Filipino Nurses Bound to Saudi Arabia: What You Should Know (Part 1)

Saudi Arabia has been a country of destination of Filipinos for the last 3 decades. Employment of nurses in the Middle East started during the oil boom in the 80s when the Saudi government could not supply the hospitals and clinics of skilled and experienced manpower. Since then, Filipino nurses are deployed from the Philippines to work in both the private and government-run healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia. From the conception of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) in the 1990s, records show that an estimated average of 8,000 to 10,000 nurses leave the Philippines annually to work in Saudi.

Perhaps the primary reason why Saudi is a top destination for nurses is because of its less stringent employment requirements as compared to Western countries. Bridging courses and language examinations are just two of the most basic features of registration requirements in the west; In Saudi Arabia, there is no need for a bridging course and most especially no need for IELTS, TOEFL or OET. While other destination countries vary in the required post-registration experience, Saudi Arabia requires only at least 2 years of hospital experience to be eligible to register.

A similar examination to the Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination, passing the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties’ examination for nurses, otherwise known as the Prometric Examination for nurses, is a signal that you could jumpstart your application to work as a nurse in Saudi.

Once in the land of the Arabs, you will be able to enjoy a lot of benefits. The perks that I will be mentioning below are based on personal experiences and from the general observations by fellow nurses. Of course, some perks are dependent on the benefits provided by your company.

Why Stay in Saudi?

Salary is Tax free! Since you are an expatriate, you don’t have to pay for any government imposed tax. That was the law and agreement imposed in the 70s to 80s. After multiple amendments, the law still applies and will continue to be widely implemented throughout the country. Seems so great, eh? The downside with that agreement is that the expatriate can never acquire citizenship regardless of how many decades he has been in Saudi. That means no chances of buying properties, no free education for your kids, and no free medical treatment for you and your family.

Company/Employer pays for residence visa/iqama. Most likely, you have heard about the Iqama or the residence visa. The Philippines and Saudi have that agreement that the Saudi employer must pay for the employee’s residence visa. If not, you were fooled by your employer and better report that to the nearest Philippine consulate/embassy.

Housing and transportation are all provided for free. Yes, you don’t have to pay for any of those. Once you arrive in the country, supposedly, you will be housed in a fully furnished apartment (shared or single based on your contract) with kitchen, bath, living room, and bedroom. If your company is generous enough, which they should be, basic appliances should also be provided like oven, electric stove, flat iron, refrigerator, television, etc. Also, transportation is free. Free as long as they fetch you to work and back to your flat/apartment/accommodation. Other more generous employers have regular trips to malls and markets so you could save your 10 to 20 Riyals for a one-way fare to Balad or Mall of Arabia.

Low crime rate. Muslims generally follow the teachings of Islam which considers stealing, laundering, and other forms of crimes as ‘haram.’

Health insurance is provided by the company. Different health insurances have extensive coverage, but you may still be asked for a minimum amount (usually less than a hundred Riyals) for a consult. That hundred riyals should cover the diagnostics, the meds dispensed by the pharmacy, the consultation fee, the hospital fees, etc.

Technology is at par with the Western countries. They have the latest medical technology, so if you worked in the high class modern tertiary hospitals in the Philippines, then you would not feel estranged by your surroundings full of new equipment and machines. If you come from a primary or a secondary hospital, you will learn to say hi to those gadgets as you have to be with them almost every day.

Multiple opportunities for training and skills enhancement. Trainings and continuing education events are everywhere throughout the kingdom. Before you could renew your license to practice in Saudi, you must present training certificates summing-up to 30 CME units.

No road tax.

Gasoline is extremely cheap! Saudi Arabia is a major exporter of crude oil to the world, no wonder why gas is very cheap in here. Imagine, 45 halalas per liter?! Full tank your car by paying only 10 Riyals! That’s as much as 100 Philippine Pesos for a full tank!

Cheap cars and very reasonable car loans. They say cars are way cheaper in here. I can’t attest to that, ‘haven’t bought one and I’m not planning to.

