How to Work in Riyadh Saudi Arabia

How to Work in Riyadh Saudi Arabia

The Local Economy of Riyadh

The thriving economy of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest economies in the Arab world.

From 1969 to 2019, the national GDP growth rate is averaged at 4.91% in Saudi Arabia. As of December 2019, the GDP growth rate is 2.5%, making its economy ranked 25th in the world. Although in previous years, the Syrian conflict involved Saudi Arabia, so far, there had been no great effect on the economy. 

The country is predominantly an oil-based economy. Currently, it is a leading member of the OPEC, since the country is with one of the largest oil reserves in the world. The petrochemical industry accounts for 50% of its GDP, 80% of the state’s budgeted revenues, almost 90% of all exports, and 70% of the earnings from the export sector.

Employment in the Capital

Riyadh is the capital city of the country, therefore, there are numerous government institutions and in the public sector, the city is the biggest employer. Employees of Riyadh’s ministries and other government offices are mostly Saudi nationals. 

Many ex-pats from African, South Asian and Southeast Asian countries toil in (potentially exhausting, underpaid and dangerous) construction jobs. Those that are somewhat better are employed in the service sector of Riyadh, such as; as taxi drivers or in the hospitality industry.

Well-qualified immigrants are often found working in diplomatic missions of Riyadh and spend their off-time in compounds. The Diplomatic Quarter, or “DQ”, is home to foreign embassies and cultural institutions. In the Saudi capital, there are also foreign employees of multinational companies based.

Moreover, the big finance of high-end international chain of hotels, and defense contractors all have ex-pat assignees staff working in Riyadh.

A Diversified Saudi Economy: New Opportunities for Expats

In recent years, Saudi Arabia aims for diversifying its economy, as it is exclusively depending on the petrol and oil reserves, and the economy would collapse once the reserves are exhausted. Therefore, the country’s new plan to support new industries is open for investors from abroad, foreign companies, or ex-pats interested in working in Riyadh.

Moreover, its is also a gateway to opportunity for locals and foreigners already living in the country, in the fields including;  natural gas production, information and communication technology, power generation and renewable energies, to find an alternative to oil, to satiate the growing population’s demand for electricity, etc

How to get a job in Riyadh for foreigners

The most common and popular way to search for a job in Riyadh is online. Companies advertise their job vacancies at numerous portals in both English and Arabic. Other than this, there are several recruiting companies which are specialized in the oil and petroleum sector, whilst the large corporate firms directly hire for the projects in Saudi Arabia.

The biggest challenge facing by ex-pats in Saudi Arabia is the language barrier, especially in the working sector of small towns, as in giant cities like; Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, mostly people are well-acknowledged with the English language. Although some Arabs understand and can speak English, Arabic is the most spoken language of the country, where foreigners would do well to learn at least the key phrases of Arabic.

The requirements for a work permit in Saudi Arabia

  • Visa Block Number
  • Passport (least 6 months validity)
  • Police Certificate 
  • Letter of Introduction sent by Saudi Employer
  • 2 photographs (Passport size)
  • Saudi Visa Application Form + Declaration
  • Contract from Saudi – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Electronic Power of Attorney
  • Attested Educational Certificates from the Saudi Embassy and also from the Saudi Cultural Bureau
  • Attested Medical Report 
  • Visa Order Form

Taxable income 

In Saudi Arabia, there are no personal income taxes.

Non-Saudi residents and non-GCC individuals withhold a flat income tax rate of 20%, which is applied to the tax-adjusted profit.

How to Work in Riyadh Saudi Arabia 1Non-Saudi residents who do not have a legal registration or a permanent establishment in the country are subject to withholding tax on their income derived from a source in Saudi Arabia. 

With respect to income derived from Saudi Arabia, Saudi resident entity must withhold tax from payments made to such non-residents. This rule is applied regardless of whether the Saudi entity is a taxpayer. The withholding tax rates are:

  • The average tax on management fees is 20%.
  • Rent, dividends, interest, payments made for consulting and technical services, freight or marine, shipping, payments for air tickets, international telephone services, and insurance premiums are taxed at 5%.
  • The tax of royalties, payments made to the head offices or the affiliated companies for services and payments for other services is an average of 15%

Alex Edward

Alex Edward is a senior editor of, also he is a freelance content marketer and content writer. A well-known guy, who loves travelling around the world. He started to write a book about how to make trip memorable

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