Study in Saudi Arabia
Graduate programs in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is the home of Islam and is one of the most popular destinations for international students looking to study the theology of Islam. However, there is more to this wealthy Middle Eastern country than just religion. Saud Arabia is home to one-fifth of the world’s oil reserves, making it a leading educator in the field of oil and gas engineering.
The Kingdom is also investing huge amounts in its universities in an attempt to attract more foreign students, with science and technology a particular area of interest.
Whatever your motivation for study abroad, choosing a graduate program in Saudi Arabia will allow you to study in one of the world’s most unique countries.
Saudi Arabia is home to 24 government run universities offering Masters and PhD programs, as well as several private colleges and departments. Men and women are taught separately in different institutions, with program lasting four years in humanities and social sciences and between five to six years in medicine, engineering and pharmacy.
The most popular Masters for international graduates in Saudi Arabia are in finance, marketing, technology and religious studies.
The entry requirements for getting into postgraduate study in Saudi Arabia depend on the course, institution and type of study you want to do.
Many courses are taught in English, but it is worth having conversational Arabic as this will be useful in your day-to-day student life.
Immigration and visas in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has one of the toughest and most complicated visa procedures in the world. You will need to submit lots of information and been in constant contact with your chosen university.
Students looking to study a graduate program in Saudi Arabia will usually need to demonstrate the following:
- You have a confirmed place on a course at a recognised education institution
- You have your original birth certificate
- You have paid all relevant visa fees
- A medical certificate detailing your health from a licensed practitioner
- A police report detailing any criminal record
- Approval to travel from your government
It’s important to note that a Saudi Arabian student visa does not permit you to work while in the Kingdom. You should check all details with your home country before applying.
Life in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam, so Western students might find it hard to adapt to life in Saudi Arabia at first. For example, men and women are kept separate in restaurants and many public places like banks (although there are often ‘family’ areas for married couples), public transport beyond taxis is almost non-existent and shops close five days a day for prayers.
Visitors to the Kingdom may also experience a different social life – women must cover up in public places, no public displays of affection are allowed (including hand-holding) and alcohol is completely banned.
Despite this, most Saudis are friendly and happy to chat to Westerners. Many will be delighted to tell you more about their country and there are plenty of decent tourist destinations, from the beaches of the Red Sea to the mountains of Abha.
While you might find living in the Kingdom a culture shock at first, through yourself into its different style and you’ll gain many benefits.
Working in Saudi Arabia
Students in Saudi Arabia are banned from working, so you’ll need to make sure that you have enough funds to cover your studies. However, if you want to work in the Kingdom after graduating, there are plenty of opportunities for expats.
Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country that will often offer professional foreign workers high salaries that are tax-free, with perks such as accommodation and transport thrown in. Particularly popular fields for expats to work in include engineering, teaching, medical services and information technology at governmental organisations.
International students coming to Saudi Arabia will almost always live in private accommodation organised through the university, as halls of accommodation do not exist in the Kingdom. Accommodation in Saudi Arabia is plentiful, ranging from luxurious villas with courtyards and swimming pools, to modern flats.
One thing is key in all housing though – make sure you have air conditioning.
Climate in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has a desert climate and is prone to extremely hot temperatures – it’s not unusual for day time temperatures to exceed 50C. This means that most Saudis avoid walking around during the daytime, with most leisure activities taking place at night.
The coldest months in Saudi Arabia are between December and January, but even then day time temperatures average out at around 15C.
Due to its desert climate, Saudi Arabia is prone to dust storms. Rain is very infrequent, but often results in flash floods when it does happen.
Saudi Arabia has a poorly developed public transport system, with most Saudis opting for private air-conditioned cars to get them around.
Buses are rare, taxis unreliable and trains almost non-existent. You should either buy your own car while studying in Saudi Arabia, or opt for a driver.
The currency of Saudi Arabia is the riyal.
What to do next
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