- Capital: Riyadh
- Country Code: +966
- Ruler: King Salam De facto ruler: Mohammed Bin Salman AKA MBS
- Currency: Riyal this again usually sits at around 4/5 per GBP.
- Medical Regulatory Bodies: Saudi commission for health practitioners
- Religion: Sunni, Hanbali Islam.
- Population: 32 million
Saudi is by far the biggest country in the region and therefore has the biggest healthcare needs. 50% of those that live in the GCC ( Gulf Co-operation Council) live in Saudi Arabia. Migrant workers have historically tended to live and work in either Jeddah or Riyadh. Riyadh being the financial and political capital obviously draws in the largest concentration of foreign citizens, medically speaking this is where the larger and more reputable facilities have been.
,Jeddah on the east coast or in Al Khobar/ Dharan on the west coast. Jeddah is known for being the most relaxed city in the country in terms of its approach to expats and conservatism in general. When it comes to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina you must be a Muslim to even visit there/work there.
Al Khobar which has undergone a large amount of transformative investment with new public and private hospitals opening in 2018 and 2019.
In 2018 15.6% of Saudi’s national budget was spend on healthcare and social improvement.
In Line with NTP 2020 and Saudi Vision 2030 the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has laid out a detailed plan for Healthcare in Saudi, a few of the more notable objectives are:
- Increasing private healthcare expenditure from 25% to 35% of total spend
- To privatise King Faisal Specialist Research Centre
- To update and expand primary care services through the use of PPP
- To update and expand laboratory and radiology services through the use of PPP
- To increase the number of international accredited facilities in KSA.
There has been a considerable step change in the way the government want to move forward, public-private partnerships are set to be the new model moving in to the 2020s given the state wants to reduce its overall expenditure. With a growing aging population there has been a drive towards preparing for this with some private hospitals being asked to start producing plans for how they will assist with geriatrics.
As a medical consultant in Saudi you can expect a minimum salary of around 12,000 GBP per month. As part of all contract’s doctors are given housing and educational assistance, unlike the Emirates which has not been under the same pressure to extend such good attraction strategies for over a decade. Unless with organisations like SEHA. The main difference for clinical staff is that Saudi Arabians are aware of the cultural sacrifices made by westerners to live there, the packages are that more attractive as result. In real terms with the cost of living being lower in Saudi Arabia you are simply more able to save whilst there, which is far more difficult to achieve in say Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Clinical Governance schemes in the kingdom, particularly in the public setting will resemble that of the NHS.
Life outside the Hospital
Saudi is also the most conservative of the nations in the region. Its important to note that although Qatar, the UAE and Saudi share the same interpretation of Islam its Saudi that is most likely to use this interpretation on foreign citizens who fall foul of it. whereas the UAE and Qatar are less likely to do so given their much higher expat populations. However, Since Mohammed Bin Salman has taken over as the de facto ruler there have been lost of positive changes.
Since coming to de facto rule MBS as he is otherwise known has disbanded the Mutaween the religious police, women can drive, cinemas have been opened and women are now able to travel freely in and out of Saudi without the consent of male guardians.
MBS is an excellent reflection of the demographic of Saudi Arabia, aged 35 and how it has changed in favour of a younger and more dynamic population. 30.9% of the population is aged 19 or younger and 65% are between the ages of 20 and 64. Its likely the reason that such a step change has been widely accepted by the traditionally conservative nation, undoubtedly with more to come in the next few years.
With the opening of the kingdom to tourists in general there have been some interesting attractions planned with UNESCO having declared parts of the Madinah Saleh a world heritage site. The Nabataea ruins make up the southernmost tip of the ancient kingdom that Petra was a part of. In this area we have new mega projects like “the line” and Neom which together with the normalisation of relations with Israel (coming sometime in 2021) will help to pull them away from relying on Oil revenue.
If you want to know more about what it’s like to live in Saudi Arabia, then please contact our regional specialist and they’ll will be happy to help.