The musings of a wanderer......

So You Want to Work as a Nurse in Saudi Arabia?

I get a lot and I mean A LOT of emails from prospective nurses interested in moving to the Middle East, and more specifically to Saudi Arabia. Often times when they write to me they tend to ask the same questions, so I thought it might be helpful to dedicate a post to answer those questions. So here we go…..


Is if safe?

Understandably, this is the most asked question. If we’ve learned anything from the most recent American presidential elections it’s that the media loves to sensationalize things and skew the facts. So here are my personal thoughts on things. I feel very safe living in Saudi Arabia. I’m talking in terms of my personal safety as a woman. I live in an all woman’s housing compound where the likelihood of my being assaulted would be extremely low. I felt much more concerned for my physical safety as a woman when I lived in Philadelphia, or LA, or in Arizona or in Seattle. People who know me or have lived with me know that I’m the kind of scaredy cat that would do a full security sweep of my apartment when I got home from work, just to make sure no one was hiding behind the shower curtain. True story. I don’t do that in Saudi. I’ve  been robbed twice before- neither of these incidents took place in Saudi. That’s not to say I couldn’t be involved in some type of security incident, but I feel like the chances of that happening are more likely to happen in Europe, and I travel to Europe all the time. What does concern me though is the likelihood of being involved in a traffic accident. As I’ve previously blogged about, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest death rates by motor vehicle in the world. So buckle up ladies.

I venture out all the time alone to go to the grocery store or to the mall and I have never had an incident take place apart from some lusty stares and the occasional unwanted phone number being passed to me. Be prepared for some staring and many many comments about your body and physical appearance. It’s easy to feel objectified here. Patients, staff and visitors constantly comment on my appearance. My hair colour, my eyes, how pale I am, my weight, my curves. Mostly I can laugh it off, but sometimes it feels like because I look a certain way people are more inclined to help me or listen to me based off my appearance and not because I actually have a brain. That gets old real quick. So just be prepared.

Do you have to cover your face or hair?

No. Never. Unless you want to, and then rock that hijab/niqab girlfriend. I carry a scarf as a colourful accessory but since the Mutawwa (religious police) lost arresting power a while back it’s not necessary. I can’t remember the last time someone yelled at me to cover my hair. Its likely been a few years. But yes you do have to wear an abaya all the time you’re off the hospital compound. The only exception is on the western compounds or in a part of the city called the Diplomatic Quarter. Personally, I don’t especially mind wearing an abaya. It means I can literally wear PJ’s or yoga pants out all the time. Sometimes if I’m wanting to look especially fancy I’ll wear high heels with my stretchy yoga pants so that it looks like I’m wearing a killer outfit underneath, but really I’m just a quick abaya removal from hopping into bed. The other reason I don’t mind my abaya is that sometimes it blows open and then has the appearance of a cape and I feel like a badass superhero for a hot second. Embrace the abaya ladies aka your new little black dress.

What’s the housing like?

I’ll start out by saying that the housing is free. That’s a bonus right?! And it has AC, and access to a pool and gym. Is it nice? Well see my first point- it’s free. I always tell people the housing is fine. Would I pay actual money to live there? No. If you ever worked as a travel nurse in the U.S. well then my friend lower you expectations a bit. I lived in San Francisco for a year rent free and had a balcony view of Alcatraz and was like a one minute walk from North Beach. Sister, this definitely isn’t that. But again it’s free. Also as I previously mentioned the housing is only for women. I like to refer to if as a convent or cell block. Housing also will be very hospital specific as well as pay grade specific. Higher pay grade = better housing options. The housing at the hospital I work at is a mix of shared accommodation and single accommodations. Likely you will be paired with a someone from a similar country as yourself. You’ll have your own bathroom. Some of you might luck out and get a private studio apartment, which is obviously nicer. If you have an issue with your roommate you can request to change, or you can apply to move into a private unit when one opens up.

What schedule do you work?

Everyone is contracted to work a 44 hour week at my hospital- so likely you will work more hours than what is considered full time back home. If you work in-patient then you might work 22 12 hr shifts in a 6 week period. You will more than likely flip between day shift and night shift. My unit does 3 weeks of days and 3 weeks of nights. I personally hate night shift so to me the schedule is less than ideal, but it’s part of the gig.

What do you do outside of work?

Well my social life here in Saudi has always been more exciting that anywhere else I lived. I mean who can say that they went to the Irish embassy for St Pats, or that one time they had a private birthday party at the Canadian embassy? Well maybe you if you take a contract in Saudi? There are balls and galas and very formal events all the time. Pretty much whatever you’re into you can probably find here in Riyadh. There’s golfing, and photography groups, and horseback riding or rugby. And don’t forget the unlimited travel options from here.

What is the nursing standard like?

