Guide for living and working in Saudi Arabia
guide, information, advice and useful
The political regime is one of an Islamic Arab
monarchy with a constitution which is based on the
fundamental Saudian law.
The King holds total power which is delegated
symbolically by the people during the ceremony of
the oath of allegiance of the monarch.
The head of state is the King Fahd Ibn Add al-Aziz
(born in 1921).
His heir is his brother the Prince Abdallah Ben
Abdul Aziz (born in 1924).
The consultative Assembly (Majlis al Choura) is
made up of 90 members designated by the King for a
four year term of office.
The Constitution : The Koran and the Charia are
codes of law inspired by the Koran and the Sunna
which take their teachings from the life of the
1902 and 1926 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was
created by Ibn Saoud.
1932 The Kingdom was permanently established by
Abdel Aziz al Saoud.
1962 The abolition of slavery
25th March 1975 assassination of King Faycal, King
Khaled succeeded to the throne.
1982 Death of King Khaled, the present monarch King
Fahd succeeded to the throne.
1987 Diplomatic relations with Iran were broken off
following a confrontation in Mecca between Iranian
pilgrims and Saudian security forces (402
2nd April 1990 Irak, under Sadam Hussein,
threatened Saudi Arabia and invaded Kuwait.
King Fahd called upon the Allied forces to protect
2nd July 1990 1,425 people died in riots during the
pilgrimage to Mecca
1991 The Saudian government signed an agreement
with 20 banks for a loan of 4.5 billion dollars to
pay the USA for the money spent during the Gulf
1992 Creation of a consulative Assembly and the
creation of a law introducing human rights in the
Saudi Arabia covers a total surface area of
2,149,690 sq.kms. which is four times the size of
The country is situated in the Middle East and is
bordered by Jordan, Irak and Kuwait on the north
and on the east by the Persian Gulf, Bahrein, Qatar
and the United Arabic Emirates.
The Red Sea is to the west and Yemen and Oman to
There are some mountainous regions with the reliefs
of Chammar, Toulik and the Hedjaz plateau.
The rare rivers are called oueds.
The territory is composed of 98% desert or
It has two sea coastlines : 650 kms on the Persian
Gulf and 1,760 kms on the Red Sea.
The population density is 7 inhabitants per square
The Island of Bahrein has been attached by a 30 km
bridge to Saudi Arabia since 1986.
3 - Economy &
Arabia started producing oil in 1933. It is the
biggest petrol producer in the world.
Arabia has hardly any other resources apart from
petrol, except the annual pilgrimage to Mecca which
brings in a large income to the country.
Gulf War and its huge financial cost for the
kingdom, combined with the fall in petrol prices,
which reached their lowest point in 1997 at $9 a
barrel, really gave the country cause to worry, as
80% of their income still comes from
civil servant salaries, military expenditure,
demographic pressure and the level of the internal
debt (presently greater than the GDP) are
contributing to the deficit in public finance.
The debt has reached worrying proportions,
weakening the economy and stopping its
developement. Structural reforms are necessary to
ensure a continued growth.
Arabia is presently facing the challenge of
modernizing while at the same time protecting its
Reforms risk creating social tensions.
Officially unemployment doesn't exist, but in fact
the employment situation is becoming more and more
The population has grown during these last fifteen
years faster than the economic activity. 50% of
Saudi Arabians are under 15 years of age.
To create sufficient jobs for these young people
arriving on the job market the growth rate would
have to be 6% per annum and it is only 2%.
There is not enough technical training in many of
country has requested membership of the WTO (World
Trade Organization) in order to improve its access
to the international petro-chemical markets.
