Advice for Expat Women seeking Work in Saudi Arabia

Diversity and Inclusion in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, jobs for Female Construction Commercial professionals

Saudi Arabia is actively seeking female candidates for construction and engineering jobs. This is certainly a push in the right direction for the Middle East and for Women in Construction.

As a recruiter of MRICS Professionals of all levels, we are actively recruiting for female MRICS Senior Quantity Surveyors. We work with Tier 1 consultancy organisations across the middle east and around the world.

Stafford Lawrence Ltd is a Recruitment Consultancy that specializes in hiring Quantity Surveyors for Construction Consultancy jobs in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is a vibrant hub of construction currently, with luxury resort construction across the Kingdom. Our client would like more diversity in their teams and are actively seeking female MRICS professionals who would like to work in Saudi Arabia.

It is true for most Female Candidates working in the construction industry anywhere in the world, Construction has long been a male dominated environment.  In our discussions with female candidates over the last 20 years, we have heard it all. We have spoken to UK, Australian and South African Female construction candidates, most state that in Saudi, attitudes to women in construction are actually better than in their own countries. So make of that what you will..

What the internet says about Women Working in Saudi Arabia

The record regarding the treatment women in Saudi Arabia hasn’t been the greatest in the past and there is still a long way to go, but the Kingdom really seems to be trying to change this. With a huge push on Construction jobs for Women and increased tourism in the Kingdom, it is clear they will have to make significant changes in the future. From what our female candidates are saying, they are very happy to be working there.

Be aware, much of the information about women working and travelling in Saudi on the internet is out of date. There are some old posts on forums that are 10 to 15 years out of date, they do not give an accurate reflection of working as an expat woman in Saudi Arabia now.

Female Expats or foreigners live in Western compounds in Saudi Arabia. Most expats enjoy international compounds which consist of Restaurants, Gyms, Shops, Cinemas as well as Swimming pools and bowling alleys. They also have Dentists Clinics and Schools. As Saudi rules to not apply to these compounds, western women can enjoy the same freedoms they enjoy at home.

All our expat female candidates that we have been placing over the last 5 years say that they certainly feel very safe in the kingdom. Families can feel secure letting their children play unsupervised and walking around at night because the compounds are well-guarded..

Dress Code In Saudi Arabia

There is a lot on the internet about covering up completely from head to toe when leaving the compound. This has not been the case for our female candidates.

Women don’t have to wear an abaya or cover their heads in public, but it can help to blend in. People of all genders should ideally dress conservatively and keep their legs and shoulders covered outside of the compound. You will probably go outside of the compound for work , as with most western offices, you would dress appropriately for the office. It is a case of respect and you really need to play things by ear. After all, you wouldn’t go into a catholic church in Italy with your body parts hanging out, would you? Or visit the shops in London in your bikini? So why would you do it anywhere else?

Drinking Alcohol and Driving in Saudi Arabia

Drinking alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia except inside expat compounds. It can also be very expensive.

Women can also drive in Saudi Arabia and can even pilot a plane. The government lifted a ban on female drivers in 2018.

Salaries in KSA – Female Construction jobs and vacancies in Saudi Arabia

So what can you expect? You will receive a salary tax free package commensurate with your experience. We provide information on salaries on our Information is provided on salaries on our Working in the Middle East blog.

YES ! It is in line with male colleagues at your level. In addition, females can an also work in city or remote locations. Stafford Lawrence Ltd has placed female candidates into both types of location.

What our Female Contacts and Candidates in Saudi Arabia say

A female South African Commercial Project Lead in Riyadh for a Top Cost Consultancy says:

“I’ve been here nearly 2 years and I Love Saudi”  – “I feel very safe”. “It is expensive in the compounds, but similar to most major cities around the world. It’s clean safe and everyone is respectful”.

A British expat Associate Quantity Surveyor, a single female, working in a remote location says:

“There’s lots to do in KSA as well as good travel links and a big push on tourism. The Riyadh Traffic can be hectic it can also be expensive to live in the city. I’m in a remote location, i don’t feel the need for an Abaya (Hair Covering). I put my hair back most of the time when working anyway, but I do not feel obliged. The Saudi people are lovely and generally very supportive, especially of expat women”

A Single British Female Contracts & Commercial Director working in Tabuk says:

“As with anywhere in the world, you might have the occasional problem. I feel Women are protected more in Saudi than in western countries. If there were issues with behaviour towards women they would not tolerate it. Different nationalities will approach you differently, you will need to understand that relatively quickly. I have my own one bed flat on a mixed compound which has security and working professional accommodated there.

In terms of work, things are not run the same way as a project in Europe would be. Relationships are more important here than they are in the west. Where problems occur, the local or Arab party may well use their connections to resolve this above any other means. This is 100% cultural.  One of the challenges is to see your way through the chaos, try to get everyone to stick to the end goal. As a woman over here you need to be mindful of the dress code in certain places. Patience is required in all dealings. Saudi women are usually more strict than the men. It is a changed country . The remote areas are changing more slowly. The young are more keen”

Other information of interest on the internet

The site below provides information on travelling to Saudi Arabia, written by a female traveller. The site provides some good insights and points out some common misconceptions which are useful.

Misconceptions about traveling to Saud Arabia as a Woman

Get In Contact about our roles in Saudi Arabia for Female Candidates

In addition, If there is anything else that you would like to know about living and working as a Female in Saudi Arabia, please get in contact and we will provide the answers here on the blog. You can find information on salaries, family living, and lots of other topics on our Working in the Middle East blog.

If you are a Female MRICS Senior Quantity Surveyor interested in working in Saudi Arabia, contact Victoria Ricketts to arrange a call to discuss opportunities further

TO APPLY for these job vacancies in Saudi Arabia for female candidates

Job Vacancy Female MRICS Senior Quantity Surveyors