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The Guide for living and working in Saudi Arabia
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15 - Working in the country

Muslims have to pay a religious tax called the Azakat, which represents 2.5% of their assets. There is also a tax on profits which for foreigners goes from 25 to 40%

Before leaving:
Languages :
It is a good idea to take Arabic lessons, but English is used everywhere. The quality of the job that you can get will possibly depend on your level of English. There are several institutions in France where you can brush up your English.

If you are employed by a French or international company:
In the case where your employer is a French or international company you don't have to deal with administrative formalities, the administrative services in the country usually deal with the formalities for all the expatriate staff. You will only have to deal with them yourself if you are the only representative of your company in the country (commercial agent, in charge of a liaising office, etc ...).

Preparing for your departure and looking for a job :
You could start by looking for information by writing to French associations existing in the country, to Trade Commissions, to the commercial services of foreign banks in France or French banks in Saudi Arabia. The French consulate usually has a service dealing with jobs and training and can put you in touch with companies wishing to employ French personnel.

The French Chamber of Commerce also offers information about the job market and the most dynamic sectors of the economy and they also edit a bulletin for French companies and local members. You could publish a job application in this bulletin.

The Trade Commission in Saudi Arabia or the CFCE in Paris can let you consult their list of French companies set up in Saudi Arabia.

There is a comprehensive documentation about the country available from the cultural service of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Paris.

You could also make a personal appointment with the Franco-Saudian Chamber of Commerce to complete your information and to obtain professional advice.

While you are looking for information you could also contact companies directly and send in an application proposing your services.

There is often relevant information to be found in international Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Directories and files on the country will be useful in looking for important bits of information concerning the sectors of activity and the local economic conditions.

Specialized organisms such as the ANPE, the APEC, the APECITA and the ILO can also be of help.

Where to look for job offers :
In the French press (Le Monde, Le France Soir, Figaro, Moniteur du Batiment, Expat magazine..) for French companies sending people abroad.

In the international press nearly all the big daily papers have a column or a section of job offers (The European, The Guardian, Vacature, Corriere della Sera, La Tribune de Genève ...)

You can often find international job offers via the bigger employment agencies and temporary work agencies.

Via Internet you can get easy access to several data banks offering jobs locally.

Writing your CV and the accompanying cover letter :
Sending in information about yourself is the first step to getting an interview, so it's very important that you do it properly.

Your CV must be in English, clearly set out, typewritten and very detailled. It should be accompanied by a handwritten covering letter. Some companies are not very interested in graphology, but it is still advisable to write your letter by hand.

Don't forget to attach a recent photo, preferably where you are smiling.

It is not necessary to send in all the documents as proof of your diplomas, work certificates etc with the first letter. If you mention all the important points in your CV and give the addresses of former employers, so that they can eventually be contacted, it is sufficient initially.

If ever you should think of arranging a CV to suit the employer's requirements, you should know that according to a study made by the Florian Mantione Institute, your CV has a 45% chance of being checked by the prospective employer, 34% of the candidates are eliminated following that verification, and that 60% of the checks are done with the previous employer.

So, whatever your motives for adapting your CV, you should know that it will not help you during future interviews and could possible play against you.

Questions you should ask yourself before expatriation :
Ø What exactly is the mission ?
Ø What is the length of the contract ?
Ø Are you going alone or with your family?
Ø What is the life like locally ?
Ø Have you thought about coming back, how you will manage to get reinstalled financially?
Ø Do you have the right character to be an expatriate ?

Qualities you need :
Ø emotional stability (so that you can react rapidly to all kinds of situations).
Ø autonomy, (can you make important decisions on your own)
Ø mobility and availability, are you able to relocate quickly?
Ø social contact, (don't forget that an expatriate is an ambassador for his country in his working and his social life ).
Ø accomodating (you can easily adapt to changes of culture, climate and way of life)
Ø the ability to accept and understand cultural differences
Ø tolerance and respect for other people's habits and traditions.

