Expat Life and Living in Saudi Arabia

This video gives a close-up look on what life is like on a western compound.  It gives a fair representation of what is a typical expat compound and the lifestyle an expat can have when living on a western compound.  The emphasis however is on a western compound.  One should be aware that a Saudi compound or a compound which also has Saudi nationals may be more conservative than what is seen in this video.

61 Responses

  1. @Carol, Looks like a wonderful compound. All expats here need to have someplace to go to enjoy time off with family and friends.

  2. but really a sharp contrast with asian expats.

    Ridiculuously here in middle east (GCC) the salary and other emoluments decided by organizations and companies are based first of nationality.

    An American having the same experience, skill, qualifications will earn at least 4-5 times more than a indian expat having the same experience, skill and qualifications…

    This is not only with a american but also with any westerner as well.

    Also apparently i have seen the same thing being applied to local saudis as well.

    Well qualified, experienced saudis also are underpaid compared to westerners…

    But the good thing is a few years ago one could see westerners in almost all organizations and jobs cornering managerial jobs. But these days the trend is moving towards the asian, arab expats, and saudis who also are receiving competitive salaries and management jobs comparitively better than the past but still in terms of work place equality a lot is left to be desired.

    Quoting a funny incident, once during an office presentation by me, i was being constantly shot with many questions by the audience (which is common), at the end the senior manager remarked openly, “Had you been an American no one would have questioned you?”

  3. True representation i would say. Again that’s so sad that saudi’s are paid so much less for the same qualifications. When we were there i didn’t face / see that. Could be bacause we were int he medical field. my Spouse was a saudi and paid very well or as well as the brit drs and i was paid on the same comparitive scale as all other dr’s event though i’m indian.
    so maybe it’s diff in the technolog or other fields.

    These coumpounds to a certain extent give expats the freedom they are used to , we did live in one initially but then moved to a more saudi one. more exposure to the kingdom that way. I liked the villas in Diplomatic quarter more.

  4. I will have to find it but I have written earlier posts on the distinctions of salaries and how they are based on nationality regardless if in the same position and same duties.

    My question to you Radha if you did not notice a difference, although you are Indian, were you there and working on an Indian passport? It is the passport which is taken into account. So if one say is Indian but has an American or Canadian passport, then they are not viewed as an Indian when hired but instead as American or Canadian.

  5. The whole Question is the contract, Asians accept That contract and YOU Must stick with it. westerners ask for high salary when they sign the contract of business. so whom you should blame NOW? You should blame yourself because you sign the contract with company. I have never understood such mindsets. at first he is flying happily that he get a good job in Saudi with a good salary. then when he see the westerners having good contracts with the same company better than him, he start crying. Ok go back to where you came from and have another good contract. It can work this way. I am sure you will never try go back home. duh

  6. yes , you are correct.

    Been there twice, first time on indian passport /american GC and next time on american passport. so yes could be the reason, the first time i was a consultant, so I wasn’t actually an employee just a specialist consulting with the regular staff and the next time i worked as a regular employee.

    F was there as a saudi, but his case is siddferent he was on the speciality neuro board , so probably the higher pay .

  7. I’d have to agree with Medina here. If I were and Indian or any other ‘undesirable race’ I would avoid going to KSA, or any other country that discriminated against me, at ALL costs.

  8. Carol — Thanks for posting this. We moved to the compound shown shortly after it opened in the mid-1990s — nice to see it again.

  9. @Umm Tom – my pleasure!

  10. comparisons …always stresses us.
    Ff you make 3$ an /hr in your home country vs 10$ an hr in saudi , does it really matter that a western gets $20..
    you cannot cure all that ails this world. Either be happy at your good fortune
    go out and try to be the change you want to see:-)

  11. Good points Radha!

  12. @Lynn
    It is not an issue of “undesirable race” or discrimination. It is business, “contract”. for Indians for example, 3000 SR is a very good deal for him and he may never get such salary in his country. for westerners 3000 SR is nothing comparing to life expenses there and the good chances that he can find where he lives. so why the Indian start being greedy when he discovers that westerners get high salary. the issue is relative for the life expenses in India or any western country. I also respect westerners so much because when they sign the contract they are full satisfied and they respect the deal. I have never seen any westerner complaining about his contract. as I said, if I ask this Indian to go back home and ask for a better contract, He will never go back home. but it is the self, never get satisfied. say alhamdollah for what you got. And make sure that self will never get satisfied by anything but mud.

  13. @ Medina

    It is business, “contract”. for Indians for example, 3000 SR is a very good deal for him and he may never get such salary in his country. for westerners 3000 SR is nothing comparing to life expenses there

    is the pay decided, on the performance, worth of an employee or nationality or requirement? ?

    uf! is such discrimination exists?

