Saudi Arabia: The Mindset Must Change

late payment



The average salary in Saudi Arabia (paid by a Saudi firm or individual) is 15,099 SAR (equal to US$4031.62).  The median is 11,500 SAR (equal to US$3070.64).    In fact, this link provides an excellent overview not only of salaries in the Kingdom but also salary comparisons based on what type of job is held.  It’s good information.

However, in spite of the salary stated, there remains an unsavory trend in Saudi  Arabia that salaries may be delayed or only a partial salary is received.  This trend is not only among expatriate workers in the Kingdom, but Saudi nationals as well.  Some Saudis have been forced to take a part time job to supplement the delayed or partial salary.  They can’t afford to quit the full time job as it does cover other benefits such as insurance and paid vacation.

Government jobs are not always exempt from the lack of or delay in salary.  When I worked for the Ministry of Information for Saudi Arabian Television my salary was often delayed and then I’d eventually receive four or five months of salary at one time…in cash!  I was a contract employee for the Ministry along with others and this was the typical way we were paid.

Another trend that many expatriate spouses fall for because they wish to find some kind of work in the Kingdom is the “testing of a perspective employees services.”  A company or an individual may express interest to locally hire an expatriate but prior to an official hire, the expatriate will be asked to do a project or provide services “gratis” (free of charge) so that the employer can evaluate their services and work capabilities first.  My advice is don’t fall for this.  You set a bad pattern for yourself as your time and expertise does have value – don’t allow it to be devalued.  Additionally there is less likelihood that the company will ultimate hire you but you’ll get referrals from “friends of the perspective employer” who also want to evaluate your services.

Usually if an expatriate (or Saudi) is working for the Saudi Government as a full employee (and not a contractor or consultant), a government owned-hospital or an entity such as Aramco or Sabic, there should not be worries about payment.  However, schools and even some banks along with other localized companies or individual employers will have a tendency to either not provide a full salary or pay late.


5 Responses

  1. In the US it is very common for Indians looking to hire people to ask for trial work. I’ve seen it in the software field and my wife has seen this from other industries.

  2. Thank you, Carol! That was an excellent and very honest article about how things stand in the countries like Saudi Arabia. People need to know the truth in advance. I wish this kind of information was available on the net before I went to Qatar, but it wasn’t. After all, people leave all security behind to join a company in one of these countries only to feel cheated out of everything they were made to believe in. 13 years ago, during my stint in Sheraton Doha Hotel & Resort, I had my abysmal salary of QR 1500.00 cut to half size when the number of guests decreased in the summer.

    Of course, nobody had told me that QR 1500.00 was an abysmal salary. Everybody I’d asked had told me that this was a very good salary. That was a lie that was going to destroy two whole years of my life – two years I will never get back – and those who lied knew it but nobody cared. The recruiting company got its commission and the hotel got another cheap slave, except that this time the slave was white and European. Slavery is alive and kicking in the Gulf and from what I understand, it has deep historical roots in the culture of Arabs. What with all the futuristic skyscrapers, it simply has been given a modern look.

  3. In one of Wikileaks cables, Ford M. Fraker the former US ambassador to Riyadh met with the former Saudi Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi in December 2007, and in the cable: “Al-Gosaibi is pessimistic regarding the possibility of a law soon being issued to cover and protect domestic workers. Clearly referring only to Saudi employers, he stated that “no one” is interested in passing such a law because everyone is satisfied with the status quo”.(1) Another fact is that labour union (trade union) is prohibited under Saudi law. So no law to protect employees nor there a union, therefore abuse is invited. Payment delay is in sharp contrast with Islam, and there is a very nice saying by the Prophet Mohammed which says: ““Give the worker his wages before his sweat dries.”


  4. That’s the only place i noticed a huge difference in the salary of a physician and surgeon. very strange.

  5. I would like to sincerely share my bad experience with one of the Manpower Company in Saudi Arabia Eastern Province by name Mohammed Al-Zoabi Corp. (MAZCO). This company exploits its employees by delay in payment of salary, not giving direct flight ticket, vacation schedule problem, delay / hold in paying vacation amount till last time of departure, not paying End of Service benefits, etc. So I advice all my friends who are seeking job in this company to think again before taking final decision.

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