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Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jul 10, 2023

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

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What do I need to know before moving to Al-Ahsa?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Al-Ahsa, they said:

"Al-Ahsa, located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, is known for its rich history, lush green landscapes, and world-renowned dates. Before moving to Al-Ahsa, expats should be aware of the strict Islamic laws and customs that govern daily life in Saudi Arabia. This includes dress codes, particularly for women, who are expected to wear an abaya (a loose-fitting black cloak) in public. The official language is Arabic, so learning some basic phrases can be beneficial, although English is widely spoken in business and by many locals. The climate in Al-Ahsa is desert-like, with extremely hot summers and mild winters. It's important to stay hydrated and avoid the sun during peak hours. Expats should also be aware that the cost of living in Al-Ahsa is relatively low compared to other cities in Saudi Arabia. However, the availability of certain goods and products may be limited, so it's advisable to check what's available before moving. Saudi Arabia operates under a sponsorship system, so expats must have a sponsor (usually their employer) to obtain a residence permit or 'iqama'. This permit is required for many aspects of daily life, from opening a bank account to getting a driving license. Healthcare in Al-Ahsa is of a high standard, with both public and private hospitals available. However, expats are advised to secure comprehensive health insurance before moving. The education system in Saudi Arabia is different from many Western countries, with separate schools for boys and girls. There are international schools available in Al-Ahsa, but spaces can be limited and fees can be high. Finally, expats should be aware that Saudi Arabia has strict laws regarding alcohol, which is completely banned in the country. Penalties for possession, consumption, or trafficking of alcohol are severe," remarked one expat who made the move to Al-Ahsa.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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