  14. Medina,
    I do understand what you mean. Cost of living in India or Bangladesh is much less than the United States. But they are not living there are they? They are all living in KSA so I would think that their living expenses should be the same. The cost of living ‘back home’ should not even be considered. The descrimination of the ‘darker’ nationalities, in not just KSA but I think maybe ALL Arab countries, is not a big secret. The fact that they may be desperate and willing to accept low pay does not excuse a person to take advantage of them.

  15. “Cost of living in India or Bangladesh is much less than the United States. But they are not living there are they? They are all living in KSA so I would think that their living expenses should be the same.”

    Lynn, I’m shocked to find myself writing this, but i actually completely agree with one of your comments for once and think u are absolutely correct. And medina, really, who cares what living expenses are in Bangladesh or Nigeria when the person employed IS NOT LIVING THERE. Your excuse is really quite pathetic and indicative of someone who is in complete denial about the state of institutionalized racism in KSA.

  16. Discrimination exists everywhere, in every country in one form or the other. I would not associate it to just the Arab ones.
    in saudi it’s probably a necessity to pay the western a higher amount ( considerably higher than what he could make at home) to lure him/her to move countries….especially if the attraction is money

    the indian expat i’m sure also got paid much more than what he/she could make at home. hence they take up the contract..

    I would call it supply and demand. Yes saudi could set up regulaions , but then we’d say there’s no freedon/ choice .. can’t win this one i guess.

  17. ‘Yes saudi could set up regulaions , but then we’d say there’s no freedon/ choice .. can’t win this one i guess.’

    I wouldn’t say that! But then, I’m a union gal! lol I’m all for limiting freedoms when it comes to companies taking advantage of workers.

    Still, I think I’d eat dirt before I took less pay than the so called ‘superior race’ that was doing the same job as me. Do we know yet what the new Saudi Housemaid salary is compared to the Indonesian’s?

  18. @tvsrinivas, @Lynn
    Ok I will put it simply to you to make it more clear. I have a company. I need some employees with good qualifications. I will go to India and I will publish ads about jobs offered by my company in the local newspapers. In these ads, I will illustrate compensation package – salary, benefits, perks, work environment , paycheck etc. You know? The next day, I will find a long queue of people holding their qualifications looking for this job offer. As soon as they get the job, they fly happily in India and they are very satisfied of what they got.

    At the same time, my company will do the same thing in USA, for example, they will publish job offers there. As soon as the job’ nominees get the job, they will be happy and full satisfied with it and looking for their job destination.

    Hence, everyone is happy of what he got now. So, When does the moaning start? The problem starts when the Indians know that Americans got good contracts comparing to theirs. Hence, greediness and envy start working. I am asking that Indian, why were so happy of the contract that you signed with my company before and now you are not satisfied of what you got?

    Why do not you think that cost of life expenses in America is more expensive than yours in India?the thing that make americans ask for good contracts? Why do not you think that Americans may find better offers if they stay in Americans while you may get nothing if you stay in India? Where is the problem? The problem is it the greediness. It is not discrimination, it is not about nationality. It is about business contract. It is also very reasonable to me. as much as you are happy of what you got., do Not ever look at other people. you should consider all these circumstances and be reasonable in your attitude.

    You are asking me about cost life expenses in Saudi? Well, you should think about that before you sign the contract with my company. I will not be responsible for your decisions.
    It is not about dark skin, It is about business contracts. it is supply and demand as radha said.

  19. It is not about race.. getting a Western Citizenship would change your offer drastically.. you are payed a different wage with an inciting offer to compensate for the utility of offers you can receive in your home country. It all done with regard to the supply and demand for your profession in your home country and how much would interest workers from your field to be interested in an employment offer in Saudi Arabia.

    There are however “cartels” inside private companies that would manage to run company policies for the benefit of their nationals, where you will even see a Saudi working for 4000 SAR total and in comparison his colleague from a Middle Eastern country on the same position would be receiving 13K SAR. In an interview with one of the candidates applying to my institution he reveled to me that in his company, which is a huge corporation spanning services internationally, a certain Middle Eastern nationality is favored above all others even Saudis.. that on the managerial level there are those with elementary level education from that nationality.

  20. Here is an earlier post I wrote about benefit packages and hiring in Saudi Arabia:


    and in regards to the question one asked about Saudi housemaids, their starting salary is 1500 SAR with fixed hours as compared to an Indonesian who one has sponsored and receiving 600 SAR per month without fixed hours.

  21. Medina, trust me, I did fully understand you before but I would have to say the greed started with you when you went to desperate people to get cheap labor. Why would you hire an American at a higher salary if you can get some Indians or Sri Lankans to leave their families behind to work for you for next to nothing? Would you be up front with them and tell them that they might be working alongside someone who will be making much much more than them or would you be selling them on some kind of paradise that you know very well does not happen for them?

