At a Glance - Saudi Arabia

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Fraser Clarke

It can be difficult to know where to start when planning a move overseas, especially if you aren’t fully sure where your future could lie. 

That’s why our latest Odyssey Exclusive series ‘At a Glance’ will help give you a quick overview of each location we work with, to help you decide if a move to the country could be worth pursuing.

Article Two - Saudi Arabia

Where is it?

Saudi Arabia is located 3,800 miles from London in the heart of the Middle East. It’s a vast country with more than 800 miles separating the Western city of Mecca from the Eastern Province and areas like Dammam.

The size also means that Saudi has land borders with a whole host of countries: Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, The UAE, Oman and Yemen.

There are regular flights from the UK, with a travel time of between six and eight hours depending on your end location.

How is Healthcare Structured?

It comes as a surprise to many that the healthcare system in Saudi is similar to Britain's NHS, albeit without National Insurance contributions. It is also supported by an ever expanding private sector, which caters for mainly the expat population as well as wealthy Saudi natives.

The majority of hospitals are operated by the Ministry of Health. It runs 270 throughout the country as well as over 1000 health centres and clinics. Care is provided free of charge at the point of need for citizens, and this covers everything from GP appointments to specialist, complex surgery.

There are obviously a few notable differences, mainly who the MOH care for. The Ministry of Health has 3 sub departments who care for separate groups of the population, running separate hospitals, clinics and health centres. These are MODA, MOI and SANG hospitals. 

MODA hospitals care for those in the Ministry of Defence and Aviation, MOI for those employed in the interior ministry and SANG facilities are for those in the Saudi National Guard.

The 3 main offshoots from the MOH are joined by a few autonomous government agencies who deliver healthcare to various groups in Saudi society - including students and people with severe learning disabilities. 

Ministry of Health facilities are well funded, with the pressure that the system could potentially find itself under from the expat community lifted by an increasingly large private sector.

Currently the private system runs 127 hospitals, and hundreds more clinics and centres. 

Job opportunities within the private sector are becoming more widespread but remain hugely sought after due to higher pay, despite usually offering fewer incentives than government facilities.

What will I need?

The criteria will change on a job-by-job basis, but most employers will look for the following:

  • A medical degree from a WHO approved medical school
  • Certification from a Western country: USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden or equivalent
  • A minimum of three years experience as a Consultant
  • Fluency in English
  • A clean medical license
  • No malpractice claims

What are the positives?

  • High salaries, no income tax and a low cost of living makes a move very rewarding financially
  • A unique cultural experience 
  • An easy going, slow pace of life
  • A sizeable and friendly expat community
  • Plenty of additional incentives within salary packages
  • Increasingly liberal laws and rules

What are the negatives?

  • The heat can be stifling, especially in the summer
  • Plenty of historical rules remain in place
  • Segregation between men and women is still widespread
  • There is little entertainment - with no cinemas or theatres outwith compounds
  • Smaller hospitals and clinics often aren’t to the required standards

Current Opportunities

We’ve got a vast range of openings in Saudi Arabia - here are a few that might be of interest.

Consultant Spinal Surgeon - Al Khobar

Consultant Ophthalmologist - Jeddah

Consultant General Surgeon - Jeddah