA routing number or the amount I wished to transfer.  I filled out the online form in its entirety and chose “save” as that was the only option available.  I then receive a message stating the request had been saved and to then check back in 24 hours.  I immediately called the bank to ask what was that all about; that my transfer had not been completed.  I was told this multi-step method has been implemented for security and verification purposes. 


I’ll keep this post open until (inshallah) the transfer has been completed in order to let others know how well (or not) the online banking option will work.  If I am not successful I will have to bite the bullet and take time off from work and go to the bank personally to conduct this transaction.


Now it is day two or 24 hours since I made the transaction.  Guess what…the bank has no record of such a transaction even though I had printed out the page which contains the transaction reference number.  So what did they do…they asked me to make another transaction.  I made another transfer request and again printed out the confirmation page.  I called the bank back and still their system shows no record of a transaction.  They now advise they want to research the problem and will get back to me.  In the meantime I am kind of left in limbo as I am still unable to make a transaction (at least via online) with my bank.

  In closing this post I can say the transfer has been made but not with a resolution of the online banking matter.  The bank never could explain to me why the online banking was not working.  I ended up having to take time out from my work day and go to the nearest branch of my bank to have the transaction conducted face-to-face.


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