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  1. #1
    Neo
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    Your take on living in the ME

    Never worked out there myself, my old man used to work on hovercraft out there in the 70's so maybe it's worth a crack.

    Based in Dubai and flying into Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar for on the job training and assessment. 3-5 years if you can handle the flies, the heat and the body odour.

    What's a good wage for that kind of work..? No big fish tales please.
    Accommodation, pension etc taken care of, just bottom line. I'm thinking 45k to make it worth living in the number one most geologically and intellectually barren place in the world, and get some savings in the bank back home.

    So what's it like? Boring? I could do with staying off the booze for a while anyway. Go to the gym, sniff lettuce.. upside is plenty of flights out of Dubai, might even get back to ol' SEA.

    I can't see it as a long term prospect though. Is it one of those places where you have to focus on the money and then get out of Dodge?

    Thoughts please.
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat david44's Avatar
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    It's a kinda cross between an asylum a waiting room for discharge and a highly paid gauge of how poor/rich you can endure.

    I recall in KSA at 54 degrees and drinking haram,all else even kuwait iraq is a holiday camp every guy from boss to sleeper knew exactly how long until end of the contract.

    Prisoner cell block H without lovely ladies or grog readily available.for gay camel enthusiasts wanna be muslims and perhaps masochists great way to pay off alimony, school fees car loan or in a short time a home in LOS,do the haj, climb mts full of apes ,bathroom hootch and jeddah parties

    I worked in Qatar UAE and Oman which are all lovely but so many ways to compensate with the colleagues.KSA is full frontal as you say take the money and run.
    Your ballpark figure sounds right plus you can save nearly all of it if content to eat curry.

    These days with the net, music films Skype it's not the penance of old and guy I know still there say rates haven't improved much with so many graduates and skilled trades seeking work.

    You may like to check utube for drifting and haram to give a taste. Having done Ramadan in August in Riyadh the rest of my life is a holiday.

    pm if you specific questions I'm sure many Oil guys finance education shipping and military,training, medical guys here will have info.
    I believe Cyrille and others will have up to date info

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  3. #3
    or TizYou?
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    Quote Originally Posted by david44 View Post
    Prisoner cell block H without lovely ladies or grog readily available.
    I spent 8 years in Jeddah.
    The walls around the compound were to keep locals out, not to keep us in.
    The compound had swimming pools, tennis courts, gymnasium, a few bars. Everything that you could ever want, or need.
    Partied almost non stop. Never drank so much anywhere else I ever lived.
    Plenty of lovely nurses and flight attendants to party with.
    Weekends spent diving in the Red Sea and BBQ and drinks at the beach.

    Finish work every day at 4pm.
    To keep the boss happy, I just had to do more work than the 3 Saudis in my team. I could manage that by just working 2 days per week.

    No rent, no electricity bills, no income tax, petrol cheaper than water.

    I had a great time there.

  4. #4
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    I've been based in Dubai for the last year.

    All in all its a decent place to live and work. Take Dubai as being a bit like expat life in Singapore but with fewer options for living cheaply. There's no income tax here which makes up for the generally high cost of living, so it's a bit of a zero-sum gain there.

    GBP 45K/year after rent, pension etc is enough to live on and put some money aside. Booze is expensive here, eating out is also fairly pricey too. If you come out here with the attitude of putting in a few years of hard work and not too much play then you'll probably get away with spending about GBP 1-2 K per month and bank the rest.

    Cars - I'm not sure if you get a company car or not but the likelihood is you'll need a car here as relying on public transport is not great. They are cheap in Dubai compared with most of the rest of the world. Fuel is relatively inconsequential but servicing etc can be expensive as the supply of parts is a closed shop. I bought a 3 year old Golf GTI for about AED 70K when I got here which does the job for me. Finance is easy to get if you want to splash the cash and get something a bit different. There's a website called Dubizzle which is where many expats sell there stuff when they are leaving and is a good place to see the price of used cars - or anything else you may want.

    Travelling in and out of Bahrain and Doha from Dubai is easy and you can do either of them as day trips if you want. Bahrain is not a bad place to stay for a few nights, Doha less so. Saudi is a little more challenging to travel to but take it for what it is rather than wish it was different and it's fine.

    The weather in Dubai is unpleasantly hot for about three months of the year in the summer (June/July/August). High 40's, but fairly dry compared with SE Asia. The humidity does creep up in the latter part of the summer. For the remaining 9 months of the year the weather is very liveable. Today was a high of about 25 degrees, blue skies. Tonight the temperature will drop to about 12 to 15 degrees I guess. The reason for mentioning all this is that, other than in mid-summer, there's a lot that you can do if you're an outdoorsy type that won't cost much. Bicycling is becoming increasingly popular and there are several really good dedicated bike tracks that have recently been built. Get yourself a 4WD and go exploring in the desert/mountains at the weekends. Sailing, tennis, horse riding etc etc. Lots of stuff to do if you want.

