The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is one of the ‘star’ economies of the Middle East. High wages, tax-free income, and benefits such as subsidized healthcare, education and housing make this country very attractive to expats. As far as senior roles are concerned, reports state that the CEO/MD of a Saudi company makes an average of US $25,343 per month, while that of a multinational company takes home approximately $33,021 every 30 days. According to the 2013 Expat Explorer Survey, Saudi ranks 15th out of 37 countries in Expat Economics – based on household income, disposable income and satisfaction with the host (local) economy. Hardly surprising then that 68% survey respondents said they were attracted to Saudi Arabia for better job prospects.
Explore Energy, Banking, IT, Healthcare and More in Saudi Arabia
The Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, is on a growth trajectory after previous lacklustre performance. According to an IMF forecast, the country’s annual GDP growth is expected to touch 4.4% this year. With this, hiring levels are expected to increase in various sectors and industries. According to the Global Snapshot Survey, 66% of surveyed organizations in KSA are planning to recruit in 2014. Also, experts predict an average salary increase of 6%. The deal is even sweeter for expats: A new study points out that expats in the Middle East can look forward to salary rises of 7.1%. So, as a mid-to-senior professional with industry expertise and valuable experience, there is probably a very rewarding job opening in Saudi Arabia just for you.
Career prospects, by sector
- Energy/ Power
The power and energy sector in the Middle East is growing aggressively. The Saudi government aims to increase its electricity generation capability from 55GW to 120GW by 2020. Though KSA holds 1/5th of the world’s oil reserves, the country also intends to explore other avenues of power generation – such as atomic, solar and other renewable energy sources. In fact, Saudi Arabia plans to reduce dependence on its oil and gas reserves by 50%, which can then be exploited for export. For all these ambitious projects, the industry looks for expatriate talent at senior levels. If you have worked in the renewable energy industry in developed markets, your expertise will be valued in the Saudi power sector.
The manufacturing sector is one of the main contributors to the Saudi economy, with large public and private investments in upcoming projects. There is also a growing trend of manufacturing firms setting up operations in the Kingdom, instead of managing these through the UAE. Studies put the growth rate of this sector at 4.7% this year. Employers are looking to hire people with international experience and a fresh perspective. The main profiles for which they are recruiting include lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, operations, and quality, especially in FMCG, packaging and chemical sectors. Senior professionals with experience in production and management will also be in demand this year.
The construction industry, along with transport, received an allocation of SR66.6 billion in the 2014 Saudi Arabia budget. The sector is estimated to see a growth rate of 6.4% this year. By 2020, KSA plans to build six economic cities which will house 4.5 million people and contribute $150 billion to the nation’s GDP. Plus, there are other ambitious projects like building metro lines, hospitals, and educational institutions, in the pipeline this year. For professionals looking to work on interesting mega projects and explore growth opportunities, there are several openings at senior levels in the public and semi-private sectors.
- Information Technology (IT)
From $3.6 billion in 2011, the value of the Saudi IT sector is expected to touch USD $4.9 billion this year. Investments, reforms and developments in healthcare, infrastructure, education and retail all warrant a need for IT systems. Saudi Arabia intends to increase its overall IT spending to $11.50 billion this year – a 10.7% year-on-year jump, if the latest IDC forecast is to be believed. This, in turn, has brought into sharp focus the need for skilled IT professionals at senior to mid-senior level. A glance at popular job portals shows high demand for IT Director, Solution Director, Project Manager, ERP Manager, Information System Manager, and Enterprise Architect roles – with promising salaries. According to the Gulf Business 2013 Salary Survey, an IT Manager makes approximately $12K per month here.
Thanks to local economic policies and limited exposure to the global economy, the banking sector in KSA has always been resilient. It is performing well and poised for significant growth in 2014. Analysts estimate that the banking industry will grow at a rate of 15.3%. This is expected to translate into lucrative jobs in investment banking, SME banking, private banking, Islamic banking, commercial banking, treasury, etc. The Arab World Careers 2014 Middle East Salary Guide states that the salary range for senior-level investment banking professionals in Saudi Arabia is between $23,490 and $41,040. Employers are looking for candidates with the right mix of technical skills, domain expertise and Western banking experience.
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The KSA government is taking a special interest in the healthcare sector, and plans to introduce various reforms, build hospitals and increase investment to benefit the public. It is also helping the private healthcare industry to flourish, by way of interest-free loans and subsidies. This has encouraged global players to enter the Saudi market for medical equipment, medicines and other services. General Electric (GE) is planning to build a medical equipment facility in Saudi Arabia this year. Consequently, KSA will need qualified professionals to replicate the success seen in this business elsewhere in the world.
The retail sector is one of the three largest non-oil contributors to Saudi Arabia’s GDP. Analysts agree that the industry will continue to grow, thanks to people with disposable income, a young population, and flourishing trade. International retailers are quite optimistic about investing in emerging markets. Euromonitor estimates that the retail sector will touch a value of $73.6 billion in 2014. Major international brands and retail chains like Burberry, Children’s Place, Tesco, etc. intend to launch or step up operations in Saudi Arabian cities. Analysts say this will boost hiring prospects in the Kingdom, especially for people with understanding of local market trends, exposure to multicultural environments, and experience of running the retail business.
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