Saudi Arabia is the center of Islam, where the two holiest mosques are located. Thus, millions of Muslims around the world come for pilgrimage in Mecca and Medina at least once in their lives. Saudi Arabia is the number one oil producer in the world making it one of the richest countries in the Middle East.
The country was too rich that they don’t collect various taxes from their citizens, until recently, that everything changes due to the dwindling oil price in the global market, which drastically affected the economies of oil-producing countries including Saudi Arabia.
Today I’m writing down this article to provide you with a glimpse of the current situations here in the Kingdom should you plan to come for work or visit:
Saudi Arabia is now an opened country – For decades, Saudi Arabia had been a religiously strong country that follows the strict regulations of Islam. Credited to the fact that – Islam originates here, and the two holiest mosques are in Saudi Arabia. Any form of worldly entertainment before was closed down and not allowed. Today, world-class entertainment is part of their 2030 vision including tourism. Now, cinemas are revived and multi-billion entertainment projects are in progress. Tourist visa for certain nationalities is also available now to visit Saudi Arabia not only for pilgrimage. Several concerts were also held in public recently inviting foreign DJs and Hollywood artists, attended by a mixed audience of both men and women.
Religious police are removed – As part of their being an opened country now, the religious police were removed or had been delimited power. The religious police are personnel responsible to ensure everyone conforms to moral standard according to Islam. And anyone who does immoral act in public will be apprehended by the religious police. With the removal of religious police, almost everyone has a sense of liberation of whatever they want to do in public, especially on their choice of clothing and appearance.
Women now drive – For those who don’t know, women in Saudi Arabia was previously prohibited to drive for reasons of safety and preservation. Contrary to the western belief, Saudi women aren’t really oppressed or maltreated here. In fact, culturally, Saudi men treat their women like royalty and that almost everything is provided for women including family drivers, disallowing them to drive before.
VAT implementation– As I have mentioned above, Saudi Arabia is a superrich country that they don’t require taxes from their citizens. However, in early 2018, the country decided to impose a VAT in almost all goods and services in the kingdom with the exception of a few certain commodities. The government also removed subsidies on petrol, water, and electricity bills making its prices three folds higher as compared before.
Full swing of Saudization program – For several years, Saudi Arabia had been a lucrative destination for expat workers from all over the world. Cheap foreign workers are thriving in Saudi Arabia. However, a few years back, the kingdom started serious implementation of the localization program. Where all businesses and establishments are required to hire locals over expat workers, as the result – hundreds of thousands of foreign workers were laid off from their jobs.
It’s sad – I know, but it’s a sovereign right of the country to prioritize and help their citizens over foreign workers. In addition, Saudi women are now actively working in the various sectors of the economy. This further reduced the reliance of expat workers in the kingdom. Hundreds of specified jobs which were used to be held by expats are now restricted only for Saudi citizens.
The bottom line
Though the future seems unknown, there is only one thing which is certain – Saudi Arabia had tremendously changed a lot and more changes are on the way. As of the fate of the expat workers, no need to worry – as Saudi Arabia would remain in need the help of the expat workers in building their nation. Although it may not be on all job opportunities.
If someone would ask me what’s my favorite country, Saudi Arabia would still remain my favorite choice. Its unique culture, strong religious belief, and century-old traditions are something you wouldn’t find venturing in the outside world.
What can you say about the changes here now? Drop your comment below!
The author is currently based in Saudi Arabia, the holiest land of Islam. He’s a full-time employee of the largest energy company in the world. He’s a graduate of Communication Management, loves to write and travel.