Rory’s Story: Living and working in Jazan

Jizan is in the South of KSA approximately 70 KM from the Yemen border. It is an up and coming City with a population of around 1.1 million people. Currently there is vast building and construction work taking place, with the news of Jizan Economic City being built the town is booming with new build homes and hotels and new businesses. It is to be one of the top 10 cites in KSA by 2025 and The Economic City which is being developed 70 KM outside of Jizan on a 12 km square site is to be the 2nd largest in the country. Construction work is currently booming here with 16 of the world’s largest construction companies building the new oil refinery and new schools, accommodation compounds, a new football stadium and cargo airport is also planned together with a rail link to Jeddah which is 800 KM away. Currently work has slowed due to the War in Yemen and the very low oil prices.

So whats it Like Living  and working Here?

The people are very pleasant and friendly and supportive, the society as we no is very closed compared to western countries but being a seaside location there are islands to explore in the renowned farasan island a collection of 20 small island. You can Scuba dive swim in the warm sea or visit the 2 large malls which surprisingly are up to western standards with lots of western chain shops. Abha is only a 3 hour drive away which takes you through scenic mountain passes with lots of monkeys on the roadside and carved tunnels through the mountain trail until you hit the Plateau at the top which is Abha being very high up it attracts Tourists and Saudi nationals all year around that want to escape the heat. Most of the year there its a pleasant 28 degrees Celsius dropping to around 15 degrees Celsius at night.

Jizan is at sea level and one of the hottest places in KSA temperatures reach 48 degrees Celsius in the day at the height of the summer in August and maintain even through winter months an average of 35 degrees Celsius. Surprisingly it stays very hot at night in the height of summer you can get off a plane at around 3 am and it’s still 32 degrees Celsius.

In the 2.4 years i have been here its rained 4 times so all year round sun. I would advise if you are coming to bring a hard drive full of movies as no cinemas here and an Ipad full of Ebooks so you can entertain yourself.

Cost of living is very low here you can easily get by on 1200 sar  ( 212GBP ) a month and bank or send home the rest of your tax free savings. Bring your favorite tinned foods and Sauces Saudi supermarkets are well stocked in the larger cities but remote ones only have corner stores things like gravy granules tinned soups you cannot find here.

It’s not for the faint hearted but something you get use to, many expats have come during my time missed family felt to restricted and left early. You need to be mentally tough, well organised self sufficient and take nothing for granted its so so different from further education in UK from a job perspective. Here you need to be a project manager, a good FE manager, prepared to work long hours embrace the Saudi society to be in a win win situation. Its not for everyone many have come and failed for one reason or another.

On a job front lots of opportunities here from an education perspective College of Excellence is running 37 Colleges across Kingdom half male, half female check out the COE website to find provider details they come from 6 or more countries around the world some in partnership some on there own. Also the private Oil and Gas and Construction Skills (Maharat Colleges) salaries tend to be higher in these education establishments and contracts longer.

Typically most companies sign you on one year contracts with either company provided housing or a housing allowance, western compounds only really apply in the larger Cities and many companies are avoiding these now due to the high costs involved, so do check all your personal terms and conditions and allowances on your contract before signing committing and arriving in KSA. A bus for instructor staff and company car for Managers and Directors is the norm. Expat life can be lonely so you need to be good in your own company, few companies allow wives to come and for those that do come many find the Muslim culture hard and often travel back and forth every few months which is expensive.

The society here favors the man, ladies are not allowed to use swimming pools or if swimming in the sea they must wear their black abaya at all times. Even when shopping you must wear it’s a law of the country the minute you step off the plan all ladies must have on there black abaya.

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