To fulfill the requirements as well as to dynamize
the economy, the government has undertaken reforms
: liberalizing trade, changing the investment
regulations, reforming the fiscal system and the
capital market. Foreign industrials can now benefit
from the same tax regime as Saudians and except for
in the petrol, commerce and distribution sectors,
can hold up to 100% of the capital in an
Saudi Arabian government has prepared a new
It was adopted on the 11th April 2000 by the
Council of Ministers presided over by King
These new regulations, which have been prepared
over the last five years, will provide for the
increase in the period of tax exemption from 10 to
20 years, for the lowering of the maximum rate of
taxation on the foreign share in a co-enterprise,
will allow losses to be carried over and will
simplify the registration procedures for industrial
co-entreprises and ease up on the system of
**(see the text of the new code at the bottom of
Saudi Arabia is a rich country with a GDP per
capita of $US 9,000 in 1999, but its citizens must
be convinced to repatriate the 700 billion dollars
which they have invested abroad so that the private
sector can find the necessary capital to diversify
Arabia has the most important economy in the Gulf
region and with the perspective of a customs union
between the Gulf countries by April 2005, the
kingdom could become the portal to a market of over
27 million people.
exports (billions of $)
price per Saudian barrel ($/b)
exports (billions of $)
(billions of $)
debt (billions of $)
which short term debt (billions of
of the debt/exports (%)
main goods exported are petrol and refined
The main good imported are mechanical and transport
equipment (40.4%), foodstuffs, tobacco and drinks
(13%) and chemical products (11.3%).
Four different customs duties are used :
7%, 12%, 20% and 100%.
Some basic foodstuffs (meat, some cereals, sugar),
fertilizers, orthopedic material and military
equipment are exonerated from customs duties.
- the main suppliers are the USA (27.8%), Japan
(10.3%), UK (11.8%), Germany, Italy and France
- the main clients are the USA, Japan and the
Since the Gulf War Saudi Arabia has been trying to
diversify its suppliers to escape from the
economical grip of the United States.
of the GDP by activity sector :
agriculture : 7.0%
industry : 9.7%
mining : 37.9%
services : 45.4%
The text of the new foreign investment code
- Foreign companies can apply for an investment
permit (licence), either temporary or permanent, to
the SAGIA, an organization which has been created
to deal with the new code
- The SAGIA has to reply to the applicant within 30
days, counting from the day that the bone fida
dossier was deposited by the foreign company : once
this date is passed, if there has been no reply
from the SAGIA, permission is considered as
- The supreme economic Council will publish a list
of sectors in which foreign investment is not
- A foreign company can eventually obtain more than
one licence in different sectors of activity
- Foreign investors with a licence can own their
own installations, including the personnel housing,
which is necessary for the exercise of their
- A foreign investment project which conforms to
the new code can benefit from the same advantages,
incentives and guarantees as a Saudian projet
- Capital which has been invested can be freely
transferred, either totally or partially,
- A foreign investor can be his own 'sponsor', as
well as that of his employees.
- Investments held by foreigners can only be
confiscated, either totally or partially, if there
is a legal decision to do so, and any expropriation
caused in the need of public interest should be
In the case of a conflict with the Saudian
authorities, the foreign investor can resort to a
procedure of amicable arrangement
spite of the aridity of the country, agriculture is
a very important activity.
The government heavily subsidizes the sector and
encourages modern agricultural techniques, creating
research and training centres.
The aim is to reach the point of self-sufficiency.
has been huge government subsidies to install
desalination units to treat sea water in the
struggle against the encroaching desert, and Saudi
Arabia is today one of the best equipped countries
in the world with a daily production of 2 million
cubic meters of fresh water.
Saudi Arabia has a high enough production to be
able to export dates, milk products and flowers,
but it still has to import cereals.
It is the biggest importer of barley in the world
and imported 7 million tons of wheat in
(in millions of tons , of head )
- Industry & mining
mining sector employs 2% of the labour force and
represents 36% of the GNP.
The industrial sector employs 24% of the labour
force and represents 16% of the GNP.
gas : 47.5 million tons (10th biggest producer in
Petrol : 412 million tons (biggest producer in the
Petrol reserves : 33,385 million tons (biggest in
Reserves of natural gas : 6,426 million tons (5th
biggest in the world).
wells are situated on the west bank of the Persian
Natural gas has also been exploited since 1961 in
huge industrial complexes (Jubail).