    But seriously, I don’t blame you, I blame the country where these poor, desperate people come from. Why aren’t they standing up for their citizens and making sure that they understand what they will be getting in to? But, then, I think I read something recently about one country (Indonesia? I can’t remember for sure) that is doing just that.

    What do you think about the salary differences between a Saudi housemaid and an indonesian one? Nothing at all ‘class’ related there? I wonder what a white American would get for the same job? And I wonder if the Saudi housemaid would ever get beaten? I know she won’t likely get raped because from what I’ve read, she won’t be allowed to work in a house where there is a man.

  22. @Lynn
    It is all about supply and demand. and If you want my personal opinion about that, I wish that no expats come and take the jobs of my country fellows at lower price. you know that such low salaries are bad even for Saudis. If we do not have this huge numbers of expats whom most of them have no qualifications, Saudis will never be jobless but also because we are dictated by those religious people who work for the hereafter and forgot that we need to work to live before death, we have such huge demand for foreign expats because of our backward educational system.
    For Saudi housemaids, they made these conditions for working as housemaids, they asked for 1500 monthly salary. But I do not get why people try to be naïve when they discuss issues do not appeal to them . The Saudi housemaids have her house and they do not live with their house lords. Whereas , Indonesian housemaids have free accommodation, free food catering, free transportation, free phone calls and free return tickets. See the difference or you need another explanation? Hope this can help to get points clearly.
    Last point, those people whom you call them desperate are happy of what they get. See because he got a good chance for living the thing that he does not have in his country, you blame me for that, ok lets him GO BACK to his country and enjoy his happy life there. We do not need desperate moaning people. Let him be desperate where he comes from.
    you said also that it is allowed to work in a house where there is a man, if you are against that, so why people criticise saudi social norms and segregation between male and female LOL. BIG contradiction sir.

  23. @Medina…
    Your entire reasoning is wrong, because GCC countries are the only countries in the world with such discriminative salary packages.

    There are other countries in the west which have more expats, from across the world but they do not practice such discriminative packages.

    For example if i was in the USA and Indians were offered such package then all indians could file a class action suit and make merry millions.

    Yes I agree that there is unemployment amongst the local saudis, but the unemployment exists because most Saudis sadly though are unable to match the industry requirements and i wish the kingdom could enable many more saudis to take what is rightfully theirs.

    For example, If all the Bangladeshi’s leave GCC, then who would clean the streets and sewer lines?

    Any employee who works mutually benefits the employer and himself, hence if you think it is the expats are taking away all the money then you do not have a good management attitude.

    Again one more thing you must note is that when times for layoffs come in the middle east, like what happened in Emirates a few months back, it is usually the expats who are shown the door, and we expats don’t complain about it.

    We also understand that as expats in any country for that matter some things will be bitter.

    All expats here understand they are merely GUEST Workers and they gotta pack and leave someday but what we fail to see is why the discrimination amongst expats?

    And last but not the least for your knowledge, foreigners have been in here in arabia since the days of the Prophet (PBUH) for example Salman Faris (Rad) (Persia), etc..
    Also Bahrain has a large number of expats who have lived for centuries…

    Not to forget the family names “Al-Hind”, “Al-Somal”, etc. you would find amongst Saudis

    So the Bottom Line, the expats have contributed to the society positively, but what baffles most of them is the inequities in treatment at par with other expats.

  24. Medina,
    I agree with you 100% that a country should educate it’s own people so that they are employable and can work in their own country. I also think that jobs in Saudi should go to Saudis before they import foreigners that will be treated as lesser humans. Saudis should be cleaning Saudi streets and sewers. Would you take a job as a garbage collector? A house boy? Would you be proud to have your daughter be a maid for another Saudi, or better yet, how about for a house maid or nanny for a Philipino or Indian family?

    I am not the one that made the rule that the Saudi woman is not allowed to work in a family that has men in it, that would be the Saudi govt. that insists on that. Why do they allow a Muslim from Indonesia to work as a slave , oops sorry, I mean MAID for a Saudi family with men? Why don’t they pay these imported workers enough so that they can have their own home like the Saudi housemaid? Or why can’t the Saudi live in with the family like the the Indonesian will? I mean they can get their own room and all. So it would be great for them and they can have all their expenses paid. Right?

    ‘ok lets him GO BACK to his country and enjoy his happy life there. We do not need desperate moaning people. Let him be desperate where he comes from’

    OH. I can’t tell you how much I agree with you there. I would LOVE to say that to many, many people that are in MY country. But, that wouldn’t sound nice would it?

  25. Medina is not at fault for what is the system in Saudi. He is only trying to explain it in a direct and realistic way. At least Saudi Arabia is upfront on its employment system. For example when I was living in India, I can attest that the caste system is alive and well. In some ways you can also compare the caste system with positions in the US too. Who do you see in the US as the house maids? Usually they are immigrants, some legal and some not. Who do you see in what are viewed as the ‘undesirable’ jobs of garbage collectors? Those who do not have much education.

