Why you should consider working in Saudi Arabia

Recruitment agents say the UK downturn has so far failed to spark a large exodus of construction profession overseas but as the coalition government’s cuts squeeze the industry even harder, this could be about to change. But if you do decide it’s time to make the move abroad, with the industry’s favourite old haunt Dubai having collapsed, where do you go now?

David Knowles, MD of PRS Executive Search, says: “90% of recruitment overseas is going to the Middle East, the Far East, Australia and Africa. “With Saudi demand increasing massively.”

Demand in Saudi Arabia is being driven by the government’s massive infrastructure development programme and the near-unique ability to fund projects without relying on private finance.

Business Monitor International predicts the Kingdom’s construction industry will grow by 6.8% in 2010, fuelled by both current and upcoming projects. Some $16bn in construction contracts have already been handed out in Saudi  in the first half of 2010, on top of $80bn worth of infrastructure projects currently underway.

But Knowles notes that while UK construction “…remains negative” for job-seekers, candidates remain unwilling or hesitant to up sticks and move to construction’s new Mecca.

This is not altogether unsurprising. The Kingdom is unlikely to top a poll of preferred tourist destinations or provide the Middle Eastern glamour usually associated with Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

But it can offer exciting work. And a lifestyle not unfamiliar to British expats the developing world over. Recruitment agents point out that most expats in Saudi live in compounds, where they are able to live, socialise and dress much as they would in the West.

So perhaps it’s time to ditch that studio flat in Kilburn for the heavily armed compound in Riyadh? Or that Oyster Card for the chauffeur-driven 4X4?

What have you got to lose? And don’t say “your hands.”