This will depend on your hospital. The one I work at is supposed to be like an American hospital. Having worked in the states for 10 years I can say that in some ways it is and some ways it isn’t. I base my own nursing practice off the premise if I couldn’t do that thing I’m being asked to do in my own country then I’m not doing it here. Saudi Arabia employs nurses from many countries. Nursing education and scope of practice is not the same across the board. Some countries nurses don’t put in catheters in male patients, or nurses don’t use a stethoscope as the doctor is in charge of listening to lung and bowel sounds. This might be hard to comprehend for those of you from Canada or the U.S.

You will for sure see things working in Saudi Arabia that you will never have experienced in your nursing practice. For sure. Saudi Arabia has a high incidence of metabolic and genetic disorders. I’ve always thought that if you worked in the field of genetics or fertility Saudi Arabia would be fascinating. End of life counseling will likely be very different than back home. People here are kept as Full Codes in situations that they wouldn’t in the western world. People are kept “alive” in situations where the family would’ve been counseled otherwise elsewhere. There is this interesting dichotomy where people don’t wear seat belts or put their kids in a car seat and yet when there has been a severe accident everything under the sun is done to keep that person alive. It’s hard to comprehend seeing as we know that seat belts and car seats and driving the speed limit save lives. So why not just do those things and if there was an accident the injuries would likely be less severe? I have literally never discharged a baby from the hospital in a car seat. Back home it’s a whole big ordeal- the car seat is brought in, the parents buckle the baby in, the nurse checks and often tells them the straps are too lose, and they have to readjust them, and the mom usually says to the dad “I told you yesterday to adjust those straps” and he takes a deep sigh. It’s a production. But not here. It’s totally not uncommon to be driving down the highway and see kids crawling around the backseat, or sitting on Daddy’s lap or with their head out the sunroof.

As far as technology goes I would say that in the large hospitals you would have access to the latest gadgets. The hospital I work at has a Pyxis for medications and the IV pumps and EKGs and such are ones I have used before. Most things in that regard are similar to North America. Patient ratios will vary. Because of the area I work in the patient ratios are lower than that of many of the units my friends work on. I work in a VIP area which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen prior to coming here. It’s fancy and the rooms are nice. And sometimes the patients get 2 rooms, sometimes 3. Sometime they bring their own furniture. The VIP culture is a big thing throughout the Middle East. It’s likely a foreign concept in your home country, but here it’s a thing.

Saudi is a big family culture which is quite different from back home. Family members typically sit with the patients around the clock in shifts. If the family isn’t there than likely the patient will have a paid sitter (someone the family employs who will be there round the clock). My patients often have a full entourage of people in the room. Sometimes one patient might have 3-4 paid private nurses per shift in addition to the nursing care we provide. It can end up being a lot of cooks in the kitchen if you know what I mean. It’s also not uncommon to have a patient in their late teens to early 20’s come in with their nanny who has literally cared for them since birth.

Muslims pray 5 times a day so when it’s prayer time the call to prayer is piped over the hospital intercom. If your patient needs a doctor during prayer time they will often have to wait (unless it’s a true emergency.) This can be problematic if your patient needs labs drawn or to be transported and it’s prayer time. You will get very used to saying the word “Inshallah.” It means God willing and it is the most used word in the Arabic language. It’s a very foreign concept for westerners- the first time I heard a doctor tell a patient that “inshallah” his surgery would go well I was like “hold up a minute did I hear that right.” From a western culture if a doctor told me that my surgery would go well if God willed it I would be asking for a new surgeon, but here people find it very comforting. I personally say it all the time now as well as a variety of other Arabic words.

Do I need to learn Arabic before coming to Saudi?

You will pick up words pretty quickly once you arrive. My Arabic is not great on account of most of my patients speaking English, or someone in the room speaking English. I know Arabic basics so between that and elaborate hand gestures I can get my point across. The hospital I work at has an “English in the workplace policy.” It’s not heavily enforced. The doctors often speak in Arabic with the patients which is understandable. Working in Saudi you will work alongside staff from many different countries. The Philippines and India are probably the largest percentage of expats. So at work everyone is “supposed” to be speaking English. In reality though if you are working in an area where being western you are a minority you will likely feel quite isolated. I hear Tagalog all day long. People will have work related conversations in front of you all the time in a language you may not understand. People give report about patients in Tagalog. It’s very frustrating and contributes to an “us vs them” type mentality because if you don’t speak the language you are purposely left out. I have found a creative way to deal with this and have learned a wide variety of inappropriate words and phrases in Tagalog. These words make my coworkers blush (even though they taught them to me) so when people are have lengthy conversations at the nurses station in Tagalog I will say “if you guys are going to talk in Tagalog I’ll say all the Tagalog words I know.” Everyone immediately will switch to English. For like 5 minutes and then often they go right back to it and I’ll often do something really bitchy like clear my throat unnaturally loud and it’s back to English. Kinda like a game of cat and mouse. Usually though I just eventually give up. So moral of the story my western nurses is don’t bother learning Arabic before you come, but consider brushing up on your Tagalog.

How long does the application process take?

