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Saudi Arabia > Testimonials > Irish nurse manager tells her experience about working in Riyadh.

Q1. Where are you originally from & how long have you been a nurse?

I am from Dublin, Ireland. I qualified in 2013 so have been a nurse for 11 years. 

Q2. How long have you been in Saudi Arabia now, and which city are you currently living in?

I am currently living in Riyadh. I have lived in Saudi Arabia for almost one and a half years. 

Q3. Have you always wanted to work in Saudi Arabia?

Since hearing about my friends experience in Riyadh in 2019, I had planned on coming here. However, I wanted to complete my Master's first and then covid came. So I only ended up coming here in 2022. 

Q4. What were your thoughts/impressions during your first days in Saudi Arabia? Was it what you expected, or vastly different? How so?

It was more or less how I expected. I was very lucky to have a good friend here who was able to talk me through the first few days and show me where to go on my first day of orientation. I think it would be quite daunting if I did not know anyone, however the onboarding coordinator was very welcoming and very helpful. In general, first impressions of Saudi Arabia were better than I expected. Overall, the Saudi people are very welcoming. 

Q5. How was the recruitment/onboarding process?

The recruitment process was very good. The process itself is long, however Profco talked me through every step and were very transparent with the time it would take to complete. In general, I found their communication excellent and the process itself went smoothly, once you remain patient!

Q6. What was the arrival and orientation process like? Was it helpful in terms of getting yourself set up for life in Saudi Arabia?

The arrival process was smooth. A hospital representative met me at the airport and brought me to my hospital accommodation. There was a welcome package of essential food at the accommodation. I received communication for Diane about the orientation process and where to go the next day. The orientation was very informative and well organized. Making friends during orientation was very beneficial and made the process less daunting. Everyone is in the same boat so making friends was easy. We were able to support each other through the first few weeks and figure things out together. 

Q7. What is it like at work? Is it vastly different to working back home, or much the same?

The language barrier was the most difficult thing for the first 3 months. Most patients don't speak English, so learning a bit of Arabic is very helpful. The hospital systems are different to home, but there is good support in terms of clinical instructors. It is definitely an adjustment from working at home, and it takes at least 3 months to feel comfortable, if not 6 months. 

Q8. What is are the housing and recreation facilities like?

The housing is basic and small, but perfect for one person. There is always the option to move out of hospital accommodation, which I am very happy that I did. The recreation facilities around the hospital are good. The social club is well worth joining as you have access to the gym, swimming pool and all the activities that are organized. There are nearby shops, restaurants and cafes. 

Q9. What is the social life like?

I have a great social life over here, which is mainly centered around sport. There is hockey, badminton, Gaelic football, boxing etc. The people are all very welcoming and tend to host gatherings/small parties too. Once you become involved with a sport or an activity, you meet like-minded people. There are lots of restaurants and cafes everywhere, and plenty of events happening in Riyadh. 

Q10. Do you manage to get out sightseeing etc. much? Is getting around easy to manage?

I did a small amount of sight-seeing at the start, but haven't done much since. I tend to leave Riyadh anytime I have a few days off and see the neighboring UAE countries. However, there are also plenty of place I would like to visit in Saudi. Getting around is easy enough once you are happy to pay for taxis - they have Uber and Bolt here, and most people have the contact number of a driver that they tend to use often. Walking is okay between November - April but otherwise it is too hot. Women are allowed drive in Saudi too and lots of my friends have bought cars over here. 

Q11. How has the decision to work in Saudi Arabia affected you, professionally and personally?

It is the best decision I have made. It has given me a fantastic break from the HSE and working in Ireland. Generally I find work a lot less stressful over here. My work-life balance has improved hugely and I feel fitter and happier than I did at home. Also, the weather and sunshine make it a lot easier. It gets extremely hot in the summer months, so there is a definite adjustment to the heat. But overall, life is easy and simple over here. Once you make some friends and get involved, it can be a fantastic experience. 

Q12. Do you have any tips or advice for other nurses who are contemplating the move to Saudi Arabia?

Do it! I think it might be a little bit harder if you have ties at home, like a relationship etc. But still doable! My top tips would be - be open to whatever comes your way like a new sport or new activity/adventure. Throw yourself into a hobby and you will make friends quickly. Say yes to everything at the start and get a feel for what you like/don't like over here. Go on holidays/weekend trips as much as possible as it makes the whole experience very enjoyable. 

March 2024


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