    Like Medina said, he did not create the system and after all, each expat signs an offer accepting his or her terms of contract. The contracts usually work out to the advantage of each expat and where they are from such as an expat from Bangladesh is making significantly more than in his own country and able to live okay in Saudi as well as send most of his salary back home too. Most expats are able to maintain or increase their standard of living from where they came from when they live in Saudi Arabia.

  26. @Lynn, @ Abu Abdullah,
    The POINT is , why do you accept the contract? if you think it is slavery because you do not get high salary you will never ever get it in your homeland, why do you accept the contract? I am sure when these expats sign the contract they are very happy of it otherwise I will never see them in my country.
    Another point, do you want me to tell you about the crimes that expats have committed in Saudi Arabia especially Bangladeshi? I am sure you will justify these crimes. so to you it is ok to make a crime against Saudis because you have such mentality. By they way, there are not my words, I just convey what they write in blogs.

    if there are no expats in my country, the salary will increase and then Saudis will be happily working as dustmen, housemaids, whatever, it is simply, if the salary for the dustmen is 3000 SR, many Saudis will work there. During 70s when there were no exapts, Saudis were working as carpenters, punctures, truck drivers, house builders, etc. see what I mean? if I were in charge in Ministry of labor one day, I will make you understand what I am saying here. Then, you will cry for these days that expats run everything in my country and STILL “not satisfied”.

    @ carol, thanks for your comment.

  27. Deviating from the post but this argument is too juicy to ignore.

    In the US where i live , i have a cleaning lady and a gardening man ( yes , yes i know lazy indeed)
    My cleaning lady is romanian , Legal , 80$ for 3+ hrs work. . That’s close to 25$ /hr.. +food/drink + treatment sometimes:-)
    I have tried numerous times to hire an american and the cheapest lady i had cost $125 .. The one and only time my romanian friend was vacationing .125$ really !!! , — mopping and dusting for 40$/hr !!!!!!!!!!!!

    well suffice to say i keep away from the american ladies.. does it mean i’m disriminating by not paying $125 to the romanian maid, maybe i am, and this exists in many industries everywhere in the US.. BTW we have a few philipino & s.american nurses that get paid lower than american nurses .. same education/ same loving care ..but lower wage .. and v v happy that they have an oppurchunity to live and work here.

    @ the end of the day it’s what makes you happy .. and comparisons never do.

    I’m not saying what goes on in saudi is good but it’s prevalent everywhere in some form or other.

  28. @ radha

    to hire an american and the cheapest lady i had cost $125 is the price is per diem?

    its one tenth of my monthly salary! i feel, its better to work as a gardner without using much brain rather than working as an Asstt. General Manager in the central bank of this country with much pressure and brain drain ?

  29. Medina: ‘do you want me to tell you about the crimes that expats have committed in Saudi Arabia especially Bangladeshi?…I am sure you will justify these crimes. so to you it is ok to make a crime against Saudis because you have such mentality’

    You need to settle down my friend. You seem to be losing it. What in the world does crimes committed by expats have to do with this and why would you think that I would think that it is ok? You sound EXtremely racist in making that statement.

    ‘During 70s when there were no exapts, Saudis were working as carpenters, punctures, truck drivers, house builders, etc. see what I mean?’

    So what happened in Saudi in the 70s that the Saudi stopped needing or wanting to do those jobs? Hmmm? So don’t try to blame the expats for being brought in to do the work that the Saudi suddenly became too good to do. But, really, do what you can to spread and speed up the cause of Saudization of the workforce in KSA. It’s a great idea. I think that countries should be run by their own citizens.

    Carol, garbage collectors have a GOOD job, with good wages and benefits. It is NOT at all considered an undesireable job and I bet you couldn’t get it without an education. There are very few jobs these days that do not require at the very least a high school education and I have never personally known any house maids that were not American. Hotel maids, yes, but not housemaids and they don’t get $125 either. My friend (American woman) used to clean houses before she moved out of state and I think that she charged what worked out to be $20 an hour. Another friend has an American woman come in once a week and she pays her $80 or $90 I can’t remember exactly but I know it was less than $100 Want her # radha? lol

    Radha, no I don’t think you are discriminating by not paying your Romanian $125 but if you intentionally went to a homeless shelter looking for someone desperate enough to clean your house for $10 bucks and your table scraps rather than pay a reasonable price for the service then I’d say that you were taking advantage, which is MY point Medina. And I am surprised to hear that about the nurses, where do they work? Don’t they know about the Michigan Nurses Association? And why would they hire a nurse that they have to pay more for if they can get the the same quality nurse for less? Or do they? And why would these Philipino or S. American nurse stay on that job when they can go elsewhere and make more? Or do they leave once they find out where they can go for more money?