Arabia has the biggest petrol reserves in the world
and its status as the biggest world producer
guarantees it a dominating position within
Petrol represents 90% of the export returns and 80%
of the national budget, the moment there is a drop
in the price of crude oil the economy suffers
because of this dependence. 95% of Saudian petrol
is produced by the national company Aramco for
account of the government.
a totally different domain, Saudi Arabia is
reviving the secondary building sector.
It is a market which is open to foreign products
and there is a high demand in the electricity
An Italian company has been charged with building
an electrical power station in Riyadh.
Other housing projects have been planned over the
next ten years.
Arabia's candidacy for the WTO and the necessity to
diversify its industry is bound to radically change
the industrial scene.
The government has decided to develope and
modernize its sectors of energy, petro-chemicals,
banks and insurances.
At the same time the government is developing a
programme of education and training for its
Nearly 39% of the industrial added value in the
country comes from the chemical industry (methanol,
ethylene, ammoniac, urea and light and heavy
The main Saudia Arabian industries are :
fertilizers, insolating material, soda, resin,
bricks and tiles, ornamental stones, cement,
plaster, sanitary installations, glass containers,
salt, adhesives, sodium silicate, titanium doixide
- Other sectors
service sector employs 65% of the working
population and represents 41% of the GNP.
Saudi Arabia has launched large scale investment
and economic reconversion programmes.
All the sectors are growing and the country has a
very modern life style, the main areas to continue
developing are medical, commercial, large scale
distribution and foodstuffs.
Big American enterprises are present in nearly
every domain, from Panda and Safeways supermarkets,
which are open 24 hours, to big industrial farms of
50,000 hectares (glasshouses, intensive wheat
growing...) not to mention the numerous
must be noted that there are three distinct
categories of consumers :
- royalty, the aristocracy and the big families of
tradespeople and entrepreneurs (30,000 - 40,000
- 13 million Saudians who have an average income of
They spend about two thirds of their income on
consumer goods and foodstuffs.
- 4 million immigrant workers who are both
unqualified and in a precarious situation.
are very attracted to modern products and new
technologies, it is they who own the most computers
per capita in the Middle East.
There are already 400,000 internet users among
These internet users are very interested in
shopping sites, in fact 52% of them have already
bought articles on the web compared to 23% which is
the average number of international
7 - Population
latest census shows a population of 20,738,920.
There are 1,900,000 inhabitants living in Riyadh,
which is the capital.
The majority of the population are Arabs, but there
are nearly five million foreigners living in Saudi
The main expatriate communities are Indians
(1,228,000), Egyptians (1,195,000), Pakistanis
(778,600), Philippinos (460,000), Bangladeshis
(446,200) and Yemenites (424,300).
There are also 35,000 Americans, 30,000 British,
5,000 French and 2,500 Germans residing in Saudi
The population density is 7 inhabitants per sq.
14 year olds : 41.15%
15 - 64 year olds : 56.07%
65 years and over : 2.78%
life expectancy 71.91 years
population at an age to work : 11 million
- of which are working : 7 million
expansion 1997-2015 : +3.1%
urban population : 86%
child mortality : 21%
energy consumption per capita TOE : 4.75
Population without drinking water : 5%
population without sanitary installations : 14%
n° of doctors per 1000 inhabitants : 1.3
telephone lines per 1000 inhabitants : 117
mobile telephones per 1000 inhabitants : 17
private cars per 1000 inhabitants : 90
n° of computers per 1000 inhabitants :
adult illiteracy : 27%
secondary schooling/age class : 61%
graduates/age class : 16%
8 - Language
official language is Arabic, the second most used
language is English.
Not knowing Arabic is not an obstacle to working in
Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country
Friday is the day of prayer in the mosques.
Mecca and Medina are the holy centres of the
Religious affiliations : 98% Muslims (mostly
Sunnites), 0,8% Christians, 0,4%
- Weights, measures & voltage
The electrical voltage is 110-220V nearly
everywhere and electricity is free throughout the
The plugs in use vary, mainly they are American
types, but you will also find British or German
11 - Money
The currency is the Riyal (SAR) which has a fixed
parity with the US dollar.
