Saturday, October 11, 2008

All you wanted to know about getting a job in Saudi Arabia & didnt know whom to ask

Many people ask me for advice about getting a job in Saudi Arabia, so here’s the inside scoop. Selection of a candidate for a particular job depends on the fitment of the candidate profile to the company's vacancies & the candidate's performance in the Interview & Saudi Arabia is no different in this aspect.

I have laid down the various points that a candidate needs to necessarily go through before getting his dream job.

a. Research Research Research: Research is the most important aspect of preparing yourself for that ideal tax free job. Research not only the target companies but also the cultural environment. Saudi Arabia is not meant for everyone and unless you are mentally prepared to accept the culture shock dont take the plunge.

There is a lot of information available on the prospective companies as well as Saudi Culture on the web. American Bedu and Saudi Jeans are some of the popular blogs which portray the Saudi way of life quite accurately.

b. Connect to Stakeholders: Once you have identified your target companies the next step is to connect to stakeholders in these companies. Social Media offers candidates a unprecedented chance to connect to various stakeholders in companies. Log on to social sites like Facebook, Orkut etc and connect to employees working in these companies and find out about their good/bad experiences.

Also Yahoo groups like expatsinsaudiarabia etc could be researched to get more information.

c. Use professional Networks: There are more than 400 HR professionals in KSA who are using Linkedin. Use professionals sites like to identify the HR Managers working in companies and connect to them. Ensure your linkedin profile is updated with key skills/testimonials etc before connecting to the HR fraternity.

d. Design a Resume: An updated resume should be prepared with your professional skills and passport validity etc clearly mentioned.Links to your professional profile on linkedin would help in adding value to your profile.

e. Apply! : The easiest way of Applying to KSA jobs would be to apply on an Internet job portal like , etc. Apart from this, your resume could also be circulated to Consultants in your area who deal with Saudi Arabian placements. However, consultants make try and charge you Placement fee so beware of fraudsters there.

f. Job Contarct: Once you are selected, a job contarct needs to be signed with the employer. A Job contract to be legally binding needs to be in Arabic, so get the same translated by a reputed translation agency incase your employer does not give you a english version. Also all the costs related to employment including Visa processing, Flight tickets etc needs to be paid by the employer. Also, legally speaking, you have the entitlement to 21 days vacation every year.

g.Visa Category: The first step that a candidate should do when he gets his Work visa is to check the designation mentioned in the visa. Since getting Work Visas for the desired profession is not always possible, companies resort to taking visas in lower categories like Labour or Driver. These visas do not allow the candidate to bring their family along with them.

All the Best!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Advertising Agencies in Saudi Arabia

The following interview is with a Creative Director of an Advertising form who has graciously allowed me to ask him some questions about himself and his experiences as an Advertising professional in Saudi Arabia.

- Please Introduce yourself & the work that you do

I'm Manoj Mahalley. Working as Creative Director with a leading advertising agency in Riyadh. We create communication packages for various corporates to boost their business and generate awareness about their products and services.

- As a person who has worked in the Advertising field in KSA as well as other markets, what do you think about the KSA market?

KSA is an emerging market in terms of advertising and has a lot of potential to grow.
Awareness about the various trends in international advertising is increasing amongst the local clients and they too want to benchmark their communications to the best in the industry.Transition from "product to brand" is evolving slowly. However,this market can't still be compared with the best in the world as yet.

- Who are the leading Advertising players in the Kingdom?

All the big advertising network have their presence here. BBDO, JWT, Y&R, Ogilvy, Grey are some of the leading marquee brands having their presence in the Kingdom.

- What kind of revenue models are in place in the current Advertising market in KSA?

Agencies of record(AOR) follow two models
1: Fixed retainership 2: Project basis

- What are the unique parameters which are taken into account while designing a campaign for the Saudi Market
The law of the land is advertising needs to be "Sharia Compliant"

- What advice would you like to give to candidates looking for a Career in Advertising here?

This is a stable region in terms of economy. There are no major turmoil which sometime causes advertising business to slowdown. This area offers you a great opportunity to implement whatever you have learned outside. Hence one can opt for advertising career here though it is still a nascent market.

- Are there any additional comments you would like to add?

One of the advertising legends had said "This is the profession where you can have fun with clothes on"
But those who are expecting sex-citing advertising from this market should opt for other countries in Middle-East.

Thanks Manoj for sparing time to talk to us. Your inputs have been very insightful in understanding the Advertising industry.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Doing Business" Ranking of Saudi Arabia

"Doing Business 2009" is a co-publication of World Bank and International Finance Corporation.It is the sixth in a series of annual reports investigating regulations than enhance business and those that constrain it.The data covers 181 economies of the world and how they fare in 10 stages of Business life.

I was pleasently surprised with Saudi Arabia being on the 16th position in the global ranking of "Ease of doing business". The ranking for "Starting a business" has improved from 38 last year to 28 this year. The number of procedures for starting the business in Saudi Arabia have fallen from 13 in 2006 to 7 now. The duration also seems to have reduced from 39 days for starting a business to 12 days.However, from personal experience, i would say that it takes more than 40 days to complete the formalities mentioned in the 7 step procedure and not 12 days.And if there is a foreign investor involved it may take even longer.

What catapults KSA to the top ranks is the ease of Registering property. It takes 2 days and costs 0% of property value to register a property in Saudi Arabia.

Though timelines are questionable, Saudi Arabia is a top regional reformer and leaves its middle east peers far behind in terms of most parameters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Global Meltdown: Effects on Saudi Arabia

It all started with Feddie & Fannie, continued with Lehman Brothers, AIG and analysts say this is the tip of the iceberg ....The unthinkable has happened. Marquee brands, once the icon of American Financial system are falling like nine pins. Anxiey over the subprime crisis turned to alarm when Lehman brothers filed for Bankruptcy and AIG had to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve.

The repurcussions would be prolonged and would go down in history as the worst financial crisis seen by Wallstreet for decades.

So what does all this mean for Saudi Arabia? As early as May 2008, Lehman Brothers has announced to set up an Investment Bank in Saudi Arabia. AIG already had a significant presence in KSA through offices in Riyadh,Jeddah and Khobar. It remains to be seen as to what happens to these business interests.

Another interesting part of the story which is likely to unfold in the near future is the Investment by Saudis in the US economy. Would Saudi Arabian companies consolidate its interests in USA & invest more? Some of the richest Saudis are known to invest in global companies when the share prices have been low. This may provide ample buying opportunity for them in companies whose market share may have eroded but which can still provide good long term prospects.

Clarification: 07/10/08

Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan's largest brokerage, will pay just two dollars for the bankrupt US Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s investment banking and equities operations in the Middle East and Europe, a top-selling business daily in Tokyo reported.
The Tokyo-based Nomura got the rock-bottom price because it will take over only the failed Wall Street firm's employees, and not its stocks, bonds or other assets, the Nikkei Shimbun said.

Click here for more details.