Filipino products are everywhere. From our favorite Lucky Me pancit canton, to 555 tuna, to Mang Tomas, to daing, to Datu Puti, to mangga, to sampalok, and other fresh produce, you could find a lot of common Filipino products in local groceries and supermarkets. Since Filipinos form a major percentage of the expatriates in Saudi, the Filipino market is a target of local businesses especially the groceries.

Saudi Arabia is considered an ‘international experience’ for nurses! Talk about the ‘edge’ versus the locally trained nurses in the Philippines. Working in a foreign land could boost your credentials!

Bank loans with very low interest. I personally haven’t tried to apply for a loan but my colleagues did. According to them, the amount of money you could loan is highly dependent on the salary that you receive. But in here, the interest is very minimal: 3% for the WHOLE three years, as compared to 10% per annum in the Philippines. That explains why some guys you know who work in the Middle East have that new car or new house in just less than 2 years of working, they could have filed for a loan and used the money to put up an investment.

Yearly paid vacation leave with plane tickets for FREE. Yes, those are paid vacation leaves and free plane tickets! Imagine, you enjoy your vacation in the Philippines while you earn not thinking about the cost of the plane tickets. Compare that to other non-Middle Eastern employers like the Americas, Europas, and the land down under!

Malls are everywhere! That’s a given fact, people here have less options for entertainment so obviously they put up a lot of malls. As compared to cities in the Philippines wherein you may have at least 2 major malls per city, you have numerous options in Jeddah ranging from mini-malls to the Mall of Asia-like establishments in the Philippines. However, the malls here have restrictions; In some malls, single men are not allowed inside during family days. Also, you have to get off the mall stalls and restaurants once the 'saalah' or the prayer time starts – that means, interrupted shopping and eating time.

All establishments are air-conditioned. Well, isn’t that a must? This country itself is a desert, and it’s hot hot hot all year especially during the day. That must be the reason why cities in the Middle East have that heat island effect. That’s a phenomenon wherein due to the volume of air-conditioning units in the metro, the heat produced by the aircon units adds up to make the outside surrounding scorching hot!

Multiple means of communication with your family members. Good thing we live in the technology age wherein Skype, Facebook messenger, Viber, Whatsapp, WeChat, Line and other means of communication are always available. Imagine the recent decades ago when expatriates would send snail mail?! Pretty convenient for our generation now, eh?!

Cheap gadgets. Gadgets are much cheaper here than in the Philippines. Plus the country gets the latests from Europe and the Americas way before the gadget lands on the Philippine soils. Even before the Philippine president got a hold of the newest iPhone my colleague have used it for weeks already!

Opportunity to be in a multicultural company and learn Arabic or other dominant language. Expatriates are everywhere. Indians and Filipinos, the topnotchers in the long list of expats are always present working various jobs, from skilled to professional services. The whites usually hold the managerial and top level positions together with the educated locals, and they are the ones earning 6 figures a month. 

To give you an overview of the difference of cost of living in Jeddah and Manila, here's a link:

You must be saying, "Okay pala sa magtrabaho sa Saudi," after reading the reasons I mentioned why Saudi is a good place for work, right? But hey, this is just the first part of my entry. In Part 2 I will be discussing why a nurse or an OFW should leave Saudi Arabia and transfer to a better different country. I have plenty of things to discuss in the next post...

Here's a video from YouTube of a Filipina Registered Nurse's views about Nursing and Nursing in Saudi Arabia.

Sa akin lang po... Saudi Arabia is a nice country wherein a nurse could further his/her professional experience and save money for the future. Just like most Filipino nurses would say, Middle East can always be a 'stepping stone' for Filipino nurses.

UPDATE: Part 2 is now online!


gorgeousme said…
i admire you..your blogs help and affect me so much.. galing mo!
Sa Akin Lang Po said…
thank you, gorgeousme. :)
nakakainspire... thank you
Anonymous said…
Hi..AJ here...thanks for the info about saudi! im jeddah bound,, still waiting for my visa..its been a month now since i signed my contract... gaano po ba katagal ang visa processing?! thanks
Krock said…
I am inspired by this blog.. Having fellow nurses motivates one another.. Thanks for sharing this video.. naluha ako realizing what I really want in life..
Prinsesa said…

I'm bound to Al Kharj KSA on May 25,2013 as a poly clinic nurse in Al Ameed Medical clinic. Ask ko lang sana kung ok ba na experience to for a nurse na first time mag work abroad at minimal ang work exprience as nurse? Ano ba mga dapat ko malaman as poly clinic nurse? Hope you can help me.. thanks. - prinsesa
Anonymous said…
Ano po ang minimum contract ng pagiging nurse dyan? Ilang years po?