1 Riyal = 1.837 F.
1FF = 0.55 SAR
1$ = 3.75 SAR
1 euro = 3.5702 SAR
are no regulations or restrictions on transferring
international credit cards are accepted.
- Main towns
its 2,000,000 inhabitants is situated on the Red
It is a modern town with a large port.
The airport is 30 kms out of town, a taxi to town
costs about 100 FF.
Temperatures go from + 25° in January-February
to + 45° in July-August
Office opening times : 8am to 1pm and 4.30pm to
the capital of the company, there are 3,100,000
It is a modern town with the royal palaces in
The population has enormously increased and so has
The airport is 45 kms out of town, a taxi to town
costs about 100 FF.
Temperatures go from + 10° in winter to +
50° in summer.
Office opening times : 8am to 2.30pm
(administrations), 8am to 1pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm
million inhabitants) is the centre of the Islamic
world with its large mosque which holds the
(the Black Stone) which is venerated by the
Non-Muslims are forbidden entry to Mecca
It is situated at 80 kms from the Red Sea.
million inhabitants) is the second holy town in
It is in this town that there is the Mausoleum of
The town is a commercial centre with an
agricultural market of citrus fruit and dates.
million inhabitants) is situated on the western
bank of the Persian Gulf.
It is a modern town.
(0.3 million inhabitants) is situated in the
million inhabitants), situated near Djeddah and
The climate is very hot with large temperature
It is tropical and humid on the coast.
In the middle of the desert the temperature goes
over 50°C in summer.
The average desert climate goes from 18° to
In the mountain regions the climate is cooler.
In Ryadh the climate is very hot during the three
summer months, but is generally pleasant during the
rest of the year with the dry and bracing air of
Djeddah, on the contrary, is very
There are scorpions in the desert.
There are a lot of mosquitoes, which are active all
the year round, particularly after
15 - Working in the country
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%
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.
you are employed by a French or international
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,
for your departure and looking for a job
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
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
Trade Commission in Saudi Arabia or the CFCE in
Paris can let you consult their list of French
companies set up in Saudi Arabia.
is a comprehensive documentation about the country
available from the cultural service of the Saudi
Arabian Embassy in Paris.
could also make a personal appointment with the
Franco-Saudian Chamber of Commerce to complete your
information and to obtain professional
you are looking for information you could also
contact companies directly and send in an
application proposing your services.
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
organisms such as the ANPE, the APEC, the APECITA
and the ILO can also be of help.
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.
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
can often find international job offers via the
bigger employment agencies and temporary work
Internet you can get easy access to several data
banks offering jobs locally.
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.
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.
forget to attach a recent photo, preferably where
you are smiling.
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.
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.
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
Ø What exactly is the mission ?
Ø What is the length of the contract ?
Ø Are you going alone or with your
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
: 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
: (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.
- 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
conditions : The local work conditions will be
applied with their advantages and their
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
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
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.
hours will be the local ones, foreign companies are
subject to the legal obligations in force in the
- Entry Formalities
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
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
state of hygiene in the country :
hospitals are well equipped and of an excellent
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
The vaccination against meningitis A&C is
obligatory during the period of the pilgrimage to
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
If you have not had the requisite vaccins you will
be vaccinated on arrival and held in
Household pets must be accompanied by their
pilgrims : For pilgrims arriving on special or
normal flights, during or outside the pilgrimage
period ("Umrah") :
- on foreign airlines you can only arrive in
- by Saudi Arabian Airlines you can arrive by
Dhahran, Jeddah or Medina
You must have all the necessary health certificates
with you as well as a return airline ticket which
mentions the fact that you are a pilgrim.
Saudi Airlines is classed as the best airline in
the Middle East and has second place in the world
rating out of 225 companies. It has 109 planes and
makes 310 flights a day during the tourist season.
Financially the company makes a loss though.