  30. Lynn@ I am not racist at all, I just stated what going there. Also it is not my words, it is what expats say. If I said something sound racist it is a reaction to what I read in blogs and the crimes history in Saudi Arabia. So, committing crimes by expats in Saudi Arabia is something related directly to what we are speaking about. I feel we are losing security in my country because of these expats. If you do not see the relationship between expats and crimes and you give a blind eye to what these expats are doing, make sure you are biased. Let me put it this way, you are defending the greed of expats who have signed on business contracts happily by their full will and now they start moaning but you neglect as well their actions. To me as a citizen in my country, it is very related issues. I look at all these things as one package.

    During 70s, the religious people were not powerful as much as they are now. Saudi Arabia was very modern in terms of human rights during 70s. we do not have expats as well. When expats started flooding into the country, job offers for Saudis decreased dramatically in numbers for many reasons. Most of the companies prefer cheap manpower. There are also some companies owned by “Saudis” who were actually immigrants from neighboring countries. Owners of Such companies bring their relatives into the country at the expense of Saudis’ income. Also, owners of Small business do not prefer to give a job offer to Saudis because they are afraid to compete with Saudis for business in the near future. So for those Saudis who run small business, they wish that other Saudis do not even know about their business. So they prefer to import cheap manpower. See, that is what I am speaking about.

    Let me give you an example, here in Australia, the government bans importihttps://americanbedu.com/files/2009/08/24/ng any manpower into country as long as this manpower is not skillful or there is no need for them. this economical policy maintains jobs for australians and maintains the high rate of salary. so, i find all teens, school boys and girls working in restaurants and they get good payment. the question is why saudis do not work in restaurants like australians? it is because of the cheap payment saudis will receive copmaring to what australians get. so expats compete with saudis for getting jobs not because expats are skillful but because expats are cheap manpower. according to statistics released by saudi ministry of labor, 70% of expats have no qualifications. i am speaking about these expats not the skillful expats whom the country is in need. so it is very related issues. as soon as no expats are working in my country, all these jobs will go to saudis for one reason. because they will get paid well. i am ready to work in a restaurant if i get 3000 sr a month. if you give this amount of money to any saudis, you will find that he will work immediately and keep continue working. add to this issue, saudi females rights of work in public facilities; shops, malls etc… if Saudi females are allowed to work in public, make sure that these jobs will go to Saudi females because they will be also cheap manpower comparing to males fellows. So our problem is this huge numbers of not skillful expats who affect badly our income very much and the radical religious policy that bans Saudi females from working in public. Culturally, I really feel that I am stranger in my country. I am sorry if what I say sounds racist but it is not racism at all. I welcome all expats and I wish that they are happy in my country as long as they do not pose threats to my security and to my income. I do not want to cut their “rezg” income, I just want them to understand that this is our country and it is not a country for immigrants. Please do not compare it with America. 90% of Saudis belong to Semitic Arabic tribes and they live in this land for several thousands of years. So, you have to realize this historical dimension too. We are generous and very hospitable people but not to the extent that we lose our security and maybe our identity in the future. I would like to keep my identity alive. I wish you give a visit to Saudi Arabia to understand what I am speaking about. The first question that will come to your mind when you go shopping or taking your dinner in a restaurant etc is “”Oh where are Saudis?????””. Finally, add to what I mentioned here expats’ moaning about their salaries that they dreamed of it oneday and their verbal attack against my country LOL. we say in arabic in such situation, wallah talt we shamakhat (enough is enough).

  31. Speaking of working Saudi females, I am aware of several who are in teaching positions with a 4 year degree and well qualified yet their monthly salary is 1500 SAR! Whereas even an Arab expat would likely receive a minimum of 6000 SAR plus housing.

    @Lynn – I like to think Michigan is a unique and very “Americanized” state when you think about its unions and the composition of people. Like Radha, I found when I lived in WDC the housecleaners who were Americans charged much more than (legal) housecleaners from Latin/South America. So of course, wanting the best deal for me, I engaged the housecleaners from Latin/South America.

    I think we can go on and on discussing salaries and equal pay for equal opportunity but I think that the existing systems in KSA, GCC, Southeast Asia and many other places is simply too ingrained to expect changes. The US is one of the few places with the EEOC laws enforced and yet one will still become aware of “work arounds” some which are legal and some which are not. So I guess what I am ultimately saying is that no place is perfect or an Utopia but at least with this discussion we are learning on both sides of the realities of the various “systems.”

  32. Medina,
    Do you want the expats to be happy with their negotiated contract or do you want them to quit ruining your country’s demographics and traditions and committing crimes? Or do you want them to leave so that Saudis can get jobs?

    The best way to get them out of your country is to fight for equal rights for ALL workers in KSA. If the country forced employers to treat all equally then what would be the incentive for the employers to go to impoverished countries to lure workers to KSA?

