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Living In Saudi Arabia As A Foreigner

By Author: Hejailanlaw Firm
Total Articles: 2

There is no doubt that life in Saudi Arabia is changing. Perhaps only gradually, but nonetheless it is changing. As from the month of June 2018, which is current as this is written, women will now legally be allowed to drive.

This demonstrates one of the quirks of Saudi Arabian law, because while women were not actually banned from driving previously, only men were allowed to have driving licences, which meant that women could not legally drive. There are also increasing numbers of women working in Saudi Arabia today, and a lot of women are now completing university studies.

Certainly, in Saudi Arabia in the 21st century the saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do" applies still, but that doesn't mean that you have to go to a mosque and pray. If you are planning to live or work in the country you will still need to learn the rules. For instance, alcohol is banned and if you are caught in possession of it you will finish up in prison. So if you can't eat dinner without a couple of glasses of Malbec, Saudi Arabia is not for you. Equally, possession of drugs can result in a death sentence.

You will also have to be able to withstand the heat and understand that it doesn't rain very often. Furthermore, if you are male you are not allowed to walk around in public in shorts, no matter how hot it is.

Talking of driving, as we were, you also need to understand that Saudi drivers have no idea what that little lever on the steering column that you can push up and down is for. What on earth is an "indicator"? You also get overtaken on the left and right – often at the same time – by boy racers who might well be over 60.

Live In A Compound

The city of Jeddah is a port on the Red Sea and you can live in a compound where you are pretty much free to move around and live life in much the same way that you are used to. The compounds, however, are very expensive, and the other problem is that there will be a long waiting list. There are plenty of private beaches where you can relax at the weekends, along with cafes and restaurants, and it can be a fun place for children. The weekends in KSA are Thursdays and Fridays – not what you are used to. The city has many foreigners of different nationalities living in it, and some parts of the city are quite poor and run down areas, while the more upmarket areas have huge houses with large gardens and peacocks roaming in them.

The capital of Saudi Arabia is Riyadh and it has a population of 5 million. There is no public transport, so everyone drives, which means that the air can be quite polluted and takes a little getting used to. You need plenty of water to drink, and it is not recommended to drink tap water, so you need to buy bottled. As in Jeddah, you can live in a compound, the alternative being somewhere outside such as in the Diplomatic Quarter.

In Saudi Arabia everything comes to a halt for prayers. In the shopping centres the shops open at about 11.00am and close around midnight. However, they close for about 20 minutes for prayers four times during the day, as do the restaurants and everything else, so you just have to get used to it.

If you run into any sort of legal problem in Riyadh or Jeddah you will find that there are some great law firms, and many of them speak excellent English. Everyone has their own idea of what the best law firm in Saudi Arabia might be, but there are certainly some that have been established for very many years and may have 30 or 40 lawyers working in them, with a wide range of specialities between them. Some of these firms spend a considerable amount of their time working for multi-national companies and for government departments, and are expert at helping clients to understand Saudi law which can be extremely complicated, often relying as it does on the interpretation of an individual judge.

The Law Firm of Salah Al-Hejailan (LFSH), is the oldest established law firm in KSA, having been established in 1967, and has offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobar. It is consistently ranked as one of the best law firm in Saudi Arabia. LFSH's areas of specialisation include corporate and commercial, banking and finance, capital markets, regulatory, projects and infrastructure, government contracts, intellectual property, and dispute resolution.

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