France and Saudi Arabia the time difference is +2
hours in winter and +1 hour in summer (Arabia is 3
hours ahead of Greenwich Mean
To phone Saudi Arabia from France dial : 00 + 966 +
the town code + the number
Djeddah : 2
Riyad : 1.
To phone France from Saudi Arabi : 00 33 + the
The television has two main channels.
- Akhbar El Alam El Islami (weekly) «News of
the Muslim World ».
- Arab News (daily).
- Arrajol « The Man »,
- Asharq al Awsat (daily).
- Al Jazira «The Island »
- El Nadoua (the only daily paper from Mecca)
- Car rental
is possible to rent a car from agencies at the
airports and in the big shopping malls.
An international driving licence is required.
Al Khobar : tel 966 03 898 2800
Dammam : 966 03 857 7831
Dharan : airoport : 966 03 891 9488
Jeddah : 966 02 6669 2020, airport : 966 02 685
Jubail : 966 03 346 6777, Intercontinental Hotel :
966 03 341 1576
Juffali : 966 03 827 5256
Riyadh : 966 01 476 1300
Yanbu : 966 04 322 7588
All Avis cars
are completely equipped, have done less than 15,000
kms and have an average age of 3 months. The
vehicles are carefully prepared and checked between
each rental using a procedure containing 7
obligatory control points. The cars are rented with
a full tank.
Renting from Avis automatically means that the car
passengers, renter and/or driver are covered by a
third party insurance as well as an insurance
covering repatriation and the immobilization of the
vehicule in case of an accident.
You can reserve a
- from your travel agent
- from the international reservation centre at 0
820 05 05 05
- or from any Avis agency
Avis has an interactive network worldwide, a client
can reserve a car instantly from anywhere in the
We recommend that
you pay your rental using your accredited Avis card
or with another credit card accepted by Avis :
American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Diners.
Through a simple free membership system, Avis gives
identity and/or payment cards, which are a real
help for a rapid and efficient service.
REASSURING : No
on-line payment, you can pay Avis directly at the
agency when you return the car
RAPID : Avis has the quickest car rental
reservation service on the web
ECONOMICAL : The cheapest rates on the market are
available on the Avis microsite
COMPLETE : You can rent a car anywhere in the
The Avis network : 5000 agencies in 172 countries,
is now on-line!
EFFICIENT : Find your town (you don't have to fill
in the country), enter the date and click on
PRACTICAL : You only have to fill in 4 boxes and
you will receive an e-mail confirming the
You can even rent a vehicle at the last minute just
round the corner or ... on the other side of the
- Your suitcase
a wardrobe of light, but very conventional clothing
- no short skirts, shorts, exposed shoulders
Women in Arabia have to be veiled and do not
accompany their husbands on social
(local and foreign) have to wear the abaya, which
is a wide black robe which covers them entirely,
whenever they go out of the
23 - Information
last from Thursday lunchtime until Friday
Public holidays are religious Muslim days, the
dates vary each year with the lunar calendar : the
beginning of Ramadan, Id ul Fitr, the Islamic New
Year, Id ul Adha, the anniversary of the Islamic
Shops close during the prayer times.
Alcohol is strictly forbidden.
Supermarkets are open 24 hours a day.
Rules and Regulations :
- you have to leave your passport with your
- you need a 'travel letter' if you are travelling
in the country
(these two rules could ease up in the near
- women must wear an abaya (a long black robe which
covers them to the floor) whenever they go out,
they are not allowed to drive and are not allowed
to have a job
- western women can go to Arabia on business but
have to follow the conventions and are not allowed
to participate in commercial exhibition.
Saudian banking sector is powerful, it represents
5% of the GNP, employs 20,000 people and there
are 1,235 agencies.
Monetary policy is the jurisdiction of the SAMA,
the Saudi Monetary Agency, who play the role of a
central bank and issue payments concerning
There are 10 commercial banks, three of which are
totally Saudian - the National Commercial Bank, Al
Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation and the
Rijadh Bank. The other seven , amongst which are
the Al Bank al Saudi al Fransi, (the Crédit
Agricole-Indosuez), are co-enterprises with foreign
banks but with a majority Saudian
25 - Schools and
are a lot of schools in the country :
- the French School of Djeddah (up to the secondary
- the French School of Al Khobar (up to the
secondary 1st cycle) at Dhahran Airport
- the French School of Riyad (up to the secondary
weekly days off are Thursdays and Fridays.
