Life in Saudi Arabia

For many, joining Saudi Aramco will be the first time they set foot in Saudi Arabia. Here’s a summary of what the country is like, and what you can expect when you live here.

 

Climate

The climate will depend on where you are in the Kingdom but, in general, the summer lasts from May until September with the hottest months being June to August. There are strong winds, during June and July, which pick up quantities of sand and dust and are known locally as “shamals.”

Winter (December to February) is characterized by relatively mild weather interrupted by stormy periods with some rain, thunderstorms, and blowing dust.


Money

The basic monetary unit used in Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Riyal (SR). The Saudi Riyal is printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 bills/notes. The coins used are called “halala” and are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100. One Riyal consists of 100 halalas. The Saudi Riyal exchange rate is fixed to the U.S. dollar at SR3.75 to one U.S. dollar and fluctuates in value, relative to other currencies, in line with the U.S. dollar.

Each Saudi Aramco community has a local bank where U.S. dollar and Sterling personal checks and Saudi Riyal paychecks can be cashed. You can also purchase travelers checks here.

You can cash personal checks up to US$2,000. These banks will also usually cash Sterling cheques up to the equivalent amount.


Transport

A good road network connects all the major towns and cities in Saudi Arabia and all of Saudi Aramco’s major operating areas. Outside of the Saudi Aramco communities, the roads are often congested with heavy traffic, and driving conditions can often be more challenging than you may be used to.

To help you get around, we operate a system of free, scheduled bus services that cover transport to work, local towns, and between residential communities.


Average cost of living

Restaurants

Average

Meals, inexpensive restaurants

15.00 SAR

Meals for 3, mid-range restaurants, three course

90.00 SAR

 

Markets

Item

Average

Milk (regular) (1 liter)

4.20 SAR

Loaf of fresh white bread (500g)

2.27 SAR

Eggs (12)

7.47 SAR

Local cheese (1kg)

22.76 SAR

Chicken breast (boneless, skinless) (1kg)

18.81 SAR

Apples

6.84 SAR

Oranges

4.82 SAR

Please note: Information is taken as an average and is correct at time of publication.


Education

The Saudi Aramco Education System (SAES) enjoys a worldwide reputation for its quality educational programme and commitment to excellence.

Age 5 - 15

Our school system enjoys a worldwide reputation for its quality educational program, highly qualified staff, student achievements, and facilities. These include learning media centers, art studios, music rooms, science labs, gymnasiums, swimming pools, sports fields, band rooms, and playground equipment. Situated in each of our four residential communities, they provide an American curriculum for grades Kindergarten to 9 (5 to 15 years old).

Age 16 - 18

Beyond age 15, there are two options. You can choose to enroll your children in the unaffiliated Dhahran High School or take advantage of our educational assistance benefit to part fund the fees for boarding schools around the world. This option also comes with travel reimbursements for your children to return to Saudi Arabia during the school holidays.

International Schools

There are a number of international schools in the Eastern Province. These include the British International School Al-Khobar, International Programs School, International Schools Group, and the Gulf International School. There are also international schools in the central and western regions of Saudi Arabia, catering for the needs of employees that work in Riyadh, Jiddah and Yanbu’.

Overseas Boarding Schools

There is also the option of attending out-of-Kingdom boarding schools, for which you will receive educational assistance. This reimburses you, up to established limits, for enrolling dependents up to the age of 18, in private schools overseas.

College & University

Although there’s no educational assistance for your children to attend college or university, we realize that study will most likely be abroad. So your children will still be entitled to two travel payments per year.

 

Housing

Depending on your position and what kind of accommodation is available, you’ll either be living in Saudi Aramco community housing or Saudi Aramco leased housing, or we’ll give you a rental allowance that you can use to live in the local community.

 

Living in the local community

As a Saudi Aramco employee, we’ll help you find the right property for you.

Your choices include: houses or apartments in gated communities, apartments in condominium-style buildings, or houses in residential areas close to where you work.

The houses or apartments in gated communities are generally designed for expatriate residents. These have been created with your comfort in mind – giving you convenient access to a wide range of leisure and sports facilities. These usually include swimming pools, tennis courts, children’s playgrounds, supermarkets, and restaurants.

If you choose to live in an apartment in a condominium-style building or a house in one of our residential areas, you’ll find they’re all generally placed at the heart of the local community.

If you live in the al-Khobar / Dammam area, which is a 20 minute drive from Dhahran, you’ll have the Mall of Dhahran right on your doorstep – the largest shopping center in Saudi Arabia. As well as a supermarket, it has plenty of food outlets and over 200 stores, including a wide selection of Western brands.

Employees and their families who live within the local community can enjoy the Dhahran community’s leisure facilities.