‘Know the rules’ Expats explain what life is like as a foreigner in Saudi Arabia

There are around 30,000 British expats living in Saudi Arabia with most expats settling in the capital of Riyadh or the port city of Jeddah. Most expats don’t tend to stay more than a few years.

An ID card is used for identification at Government agencies and third party service providers such as banks.

Another expat said: “Know the rules of the Middle East, particularly of Saudi Arabia which is nothing like Dubai or Bahrain.”

Saudi Arabia has stricter laws than several other popular expat destinations including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Publicly practicing a religion that is not Islam is forbidden in Saudi Arabia although some private practice is permitted.


Expats will be able to bring a religious text into Saudi Arabia as long as it is just for personal use.

Public displays of affection are forbidden and people should also avoid using profane language or gestures.

Men and women must wear modest clothing at all times. Clothing should cover people’s shoulders and knees in public.

Possessing alcohol carries heavy penalties and expats should never arrive drunk in Saudi Arabia.

Many expat compounds also have social clubs where parties, meals, films and other gatherings are held.

British expats may struggle to get used to the intense heat in Saudi Arabia at first.

Temperatures can exceed 40 degrees in summer which can be difficult for foreigners to cope with.

Jeddah has some beach resorts that expats can visit but must cover up in public and women should always check if they are allowed to swim before taking a dip.

Daily Express

The Daily Express is a daily national middle-market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. Published in London, it is the flagship of Express Newspapers, owned by publisher Reach plc. It was first published as a broadsheet in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson. Its sister paper, the Sunday Express, was launched in 1918.

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