    Study up on the Union Movement and see what you can do to get that started in your country. Go out, as radha said and ‘be the change that you want to see’ It sounds like it has a bit of a start considering that there are laws to govern how a Saudi maid must be worked. So then, why can’t there be laws on how EVERY worker in the country must be treated? Why should the Saudi be special? How is an outsider not supposed to see that as the Saudis being racist?

    Now Carol and Radha, To be fair, in this discussion we weren’t really talking about independent contractors like the house maids who work for themselves in the US. They can work for whatever price they decide they want to work for or what people are willing to pay them. If I wanted to clean houses and I charged $100 an hour chances are that I would not be able to find employment unless of course I offered a little something special when I made the bed, if you know what I mean! LOL

    Supply/demand works in that situation. Where it does NOT work is if we are talking about a hotel chain that employs housekeepers and hires illegals and pays them $3 and hour but has to have some legals on the books so hires them and pays them $10 an hour, medical benefits and paid vacations. Yes, that illegal may very well be happy with what she is getting but she IS being taken advantage of and it is not right and there ARE laws against it that WILL be enforced and that is the difference between here and KSA. People do things that are not right all the time, everywhere, but if we talk about it as if it is acceptable just because ‘it happens everywhere’ then we are as guilty as the ones that do it.

    ‘I think that the existing systems in KSA, GCC, Southeast Asia and many other places is simply too ingrained to expect changes’

    I think I’ve probably told you before, I don’t accept that and history tells me that we SHOULD not accept that.. Did they ever think that the British would leave India?
    Did they ever expect South Africa’s Apartheid to end? What about Lech Walesa and Solidarity in Poland? Whoda thunk? Did they ever think that a black woman would be able to sit anywhere that she wanted to on the Alabama bus? Did they ever think that a black man would be President of The United States? None of that could have happened if people just sat around saying that the way things were were just too ingrained to expect changes *

    *steps off her soapbox

  33. @Lynn – enjoyed your comment!

    Wish to add that at least in regards to the housecleaning services, I was not engaging independents but companies which were incorporated, insured and bonded to provide housekeeping services. Yet even then, the services provided by the American housecleaners were more expensive than the firms which provided immigrant workers.

  34. yes mi is a very unionized state, as for the nursing staff. the union does not ratify contracts, every grade has a wide range pay scale. So pay int he sae scale could differ as low as 100$ or as high as 5000$, it all depends on the individual contract you coe in as. the union just negotiates dispute/ working cond etc., just as the medical association does for us. All i want to say is there are a bunch of dr at the sae level as mine in terms of qualification/exp etc., who earn diff wages. I’ not saying discrimination, but it’s definetly not uniform pay . due to a lot of reasons, starting fro graduated med school etc.,
    so yes i must say disparity in wages is everywhere maybe not to the extent of saudi but present. and carol,
    yep sticking to my romanian house cleaning friend — much cheaper and she knows my quirks so why mess with that :-)

  35. Carol, about those different housekeeping services, it is still the same thing as a sole contractor. Any business can set any price and you can choose or not choose to hire them to clean your house for whatever reason. Now, if that American owned company paid it’s American employees more or less than they might pay a foreigner that might also be employed by them then that would fit the point of this discussion. But, if those immigrant workers that they hire are not LEGAL then the company will get in trouble. But, I thought that we were talking about a Saudi company that will employ a westerner and pay them a certain amount and may also hire a Sri Lankan or an Indonesian and pay them a different salary based simply on their nationality. Now, if that company were to to hire ONLY Sri Lankans because they are willing to take a smaller salary, that again is a different thing.

  36. @Lynn – In regards to housekeeping services in the US, I contacted several companies for a quotation and then checked the companies with the BBB as well to ensure legality, etc. Ultimately I chose the one which gave me the best return for my money. All workers were legal.

    But it is true in Saudi Arabia that pay is indeed dependent on nationality. However I would like to point out that in the long run it basically equates to the same in that an Indian or Pakistani or Bangladeshi would make the same kind of surplus ratio that a Westerner would. What I mean is someone from Southeast Asia may come to Saudi and make 3/4 times what their typical salary was back home in their home country. The same ratio also applies to the Westerner who is making more than in their home country.

  37. @Lynn, thanks for your explanation but this is a very advanced level, we did not reach it yet. but I also still say that the salaries suit everyone of them as long as they were happy of it. it is not based on nationality it is based on the contract terms.

  38. Medina,

    Although I can partly agree with your observation that the reason why eastern expats get paid less than their western counterparts is because the eastern folks are willing to settle for less, I still cannot come to terms with your racist tone. Your indirect claim for Arab superiority goes against the teachings of our beloved Prophet (saw).