At base na rin po sa experience nyo, ano ang advisable nyo na number nag years na pagttrabaho dyan? Yung pra maka-ipon lang...

MAraming salamat po pala sa blog nyo. Malaking tulong para po sa mga gustong sumubok sa ibang bansa gaya ko, :D Masagot nyo po sana ako. :)
Sa Akin Lang Po said…
@Prinsesa, minimum contract is 2 years. When it comes to ipon, maraming factors na dapat i-consider eh. Halimbawa, kung magpapadala ka sa Pinas monthly for your family's expenses, kung madali kang ma-enganyo sa mga wants (gadgets, bags, shoes, etc.), and your future plans. My plan was to finish my 2-year contract in Jeddah then transfer to another country pero I considered the job security kaya I extended for another 5 months. That time, hindi pa kasi approved yung application ko sa New Zealand kaya nag-extend ako. My savings in Saudi wasn't enough to finance my New Zealand path; I still asked for the financial support of my parents.
Ana Lisa Pablo said…
hello po :) just want to ask, dito po kasi sa polyclinic na pinagtratrabahuhan ko as staff nurse 1800 + 200 allowance ang signed salary ko. pagdating dito abot gang 7 months n nsa 1500 lang sahod because ang daming kaltas like iqama (half), license id (saudi coucil..), BLS certificate (na papel lang wala talagang training), pangunang 100 food allowance etc. (3030SR lahat kaltas daw po ang kailangan ko tapusin which is 7 months ko bubunuin). may kawork p ako dito na 1 year n sya may kaltas p din because dito sya nagprometric, hindi ba parang may something wrong sa management namin? ano po kaya dapat ko gawin kasi di po ako matahimik hehe, para po kasing ginogoyo kami. i just think so, please help thank you :)
Sa Akin Lang Po said…
Hello, Ana Lisa. If I remember it right, the company should be the one to fully pay for your iqama. The rest, you really have to shoulder the expenses like license and BLS. In my case, hindi ko naramdaman na kinaltasan ako for the license kasi sa exit (gratitude pay) nila kinuha yun SR800++, and yet I still got a huge amount. If you really are bothered of your current status, contact the Philippine Consulate or Philippine Embassy near you. Good luck. :)
Cathykatt said…
quick question,.meron kasing mga agencies na may job opening na one year work experience lang pwede na mag apply for saudi, pero sa saudi commission exam cert 2 years mimimum and required work experience. naka one year palang kasi ako baka doon pa ako magkaproblema kung sakaling umalis pa ako so i'm sort of confused,..thanks in advance sa mga makakasagot
Anonymous said…
hello,thanks for this very informative site.i just want to ask how long po ang pgpaprocessing ng employment contract and working visa sa ksa?tnx
Anonymous said…
Hello po nagwowork po aq ngaun s isang primary hospital and hindi ganun ka high tech mga equipments dito.plan ko sana mag saudi pano po b jn may training din po b.pkihelp nmn po diko kc alm what to expect slmt
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mohamend loan said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hi po! Out of the the topic.
ask ko lng po if by any chance meron po dito nagwowork n sa KSA n NO MIDDLE NAME or kung may kakilala po?!

