Working in Saudi Arabia gives nurses the chance for travel and tax-free salaries, and enables them to learn about a diverse range of cultures
If you have ever thought of using your nursing qualification to fund travel overseas, Saudi Arabia offers exciting opportunities. You can earn an excellent salary, and it is ideally placed for travel to many countries that are costly and often difficult to reach from the UK.
Saudi Arabia also gives nurses the op- portunity to develop their skills and ex- perience and increase their understand- ing of Islamic culture, while its eclectic mix of overseas workers enables them to learn about a wide range of cultures while working in a culturally diverse workforce.
Saudi Aramco, a fully integrated, global petroleum enterprise, has its own five health care facilities, including the 380 inpatient bed Dhahran Health Cen- ter, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Ara- bia. These facilities provide care for the employees of the company and their de- pendants, although in emergency and life-threatening situations they will care for non-employees. Employees of the company are predominantly Saudi nationals plus expatriate workers from a range of countries, including the US, UK, South Africa, India, Lebanon, Jordan and the Philippines.
Emily Cross, a registered UK nurse who works on a female medical ward at the Dhahran Health Center, says her time there has increased her insight into a range of cultures.
“Saudi Aramco’s patient population is very diverse,” she says. “You really have to be aware of the importance of meeting individual needs and not mak- ing assumptions.”
Emily has worked in Dhahran for 18 months. After graduating from Glasgow University she spent over four years as a staff nurse on medical wards in the city’s hospital. She decided to spend some
time overseas when a friend returned from Australia and suggested the idea. They both applied for nursing jobs with Saudi Aramco - Emily was successful, gaining an open-ended contract. As with most jobs in Britain she is simply re- quired to give a month’s notice if she wishes to leave.
Moving to Saudi Arabia was relatively easy as Saudi Aramco gave Emily plenty of practical assistance, for example with documentation and travel. She now lives in a large company-operated communi- ty that houses around 10,000 people of various nationalities, including Saudi nationals. It is like a self-contained town, with leisure facilities, such as parks and gardens, swimming pools, a golf course, fitness track, restaurants and cafes. Nurses are employed on single-person contracts and are provided single accommodation.
Emily finds working at the health center busy and enjoyable. She cares for pa- tients with a range of acute and long- term conditions, including respiratory disorders and cardiac problems, as well as those admitted for procedures, such as endoscopies and colonoscopies. While Emily says it is helpful to learn a little Arabic, English is spoken throughout the hospital and there are plenty of native Arabic speaking staff to communicate with patients who cannot speak English. The company provides online Arabic courses for study as part of employees’ self-development for those who are keen to learn the language. As the only inpatient healthcare facility for Saudi Aramco’s employees, Dhahran Health Center provides care for thousands of employees and dependants from birth to death. Many patients are transferred there from the compa- ny’s smaller facilities for further care. The health center has excellent emergency, mater- nity and intensive care facilities, and employs a range of specialist nurses. It also has a wide range of general outpatient and spe- cialty clinics.
The company takes professional development serious- ly and actively supports employee development, benefitting their career prospects when they return to the UK. Of course, Saudi Arabia is very differ- ent from the UK, but Emily says this is not a problem. She enjoys the travel op- portunities that working there opens up. “You can have great holidays,” she says. “We are well paid with a low cost of living and huge savings potential, and Saudi Arabia is convenient to get to many places people in the UK don’t really think of going to, such as Dubai, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It’s also about halfway to Australia. Working out here really opens up your horizons.” Saudi Aramco is currently recruiting for a range of nursing positions, includ- ing emergency medicine services and oncology. With so many professional and personal benefits on offer, Emily is keen to recommend it to other nurses wanting to experience something a little different. “It really opens up your mind to other cultures and ways of working,” she says. “It’s the best move I’ve ever made.”