    The other question I would like to ask is; how often are soon-to-be eastern expats made aware of what their western expat peers would be making? Do you suppose they would ‘accept the contract happily’ if they knew what the going salary range is for those with the same qualifications but from a more western country?

    I’ve heard and read many stories were Pakistanis or Indians would be employed for a certain salary scale, and the moment they become a citizen of a western country, their salary would almost double for the same job description. Does this not indicate bias based on one’s passport?

  39. @Adnan – Most employees are told by their employers that they are prohibited from discussing salary with colleagues. Some follow this and….others do not.

    You’re right…if you are a Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, etc., but have a US, UK or Canadian passport, then you would be hired as a Western national in spite of where you may have been born.

  40. @ Adnan
    sir, I did not claim that Arab are superior. I just say that “Arabia” is where Arabs live for thousands of years. I do not think that such claim holds a racist tone. It just state facts existed thousands of years. and let me tell you a story happened during the era of the caliph, Omar, after Hajj, many pilgrims settle in Mecca, Omar said, Ya people of Sham, Shamakum, and ya people of Yamen , Yamnakum, it is means, everyone should go to his home. To be Muslim, that does not mean you have the right to share me my income, it does not mean you have the right to settle at my home unless I give you the permission. Islam is not communism. get it well.
    you still suggest that eastern exapts should have the same salaries. well, these are companies and they are looking for cheap manpower. I think what you are suggesting is more human than economic point view. everything is about demand and supply and contract terms.

  41. Medina,

    You said, “We are generous and very hospitable people but not to the extent that we lose our security and maybe our identity in the future. I would like to keep my identity alive.”

    What identity are you talking about Medina? We all come from single parents. Created by God into tribes to know each other. And if this doesn’t crush your unneccessary pride for your racial identity, then we I invite you to look into Chiara’s article about cross-cultural, inter-tribal marriages going on since the 1700s (http://taraummomar.blogspot.com/2009/08/royal-saudinon-saudi-marriages-and.html).

    So please don’t tell me that you don’t harber racial sentiments, because even a blind man can see through the fake veil of equality you try to put up.

  42. What an interesting conversation! This is what I have figured out, although Radha has opened my eyes to some other reasons that impact this. Saudia imports labour for jobs that Saudis won’t/can’t do at the price point. For instance, labourers and street cleaners. Saudia imports skilled TCNs (Asian expatriates) or other Arab expatriates to do jobs for which skils are lacking among the Saudi workforce (or as Radha says, perhaps to circumvent future competition from other Saudis. Saudia brings in Western workers for positions where it does not want to/cannot hire the skill set from a TCN. Is there an aspect of racism in there? Yes. I won’t deny it. Is it blatent? Yes it can be? At the same time, with unemployment in Bangladesh and Pakistan very high and the annual earnings per worker very low, Saudi provides a lot of disposable income for TCNs to remit back home every month.

    One aspect which I feel has been overlooked in all of the conversations is that of religion. Many TCNs are THRILLED to come to the home of Islam, to go Umrah without having to apply for special permits, to be more likely to do Hajj or go to Madinah and see the Prophet’s Mosque and walk in the footsteps of Mohammed (PBUH). For many, the money initially is secondary to reaching what they imagine must seem close to paradise itself – the holy sites of Islam. I have friends who are TCNs and who thought that Saudi was special and who looked up to Saudis when they encountered them in their own country. Now that they are here, their attitude has changed as they experience the day to day reality. But, they still appreciate the benefits they get from Saudi and the willigness of Saudi to employ them.

    Just my 2 cents – while people might not be happy with Saudia, they still send the money home and spport the extended family there, buy the house, send their children to schools they couldn’t afford.

    In our case, my wife and I came here because we thought we could make a difference in improving Saudia. We had a chance to visit a facility in Kuwait last year (with a friend from when we lived in Kuwait many years ago). The lady who sponsored the facility said in Arabic to her friend, “Look – we had this wonderful specalist here in Kuwait, but drover her away. Now Saudia has the benefit of her while we continue to get poor service here.” Our friend translated for us afterward.

    We are also grateful for all the opportunities here – there is a lot of freedom in Saudia if you know where to go and what to do (and that comment doesn’t refer to doing anything illegal, such as drinking or doing drugs, but rather to the fact that in few countries of the world can you leave the city and just go anywhere you want to, exploring natural wonders and seeing things that few people ever get to see in their lives). My wife is pretty happy – and that from a lady who once said, “I will NEVER work in Saudi Arabia!” LOL

  43. Adnan,
    Give Medina a bit of a break since, in his own words, he admits ‘…this is a very advanced level, we did not reach it yet’

    He is living, and hopefully being educated, in a western country so there IS some hope for him. He just needs time to grow up a bit and ‘reach it’.

  44. @Shad,

    Welcome and thank you for giving even additional perspectives to consider and discuss!