Have patience. There’s a ton of paperwork involved to come to Saudi. Your educational documents will need to be verified. You’ll need references. You’ll need to have a full physical. By full physical I mean everything. Labs, chest x-ray, pregnancy test, pap smear. Yep, you read that right. Coming to Saudi was the first time my hoo-ha exam contributed to me getting a job. I always knew she had marketable skills. Then you’ll submit your passport for a visa. I’d plan on it taking at least 3 months. If your application coincides with the Ramadan or Hajj holidays then it will take longer.

So how do I apply?

I came over with Helen Ziegler and Associates who recruits the majority of Canadian and American nurses at the hospital I work at. So if you’re from North America I would contact them. I asked a friend in the recruiting department of my hospital to give me a list of who they use so here it is:

  1. Abba Personnel Services: Philippines
  2. Agensi Pekerjaan Melorita SDN, BHD: Malaysia
  3. Al  Hind Foreign Service Agency: New Delhi
  4. Austra Health International: Australia
  5. Ben K Associates: North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand
  6. Bin Paracha Overseas Employment: Pakistan
  7. CCM Recruitment International: Australia, New Zealand
  8. Climax Medical Recruitment: Egypt
  9. G5 Plus, LLC: Czech Republic
  10. Geneva Health International: New Zealand
  11. Helen Ziegler & Associates: North America
  12. Herman Medical Staff: Germany
  13. Holden Knight: United Kingdom
  14. International Health Resources Canada: North America, Europe, New Zealand, Australia
  15. International Health Resources Lebanon: Lebanon
  16. LBS e-Recruitment Solution Corp.: Philippines
  17. Marvel Medical Consultants: USA
  18. Medmerge Inc.: North America, Europe
  19. Professional Connections: Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Malta
  20. Regent Personnel Limited: South Africa, UK
  21. Symbiosis Pty Ltd. : South Africa, UK
  22. TTM Healthcare: North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand

An after thought….

Just a word of warning. Coming to Saudi Arabia will not fix your problems. They will still follow you here. If you are someone who has a negative attitude then you’ll probably have a shitty time here. The people who do well in Saudi are people who can laugh at the things that are strange, embrace the cultural differences, and don’t take life too seriously. There will be hard days, but for me the benefits still outweigh the negatives. When there are more negatives than positives I’ll be on the first flight out. Working in Saudi Arabia let me pay off an insane amount of debt and travel the world. I have easily been to 40 some new countries in my time here. I have made dear friends. I have shared many laughs. I have an amazing social life. The work can be hard at times and living here as a woman is not easy, but for me there are so many positives that it has been an overall positive experience. Your experience will be whatever you make of it. That’s the way life works. You get out what you put in.

I wrote a couple blog posts about the positives and negatives of working in Saudi and they might be helpful also…..and as always I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to ask them in the comments or email them to me privately.




  1. john macmillan

    You should sell this one, a really open perspective, I am sure every one of your readers will take away some of your thoughts. Well done girl kid.


    • kristinewanders

      Thanks Pops!!

  2. Mom

    Very informative and no doubt very helpful to others.

    • kristinewanders

      Thanks mom!

  3. Hazem

    how do you evaluate medical care in Saudi hospitals compared to US hospitals , as you know service in Saudi service is free despite that medical insurance is not applied compared US , this means that all Saudi citizen get the same service ? what is the difference between public and private hospitals in terms of service ? for example , dental care service is very expensive in private centers in Saudi Arabia but in public hospitals is free , Wages for nurse for all nationalities
    equal ,

    • kristinewanders

      Hazem- I don’t believe that medical care is free for Saudis unless one is a Royal or has a Kings order for treatment. Also wages are not the same for all nationalities. It would be impossible to pay all nationalities the same given the very high cost of living and education for those of us from western countries. I work in a public hospital here- I can’t comment on service in private hospitals.

      • Hazem

        You wrote in this post that nurses from some countries not allow working in catheters with male patients , can you explain more about that , I can not understand how do nurses can not work with male patients but can work with female patients ? and what are these nationalities ?

        • kristinewanders

          Hazem- the scope of practice is different for nurses depending on what country they come from!

        • Silver

          I’m a female nurse and we are not allowed to catheterize male patients even if they ate just babys. male for male and female for female

          • kristinewanders

            Silver, I think this is may be hospital specific. I have but catheters in male pts here in Saudi. Obviously if we had a male staff that would be preferred, but on occasion female staff do this and I have never had an issue. Male nurse though for obvious reasons are not allowed to put catheters in females.

  4. Ann Griffin-Aaronlahti

    Wonderful article Kristine. We will ask all our nursng applicants to read this. Ann Griffin-Aaronlahti, Nurse Recruiter, Professional Connections(Profco)

    • kristinewanders

      Ann- that’s great! I hope it’s helpful!

  5. Jennifer

    I am so glad you wrote such an in-depth analysis, especially from the nursing side of things. Being a nurse myself, working in Saudi Arabia just seemed like a lot of fun, a chance to experience another culture, and pay off debt. Once I have the experience they’re looking for, I’m definitely applying. Thanks again for being so honest!

