There are great opportunities for doctors to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The diversity of career and lifestyle opportunities available range from large tertiary hospitals in the major capital and regional cities, to smaller hospitals in regional locations, providing exposure to a wide spectrum of clinical and social experiences.
The government of Saudi Arabia has given high priority to the development of health care services at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. As a consequence, the health of the Saudi population has greatly improved in recent decades. The Ministry of Health operates 62% of the hospitals and 53% of the clinics and centers; the remaining facilities are operated by government agencies, including the Ministry of Defense, the National Guard, the Ministry of the Interior, and several other ministries, as well as by private entities.
Healthcare is regarded as one of the fastest growing sectors in the Middle East. Healthcare spend in the GCC in 2011 was estimated to be $46.12bn and this is expected to reach $133.19bn in 2018, due to a rising population, an increase in lifestyle diseases and deeper insurance penetration.
There are numerous high profile healthcare projects being built across the region, both by governments and by private foreign healthcare investors, with big names like Cleveland Clinic and King’s College London, joining companies already established in the market, including Johns Hopkins, Imperial College London, Cornell University and Moorfield’s.
Whether working within a Government or a private hospital, Doctors moving to the Gulf region will have the opportunity to work alongside a truly global workforce in state of the art facilities, with the latest technologies and without budgetary constraints. There are also opportunities to bring new skills and experience to the market, shaping healthcare expectations in this fast developing region.
Standards are remarkably high for such a fast developing sector, with the majority of hospitals JCI Accredited, or at least working towards JCI Accreditation. The Middle East has changed enormously over the last 50 years and continues to do so. The healthcare sector is integral to the regions continuing growth and development, and the investment being made
clearly reflects this.
The majority of opportunities in the Gulf are at Consultant level or grades of doctors Specialist Doctor / Registrar, Senior Registrar & Medical Officer are also available however Consultant grades are predominant, working in hospitals or specialist clinics, both government and private. The qualifications and experience needed to practise as a Consultant depends on where you did your training. If specialist training was done in the UK (a Tier 1 country) you need to have 2 years post-CCT experience to work as a Consultant. Tier 2 countries require 8 years’ experience post specialisation.
Due to the Middle Eastern culture of self-referral there has been a lack of opportunities for GPs, but this is starting to change. The Ministries of Health in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have all put policies in place to massively increase their primary healthcare offerings, which should see a growth in opportunities for overseas GPs in the near future.
Unfortunately there are no real opportunities for Junior Doctors to go to the Gulf. There are only a few training hospitals and they are focussed on training local physicians, not offering places for overseas graduates. Also, Consultant-led care is the norm across the region, further limiting opportunities.
The process of obtaining medical registration in the Gulf will vary depending on the country you decide to work in (and in the UAE, the emirate you are employed in will also affect the process). Gaining licensure will involve a number of steps that may involve assessments, background checks, certificates of good standing and a required number of years of practise depending on your specialisation. Generally speaking, you must hold a medical qualification listed from a medical school listed in the International Medical Education Directory of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research.
Similarly, visa application processes vary by country, but generally speaking once a job offer has been made the prospective employer will play a large part in helping you obtain the relevant employment / residence visa. For further information it is
best to contact your Workplace Doctors Recruitment Specialist who will be able to provide you with details relevant to your desired location.
The links below also provide useful guidance on some of the requirements stipulated by the different countries in the Gulf region:
Qatar Supreme Council of Health
UAE Ministry of Health
Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health
Kuwait Ministry of Health
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently introduced a process know as DATAFLOW to verify qualifications. Candidates seeking to work in the Kingdom must commence this process prior to their application being considered.
If you are intending to work as a doctor in Saudi Arabia, please go to the DATAFLOW web site to:
It is important to print the receipt which was sent to your e-mail to supply to employers as evidence that you have commenced the process. Without this evidence, your application may not be progressed.
Although the Middle East is a large expanse of geography with a variety of countries and customs, noting the following general points of etiquette can be useful when dealing with people who have been raised according to the traditions of the Middle East:
The points above are by no means a fully exhaustive list of do’s and dont’s for the Gulf region, and more research should be undertaken once you are aware of where exactly it is that you will be working.
Population: 26 million
Area: 2.24 million sq. km
Official language: Arabic
Currency: 1 Riyal = 100 halalah
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become one of the wealthiest nations in the region thanks to vast oil resources. Sitting on more than 25% of the world’s known oil reserves, the country is capable of producing more than 10 million barrels per day. The Kingdom is one of the major players in the Arab and Muslim worlds, its stature built on geographic size, prestige as the birthplace of Islam, and oil. The working population is very multi-cultural due to a wide variety of job opportunities, competitive salaries and benefits for all nationalities.