  45. Adnan…sorry but your link doesnt work…can you make another one…thanks.

  46. coolred38,

    The link is correct, it just had a paranthesis at the end hehe. Here it is again:

    Lynn, I suppose that’s why I haven’t blown my top off as I am hoping things will change:)

  47. Adnan-

    Chiara alerted me to the fact that you have referenced Future Husbands & Wives Of Saudis. I’d like to thank you for doing so! And a shout out to Carol for being one of the best reference blogs on Saudi Arabia! Take care ya’ll. T

  48. THIS is my first view of your site . BRAVO ! I am truly enlightened by the views stated here. FOR I do have friends working there in Riyadh for 25 yrs. from the Philippines .

  49. how much can you save, if your annual salary is 525,000 Riyals and if you are living in a compound and send your only child to an American or British school.

  50. @Winner,

    Welcome to American Bedu. 525,000 SAR is a decent annual salary. Will you be responsible though for the annual compound rent and school tuition? If so, your salary could be cut in half.

    However, you should be able to save a significant portion of what is left. Much depends on the kind of lifestyle you wish to have such as whether you will require a vehicle and/or driver; housemaid; transport for your child to/from school…

  51. Thanks so much, American Bedu.
    Yes, I will be responsible for the compound rent and school tuition.
    Here are the specifics:
    1) Vehicle will be required — preferably something like Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. No driver needed.
    2) No housemaid required. By the way how much will a housemaid cost and how do you get one?
    3) transport for child to/from school will be required.
    4) We will be happy with a 2 bedroom house in a compound, of course. How much will that cost annually?
    5) I visited the British School website. Tuition cost for my child will be 62,000 SAR

    Thanks once again.
    From a Canadian

  52. Depending on availability and location of compounds, plan anywhere from 80,000 to 250,000 SAR.

    While you say no driver will be required for a vehicle, then you may have to account transport costs for your child to/from school which can average 1200 SAR month.

    If your wife wishes to go out and about and does not have a car/driver, then you should budget an amount for her transport costs too.

    The monthly salary for a housemaid can vary from 600 to 900 SAR per month and that is going through an agency. The salary varies depending on where a housemaid is from. There are housemaids who “freelance” but they may charge more per day or week and some may or may not have an iqama.

    Best Regards, Carol

  53. You’re talking about dscrimnation, but really — you cannot compare a registered nurse from the US to a nurse from anywhere else. The United States has the highest standard of medical practice in the world, period. If you’ve ever been a patient in an american hospital – you know it, from highest safety standards, protection of legal and human rights of an individual patient, not to mention the technology and medical care itself. So I can understand the discrepancy in salaries.

  54. discrimination is wrong

  55. @Irene
    I have had excellent nursing care in KSA. As for technology, I never have to wait for scans etc in KSA like I do in the US. Also the US employs a lot of foreign nurses. You cannot make a direct comparison so easily.

  56. @Sandy – when you say wait for scans, do you mean wait for the appointment for a scan or wait for the results? I have seen where getting the appointment can take a while at some of the hospitals but at least overall results seem to be given quite promptly.

    I do agree with the nursing care in Saudi. I’ve been a patient at National Guard Health Affairs and my husband at King Faisal. The nurses at both were outstanding and from all over the world.

  57. I have never had to wait more than a few days for a routine mammogram or x-ray. And I get it read while I wait in the waiting room. In the US when I had family members with cancer they would sometimes have to wait more than a week to get something done. A delay like that between each test adds weeks to the delay before treatment starts.

  58. @Sandy,

    Let me share with you my own experience in regards to mammograms. I was working at National Guard Health Affairs when I found a lump in my breast while doing a routine monthly exam. I immediately went to the Employee Health clinic the following work day. The doctor scheduled me for a mammogram – stat. I went to the clinic where mammograms are scheduled and was told there was *a six month waiting period* and if I wanted one sooner, to go to another facility. I made sure that they saw and understood the word “stat” which was written on the request by the doctor. They repeated the same – wait or go to another facility. When my boss (a physician) heard of this experience he was aghast. He picked up the phone and I had my mammogram the next day. My mastectomy followed one week later!

    Now more Saudi women are diagnosed with late stage cancer than women anywhere else in the world. I have a theory about this. To begin with there remains a stigma of women and cancer. Therefore if a woman got up the nerve to get checked and instead was told a mammogram would not take place for months later, she may think things are okay and/or lose the courage to return.

    Otherwise I agree with comment. As you can see, once I had my mammogram and an abnormality was discovered, things moved very fast.

    If someone has the option of going to a private hospital such as Kingdom hospital for example, there likely would not be delays but at the MOH hospitals or government run hospitals, there are delays.

  59. […] a large embassy compound, housing on a western compound can be varied in that there might be a mix of villas, townhomes and apartments.  Yet because the […]

  60. please if i can know the name of the compound in the video? thank you

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