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Population: 28 million

According to a 2015 UN data, immigrants make up about 30% of the population.  Historically a population that was mostly nomadic or semi-nomadic, the Saudi population has become more settled since petroleum was discovered in the 1930s; most of the economic activities – and with it the country’s population – is concentrated in a wide area across the middle of the peninsula, from Ad Dammam in the east, through Riyadh in the interior, to Mecca Medina in the west near the Red Sea.

Life expectancy is 75,3 and the median age is 27,2.

45,4% of the population is under 25 and 3,34% of the population is above 65. There are 2,57 physicians per 1000 habitants.

Climate: Saudi Arabia has a very dry climate. The south has moderate temperatures, which can go as low as 10 degrees Celsius (50° Fahrenheit) during the summer. In winter the temperatures are moderate in general, but turning cold at night sometimes descending below freezing.

Spoken languages and religion: Arabic is the official language and English is widely spoken.

Officially the population is 100% Muslim, composed of 85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shia. The public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is prohibited in Saudi Arabia however, non-Muslims are free to worship privately in their own homes.

Non-working days and holidays: Friday is the rest day in Saudi Arabia. Most public holidays are calculated on the Islamic calendar which is subject to changes every year based on the lunar calendar.

There are 21 days of paid leave a year (30 days after 5 years within the same company).

Generally, the maximum working time is 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week all year long, except during the month of Ramadan where it can be reduced to 6 hours a day or 36 hours a week.

Traditions: Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and its capital is Riyadh.

As with every country in the region, homosexuality is illegal and any activity that represents homosexuality in public places should strictly be avoided. Unrelated person of the opposite sex cannot live together and out of marriage consensual sex is prohibited. Holding hands for married couples is tolerated but kissing and hugging are considered offences against public decency.

Alcohol is strictly prohibited.


Health care sector: Healthcare services have always been a priority sector for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the country offering free health facilities to its citizens from womb to tomb. The government is benevolent to the extent that it pays for all medical charges even outside the country if it is deemed necessary for a patient to travel abroad for advanced healthcare facilities. Saudi’s healthcare system is comprised of three service providers – the Ministry of Health (MoH) hospitals, government hospitals and private hospitals.


Foreign doctors: They are allowed to work in Saudi Arabia provided that they have obtained their professional license. Every physician willing to work in Saudi Arabia has to submit an application, either for a locum or a permanent position and generally the hospital or the clinic is handling the matter.

The Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS) is the legal authority for the registration application. Licensing is a 3-step process :

  • The Saudi online system Mumaris verifies the eligibility for the licensing, at the end of the process an “Eligibility Number” will be granted to the practitioner

Nb : the practitioner must pass an exam if his/her degree is not from North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand or Malaysia

  • Verification of practitioner’s documents through Dataflow, a company used by SCFHS to verify all the documents
  • After the relocation, the practitioner must present all the precedent documents and the Dataflow Payment Receipt to the person in charge of the hospital’s relationship with the SCFHS. The application will be submitted to SCFHS who will issue a license for the practitioner to practice in Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, the documents to be submitted are different according to the sector :

In all instance, the practitioner must provide:

  • The classification and registration form,
  • Identification letter from his employer stating the date he started to work, his current professional title,
  • Notarized copy of his qualifications, including Internship certificate (if available),
  • Notarized copy of pre-graduation training and post-graduation experience,
  • Certificate of professional registration (if available) and board certificate for practitioners who studied in the Philippines,
  • Valid certificate of basic life support certificate, under the supervision of the Saudi heart association when obtained from Saudi Arabia,
  • Certificate of insurance against medical errors for physicians and dentists (valid for at least three years at the time of application),
  • Copy of the ID for Saudis and copy of the passport or residency ID for non-Saudis,
  • Saudis holding qualifications from abroad must attach an equivalency certificate from the Ministry of Higher Education,
  • Practitioners above 60 years of age must attach a medical report proving their ability to practice,
  • Two recent personal photos,
  • Complete fee payment.

Besides, for the government sector :

  • Recommendation letter from the practitioner’s employer indicating the rank of classification demanded,
  • Copy of the contract from the employer for non-Saudis.

For the private sector, the practitioner only needs the copy of the professional license (if the practitioner has been working in the private sector in Saudi Arabia for more than one year).

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