Work and Travel in Saudi Arabia
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN SAUDI ARABIA FOR TRAVELLERS
Saudi Arabia has captured the imagination of many a traveler. Long cut off from the world, tourism is only just starting to open up. In the past, it was near impossible to travel to Saudi Arabia.
There are volunteering opportunities in Saudi Arabia, but many of them are bound by red tape and an endless cycle of bureaucracy, so don’t expect to just turn up as you might in other countries.
This travel guide to Saudi Arabia is going to introduce you to this mysterious Islamic kingdom and the ventures available here.
1. Teach English to Young People in Saudi Arabia
For those without specialist skills and experiences, teaching English in Saudi Arabia was often the only way to work in Saudi Arabia. This is still a perfectly valid option.
But take note you’ll be expected to possess some sort of qualification, such as TEFL. Some of the more discerning schools may even demand that you have a separate teaching qualification.
However, it’s one of the few ways you can work and travel in Saudi Arabia for more than a few days. There’s a big demand for English teachers, so there are lots of options in a variety of different cities.
2. Become an Editor for International Human Rights Organisations
There are only about 15 different international organizations that have the right to work in Saudi Arabia and a variety of other national organizations with royal protection. Many of these organisations focus on promoting both human rights and the democratic process.
They always need editors and translators who can take texts and convert them into something usable. So if you’re a writer, or you know multiple languages, working with these organizations could be the choice for you.
3. Be an Au Pair for Families in Saudi Arabia
Believe it or not, the volunteering opportunities in Saudi Arabia are not just restricted to working with major international organizations. You can also get to know real Saudis and work with them in their homes.
One such home-based option involves becoming an au pair. You’ll have the option of working with children and living in a real Saudi home.
Just make sure you do your due diligence and it’s agreed how many hours you’ll be expected to work.
It’s an easy type of volunteering project to get taken advantage of in if you don’t get clarification on the terms and conditions.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR SAUDI ARABIA
Every major country on the planet requires a visa to enter Saudi Arabia. Only recently a form of the tourist visa, the Sharek visa, came into force. Travel in Saudi Arabia as a volunteer requires a formal visa, and usually sponsorship by either an organisation or a local. So make sure that you have full visa support first.
The penalties for not sticking to the visa regulations are strict, including prison. For more info click here. You’ll also have to supply a variety of documents when you enter the country.
We also want to advise you that when you work and travel in Saudi Arabia you should refuse any project that forces you to give up your passport. In the past, this has been common practice, but it’s dangerous and can lead to you getting stuck in the country. For more info click here.
No reputable international organization will ever hold your passport for you. This is a threat you should be aware of when working on smaller projects with local businesses and charities.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia is practically all desert, with a huge open space known as the Empty Quarter. Due to the number and type of volunteering opportunities in Saudi Arabia, there’s not a huge difference when it comes to the time you decide to work and travel in Saudi Arabia.
The spring season is our recommended season because it’s not too hot nor too cold. If you happen to be a Muslim and want to find volunteering work in relation to Ramadan and the Haji, this is the time to do it. Take note that this type of volunteering project is only open to Muslims and you must go through official channels.
It’s also a great time if you want to take advantage of the limited conservation work within the country’s desert areas. With a renewed focus on tourism, this has become an area of concern for the Saudi authorities.
The summer is stifling hot in Saudi Arabia, with temperatures easily hitting 50 degrees Celsius. But not to worry because practically every building in the country has a large amount of air conditioning.
Look into work like becoming an au pair or joining a human rights organisation. Teaching English is another possibility. None of these projects will bring you in contact with the desert heat.
Autumn sees a reduction in the temperature again and this time you’ll see temperatures similar to spring. You should refer back to the ‘Spring’ section for more information on some of the things you can do in autumn.
The winter season in Saudi Arabia can be colder than you think. The desert can reach freezing temperatures at night. But we recommend looking back at the ‘Summer’ section because these are the sorts of jobs you’ll find best to take on during winter.
There are no volunteering projects specific to winter.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia is like a completely different world. It’s one of the more difficult countries to travel in because it’s so conservative. Women need to be prepared to dress in an Islamic, conservative fashion at all times. Men also need to dress conservatively and won’t be able to wear shorts, even in the desert heat.
You’ll also need to respect the local customs and cultures, including avoiding criticism of the royal family and refraining from drinking alcohol.
Saudis are generally helpful and extremely generous with their money, but only towards those who treat them with respect.
Respect the rules because the penalties for not respecting them are excessively harsh.
Do you want to work in Saudi Arabia this year?