    • kristinewanders

      Jennifer- I’m so glad you found this helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. Kayla

    Hi Kristine! I have just found your blog but have quite enjoyed reading it, so thank you!

    I am a Canadian educated registered nurse with approximately 4 years of surgical experience (mostly with a focus on orthopaedics and urology). I have also spent a small amount of time in Australia working as an agency nurse. I have often considered nursing in Saudi Arabia but have concerns about whether my 4 years of surgical experience would equip me to practice safely and competently in Saudi Arabia.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what was your nursing experience prior to working in Saudi Arabia? Are there specific courses or certifications you would recommend prior to working in a Saudi Arabia? Any information you could provide would be appreciated.

    Thank you in advance!

    • kristinewanders

      Kayla- I’m so glad you found my blog helpful. I would say that your 4 years of nursing would be sufficient to work in Saudi- that being said nursing here is different in a variety of ways. I had about 10 years of broad med/surg nursing before I came. I think the biggest thing is being flexible and having patience. Let me know if you have any specific questions- I’d be happy to answer them!

  7. Britt

    Im currently working in the Magic Kingdom at a public hospital. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon your blog, but I’m glad I did. It’s spot on – especially about the Tagalog ?

    • kristinewanders

      Britt- thanks so much- love your email address!!

  8. Katelin

    Thanks for the insightful article. I have just been offered a place in theatre (when they have a vacancy) in Saudi Ararbia and reading your blog has set my mind at ease and answered a lot of questions I had. I’m looking forward to embarking on a new adventure

    • kristinewanders

      Katelin- let me know if you have any questions!!

  9. Marie

    Hi Kristine,
    Thank you for sharing your experience, this is really helpful information to know when considering working in Saudi Arabia.
    I have one last question, since Saudi is a closed country, is it true that they take and keep your passport during the time you are there? And that they’ll return it for you to go on vacation or once your contract is over?
    Thanks again!

    • kristinewanders

      Marie- they used to take your passport but that is no longer the case. The only time they hold it is when you’re renewing your Igama (residency card) or getting your exit visa. Otherwise it stays with you!

  10. helen

    What if you got pregnant but you didn’t know. You only realised after flew and started work there. And found out about the pregnancy later in saudi arabia.

    • kristinewanders

      Helen- well that could be an issue if you are unmarried. Our health benefits here do not include maternity care of any type.

  11. Thembi

    Hi Kristine i just wanna thank you for outlining a lot of things about working in Saudi I’m a midwife based in South Africa I’m very interested in working in Saudi but i wasn’t sure i now know and have an insight of how it feels like working there thanks to you i only heard so many negative things,I’m going through with my applications now all because of everything you have explained.Thanks a lot

    • kristinewanders

      Thembia- thanks for your kind words. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    • Nomsa

      Hi Thembi same here I’m willing but I need I little bite of assurance. I’m based in South Africa and iam a midwife

  12. Amira

    Hello, I am a new graduate nurse from the states and have relocated to Jubail, Saudi arabia because my husband works there as a teacher. Are there any hopes of getting a job without any experience?

    • kristinewanders

      Amira, As far as I am aware 2 years of nursing experience are required for most hospitals in Saudi Arabia. That being said there is a new hospital opening/or recently opened in Jubail- maybe contact their recruiting department and see what they say?

  13. Keni King

    Hi. Thank you for this blog. I’m a Filipina applying for KSA and I found your blog helpful.
    I laughed at the part where mentioned stuff about tagalog. Hehe.
    Yeah. I understand that it would be frustrating not to understand anything, because I felt the same way when I was outnumbered by the Japanese in Japan (no offense).
    But anyways. I’m really grateful that you shared your experience.
    Would you mind if I ask this question?
    Are you still in KSA now?

    • kristinewanders

      Keni- Thanks for your lovely comments! Yes I’m still in KSA now…

  14. Sarah

    Hi there I think I know where you’re working at. It’s sounds familiar. Btw, I’m rehired candidate working as medical oncology nurse. I previously worked in Riyadh and my new work place will be in KFSH Jeddah. I feel good as I’m coming back to KSA. Cheers

    • kristinewanders

      Sarah, haha- yes I’m sure you can guess, although I’m quite sure most of the Saudi hospitals have this in common!! Best of luck in Jeddah!!

  15. Ash

    Hi Kristine. Please can you tell me what medical care is offered to you as a nurse coming to work there and how readily accessible it is if you ever needed it?
    Kind regards

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Ash- at my hospital pretty much everything is covered, but there can be a wait list of several months for a specialist. Also for obvious reason maternity/OB is not covered as we are on single visas.

  16. Ash

    Also… is the compound you live in included in the contract? And how far are you generally going to be living from the work place in terms of travel arrangements to get to work?
    Thank you

    • kristinewanders

      Ash- the hospital I work at nurses live on the hospital compound. So work is only a 5-10min walk depending on what housing you are in.

