Q1. Where are you originally from & how long have you been a nurse?
I am from Ireland and I've been working for 7 years.
Q2. How long have you been in Saudi Arabia now, and which City are you currently living in?
I've been in KSA for just over a month. I'm in Riyadh. I'm returning after completing a 3 month locum contract in KFSHRC last year.
Q3. Have you always wanted to work in Saudi Arabia?
Short answer: yes. I've always wanted to try working in the Gulf.
Q4. What were your thoughts/impressions during your first days in Saudi Arabia? Was it what you expected, or vastly different? How so?
Having worked in Abu Dhabi for two years before coming to Saudi Arabia, I think I had some idea about what to expect. Once you get past the heat and the landscape you'll remember that people are, all over the world, almost fundamentally the same.
Q5. Did you find the airport arrival difficult/stressful, or was it manageable?
The airport trip was very manageable. My new employer arranged airport pickup. This seems to be standard when travelling in this region. When I travelled it was during Covid¬19. Just wear a mask and take all the normal precautions you would take when travelling at home.
Q6. What was the arrival and orientation process like? Was it helpful in terms of getting yourself set up for life in KSA?
The arrival and orientation were smooth. The workforce on my team is quite international? people know what it's like to leave home. Maybe for that reason people are pretty welcoming. And life's easier when people try get along.
Q7. What was the licensing/registration process like? Did you find it difficult or easy? Was the information and assistance from Profco helpful in terms of licensing?
My licensing process is still ongoing. Profco are still helping me with this.
Q8. What is it like at work? Is it vastly different to working back home, or much the same?
Again, I'd say that workplace dynamics are pretty much the same wherever you go. If you don't know what you're doing: ask. If you're uncertain about cultural norms/traditions: ask. Try learn a few Arabic phrases. It's not essential, but it shows your Saudi colleagues and patients that you're trying.
Q9. Do you struggle a lot with the language barrier or is it manageable?
It's manageable, but I like I say, it's nice to try. Have a few common phrases. Learn the basic medical terms and instructions. A lot of patients speak English. If they don't, they probably have a relative that does. And your Arabic speaking colleagues are usually quite happy to help.
Q10. What is are the housing and recreation facilities like?
Housing is comfortable and secure. You may or may not be sharing. In my compound, there's a pool and a shop. There's a playground, too, and a gym.
Q11. What is the social life like?
Current COVID precautions aside, the social life here is fine. You can go out for coffee, meals, cinema etc. just as you would at home. Riyadh is quickly changing: look up the 2030 vision. Jeddah is lovely to visit (Jeddah is by the sea).
There are some (quite good) Embassy parties.
Q12. Do you manage to get out sightseeing etc. much? Is getting around easy to manage?
Yes, you can get out and about. Uber works well here. It's fast and has fixed (reasonable) fares, whereas local marked/unmarked taxis do not.
Q13. How has the decision to work in Saudi Arabia affected you, professionally and personally?
Some hospitals here are JCI and/or Magnet accredited facilities. This looks good on your CV. Hospitals are large and multispeciality so I was exposed to a lot of procedures and practices that I hadn't seen 'at home'.
I think it always does people good to get away. Whatever you're looking for, you might find it here.
Q14. Do you have any tips or advice for other nurses who are contemplating the move to Saudi?
I suppose just go for it. I think it's as simple as that. If your personal/family circumstances permit you to travel now, then act because they mightn't always possible.