Family: Your partner should share your ambitions, this is very important and can play in the recruiting choice.
Some companies, particularly if the offer is for a long term job, want to interview the candidate's partner to check that there are no conflicts in the couple which could eventually disturb the mission.

For the interview :
Punctuality is appreciated all over the world. Be on time for your interview.
Whatever post you are applying for, dress well, you will be judged on your appearance and the way you dress.
First interviews can be short but can also last for several hours if your application is found to be interesting, depending on the position to be filled, and if you have to do psychotechnical tests (handwriting analyses) or aptitude tests.
Be careful not be appear pretentious about your know-how, or to exaggerate your professional abilities. Emphasise your real competence, your ease of adaption, your mobility, your ability to work in a team and your willingness to bring in any experience you have gained.
Don't forget that unemployment is high nearly everywhere in the world.

Foreign companies often like to show that they employ expatriates in their company. International personnel can bring in experience and knowledge which is beneficial for the company.

Salaries : It can be difficult to negociate a salary, especially when you are not sure of the cost of living in the country. Higher salaries could mean that the cost of living is higher also. If you are employed by a French company you will normally have a salary which gives you an equivalent standard of living to the one you had in France.
For several reasons, particularly concerning the salary and social cover it is often preferable to go abroad with a European or international company. The salary is usually calculated on a portion "European base" which can be paid either in Europe or abroad plus a living allowance. This living allowance will be calculated by the company from up-to-date information coming from the French Embassy or other companies in the country.

Taxes : (see our guide for expatriates) If you are employed locally you will have to pay the taxes in the country. If you should have an international contract you could have a tax free salary. In some countries taxes are taken off the salary at source by the employer.

Accomodation - car - fringe benefits : If you are employed locally it is very unlikely that you will be able to negotiate housing. Whether or not you get a car will depend on your function and your place in the hierarchy of the company. On the other hand if you are an expatriate with an international company you will probably have accomodation, car, travel allowance, return trips home etc included in your contract.

Working conditions : The local work conditions will be applied with their advantages and their inconveniences.
Sometime work or living conditions can be difficult for foreigners abroad, particularly if you happen to be dealing with an important site in an inhospitable zone, but this is not often the case.
If you have an international contract you will normally have 15 days home leave every three months, that is the usual rota in the Middle East.
If on the other hand, you have a local contract, regular paid leave periods with air tickets will be very difficult to negotiate.
With an international company you will have no administrative problems with police, customs, immigration, taxes, visas or consular declarations, the companies usually have a service which deals with all that for their personnel and handles any problems that should come up.

Working hours will be the local ones, foreign companies are subject to the legal obligations in force in the country.

16 - Entry Formalities
You need a passport which has at least still three months validity on it and where there must be no sign of an Israelian visa.
You are obliged to have a business visa which costs 200 FF for a short visit.
Attention : the country does not give tourist visas. The only foreigners admitted into Saudi Arabia are business men (and immigrant workers).

There is however the possibility of getting a 'visitors visa' if you are related to a foreign resident. All applicants have to have either a Saudian or a resident 'sponsor.' The visa is valid for 30 days.

17 - Health

The state of hygiene in the country :

The hospitals are well equipped and of an excellent quality.

Individual insurance is forbidden in principle. In spite of that there are 74 insurance companies operating in the Kingdom. It seems that individual medical insurance will be the first kind of insurance to become official and even obligatory for expatriates, and eventually also for the Saudians, and this will partially help towards financing public hospitals (which are free of charge at present for Saudi Arabians).

There is a risk of malaria in the south and the west, except in Djeddah, Medina, Makkah and Taif.
The vaccination against meningitis A&C is obligatory during the period of the pilgrimage to Mecca.
You must also have had a yellow fever vaccin if you come from an African country. It is a good idea to get vaccinated against cholera and follow a malaria treatment.
If you have not had the requisite vaccins you will be vaccinated on arrival and held in quarantine.

Household pets must be accompanied by their veterinary certificates.

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