  17. Jonathan

    Hey, thanks for such a balanced perspective of nursing Saudi Arabia.
    Really sounds a good place to work and live in. Am planning to come over next month but I wanted to know 2 things…..
    1) Segregation. How is their general perception towards black people, Africans from Africa particularly.
    2) Salary scale and payment system.
    Am almost getting done with process but I kindly request for you guidace in those two particulr areas.
    Kampala Uganda

    • kristinewanders

      Jonathon- so sorry for the late rely. As much as I hate to say it Saudi is definitely a class society and people are typically paid based on their passport. So pay scale for the same job can vary widely based on your nationality. Where I work we are paid monthly. If you have more specific questions please email me and I’ll be happy to answer them!

      • Jeri

        I just received an email from a recruiter offering an endoscopy RN job in Saudi paying 6,000/wk. When I messaged my friend who is a physician in Saudi, she asked me if that was Riyals or Dollars. I assumed it was dollars because it didn’t specify and because if it’s Riyals that only equals 6,400 USD a month, and I already bring home much more than that as a travel nurse. But now she has me doubting it. Does this salary sound right to you? 6,000 USD a week?

        • kristinewanders

          Hi Jeri,

          I would think that it is riyals they quoted you- as I don’t know of any nurses making that kind of money in Saudi except for maybe nurses working at a level of a program director or CNO. It is definitely possible to make more money as a travel nurse in the states- but coming to Saudi you don’t pay rent and utilities (although you probably don’t either as a travel nurse.) It is easier to save money here, but most North American nurses come for the travel opportunities and the experience of living in the Middle East not because of the pay sadly. Hope that helps!


  18. Is a Mohammed

    Well done very impressive thought but I am an African ( Nigeria) please among the recruiting agencies posted, I did not see the one suit for we Nigerians to apply. Can you help me on that?

    • kristinewanders

      I think the easiest thing for you to do would be to contact the hospital directly and ask which recruiting company they use. I’m unsure of which company recruits for Nigeria.


    Highly appreciate and informative experience you share there Kristine.. Hey… Hey… Good people in the east. How is the environment for family guys..
    1..can my wife and kids visit me? and for how long?
    2.. Can my kids attend schools there
    3.. I’m I allowed to quit and move over to another place within Saudi if not happy of my first placement.

    I’m 31 years male, professional nurse with 5 years experience in vascular surgery, hepatobillary surgery, gastroenterology and currently working as a Dialysis sister… Can you recommend a hospital that will at least appreciate my field of interest and my experience…

    Thank you very much for your volunteerism..
    Lebza.. from South Africa ( Mzansi )

    • kristinewanders


      Thanks for your email. I would recommend applying with one of the larger hospitals in the Kingdom. King Faisal, Prince Sultan or National guard. Your family can visit but depending on your contract they most likely wouldn’t be able to live here but you’d have to negotiate that with your contract. Switching jobs isn’t especially easy and would most likely result in you returning to South Africa and reapplying from there. I hope that helps!


  20. Mik

    This blog is very informative. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Just landed here in Saudi to work.

    • kristinewanders


  21. Jennifer munan

    Hallo kristine! Thank you for share ur experience! I am jennifer from malaysia. I was selected one of agent to work at KSA PSMMC. Expected early next year fly to KSA. I found ur blog really helpful. Hopefully can meet you in KSA. Cheers! God bless!

    • kristinewanders

      Jennifer- welcome in advance. Send me a message when you arrive. Safe travels!

  22. Jennifer munan

    I really want to meet you when i touch down in KSA soon! Thank you sis kristine! ??

  23. Leni

    Hi Kristine, I just want to know, is there an age limit for nurses? I will be 60 yrs old in Feb next year. I work as an Endoscopy Sister here in UK. Thanking you in advance.

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Leni,

      The hospital I work at has an age limit of 60, but it’s probably worth checking in with a recruiting company!


  24. Mikko

    Hello, I hope you don’t mind me asking. I just signed a job offer last November for King Fahad Medical City, but until now, I haven’t start anything yet (dataflow, prometrics, etc.) because of the hectic schedule and work load. I intended to resign from my current job at the end of January. However, my agency told us not to resign until they said so to avoid problems with the employer. Will my resignation might really affect my application to KFMC even if their current requirement is 2 years gap? I have a friend who’s not working but was still accepted. I really wanted to resign so I can prepare faster. Thank you in advance. Merry Christmas! ??

    • kristinewanders


      I don’t know the specifics of that hospital so I can’t really comment other than to say listen to the recruiting company. Although they may be telling you not to quite because they don’t want you stressing about money and such should the process take longer then expected. Hope that helps!


  25. Nqobile Sithole

    Hi I am a professional nurse form South Africa would love to come to Suidi Arabia which agency to use. Please help I don’t know where to start

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Nqobile- maybe try Regent Personnel Limited or Symbiosis as they are the ones recruiting South African nurses for the Middle East! Hope that helps!

  26. Jonathan Kim

    Wow, Amazing post.

    I agree with your dad where you should sell your articles.

    I am so glad that I found your post.

