Is it the time for me to leave the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

I love the country called Saudi Arabia, I consider it my home. Some people say that it is their second home but in my case, it has been the only home. No matter, if Saudi government considers me a citizen or not, I am as loyal to Saudi Arabia as Saudis themselves.

The preceding few years have just added troubles in my life. It is hard for me to leave the country I call my home, but it has been becoming even harder to live and survive here with an average salary. Saudi Arabia has been a country famous for a high level of savings but no more.

Dependent Fee: You must have heard that since July 2017, Saudi Arabia has imposed a dependent fee on all expatriates. It has been a heavy burden on the monthly expense of an expatriate living in Saudi Arabia especially for employees earning less than SR 10,000 per month.

Although it has been stated in the newspapers and everywhere that Dependent’s fee is the responsibility of the employers but most of the employers are not ready to bear this cost. Hence, the cost has been transferred to the expense of expatriates living in Saudi Arabia.

You might have heard that the dependent fee is not applicable to all categories of expatriates living in Saudi Arabia. There are a few Categories of Expatriates who are exempt from Dependent’s Fee. However, if you see their proportion, it is less than 1% of the total expatriate population in Saudi Arabia.

However, there is another side of the story. Although expatriates have to pay the dependent tax, they have also been able to reduce the house rent significantly. In a nutshell, the cost has been compensated with the reduction of house rent.

Work Permit Levy: Not only this, from the beginning 2018, expatriates have to Pay Work Permit Levy at a double rate. At this point, it is very important for everyone to know the Calculation of Work Permit Levy.

Paying work permit levy at a rate of SR 9,600/- per employee would be a big burden on the shoulders of the employer.

However, once again there is another side of the story. Legally, this is the cost which needs to be paid by the employer. All those expatriates who are working legally would not be directly affected. However, those expatriates who are working on Free Visa will have to pay the cost of their pocket.

Value Added Tax: With the beginning of 2018, now all Saudi residents will have to pay Value Added Tax at a rate of 5% on every product purchased or service consumed. It means that your cost of living will be increased by 5% with immediate effect. However, there will be no impact on salaries.

However, once again there is another side of the story. While living in Saudi Arabia, we have enjoyed a tax-free income for a long time. We never paid any money to the government and enjoyed all the facilities of the country.

If you live in any other country of the world, you need to pay 20% to 30% tax on your income. If you think this way, paying VAT should not bother you a lot.

The Increasing Cost of Living: As we know that the cost of living has been gradually increasing in Saudi Arabia. Petrol Prices which had been SR 0.45 per liter now have been increased by many folds.

Moreover, the government has also reduced subsidies on electricity bills, resulting in heavy electricity bill every month.

However, once again I would ask you again to look it from a different perspective. The cost of petrol in Saudi Arabia is still 50% lower than the price of petrol in UAE and other Gulf countries. The cost of electricity at household in Saudi Arabia is still very cheap.

Country economic difficulties: Currently, the Saudi economy has been undergoing one of the worst phases of the century. Although they have been recovering from the downfall, still the situation has not been very convincing from a jobs point of view.

Hundreds of thousands of employees have been terminated, thousands have opted to resign as they were not paid salaries and not able to sustain the heavy cost of living in Saudi Arabia, others are just trying to survive.

Is it the time for me to leave the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Now coming to the answer to the question I raised in the beginning. Everyone is smart enough to make his or her decision. If you are still living in Saudi Arabia, it means that you have not been paid that much in any other part of the world.

If you had been offered a better package in any other part of the world, you would have made your move. I think this is the time we should start realizing the fact that even in bad circumstances, Saudi Arabia has been a better option for us.

The expatriates for whom Saudi Arabia was not a better option have already left Saudi Arabia and got settled in some other countries. Many have left Saudi Arabia forcefully as they could not find any job opportunity here.

Many will leave soon due to increasing the dependent fee, work permit levy and cost of living.  Let’s stop blaming the country which has given us a lot and focuses on our individual development.

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