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In this page: Communities of Expatriates | Ranking of Cities | Renting an Apartment | School System | Health System | Tourism and Culture | Individual and Civic Freedoms | Religion


Communities of Expatriates

The Number of Expatriates

Around 6.14 million expatriates are living in Saudi Arabia. The country has many expiates from China, Gulf Countries, Italy, France, Mexico, Japan, Lebanon and India.

Blogs For Expats
For Further Information
About Saudi Arabia culture
Immigration Authority
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia
Transportation Companies For Moving/Removals
List of transportation companies

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Ranking of Cities

Cost of Living
According to Mercer's Cost of Living Survey, Riyadh was ranked at 57th and Jeddah at 121th out of 209 cities worldwide.
Quality of Life
Mercer ranked Riyadh and Jeddah 166th and 169th respectively out of 231 cities worldwide in 2017.
Sanitary Conditions
The country is committed to improving health and sanitation services in both urban and rural areas. Today, most of the population has access to toilets and clean water, yet the quality of water remains a problem.
For Further Information
Quality of Living Worldwide City Rankings –Survey - Mercer
Cost of Living Worldwide City Rankings –Survey - Mercer

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Renting an Apartment

Description of apartments
Expatriates prefer to live in large compounds that offer facilities such as pools, sports and leisure facilities and convenience stores. The different types of apartments are described as:

1 bed-room accommodation: 1 room, 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom and 1 toilet.

2 bed-room accommodation: 2 rooms, 1 hall, 1 kitchen and 1 or 2 toilets.

Villa: Ranging from 2 to 8 bedrooms.

Normal Lease Term
This could vary from 6 months to 2 years.
Rental Costs
A rental agreement or lease is signed which specifies rights and responsibilities. Since this is usually in Arabic, be sure to get the rental contract translated in English.

One may be required to pay a year's rent in advance. It is a normal practice to pay a lump sum deposit at the beginning of the rental agreement against any losses/damages to the property or against any default on rental payments. This is held by the letting agent or property owner and will be reimbursed at the end of rental period provided all is in order.

Agencies or Private Rentals
The large expatriate population has made renting in Saudi Arabia an easy and simple procedure. Consulting an estate agent can be helpful. For details, visit: Just Landed.
Private Rentals Announcements Online
Other Possibilities For Accommodation
For short term stays, hostels or service apartments can be rented.
For Further Information

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School System

School Level
General education in the Kingdom consists of six years of primary school and three years each of intermediate and high school. The Government provides free general and higher education, and financial help for male and female students in some areas of general education. University students receive financial help and free housing. In addition, meals, books, and transportation are provided at subsidised prices. Female students are provided with free transportation. For more details, visit: Ministry of Education, Saudi Arabia.
International Schools

There are a large number of international schools in all the main cities. For details, visit: The Saudi Network.

For Further Information
The Saudi Network

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Health System

Quality of Healthcare
Medical facilities in the Kingdom are generally of a high standard, but treatment is expensive. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is responsible for health care in the country, providing general and specialised hospital services. Participation of the private sector in country's health care is becoming increasingly important.
Also visit: Saudi Association for Health Informatics Conference
International Hospitals
Healthcare facilities of a high standard are available in most cities. While most towns are equipped with a basic health centre, serious cases need to be transfered by ambulance or by air to hospitals in a major city that might be some distance away.

For a list of recommended hospitals in the country, visit the website World Hospital Search.

Health Insurance
A large number of international companies specialising in providing private health insurance operate in Saudi Arabia.
Accessibility of the Health Insurance Network to Foreigners

Health insurance is mandatory for expatriates and their families. It is recommended to have adequate travel insurance that covers the cost of repatriation in case of a medical emergency.

Health System Insurance Body
Cooperative Health Insurance Council (CHIC)
Health Ministry
Ministry of Health (MOH)

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Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism


Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities of Islam are the most important part of historical tourism in the country.  
Jeddah is home to numerous historical landmarks and buildings such as the Old Jeddah Wall and Gates, the old quarters and mosques.


Islam is the focus of Saudi Arabian culture, for which festivals and family events form an integral part of daily life.


Saudi Arabia is known for its desert landscapes and wildlife of the Asir, a range of coastal mountains and the only part of the Kingdom where there is significant wild vegetation. There are settlements of fishermen and weavers on Tarut Island, which is also the site of the oldest town on the peninsula.


- Al-Masjid al-Haram (The Holy Mosque), Mecca
- The Ka'ba and Black Stone, Mecca
- The Prophet's Mosque, Medina
- Floating Mosque of Jeddah


Though thermal energy is the main source of power in Saudi Arabia, there are no natural hot springs. However few hotels provide hot spring spas.
For more details, visit Trip Advisor.


Some prominent beaches are Durrat Al-Arus, Shums, Bait Albahar, Salhia and Al Nakeel.

Winter Sports
Outdoor Activities
Scuba diving, windsurfing, and sailing, golf, horse and camel racing are popular touristic attractions. The King's Camel Race which takes place in April or May during the national Heritage and Cultural Festival at Jenadriyah is a popular highlight of local cultural events.
Saudi Arabia offers both traditional open-air markets and modern air-conditioned shopping malls. The shops are closed on Fridays and during prayer times.

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
The al-Saud dynasty dominates political life in the Kingdom. Political opposition is criminalised.
Civil Liberty
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2021 report : 170/180
Free Access to the Internet
There continues to be cases of media censorship by the State. It is not uncommon for the Government to block access to websites that carry content that could be considered sensitive for religious or political reasons.
Rule of Law
The judicial system has been described as opaque and often arbitrary. Defendants do not have recourse to appeal and often have no right to proper legal representation. Cases of the use of capital and corporal punishment, including amputations of hands and feet and lashings have been reported.
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
Cases of prejudice against foreigners and ethnic, religious and national minorities have been reported. However, the Government is enacting reforms to facilitate the entry and exit of foreign businessmen in order to attract foreign investment.
Women's Condition
Women in Saudi Arabia do not have legal equality with men, although reforms have been enacted to increase women's rights in recent years. There have been reports of women facing violence and discrimination on the basis of gender. All women in the country, irrespective of their nationality, are prohibited from driving. To ensure that women maintain conservative standards of dress in public, Mutawa'een (a religious police force) uses physical punishment.
For Further Information
Freedom House

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Degree of Freedom
A variety of religions are practised by individuals living in Saudi Arabia, including Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism. However, freedom to follow a non-Sunni Muslim doctrine or religion is neither recognised nor protected by law. Cases of discrimination against religious minorities have been reported.
Islam is the official religion of Saudi Arabia. Most of the population is Sunni, including the ruling family. A Shia Muslim minority is also present.
Role of Religion in Society
The ruling monarchy follows Islamic law (Sharia) and the principles of Sunni Islam in governing the country, whereby the Koran and Sunna are the constitution. While the right to worship in private by non-Muslims is recognised by the Government, it is not always implemented.

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Latest Update: June 2023