    Downsides of the place -

    1) Party hard and Dubai will bankrupt you.
    2) Every bank will trip over themselves to lend you money and give you credit cards. There's lots to waste money on here if you choose to do so.
    3) On the outside everything looks mega clean and efficient, but scratch the surface and it is still a Middle-East country so things can be a bit slow and bureaucratic at times.

    All in all I really like the place. It's never going to be where I retire, but that's the same for everyone who is not a local here. Come, work, keep it sensible, put some cash aside, don't worry that others may have a more extravagant lifestyle than you (smugly note point 2 above) and then when you've had enough move on with some cash jangling in your pocket.

    On that note, check on how your employer will calculate gratuity. The deal in the UAE is that if you work for three years you'll get 21 days salary for each year worked when you leave the company. Some companies calculate gratuity on the gross salary (including housing etc) and some on net. There's a move afoot by the government to calculate this on gross but not all employers follow it. Worth checking on as it is a reasonable extra chunk of free cash when you leave.

    Hope that helps, PM me if you want some more details or to give me a call.

    Good luck on the decision!

  5. #5
    R.I.P.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    I'm thinking 45k to make it worth living in the number one most geologically and intellectually barren place in the world, and get some savings in the bank back home.
    45k is barely reasonable in the UK. If you're going to work in the ME you should be looking at 100k minimum.

  6. #6
    Neo
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    Good info guys... worth thinking about.
    One plus I see is being able to fly out to SEA and Aus.. I'd like to think flights out of Dubai are cheap and plentiful, but is that the case?

  7. #7
    Molecular Mixup
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    What jobs are we talking here ?
    I'm not looking to go . as I'm 100's of years old, just out of interest

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roobarb
    1) Party hard and Dubai will bankrupt you.
    This would be my major concern!

    Quote Originally Posted by DrB0b
    45k is barely reasonable in the UK. If you're going to work in the ME you should be looking at 100k minimum.
    Accom paid and no tax, etc, 45k pounds in Dubai is 100k pounds in England - that's the point...

  9. #9
    a cookin' an' a bookin' Luigi's Avatar
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    Your take on living in the ME
    fuck that-io.

  10. #10
    Hansum Man!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    Based in Dubai
    That's a good start - possibly the best place to be based

    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    What's a good wage for that kind of work..? No big fish tales please.
    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    45k
    Seeing as it is net the number is ok. Not particularly good, but ok. You sensibly didn't mention what you do, specifically, which makes it difficult to ascertain the acceptability of the offer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    So what's it like? Boring?
    Not at all. If you have kids then it's quite ok . . . alone and you'll be lining up with the morons for expensive Ukie or Russian hookers

    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    I could do with staying off the booze for a while anyway.
    No need . . . if you fly a lot then duty free makes it cheap

    Quote Originally Posted by david44
    I worked in Qatar UAE and Oman
    Ditto, kind of. Qatar is the pits, only drowned out by KSA but Oman is lovely and parts of UAE are quite ok.
    Had some friends return to KL after eight years in Abu Dhabi . . . they miss the place quite considerably

    I did a mall Oman pic report - check it out

    Quote Originally Posted by david44
    KSA is full frontal as you say take the money and run.
    Horrible

    Quote Originally Posted by TizMe
    I spent 8 years in Jeddah.
    Ugh . . .

    Imagine this: yucky freezing and yucky 50 degrees plus . . . no scenery, really (aside from Oman and parts of Saudi) - everything is grey and brown

    If you want to just slog it out for a few years of good money - do it

  11. #11
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    PH, have to disagree with your thoughts of Jeddah above and a few other comments.

    Living and working in the KSA has a lot to do with the compound you live in. If it is like TizMe explained with a nice environment that keeps the Saudis out, it is a constant party. We used to have a still to make 'Sadik' and many expats from the UK and Australia were excellent at making home made beer. The idea that one can not drink alcohol in the Kingdom is silly. We used to receive several bottles of Johnny Walker Black from our pharmaceutical distributor. Since I worked in a hospital, there was an endless stream of nurses from 21 nationalities that I tried to work my way through.

    The second hospital I worked at was a totally different story. The compound contained Saudi nationals and drinking alcohol had to be done more discreetly. Luckily, some of us befriended the air traffic controllers of Riyadh and they had a fantastic compound. Very much like a five star resort, but without females. We would advertise in the hospital for a weekend party and took several busloads of nurses to the controller's compound and we were rewarded by free booze(real booze) and lodging for the weekend. They would lock the compound gates on Friday night and reopen Sunday night. Needless to say, plenty went on during these two days.

    As far a vehicles go, I shared a Nissan Patrol with two other workers in the hospital and drove all over Saudi Arabia, except for Mecca. I purchased a used Mercedes for a very reasonable price and had it shipped to the States. I would not recommend this since the paperwork is copious. If you are female, forget about driving in Saudi Arabia.