Pnu po ginawa nyo po. Thank u in advance!
Anonymous said…
Hi po! :) salamat for making this blog :) it is indeed a great help po for newbies like me :) God bless you po :)
Aleyaine said…
Hi po isa po akong nurse, nag aply po kame ng mga kaibigan ko bound to ksa, tapos na po kme pa medical, tas may visa na daw po kme then poea processing na daw po kme, kaso po wala pa po sa amin pinapipirmahan na contract, tapos tinanong po nmn sa agency sa airport na daw po contract signing pwede po ba un? Salmt po
Aleyaine said…
Hi po isa po akong nurse, nag aply po kame ng mga kaibigan ko bound to ksa, tapos na po kme pa medical, tas may visa na daw po kme then poea processing na daw po kme, kaso po wala pa po sa amin pinapipirmahan na contract, tapos tinanong po nmn sa agency sa airport na daw po contract signing pwede po ba un? Salmt po
ted deang said…
@edlyn cabubungan..
sa pagkakaalam ko.. bawal tlga ang walang middle name sa saudi.. same case kayo ng friend ko.. sa agency palang, first interview palang eh hindi na sya nakapasa.. pero may way naman.. you can talk to a lawyer dito sa pinas if paano gagawin mo para magkaroon ka ng middle name. i think if magpapalagay ka.. at wala masyadong problema papers mo.. uubos ka ng around 40-50k
shay amber said…
Hello po!I just wanna ask po if what tLga ung work situation pag ngwork ka as home care nurse?considered nursing experience ba un and pkifurther describe n rin po if panu tlga ung work setting dun kze ang pagkakaexplain s akin is prang private nurse peo ndi xia stay in?I will appreciate any info.that u can give.thanks
shay amber said…
Bound to riyadh po aq..
Anonymous said…
sa canada or us...dapat higitan mo ang 100kphp para makaipon ka...dahil dito sa saudi kapag nag rate ka na ng 100k/mo basic (gov't)...e makakapag pundar ka na ng house and lot within 5 years...dahil walang tax ang mga manggagawa dito..stepping stone? pwede...pero marami akong naging kakilala na nurses na galing dito sa saudi ang nagtungo na sa us, para lang sa bandang huli ay magsisi kung bakit umalis pa sila sa saudi...
Anonymous said…
Sa mga pinoy NURSE n gustong mg abroad lalo n sa KSA.. MS MGNDA S PUBLIC HOSPITAL MG APPLY.. Kung private man dpat ang salary 3000+SR a month kung pde.. Tsaka my annual leave.. Ask muna s iba bgo pirma ng pirma ng contract ha.. ICIP ICIP MUNA.. Bsta UNDER MINISTRY OF HEALTH ANG HOSPITAL, GO LANG! Pr PRIVATE HMMM PRA KANG SUMUGAL.. GOD BLESS FILIPINO OFW's
Anonymous said…
2years po ang minimum.. Tiis tiis lng.. Tsaka dpt tertiary kung pde ang experience kc bka mashock k nlng s mga maabutan mong machine at workload pg andto kna s KSA.. Dpt prepared ka wholistically.. Good luck..
Anonymous said…
Wow.. Sigurista si employer hehehe hmmm mukhang smells fishy tan teh.. Mgduda kana..
Anonymous said…
May nkausap akong mga kbbyan din ntin na private nurse dto s riyadh.. Okay nmn swueldo.. Pro ndi ko alam kung papaano ka mkaka acquire ng residency visa or iqama mo dto kung private nurse ka.. Siguro may company ng manpower ang mghahandle sau.. Kung di k sigurado.. Isip isip muna pra iwas aberya teh.. S public hospital k nlng mg apply kung mg saudi k lng din mas malaki p sahod.. God bless..
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
ako me PDN takot ako.. 600dollars offer. meron ba talaga PDN sa saudi riyadh baka katulong ako sa bahay? fear is felt,... pls enlighten me.. Is it safe to stay in house of a patient?
ligerzero_300 said…
Hi, I'm John and i'm bound to K.S.A. next month and a lot of my friends, colleagues, and relatives are saying that it's not a good country and I'm just going to be raped there. please advise. Thank you.
Hi naka Kuha Ka po Ba Ng new passport po Na may middle name Na po? Amo po yung middle name Na ginamit nyo po? Ang mabilis Lang po Ba yung Pag process po? Kasi Wala din po akong middle name.
Nurse Recruit said…
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positivi ty said…
Hi ask ko lang po plan ko po kasing magSaudi gusto ko po sana malaman kung magkano average salary ng Med-Tech po jan 1st time po aabroad at 3 years experience.. Di ko po kasi alam kung reasonable o tinitipid ako sa offer like may offer s akin 2,700 +300 food allowance SR.. okay na po ba yun? sana po matulungan niyo po ako..thank you

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