The rate of adult illiteracy is 34%, compared to 2%
are also big Saudi organizations which are
interested in obtaining aid to develope practical
training programmes :
- the GOTEVOT, a general organization for technical
and professional training
- the general management of institutes and colleges
of health science for the Ministry of Health
- the general management for the education of girls
(primary and secondary schooling) - it manages
training institutes and colleges
- the SCECO, Saudi Consolidated Electric
- the Royal Commission for Jubail and
26 - Guides
is a good idea to subscribe to a specialized
Middle East Economic Digest,
Arab Press Services,
are also trade magazines published by the French
« Le Marché du second-oeuvre du
bâtiment aux Emirats Arabes Unis et en Arabie
Saoudite », edited by CFCE
The notes of the French Trade Commission, Librairie
du Commerce International, 10 ave
dIéna, BP 428-16, 75769 Paris Cedex 16
- Tel (01) 22.214.171.124 Fax (01) 126.96.36.199
Trade Commission Riyadh : Article on the priority
sectors for prospecting French
- The Israelian Sheqel ,
- alchoholic drinks,
- firearms or other weapons,
- drugs (except for prescribed medicines with a
- foodstuffs which have pork in them
- musical or theatrical shows
foodstuffs are not allowed into the country except
for fruit, nuts, some sweets, the boxes must be
easy to inspect.
For business, as the judicial system is based on
the Charia, the Koranic law, contracts have to be
made using a local lawyer and fiscal matters have
to be dealt with via a local accountant
Agreements which have been signed out of the
country are not recognized.
When you are addressing a government Minister, the
President of a Chamber of Commerce or other
dignitaries, you have to use the title "Your
Members of the royal family are addressed as "Your
A 'sheik' is an elder from a traditional tribe.
The bakchich is a polite welcome gift. It is a
commercial instrument or an offering, a sign of
sympathy or friendship for the person you are
Arabians are skilful negotiators and big
They prefer man to man relationships, where the
word of honour and trust given are essential.
Contacts are paradoxically warm and formal. There
is no question of being 'buddies', formal dress is
appreciated, it is risky to ask after the family,
and all negotiations start with long discussions on
hate confrontations, one of the bases of their
culture is a constant search for consensus.
Decisions are taken after long discussions amid
councils and commissions.
It is important, even essential, to understand the
hierarchy among the people you are talking to,
their family relationship and where they come from.
A real underground network which takes lots of time
to unravel and needs lots of
time, don't be in a hurry, give the impression that
you have plenty of time : this universal way of
showing interest is really appreciated in Saudi
this year international tourism could only take
place in the kingdom in one of three ways :
religious, business or family visits.
Will Saudi Arabia choose to open to tourism now
that there has been an opening in its investment
policy? Last April a Tourist Commission was created
and the authorities are defining their policies
concerning foreign tourism.
year over 2 million pilgrims visit this country
where Islamic traditions cohabit with a growing
western way of life.
Saudi Arabia is the Holy Land of Islam.
The sacred mosque founded by Mohammed is in Mecca.
The sanctuary founded by Abraham was already there
where the Black Stone, which was given by the
Archangel Gabriel, is venerated. It was already a
place of pilgrimage long before the birth of the
prophet. The communal pilgrimage takes place from
the 7th to the 10th May. The town and the near
surrounds of the town are forbidden to
"unbelievers"under penalty of death.
Arabia is the kingdom of princes and black
In the cities you will find mosques next to
are freezing cold and days are burning hot. There
are often sand storms which last several
the region of Assir, to the south of Djeddah, there
are mountain landscapes where the Saudi Arabians
enjoy coming to find a bit of cool air during the
summer. Four national parks have been created
In the region of Djeddah you will find the charm of
the Red Sea, a perfume of the orient hangs over the
historical centre of the second biggest town in the
There is the Nabatheen site of Medain Saleh - a
kind of Saudian Petra - which is situated at 50 kms
to the north of Medina.