    I also sent you an email with subject: In process of moving to Saudi – Few questions to Saudi Expert Kristine

    Thanks a ton Kristine for being you and publishing these articles!!

    • kristinewanders

      Thanks for your kind comments Jonathan!

  27. Mokgadi

    I am a professional nurse in south africa, working in a clinic not a hospital. 3 years experience. Do i stand a chance in applying for a job in Saudi? Also want to know if i can re apply after 12 months contract

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Mokgadi! I’d say to apply- there are clinic jobs in Saudi so it’s worth trying. Contracts are renewable after 1 year assuming your yearly review goes well and there are no issues! Hope that helps!

  28. Precious

    Hi, Thanks for this insightful post.
    I am a Registered Nurse from Nigeria with 3 years of experience and I wish to practice in Saudi Arabia. Do I need any English Language proficiency test like it’s required in Countries like US and Canada? Thanks.

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Precious,

      Yes there is a prometric exam that you must take and I believe an English exam if you are from a non- English speaking country. I hope that helps!


  29. Lisemelo

    I am a newly Registered Nurse only have less than a year of experience i would love to come work in Saude with all my heart .Can it be possible even with less of experience.

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Lisemelo,

      It would be best to speak with a recruiter. The hospital I work at requires a minimum of 2 years experience which I really think is important as you need to have a strong nursing practice prior to coming here. But maybe there are hospital in Saudi that require less than 2 years so the recruiter would know! Best of luck!


  30. Shar

    Hey Kristine,
    I love your blog.!
    I’m coming to Saudi in August, and I’m wondering about photography within the country. Is it okay to wander around openly with a big obvious camera given the restrictions etc?
    Thanks heaps

    • kristinewanders


      Thanks so much! Yeah taking photographs is no biggie- just avoid military people or military buildings as you would in any country and I try to avoid taking pictures of people without permission- definitely don’t take a picture of an uncovered Saudi women and post it on social media- that would be a big no no. Otherwise I’m always snapping pictures!! Where will you be working?


      • Shar

        Hey Kristine, thanks for your reply. Good to know. I’ll be at King Faisal, in ?ED step down. Which area are you? Im totalling looking forward to coming over. I just read your story on the town with the roses. Can’t remember the name. Sounded great. I can’t wait for the travel ?, but not for the 6weeks of nights ? . I’ve started learning Arabic thru an online app. It’s hard but I want to make the effort and learn a little bit. How long are you staying there for? You really do a great job of answering all our questions. So thanks heaps. ⛩??⛺?????

        • kristinewanders


          Thanks again for your lovely comments. I’ve re-contracted thru to February but no set plans after that! You’ll love the travel opportunities for sure! Keep me posted on your arrival!


      • Queen Elizabeth

        Hello Kristen am registered nurse anaesthetist from Nigeria what opportunities abound for me in KSA

        • kristinewanders

          Hello- you’ll need to contact one of the recruiting companies to see what opportunities are available. I work at a large hospital in Riyadh but I’ve not heard of nurse anesthetists being used here. Best of luck!

  31. Mariusz

    Hi Kristine,
    I would like to ask about some social code. How the gender things look like? Do men work normaly with women in the same ward? Do they have the same patients or male patienst are only for male and famale for women? How the work with the different gender patient look like is there same actions you should avoid? How look relations with anothers men from your work, can you bahave free, have a small talk or spend a free time with friends outside the work or can it be seen improper?
    And the last question. Can a man work normal with famale patients from the european perspective?


    • kristinewanders


      Great questions! Yes men work along side women on the nursing units. Female nurse can look after both men and women. Male nurses are typically restricted to male patients except in the Emergency department I think. Oddly, most female patients have male doctors which is not an issue, but no male nurses. If you were to go into a female patients room typically a female would go in before you to ask the patient if she wanted to cover her hair or face before you would enter. Obviously in instances like a code this is not followed. At work I converse with my male colleagues as I would back home, but I try not to touch them- like pat a shoulder or hug as that wouldn’t be culturally appropriate. I also try to not discuss religion. Hope that helps with your questions!


      • Nadia

        Hi Kristine!

        I’ve enjoyed reading your post thus far. If you could please describe living quarters for a nurse a bit more. I understand it’s free but is it like living in a dorm? Twin, full or queen beds? Separate bedroom, dining room and living rooms? Are we allowed to paint the walls or decorate? What about meals? Are we provided a meal stipend? Are expats allowed to date each other?

        • kristinewanders

          Hi Nadia,

          There are a few different housing options. There are studio apartments available with a wait list- they’re basically a large room with a small kitchen. Like a hotel long term stay idea. Then there is shared housing where you share with another nurse- you have your own bathroom and it would either be in your room or across the hallway and you share a kitchen and living area. As far as I know you can’t paint the walls but you can hang things and decorate. There is no meal stipend but there are grocery stores close to the hospital so it’s easy enough to get supplies. As far as dating just send me an email- I’m happy to answer questions about it but just not in a public space! I hope that helps a little!


