Make the Move 2019 - Saudi Arabia

Mosque on Jeddah Corniche Saudi Arabia

Fraser Clarke

It’s at this time of year that many people start considering (or in many cases start re-considering) the idea of a move abroad.

A new year brings with it new hopes, a fresh start and the opportunity to do something you’ve been hoping to do for a while. So why not make 2019 the year you finally go for that new life overseas?

Over the final five weeks of 2018 we’ve looked at a select group of the countries we work with, and examined why you should make the move in 2019.

During this we’ve recapped some of the major news stories from 2018, what sort of person would be suited to a move, and what the future could have in store.

In the second installment in the series we’re going to taking a look at Saudi Arabia, a country that can offer world leading salaries and a unique cultural experience.

What made the news in 2018?

It was another busy year of healthcare news in the normally secretive 'Desert Kingdom' - although it took until May for the major stories to start flowing,

As Spring started to become Summer, research showed a sharp rise in the number of people excercising at least once a week - which had grown from 13% in 2015 to just under 25% by the end of 2017. A large chunk of this success was put down to the Saudi General Sport Authority (GSA) who introduced neighbourhood football leagues, community sports groups and organised the Riyadh Marathon. 

May and June is always a fascinating time in the Gulf, as the region effectively shuts down to observe Ramadan. This can have a huge impact on everyday life, so we compiled a quick guide looking at what to expect if you're living there. 

The month concluded with two stories in consecutive days. First a report said that Saudi will require an additional 20,000 hospital beds by 2035, before we took a look at five culture shocks you should prepare for if you choose to move to the Kingdom.

A fortnight later Dubai based healthcare giants NMC sealed a deal that made them the second largest healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia. The value of the nation's healthcare market was also estimated to hit $30bn by 2022.

Further good news came in a report published at the end of July, which stated that 95% of the Saudi population are generally in good health, whilst a quarter of the adult population went for regular check-ups. It wasn't all positive though, with rates of chronic conditions (especially amongst women) remaining high.

Whilst Saudi Arabia isn't for everyone, it certainly has plenty to offer - and so in August we took a look at five of the biggest attractions to the Kingdom. Unlike in other guides however we've totally ignored the financial benefits of a move.

August was a busy month in the country, with a global report naming the Saudi Healthcare system as one of the most efficient globally - coming in just six points behind Singapore.

As Summer became Autumn the efficient healthcare sector was also named as the largest in the Middle East - boasting world class facilities and talent. Saudi Arabia would also top another report - but this one was less positive - as it was named as the country with the world's largest market for Diabetes, with a quarter of the population now believed to be battling the condition. Shockingly 13% of diabetics in the region are also believed to be undiagnosed.

News of the markets growth continued to spread as the year came to a close. 178,000 more beds will be required by 2050, with the country's population set to grow and age significantly over the next 30 years.

That strain might be eased by a huge deal however, with Hassana and NMC Health concluding a £1.2bn agreement to develop a new network of facilities nationwide.

Who would be suited to a move?

Saudi Arabia certainly isn't for everyone, but it can suit most people - if not for a long-term permanent relocation.

Most people moving to Saudi Arabia can be split into one of two groups. Either they are going for a fixed-term for financial gains, or they are looking to be in a more familiar environment that is close to their home nation - but financially rewarding.

As such we think the country is ideal for Muslims with a background in the Middle East. This will lead to little culture shock, and these people will be comfortable with how ingrained Islam is in everyday life. 

It can also provide a fascinating cultural experience for expats who have worked globally before however, especially those with a solid background in medicine and a desire to experience something different.

With the high cost of education and restrictive lifestyle, we wouldn't recommend it for families with teenage children. The safe, friendly compounds can be great for younger children however - especially if a move is only for a short period of time.

What does the future have in store?

Saudi Arabia has been built on an oil-driven economy, however as the world begins to move on so too has the Kingdom. Building one of the Gulf's best healthcare sectors is a key aim, and with generous funding and a passion for the highest possible quality, a move should be relatively futureproof.

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