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The Just Student Jobs Country guide for gap year travel in India and the Middle East - Saudi Arabia

Where to Go - Middle East / India

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Bahrain | Bangladesh | India | Israel | Jordan | Kuwait | Nepal
Oman | Saudi Arabia | Sri Lanka | Syria | UAE | Yemen

Saudi Arabia

Population: 22,023,506 (includes 5,360,526 non-nationals)

Literacy rate: 62.8%

Life expectancy at birth: male – 66.11 yrs, female – 69.51 yrs

Infant mortality rate: 52.9 deaths/1,000 live births

Population growth rate: 3.28%

GDP growth rate: 1.6%

GDP per capita: £6,000

Unemployment: N/A

Inflation: -1.2%

Climate: harsh, dry desert with great extremes of temperature

Time: GMT + 3.

Electricity: 125/215 volts AC, 50/60Hz.

Websites: Information on the culture, history, transport and many other areas can be found at

Foreign Office site including travel info

Warning: Following recent attacks targeting foreigners, the Foreign Office advises UK nationals to leave Saudi Arabia unless on essential business. Warnings are that more attacks on foreigners are being planned. If you are staying in the country, take security precautions and stay aware of travel advisory updates.

You should remember that there is no alcohol outside your home, men and women do not mix and there are no women drivers. If you are left-handed, never use the left hand for any social purpose. This is a strictly Muslim country and a great deal of trouble awaits those who go against the mores and customs. This advice must be addressed only to men; if you are thinking about taking your family, see about funding for your children’s education. Your wife will not find this an interesting place to live. Women must wear head-to-foot clothing in public and men must adhere to a formal dress code.

The terrain is simple to describe – desert. The Empty Quarter – the Rub Al-Khali – is 650,000km² of sand; the largest continuous area of sand in the world. Only 0.5% of the land may be considered arable, the rest, if not desert, is arid and infertile. 75% of revenues are provided by oil; service industries also account for much of the rest, but with 26% of world reserves of oil, no-one is too worried about anything but world oil prices and as OPEC controls these and Saudi Arabia is on the board of OPEC, who cares? An ambitious programme of industrialisation has raised the country from merely a source of petroleum to a moderately high level of development, although conditions in outside the big cities can still be primitive. Hospitals can be staggeringly high-tech and, wherever technology can make administration better, it is employed. This is a country of stark contrasts, and the Sa’ud family reigns supreme.

Entry requirements

There is no such thing as a tourist visa for Saudi Arabia. You can enter the country with a visitor's transit visa. To get even a tourist visa you need to be sponsored. Also see warning above


Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Malaria, Meningitis and Yellow Fever.

Tax and Insurance

No tax. Get health insurance, local facilities are excellent but expensive.

Gap Year Programmes

Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Saudi

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