  32. Elle

    Did you also apply for the exam? How’s the registration? I am in Australia and wondering to go in the Middle East.


  33. Leon

    Great Blog. I’d like to add the the Tagalog issue is world wide in nursing. I nurse in western Canada and it’s the exact same issue here.

    Also, do the nurses date local men or do they just do the travel nurse hook up that happens when one is of no fixed address?

    • kristinewanders


      I’m happy to answer your questions about dating in Saudi- but better to send me ab email then for me to publicly answer 😉


  34. Fati

    Thanks for the post.I am a nurse from Nigeria that wish to work in Saudi but haven’t come across any recruitment agency for Nigerians can you please help me with that.

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Fati- I don’t work with any Nigerian nurses but maybe you could contact one of the agencies that recruits South Africans and ask them?

  35. Niamh emmett

    Hi, thank you so much for this post it was so helpful! I’m an Irish trained nurse planning on working in the middle East for a year or so. I know that women cannot be alone with a man they aren’t related/married to. So assuming that this means there is no way of getting around this for my boyfriend to visit?

    Also, do you know of any Western nurses in SA Facebook groups?

    Thank you so much

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Niamh,

      I send you a private message!


  36. Stephanie

    Hi kristine!
    Your blog has really helped me a lot and i appreciate you for that. My question is based on religion and worship rights. How do Christian worship over there in saudi. I m planing to migrate. Thanks

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks for you lovely words about the blog. I’m happy to answer any religious questions you may have just not in a public forum so please email your questions to [email protected]


  37. Stephanie

    I would also like to know how a newly married lady can cope there. Can the hubby visit her? What if she gets pregnant while there, is there maternity leave? How easy is exit visa gotten?

    • kristinewanders

      The exit process is pretty straight forward, but I would allow at least a month for it to process. It would only be possible for your husband to visit under a tourist visa which are only offered at present when there is an event going on (like a huge concert, formula e races.) You would have to rent a hotel unless you are living on a western compound depending on what hospital you are at. As far as I know there is no maternity leave for ex-pats. For my contract I have medical but it does not cover maternity.

  38. kat

    Thank you for this post and I will read your others when I get a chance. I have accepted a position in Jeddah and starting all the paperwork process. I am excited for the opportunities to learn and travel. I was told it is a set schedule something like 2 on, 2 off, 3 on, 2 off ,2 on, 3 off or something similar. Are you ever able to switch shifts? Do you get to travel much without using vacation days? Currently I schedule myself long stretches of shifts off to travel without using PTO. Could I do something like pop over to Dubai on stretch of 3 off?

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Kat,

      I think shift swaps and things are pretty unit specific, but generally I would say that it’s possible! The hospital and unit I work on we can take 5 days off without using vacation days per schedule so you can see quite a bit of the middle east on long weekend trips! But also you get a ton of vacation days in Saudi so you’ll have loads of opportunities to travel. And yes 3 days is perfect for Dubai- that’s where I’m heading next weekend!!


      • Cheriti Sellers

        First let me say this article was so informative and held! So I am from the US and an 8 yrs experienced RN with ER, Hospice, and correctional nursing. With Asministrator experience as well. I would love to work in Saudi Arabia! My question is (sorry if you already answered and I missed it), what is the pay rates like?? Also, what is your next favorite overseas location to work? Is your family allowed to visit you there! Thank you for your answers in advance! Now off to read more of your articles!!

        • kristinewanders

          Hi Cheriti,

          Thanks for following along! Unfortunately, I can’t really comment on pay as it’s very hospital specific. My pay package takes into account a variety of things such as years experience, level of education, where my experience was (teaching hospital vs rural hospital), what professional organizations I’m part of ect. I’ve only every worked in Saudi, Canada and the US- so travel wise and travel opportunities, I would say Saudi is my favourite. It has recently been announced that as of the end of the month they will be offering tourist visas so fingers crossed that happens as it will be easier for friends and family to visit. If you want you could sent me a private email and I could speak to you more then about pay.


  39. Hassan

    Are Kenyan nurses allowed to practice in Saudi Arabia

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Hassan,

      Yes as far as I know they are, but positions for male nurses are more limited as they will only hire for certain departments. Maybe try speaking to a recruiter to get more specifics!


  40. Zoey. Xy

    Your posts are a true help for everyone who wants to work in SA. I have a few questions also. I’m a Croatian nurse with 12 years experience in trauma surgical ward. My husband is a CNC programmer. He would work in Saudi also. Is it possible for us to relocate together? Also, we have two children. My oldest daughter is starting primary school in Monday. What are the possibilities for children schooling and kindergarten?
    Are there any pension benefits? I assume if the salary is tax free, then there aren’t any .
    I found some articles about a huge economical crisis in SA two years ago . And how a lot of foreign workers left the Saudi. What about that? Is it true that we have to pay a monthly fee for our children if they live in Saudi?
    Thank you in advance! Hope you have a great day ?

