Even if Saudi Arabia does not have a digital nomad visa program yet, foreign citizens who want to move here and work for a limited period of time can do that based on other types of visas. In 2018, Saudi Arabia introduced the electronic visa system, thus easing the process of entering the country. By 2030, the country aims to become one of the most appealing tourist destinations in the Middle East.
Tourist visas can be used by digital nomads who want to live and work from Saudi Arabia. Below, our immigration lawyers in Saudi Arabia explain your options in terms of remote work from here. If you are an entrepreneur, you can rely on us for Saudi company formation services.
Saudi Arabia and foreign remote workers
Persons who can choose where they can work from have the possibility of choosing foreign countries closer or farther from home, depending on their preferences. Now, many states have enabled digital nomad visas for remote workers, but Saudi Arabia is not one of them yet.
If you want to become a digital nomad in Saudi Arabia, however, you can apply for a tourist visa that will enable you to enter and stay here for 90 days. The validity of this visa is one year, so you can benefit from multiple entries, as long as each of them does not exceed 3 months.
Even if this is not the same as a Saudi digital nomad visa it resembles one from the following points of view:
- you can perform your work or other activities from here, as long as these are not related to a Saudi employer/client;
- you can live in Saudi Arabia, travel from one side of the country to another, and enjoy the great living style of this state;
- you can also complete your activities as an entrepreneur who has a business in another country;
- you don’t need to complete any complex formalities to obtain the visa, however, please mind you need health insurance for the duration of your stay;
- it is also recommended for the minimum validity of your travel document to be at least 6 months when arriving here.
The e-visa is available for citizens of nearly 50 countries up to this moment.
Compared to a digital nomad visa, temporary immigration to Saudi Arabia through the tourist visa does not require you to submit proof of income, however, you should have a bank statement to indicate you can support your stay here.
Foreign employees who came to the country through intra-company transfers must have their employment visas converted to Saudi residence permits (iqama), which usually have a one- to two-year validity period. The document is issued by the General Department of Passports.
If you want to come here as an entrepreneur, our immigration lawyers in Saudi Arabia can help you open a company in Saudi Arabia.
Are you interested in immigration to Saudi Arabia? With the help of our lawyers, you can move here in accordance with the relocation regulations imposed here. It is very important to have support from inside when moving here, as it can speed up the procedure, apart from ensuring that it is correct.
Tourist visa vs. freelance visa in Saudi Arabia
Obtaining a Saudi freelance visa as a digital nomad would normally imply having the possibility of working for a non-Saudi employer. In addition, it would impose different conditions than a tourist one.
Here is a comparison between the tourist and the freelance visa in Saudi Arabia:
- the tourist visa has a shorter validity which depends on the nationality of the applicant, but the digital nomad visa has a longer validity term (up to one year in countries enabling it);
- while there is no such requirement for a tourist visa, the remote worker must typically provide proof of income when applying for a digital nomad visa;
- while a tourist visa does not require one to have a foreign employer, a digital nomad is required to indicate proof of that;
- unlike the freelance visa, which can be obtained only for remote work activities, the tourist visa has broader purposes, including business visits.
It is worth considering the advantages and disadvantages when it comes to working remotely from Saudi Arabia, however, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that here, foreign citizens need work permits.
Feel free to ask for the support of our local specialists for information on the legal ways through which you can work from Saudi Arabia.
You may rely on us to provide accounting support for businesses in Saudi Arabia. Businesses, for instance, can select the solutions that suit their needs and specifications. Our Saudi accountants can provide a wide range of services to help businesses get the most out of an increasingly popular outsourced solution.
Electronic visa availability
Even if does not provide for a freelance visa, Saudi Arabia has taken major steps in enabling an electronic visa system. This way, it aims to make it easier for those to come here for short visits to enter the country.
Through this system, Saudi Arabia has become of the few countries in the world to have an electronic visa service. The online visa allows its holder a 90-day stay following each admission into the Kingdom and is valid for a year from the date of issuance. From a validity point of view, it resembles the digital nomad visa, without the additional requirements of indicating a foreign source of income.
Traveling and living as a freelancer in Saudi Arabia is possible, however, under different circumstances than in Western countries.
If you want to know more about the freelance visa for Saudi Arabia, you can rely on our agents here.
No restrictions for freelancers in Saudi Arabia
While under a designated type of visa, there would be certain restrictions for the issuance of digital nomad visas, under the electronic visa system, this is no longer an issue.
For example, obtaining a digital nomad visa in most countries with this program implies having a specific income for the duration of the stay. The amount required is usually an average salary of the respective country. Under a tourist visa, even if you need proof that you can support your stay here, the amount is usually lower.
As a digital nomad, one would need to show proof of having a foreign employer, while as a tourist in Saudi Arabia, there is no need for such proof.
Feel free to send us your questions on the freelance visa in Saudi Arabia and alternatives to this program.
What are the means through which foreigners can work in Saudi Arabia?
Despite not having the possibility of applying for a freelance visa in Saudi Arabia, foreign citizens have two options if they want to work here:
- the first is to apply for a work permit, a case in which they need to have a local employer;
- the second one implies setting up one’s own company.
In the first case, the Saudi employer will be the foreign citizen’s sponsor.
If you consider any of these options to suit your interests, our company formation specialists in Saudi Arabia can guide you. We are at your service if you decide to start your own business here.
The best digital nomad cities in Saudi Arabia
Despite not having a digital nomad visa, Saudi Arabia is sought by many foreign remote workers who have ranked their favorite cities. Among these:
- Medina is the preferred city of digital nomads because of the low living costs here;
- Riyadh also offers good living costs, but also for the numerous co-working spaces available;
- Dammam and Mecca are the other two cities preferred by digital nomads in Saudi Arabia.
If you want to relocate to any of these cities and work as a digital nomad, here is other useful information about Saudi Arabia:
- the minimum wage of a public employee is nearly 800 USD (3,000 SAR), while there is no minim salary for those who work in the private sector, according to the Ministry of Labor;
- expats can have high salaries, where the highest average may exceed 8,500 USD/month in the IT sector;
- other jobs that pay well in Saudi Arabia are in tourism, where a hotel manager can earn more than 10,000 USD per month;
- monthly living costs for a person can exceed 700 USD without rent, while the average rent is around 500 USD.
If you want to apply for a digital nomad visa in Saudi Arabia, we invite you to discuss your options with our local advisors. We are also at your disposal if you want to relocate here on a permanent basis.