Saudi Arabia is an attractive place to do business due to the lack of income tax, relatively low cost of living, and sunshine; but it does have some challenges to hiring talent. English proficiency is very low - the majority of business is conducted in Arabic - and there’s strict competition for top talent. There’s also a number of customs and laws that must be strictly abided by when hiring in, living in, or visiting Saudi Arabia. This article describes the opportunities and things to consider when growing your business there.
The market at a glance
Size of workforce
Those who work for pay or profit for at least one hour a week, or who have a job but are temporarily not at work due to illness, leave or industrial action
The ratio of the employed to the working age
% of population (25-44 yrs old) with tertiary graduation rates
Cost of labour
English proficiency index (world)
The world's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
English proficiency index (Middle East)
The Middle East's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
Finding the right talent
Saudis use social media and LinkedIn to find jobs, although a number of Saudian companies are not on social media. You may have a recruiting advantage if you use your company’s social media channels effectively (for example, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).
Bayt.com is the most popular job site in the Middle East; other reputable sites include AlJazeera Jobs and GulfTalent.com. Saudi recruitment agencies are listed in the Saudian Yellow Pages, though it may not be necessary to use them given the lack of Saudis using LinkedIn.
Things to keep in mind
It’s more common to do business face-to-face, so it’s important to have on-the-ground recruitment to engage candidates from the start. Working hours are strictly capped at eight hours a day, Sunday to Thursday, which is reduced to six hours a day during Ramadan.
There are a number of other important cultural customs, etiquette, and laws that you should recognise. Check out the guides available online through the British government and other companies outlining the extent of these customs and laws. It’s really important you understand and observe these when growing your business in Saudi Arabia.
- Total 2016 Labour force
- % of working age population
- % of population (25-34 yrs old) with tertiary graduation rates
- Average wage
- English proficiency index