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Zoey,

      Thanks for following my blog. I think it’s best for you to be under your husbands contract- that way you could be housed with him and bring your children. Typically unless you are in a high level administrative/leadership nursing position you aren’t allowed to bring dependents. There are good international schools here but I think they are pricey- I’m sure you could factor this into your husbands work contract. There is not the option for retirement benefits (at least at my hospital.) Try to remember that you will be in Saudi as a temporary worker so you will not be retiring there. Yes there have been economic issues over the last many years- they implemented a VAT tax and prices for everything went up. Then they implemented a dependent fee- so yes you would have to pay extra for your kids. I would say that it might not be financially beneficial to come unless your husband is offered a really good pay package including housing. I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have!

      • Zoey. Xy

        Dear Kristine,

        Thank you for your answers. They are quite helpful. I’ve read all the Q & A on this post and really admire that you took the time to answer all of us. You seem like a really nice and helpful person. Keep up with the traveling and don’t forget to write about it ?
        Fingers crossed ???? that you travel to your 81 country soon !

        • kristinewanders


          Thanks so much- you’re comments are very sweet! Let me know if you need anymore information- I’m happy to help!


  41. Praveen Birtharthee

    Hi my wife is of hindu belongs and is a registered nurse
    Will she be allowed to wear her culture dot on her forehead

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Praveen,

      That will depend entirely on the hospital your wife will work at. Some are more conservative and thus more restrictive. That’s a great thing for her to ask when she interviews. As far as outside of work if she is in a larger city like Jeddah or Riyadh she shouldn’t face any issues! I hope that helps!


  42. Sharika

    Hi I am Sharika finished my BSc nursing and have 4 years of experience I am from India how can I get job in Saudi Arabia. Pls give details on that.

    • kristinewanders


      You will need to contact one of the recruiting companies and apply directly through them! Best of luck!


  43. Mokhuoa Winnie Mathapelo

    Hii.. I am Winnie Mathapelo Mokhuoa from South Africa, i am a post graduate for Diploma in Nursing Science and I am looking for an opportunity to work abroad,i am so keen to learn more and develop my knowledge while im still young, passionate and soo energetic…

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Winnie- You’ll have to apply either directly to a hospital here in Saudi or use a recruiting company (that would be the easiest way.) I’m just a nurse who writes about my experiences here- I’m no a recruiter. Best of luck!


  44. Shireen

    As a nurse is it possible to have your family move over with you. If so how do one go about that. If its allowed

    • kristinewanders


      If you are applying for an upper level nursing executive job then yes you would be able to bring your family. If you are applying as a floor staff nurse then no it’s not possible as you are hired on a single status visa. Of course if you are moving over and your partner also has a job you would likely be able to bring the children over under his residency.


  45. Ogechukwu Amaike

    Hi Kristine tanks alot for dys article it have really helped me, I typically knew nothing of SA before now, I mean like zero informed, lols I read ur reply a word for word. I mama nurse graduate and my hubby is a medical doctor he is planning on relocating us to SA under his visa to work as a medical staff this year. My questoin is,
    Can I easily get a job after I have relocated or Is finding a job hard once u have moved?
    Can I homeschool my toddler since school is quite expensive?
    What is the housing like for doctors there, is it large and roomy or just self containing?
    If I happen to get a job can i work pregnant or is it frowned at?
    Since dr is no maternity leave or benefits do I have to cover for my health while pregnant or will it be covered under my husband’s?
    Your reply will wade off my anxieties I hope this reaches u tnks

    • kristinewanders

      Thank you for getting in touch- I think many of your questions are really dependent upon which hospital you husband will be employed at and what his contract says. Housing and benefits can vary hospital to hospital.

  46. Monica

    kristine, that is an amazing article. Can I ask you.. Is 49 years old too old to travel to Saudi? I have many years of studies and experience as an oncology nurse.

    • kristinewanders

      Monica, 49 is definitely not to old to travel to Saudi. The age cut off is 60 so they won’t hire or recontract people past that age without an exception!

  47. Blessing

    Hi. I’m blessing. I find this article very helpful.. Is it possible to get a nursing job in Saudi Arabia as a fresh graduate from the Philippines? Or do I need a hospital experience first before I can apply for a job in SA?

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Blessing- it’s best to speak with a recruiting company from the Philippines but as far as I know you need 2 years experience to work in Saudi. And quite honestly I think this is very important. This would be a difficult environment to work in without experience.

  48. Sheila

    Hello Kristine,

    What is the pay in comparison to travel nursing in the USA? And do they do longer contracts, other than 3 months? Thanks for this post!

    • kristinewanders

      Hi Sheila,

      Pay is very specific to your experience. Most contracts are actually a year. If you do a locum contract you can’t leave the country and you aren’t able to set up a bank account and everything is a little more tricky but you will make more money. I made similar to what I made as a nurse in the US, but you don’t pay rent which is a huge bonus, no car payment, phone and internet are cheap. I hope that helps!



    Hello kristine, much thanks for your adorable blog. I got a lot of things to say including thanks

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