Working and Living in Saudi Arabia

General provisions for travel and residence (until the corona pandemic)

A valid visa is required to enter the country. Citizens of the EU and Switzerland have recently been able to apply for a tourist visa. This can either be applied for electronically before the trip as an eVisa or upon entry. The visa is valid for 12 months from the date of issue and entitles you to stay for a maximum of 90 days. Both the application for a visa and entry can only be made with a valid passport.

To issue a visa to business travelers, a letter from the company in Germany is required, which is certified by the IHK or the Chamber of Crafts in Germany. The invitation letter from the Saudi business partner must also be certified by the local Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia.

An annual visa can be issued to the following groups of people, which entitles them to enter the country several times for business reasons: business people (company owners, CEOs, board members, company representatives, general managers), investors and company representatives.

business travel visa can be applied for on the following page:

The immigration to Saudi Arabia is a bureaucratic heavily supervised matter. A letter of approval from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs must be presented to obtain the residence visa (residence permit).

Labor market

The Saudization program has existed since April 2006, which aims to increasingly replace the approx. 6 million guest workers with their own nationals. The companies are obliged to increase their share of the Saudi Arabian workforce to 75%.

According to countryvv, the new labor law also strengthens the rights of guest workers, because employers are obliged to have written employment contracts as well as to assume all costs of entry and exit and to grant vacation.

Cost of living

Here you can buy all the items you are used to as a Western European, and at a significantly lower cost of living. There are huge supermarkets, pompous shopping malls, fast-food restaurants on every corner that don’t have to adhere to opening times.

You would need around € 2,367.37 in Riyadh to maintain the standard of living that you could have in Berlin at € 3,700.00 (assuming you rent in the cities).

  • Consumer prices in Riyadh are 25.80% lower than in Berlin (without rent)
  • Consumer prices in Riyadh are 36.02% lower than in Berlin (including rent)
  • Rental prices in Riyadh are 58.88% lower than in Berlin
  • Restaurant prices in Riyadh are 36.21% lower than in Berlin
  • Food prices in Riyadh are 26.90% lower than in Berlin
  • The local purchasing power in Riyadh is 1.52% higher than in Berlin

Average cost of living in Riyadh (from 09/2019 – 08/2020)

Restaurant Ø € Price € Price from / to
Food, price w. restaurant 5.65 2.71 – 11.30
Middle class, 3 courses for 2 people. 22.64 15.82-54.25
Local beer, 0.5 l 1.13 0.68-2.71
Imported beer, 0.33 l 1.36 1.13-2.26
cappuccino 2.94 1.13-3.84
Coca / Pepsi (0.33 l) 0.64 0.57-0.90
Water (0.33 l) 0.20 0.11-0.45
Food Ø € Price € Price from / to
Milk (1 L) 1.17 0.90-1.81
White bread (500g) 0.69 0.23-1.13
Rice (white), (1kg) 1.56 0.90-2.71
Eggs (12) 1.58 1.27-3.26
Local cheese (1kg) 5.31 2.71 – 11.30
Chicken breast fillet (1kg) 6.10 3.39-9.04
Beef (1kg) 9.46 6.78-11.30
Apples (1kg) 1.62 1.02-2.26
Bananas (1kg) 1.21 0.90-1.81
Oranges (1kg) 1.33 0.79-2.25
Tomatoes (1kg) 1.31 0.68-2.26
Potatoes (1kg) 0.85 0.45-1.36
Onions (1kg) 0.89 0.45 – 1.50
Lettuce (1 head) 0.83 0.45-1.81
Water (1.5 l) 0.48 0.34-0.68
Bottle of wine (middle class) 3.62 1.36 – 6.78
Local beer (0.5 l) 1.46 0.90-2.03
Imported beer (0.33 l) 1.47 0.90-2.26

Average costs for local transport, utilities, clothing, leisure, education of riad (from 09/2019 – 08/2020)

Mode of Transport Ø € Price € Price from / to
One-time ticket 0.71 0.68-2.26
Monthly pass 45.21 22.61-113.03
Taxi base amount 2.26 1.13-3.39
Taxi 1 km 0.45 0.36 – 1.13
Ancillary housing costs Ø € Price € Price from / to
for 85 sqm apartment (electricity, water, garbage, etc. 77.19 45.21-113.03
1 minute prepaid mobile tariff 0.10 0.03-0.12
Internet (60 Mbps or more, unlimited data, cable / ADSL) 52.61 45.21-78.89
Clothes, shoes Ø € Price € Price from / to
Jeans (Levis 501 or similar) 47.78 20.34-84.77
Summer dress (Zara, H&M,… 49.13 21.48-67.82
Nike sports shoes, middle class 81.69 45.21-124.33
Leather business shoes 74.65 37.30-113.03
leisure time Ø € Price € Price from / to
Fitness center, month / adult 76.85 37.68-158.34
Tennis, 1 hour on weekends 24.30 11.30-33.91
a movie ticket 14.69 11.30-22.61
training Ø € Price € Price from / to
Preschool / Kindergarten, private, whole day, monthly per child 270.38 131.86-452.11
International primary school per year and child 5,032.37 2,712.63-9,042.12

Average rental prices / purchase and salaries of Riyadh (from 09/2019 – 08/2020)

Monthly rental price Ø € Price € Price from / to
Apartment (1 bedroom) in the city center 401.16 271.26-678.16
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside the center 276.40 180.84-452.11
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in the city center 683.48 497.32-1,130.26
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside the center 474.92 339.08-791.19
Purchase price of apartments Ø € Price € Price from / to
Price per square meter for an apartment in the city – purchase 965.26 565.13-1,808.42
Price per square meter – apartment outside the center – purchase 725.17 452.11-1,130.26
wages Ø € Price € Price from / to
Average monthly salary (after taxes) 1,400.20

Emigration and living in Saudi Arabia

Religious dissidents are massively persecuted. According to Islamic tradition, women have no rights. There have been a few improvements over the past few years. Due to the high security precautions, security is very high.

The step into this country is almost only something for male entrepreneurs with good contacts in the Arab world, for adventurous professionals and of course for those who get along well with this culture, which is foreign to Europeans. Some advantages of the country: Free of nuclear power, low cost of living (LHK-I 73.6), tax advantage (KdS 0% Est).

Working and Living in Saudi Arabia