What You Need to Know about Living and Working in Saudi Arabia

There are many job opportunities overseas, but it seems like Saudi Arabia is still the top destination for aspiring and returning OFWs. It’s not surprising why. There are tons of job opportunities available in Saudi, coupled with good pay; thus making it a favorite.

In case you landed a job there or considering to go to this Arab country, here’s what you need to know about living and working in the biggest country in the Arab peninsula:


Islam, which is the religion in Saudi, governs the citizens’ way of life. In fact, their laws are based in Koran (Qur’an), which requires strict compliance. This is also the reason why Saudi Arabia, among other Arab countries, is the strictest and most conservative country in the peninsula. Since you are working there, you are required to follow their laws.

Since their way of life is based on Qur’an, establishments close for half an hour five times a day for their prayer time.

  • Fajr, which is between dawn and sunrise
  • Dhuhr or noon
  • ‘Asr or mid-afternoon
  • Maghrib or sunset
  • ‘Isha or night

For women, dress code is strictly enforced, so make sure you are wearing “abaya” especially when going out. Pants are also a big no-no for them. Hair must be covered by a veil while the face must be covered by a burka. Men are not exempted from the dress code since wearing shorts is not allowed as well.

Public display of affection is also not allowed, even if you are with your spouse. Consequently, bring a copy of your marriage certificate in case you are working in Saudi Arabia with your spouse.


This is also known as residence permit or work license. Iqama is an important document that OFWs and other expats working in Saudi must always have on hand, especially when going out. Iqama will be your main identity card, which is why you should have this wherever you go to avoid payment of penalty fee.

When you arrive in Saudi Arabia, you must surrender your passport to your sponsor, who will then present it to the Immigration authorities for the issuance of Iqama. Inform your sponsor immediately in case you lost your Iqama.


You may associate Saudi Arabia with desert; hence making the country extremely hot and wit little rainfall. Unfortunately, dress code is strictly imposed, especially for women, so you have no choice but to comply.

To cope with the weather, make sure you limit your time outside especially during mid-day, drink lots of fluids, wear clothes that will protect you from the heat, and shower at least two to three times a day.


Sorry to break it to you, but Qur’an strictly prohibits eating of pork and drinking alcoholic beverages. It is best to follow this, otherwise, penalty awaits you.

Still, don’t worry since you won’t be hungry. Saudi Arabian food includes meat, vegetables, wheat, rice, and spices. Chicken and lamb are also staples in the country. In case you still can’t adjust to their food, Saudi opened its doors to several food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Burger King. Just make sure you have your iqama with you when going out and don’t forget to follow the dress code.

Returning Home 

If you are planning to return home, then here are three things you need to prepare:

  • Your Philippine passport (must still be valid for at least six months) or Travel Document in case you don’t have your passport
  • Plane ticket
  • Exit Visa from the Saudi Ministry of Interior, which will only be given upon issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your sponsor and all fees were paid.

Obtaining this will be easier if you have no criminal records.

We hope this helps!

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