With its rich heritage and colourful past, Saudi Arabia is imbued with tradition and culture. The Kingdom has over 600 annual storytelling, dance and dramatic arts festivals. Of these, the colourful Janadriya Festival is the largest event, celebrating aspects of Saudi culture including fine arts, folk dancing, painting, weaving, literature, traditional and modern poetry.
Almost all items and well-known brands can be found in Saudi Arabia. Malls have an array of restaurants and fast food outlets like Domino’s Pizza, KFC and Starbucks. In addition to the modern malls, you will find every town has a variety of traditional shopping centres, and a number of fascinating souks (covered markets).
Local state schools are usually not an option for foreign children. There are numerous private schools which cater to the expat community and well-to-do Saudi families. Often, these private schools are under government control to a certain extent, in order to ensure that curriculum and standards of education meet those of state schools.
The language of instruction is often English, and classes are co-educational. Families with older children, however, should make sure that the curriculum and standards of education are similar to those in their home country in order to ease the transition, especially with a view to their children’s qualifying for higher education.
Expat families with children usually opt for international schools, of which there are a few in cities like Jeddah, Riyadh, or Al-Khobar. Some of them follow certain national curricula (e.g. British, American, Indian, and Pakistani); others offer the International Baccalaureate or a combination of international and third-country curricula. Some schools are affiliated with their national government and therefore may not accept third-country students. Most international schools incorporate pre-school, primary and secondary school under one roof. As places are limited, make sure to apply as soon as possible.
Healthcare in Saudi Arabia is made up of a combination of government health facilities and private medical practices, many of which are staffed by English-speaking doctors. Most Western expatriates opt for private healthcare, with many employers providing medical insurance as part of a benefits package.
Private medical insurance is compulsory for all foreign nationals visiting or living in Saudi Arabia. This insurance is normally provided by the employer and enables the use of either state-run or private clinics and hospitals. With the exception of specialist government hospitals, private facilities are generally preferred by most Western expatriates as they are less crowded and provide a better service.
Basic and specialist healthcare and medical treatment provided are on a par with Western Europe or North America. There are 1,600 government-operated health centres across the country, with a similar number of private facilities. Most neighbourhoods (and many of the larger compounds) have at least one private clinic providing primary healthcare. Most healthcare staff are foreign and English is the common language in most hospitals and clinics (both government-run and private). While there is strict segregation of the sexes in general society in Saudi Arabia, most clinics and hospitals are open to both men and women, and a female patient can be seen by a male doctor and vice-versa.
Cost of Living
You’ll soon notice that there are a lot of construction projects going on in Saudi Arabian cities, as apartment blocks and family houses are being built in great numbers and at great speed to cater to the growing urban population. Most expats live in compounds: low-rise apartment blocks that form some sort of gated community. The more luxurious among them come with their own swimming pool, tennis courts, gym, children’s playground, shops, and restaurant. The apartments themselves are usually spacious and well maintained. Whatever type of accommodation you are going for, make sure it provides covered parking facilities to protect your vehicle from sand, dust, and high temperatures. Foreign residents have only been allowed to own property in Saudi Arabia since 2011, therefore most expats live in rented accommodation. A lot of big companies with a significant share of foreign employees have special deals with local landlords or estate agents, which enable them to offer a certain contingent of accommodation to their expat staff. The renting process itself is relatively straightforward, though you should make sure to have a certified English translation of the Arabic contract. Most accommodation is unfurnished, and there are short and long-term contracts available, ranging from one month to one year. As per usual, any damage done to the property exceeding the boundaries of fair wear and tear will have to be paid for.
Saudi Arabia has recently undergone an upgrading of its road network, and this is now of the highest standard. You can drive for up to three months in Saudi Arabia on the licence from your home country or on an international licence. After this time, you are required to have a Saudi driving licence. Some licences, including those from the UK and US, are convertible to a Saudi licence without a driving test.
The majority of Western expatriates in Saudi Arabia use cars as the primary method of transport (privately owned and rental), or use private drivers or taxis. However, there are some public transport options available that provide other ways to get around. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and there are rules about women being in a car with an unrelated man, even a driver, however this is commonly overlooked for foreign nationals, especially those from Western countries.
Hiring a car is possible for any male visitor to Saudi Arabia over 25 years of age who has held a driving licence in the country of origin for over one year. Driving licences are accepted from countries such as the UK and US, or International Driving Permits can be used. Extreme care should be taken when first driving in the country. It is advisable to use a driver or taxis for a while before driving alone. In addition, it is recommended to always pay for comprehensive insurance.
Taxis can be found in all the major cities, however, after major changes of the taxi system in late 2012, taxis cannot be hailed from the street or any other fixed location, and must be reserved in advance, even in busy venues such as airports and shopping centres. Fares are not always charged by meter, so it is best to agree on the fare when booking a taxi or before setting off on your journey.
Feel free to visit our jobs section to find the latest vacancies as per your grade & specialism.