An then there is the desert, each Thursday night,
on the eve of the weekend, the desert around Ryadh
lights up with little lights. These are Saudian
families who come out to the desert to get back to
their roots and share a meal round a campfire
the petrol boom, small shops have given way to
shopping malls where you can find Japanese,
American and European goods.
The Jamjoom City Center is the second biggest
shopping mall in the world with 750 shops and 300
offices. The souks and the supermarkets are open
until 10 pm.
SAUDI ARABIAN ART
of the art work comes from the Yemenites who for a
long time were considered and treated as slaves by
the Saudi Arabians.
The jewels, carpets and ceramics are very
- Saudi Computer 2001 18th-22nd February
- Saudi Internet World 2001 18th-22nd February
- Saudi Education 2001 18th-22nd February
- Saudi Food 2001 1st-5th April
- Saudi Hotel 2001 1st-5th April
- E-Commerce Saudi Arabia 2001 7th-10th May
- Suadi Print 2001 20th-24th May
- Saudi Plas 2001 20th-24th May
- Saudi Chem 2001 20th-24th May
- Saudi Agriculture 2001 23rd-27th September
- Saudi Build 2001 28th October-1st
- International Book Fair 15th-18th May
- One to One - Arabia 28th-31st May
- Saudi Banking & Investment 28th-31st May
- Compu.Net 13th-18th September
- Saudi Arabia's International Trade Fair 8th-12th
- Lifestyle 8th-12th October
-Middle East Education & Training Exhibition
- International Book Fair 28th April -7th May
- Food Arabia 26th-28th May
- Hotel-Arabia 26th-30th May
- Propak-Arabia 26th-30th May
- Live for Sound, Vision & Consumer electronics
- Compu.Net 15th-30th September
- Saudi Building Industries Exhibition 29th
- International Trade Fair 14th-18th
Embassy of Saudi Arabia
5, avenue Hoche
Tel 01 56 79 40 00
29, rue des Graviers
Tel 01 47 47 62 63
Embassy of Saudi Arabia
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Fax (613) 237-0567
Chamber of Commerce
93 rue Lauriston
Tel : 01 45 53 20 12 Fax 01 47 55 09 59
email : email@example.com - site web :
22, ave. Franklin Fosevelt
Tel 01 53 83 92 92
Saudi Arabian Airlines
34 avenue Georges V
Tel 01 54 67 50 50
Free n°: 0 800 00 65 65 Fax : 01 53 67 59
7 quai André Citroen
Tel 01 44 37 23 00
ADDRESSES IN SAUDI ARABIA
French Embassy in Riyadh
Immeuble Saoud al Fayan
PO Box 94367
PO Box 94009
Tel 966 1 4880880 Fax 966 1 4882869
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
site web www.dree.org/arabie
PO Box 4452
Tel 966 2 6510608 Fax 966 1 6511151
email : email@example.com
Council of Saudi
Chambers of Commerce and Industry
PO Box 16683
Tel 966 1 4053200 Fax 4029847
site web : www.saudichambers.org.sa
Chamber of commerce of Riyadh : tel 9661 404 004
fax 9661 402 1103
CCI of Jeddah : tel 966 2 6515111 Fax 9662 651
CCI for the Eastern Provinces : tel 9663 834 5900
Fax 9663 857 0607
International Human Resources
Industrial sector (methanol)
PO Box 4885
966 3 340 5500
Fax 966 3 340 5604
National Co for Management & Services
PO Box 41491
966 1 478 5280
Fax 966 1 473 1272
Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu
PO Box 30031
Yanbu Al Sinaiyah
966 4 321 6319
Fax 966 4 396 8001
Saudi Arabian Kent Co Ltd
PO Box 3462
Al Khobar 31952
966 3 894 1064
Fax 966 3 864 1505
Akhbar El Alam El Islami
(News of the Muslim World)
Muslim World League
BP 537/538, Mecca
(966) 536 49 32
BP 4556, Jeddah 21412,
Tel 669 18 88 Fax 667 16 50
(A monthly magazine for men)
669 18 88 Fax 669 55 49
Asharq al Awsat
PO Box 4556
PO Box 354
(966) 520 29 43 Fax (966) 520 30 55
French School in Djeddah
PO Box 9982
(9662) 691.56.62 Fax (9662) 691.88.48
French School in Al Khobar
PO Box 691
31932 Dhahran Airport
(9663) 857.97.80 Fax (9663) 857.00.76
French School in Riyad
PO Box 87811
(9661) 476.85.01 Fax (9661) 477.36.52
French Companies in Saudi Arabia
c/o Express Trading and Contracting
PO Box 1450
Al Khobar 31952 -
Tel (03) 857.01.12
Renault Véhicules Industriels
c/o General Machinery Agencies
PO Box 287,
Al Khobar 31952
Tel (03) 864.14.81
PO Box 7394
Tel (03) 827.60.06/827.60.07
Adloni Design International (interior
PO Box 6282
Alphacoustic c/o Bin Laden Bros
(false ceilings, aluminium)
PO Box 7629
Charles Baumert Intl Co Ltd
c/o Al-Issa Trading & Contracting
PO Box 17806
Cossa Construction Services SA
PO Box 349
Jeumont Schneider BTP
PO Box 52616
Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia
569, NSCSA Building,
Sitteen Street, Malaz Area
PO Box 89312
Tel (1)4785454 Fax (1) 4778036 email
(Branches : Dubai tel 4 3975300 Fax 4 3975600 email
Baltimore USA tel 410 6257000 Fax 410 6257050 email
Singapore tel 65 2259993 Fax 65 3234926 email :
London tel 44 2075362800 Fax 44 2075362810 email :
(trading, distribution, industrial, computer
sciences, telecommunications etc)
PO Box 317
Riyadh 11411, Saudi Arabia
Tel 4198000 Fax 4197052
email : firstname.lastname@example.org site web :
Company for Exhibitions Ltd
PO Box 40740
Tel 966 2 6546384 Fax 966 2 6546853 email :
1 Battersea Bridge Road
London SW11 3BG
Tel 44 2072233431 Fax 44 2072284229 email :
Tel 966 26549310 Fax 966 26550254
Tel & fax 966 14628082
PO Box 56010
Tel 966 14541448 Fax 966 14544846 email :
Albaha Pullman Sasco Hotel
PO Box 388
Tel 07.725 4400 fax 07.725.4008
PO Box 10167
Al Jubail, S Arabia
Tel 03/341 7000
The Gulf Meridien Al-Khobar
PO Box 1266
31952 Al Khobar
Tel 966. 386.46000 Fax 898 1651
Box 240 (Al Gassim)
Tel 06/323 5984 Fax 06/324 0373
PO Box 1928
Tel 832 9000 Fax 834 9872
The Oberoi Dammam
PO Box 5397
Tel 834 5555 Fax 834 9872
Albilad Hotel Moevenpick
Al Corniche Highway
PO Box 6788
Tel 691 0111 Fax 691 2208
Holiday Inn Jeddah
PO Box 10924
Tel 02/661 1000/ Fax 02/660 6326
Jeddah Sheraton Hotel
PO Box 14315
Tel 00 9662./6992212 Fax 009662
PO Box 216
Tel 361 2856
PO Box 1735
Tel 04-823 0240 Fax 04-825 1628
Tel 465 4650 Fax 464 8576
Minhal Sofitel Riyadh Hotel
Old Airport Road
PO Box 17058
Tel 478 2500 Fax 477 2819
PO Box 3636
Tel 465 5000 Fax 01 465
PO Box 90807
Tel 454 3300 Fax 454 1889
Al Hada Sheraton Hotel
PO Box 999
Tel 02-7541 400 Fax 02-754 4831
Holiday Inn Yanbu
PO Box 452
Tel 04-322 33767