    Plenty to do and one needs to watch their money since the souks can soak it up pretty quickly. Electronics, gold and carpets were my weakness, but I was still able to bolster my savings account since we paid no income tax, lodging or utilities while I was there. Each work contract is different, so read carefully before signing. My understanding is that time off and pay have decreased since I worked there, but they are still worth the effort.

    Jeddah was the most cosmopolitan city I experienced in Saudi. It was much more lax than Riyadh when it came to dress, walking with a single female or overall behaviour. Diving the Red Sea is a must and many great compounds exist for the large expat population.

    Personally, I had a great time and travelling to other countries was easy and enjoyable. Jeddah was about a 3.5 hour flight from Kenya and the location of Saudi Arabia put one close to SEA, India, Africa and several other vacation destinations. My advice is to give it a go, as long as your contract is decent along with the compound being tolerable. No Muslims allowed inside the compound is a must.
    Last edited by rickschoppers; 23-12-2015 at 05:20 PM.

  12. #12
    Neo
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    I'm not taking the option lightly, the ME post is seen as demanding and it is expected that 3 years would be enough for anyone. The company it is for would mean a very secure future.. it's an option at a good point in time. With a pool and a bar I could get by, and getting out of Blighty with the option to travel further afield again is a big draw. Won't know anything further until next month.. but thanks guys for the info, I'll keep you posted.

  13. #13
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    I lived (existed) in Dhahran in the Eastern Province - the most restrictive area is Saudi. Aramco was there, but they kept to themselves. I lived in a decent, small compound...small pool, snack bar, squash courts.

    It was the most boring two years of my life. I made the same money there as I would anywhere else (USG).

    I came out of it with PADI dive tickets up through Master Diver and some good carpets.

    That and a lifetime loathing of Saudis.

    Note: I didn't say Arabs, or Muslims....just Saudis. The most useless kunts on the Earth.

  14. #14
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    So Davis, your experience was much different than mine, obviously. I had thought about Aramco only because I heard their compound was not bad. You are isolated there, which is a definite negative. Did you not come out ahead by not paying any income tax? Was your lodging and utilites not covered?

  15. #15
    Neo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton View Post
    Saudis. The most useless kunts on the Earth.
    So I can expect the job to last a while then

  16. #16
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickschoppers View Post
    Did you not come out ahead by not paying any income tax? Was your lodging and utilites not covered?
    Lodging and utilities was covered anywhere I served abroad. I paid Federal income tax as they paid me, so it wasn't foreign earned income. I paid no state taxes, as New Hampshire (a non-tax state) was my home of record.

    There were advantages to serving outside of the US, which is where I served 80% of my career. There were no financial advantages to doing time in Saudi, vice serving in say Bangkok.

  17. #17
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton View Post
    Saudis. The most useless kunts on the Earth.
    So I can expect the job to last a while then
    Until the kunts can hire some Indian to do your job cheaper. I was there 86-88. The boom years were over. Aramco had once been pretty nice, but was turning into a third world ghetto as the Saudis fired Americans and Brits and replaced them with Indians, Pakis, etc.
    Last edited by Davis Knowlton; 23-12-2015 at 05:47 PM.

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat Dillinger's Avatar
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    Where's that photo of Betty and his goat herding drinking buddies?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton View Post
    Saudis. The most useless kunts on the Earth.
    So I can expect the job to last a while then
    Until the kunts can hire some Indian to do your job cheaper. I was there 86-88. The boom years were over. Aramco had once been pretty nice, but was turning into a third world ghetto as the Saudis fired Americans and Brits and replaced them with Indians, Pakis, etc.
    Yes, same years as me Davis, but I was in Riyadh. I was grooming a new Saudi pharmacy school grad to become Director of Pharmacy. I was one of two Americans left on staff and the rest were pharmacists from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and a few other ME countries. It would be interesting to go back now and see what the service level is like.

  20. #20
    Thailand Expat Dillinger's Avatar
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    Can you say grooming nowadays?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
    Can you say grooming nowadays?
    Training, educating, enlightening?

  22. #22
    Neo
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    Until the kunts can hire some Indian to do your job cheaper.
    It's ok I'm a specialist

  23. #23
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    At this point in time I would also entertain the idea of working in the Middle East if a good opportunity came along, and like you neo, it might have health and financial benefits by keeping of the drinks and saving the coin until your done, all my expat contracts have been in SEA thus far so I would probably struggle to deal with the ME, I doubt they would like me to much and vice a versa, would probably take a job in PNG before the Middle East, The women are damn hot and easy to get along with

  24. #24
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    45000 a year is not good money no matter what you say

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    I'm not taking the option lightly, the ME post is seen as demanding and it is expected that 3 years would be enough for anyone. The company it is for would mean a very secure future.. it's an option at a good point in time. With a pool and a bar I could get by, and getting out of Blighty with the option to travel further afield again is a big draw. Won't know anything further until next month.. but thanks guys for the info, I'll keep you posted.
    Good luck

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