Wednesday, June 10, 2020

How Can I Earn Money from Home in Saudi Arabia?

Make money online from home in Saudi Arabia

Updated on 10/06/2020: I initially wrote this blog post on 07/06/2016. Yeah, that was about four years ago. I took some time to explore how I could earn money online from home in Saudi Arabia. I also experienced some of the challenges that a person living in Saudi Arabia could come across when getting into this type of business.

If you're looking forward to making money from home in Saudi Arabia, then you've come to the right place. I'll describe some make money online opportunities that you can easily start if you are a resident of Saudi Arabia. 

Below are some methods, which I tried myself and which I will cover in this blog post:

- Liyeplimal Cryptocurrency MLM System
- Affiliate Marketing
- Ebook Publishing
- Mystery Shopping
- Direct Selling
- Online Services

Note that you can try any of these online business models, whether you live in the UAE, India, Egypt, Nigeria, or Pakistan, etc.

Two years ago, I was more successful with ebook publishing than affiliate marketing mainly because I invested more time in the former. However, in early 2019, I made it a point to focus on affiliate marketing, and I'll share my experience below. I also became interested in cryptocurrency and it turned out more profitable than I had imagined. 

In fact, it was easier to break into cryptocurrency investment than affiliate marketing and ebook publishing, which is why I'll start with it in this post.

Liyeplimal Cryptocurrency MLM System

It took me close to one year to do my research and join Liyeplimal. The main reason that prompted me to invest in a Liyeplimal pack was that my elder sister had been a member for a little over two years, and she had made six figures (in USD) annually with the system.   

If this is new to you, Liyeplimal is a system that gives people the opportunity to invest in cryptocurrency packs (with the prices ranging from $100 to $100,000). When you buy a pack, the company purchases and resells cryptocurrency and pays you part of the profit. 

Once you buy a pack, the company sends your first payment seven days after the date you bought the pack and continues paying you every week for a period of one year. You can buy several packs if you wish.

The images below show you the different packs and the amount you'll get paid weekly.

For example, if you buy a pack of $800, you get paid $29.23 every week for 52 weeks. At the end of one year, you'll get paid a total of $1520. 

Here's a quick video that I made to explain the Liyeplimal opportunity.

My Experience with Liyeplimal

I bought a $1600 Liyeplimal pack (also called the Malabo package). get paid $61.53 every week, which means I'll get paid a total of $3200 after 52 weeks (one year). The company consistently sends my weekly payments (see the image below), and I can withdraw the money via my chosen payment method. 

Withdrawals are made from the 1st to the 23rd of each month (until midday on the 23rd). People living in West and South Africa have multiple payment options. For those living in Saudi Arabia, you have two main methods. The easiest way for you to withdraw your money is to use the Liyeplimal Visa card, which you can order by contacting an admin of the Saudi team. The Liyeplimal Visa card works worldwide and you can use it to shop online or withdraw money from an ATM.

Another method to withdraw money on Liyeplimal is by sending the equivalent amount in Bitcoin to your cryptocurrency wallet. You can HODL your Bitcoin for as long as you wish or sell it in exchange for Saudi riyals.

How Else Can You Make Money with Liyeplimal?

Liyeplimal follows a multilevel marketing system. So, you can also make money by referring people to the system. 

Here's how you get compensated:

Level 1: You get paid 6% commission when your first generation referrals (i.e., members that you directly referred) buy a pack.

Level 2: You get paid 6% commission when your first generation referrals buy a pack. You earn 2% on purchases made by second generation referrals (i.e., persons who were referred to the system by your direct referrals).

Level 3: You get paid 6% commission when your first generation referrals buy a pack, 2% when second generation referrals buy a pack, and 1% when third generation referrals buy a pack.

Level 4: You get paid 6% commission when your first generation referrals buy a pack, 2% when second generation referrals buy a pack, 1% when third generation referrals buy a pack, and 1% when fourth generation referrals buy a pack.

Level 5: You get paid 6% commission when your first generation referrals buy a pack2% when second generation referrals buy a pack, 1% when third generation referrals buy a pack, 1% when fourth generation referrals buy a pack, and 2% when fifth generation referrals buy a pack.

The third method of making money with Liyeplimal is by selling USD in exchange for Saudi riyals or another fiat currency. However, you can only do this with other Liyeplimal members. That alone is a blog post in itself, and I'll get to that eventually.

How Do You Start with Liyeplimal?

Account creation is FREE. You can start today by creating your account here. Remember to check the privacy policy and terms and conditions by scrolling down the small box above the "Sign Up" button. 

After creating your account, you'll need to activate it by clicking the link sent to the email that you used to sign up. Once created, you'll need to verify your account. Don't worry, the process is pretty straightforward (I'll prep a video and show you how to go about it).

After uploading a copy of your ID and a selfie of you holding your ID. The verification process is usually completed within 24 hours. 

To buy a pack, you need to deposit money into your account. People living in West and South Africa have multiple options, but if you live in Saudi Arabia, you have just two options.

The first option is to buy Bitcoin (the best platform to buy cryptocurrency in the Middle East is and deposit it into your account. I hope I can get around to preparing a video to show you how to do it.

The second option is to buy a pack at a reasonable price from another Liyeplimal member. You can join the Liyeplimal Saudi Arabia WhatsApp group here to find other members whom you can buy Limos from.  

Quick Summary

  • Create your free account
  • Buy a Liyeplimal pack 
  • Start receiving your weekly payments (your first payment will be sent seven days after you buy your pack
  • Withdraw or reinvest your earnings (you can buy your Liyeplimal Visa card that you can always use to withdraw your payments, make online payments, or withdraw money from an ATM machine). 
  • Two other ways of making money with Liyeplimal: Earning commissions from referrals and selling $$ in exchange for a local currency 

Affiliate Marketing

I got into the world of affiliate marketing in July 2016 to become the next affiliate marketing millionaire 😉. It was an exciting experience, but I finally got carried away by the worries of life. I abandoned my website for more than 12 months, but early this year, I started working on it again and got rewarded. 

How I Made $1653 in 2 Months from One Blog Post

I got active again in May and started working on my website. First, I had to go over the courses taught at WealthyAffiliate® (more below). I learned how to do keyword research using Jaaxy, their keyword research tool, and targeted a keyword with high traffic but low competition. 

You can sign up for for a FREE account here and upgrade later if you wish to take your online business to the next level. You can keep working on your free website(s) as long as you wish, but you will rank faster with your domain and if you complete the training.

After choosing my keyword and preparing the title for my blog post, I headed over to Google to check out the first three websites that ranked for that particular keyword. They all had blog posts with word counts < 1200. I aimed for 1500 words. 

My Results

It took less than a week for that blog post to get indexed on Google. A few days later, it was on page 1 of Google (position 6). The first sale came about 14 days later and then the second; I earned a $20 commission from each sale generated. 

Make money online in Saudi Arabia with ShareASale
Click to view full image.

Between May 1 and July 4, I made a total of $1653 in sales and $140 in commissions (from a single blog post).

A competitor noticed my website and invited me to become an affiliate partner on ShareASale. I accepted the invitation and got rewarded with a $25 bonus. Awesome, isn't it? 

You can also learn how to do this by joining the platform that taught me how to do this.




Any Luck with the Amazon Affiliate Programme?

This was the first affiliate programme that I joined when I started learning about affiliate marketing on Wealthy Affiliate. It is one of the most popular affiliate programmes in our age, although it has relatively lower commission rates compared with other affiliate programmes. 

My abandoned website had netted a few $$$ while I was chasing Saudi riyals to take care of my family. You can imagine my surprise when I logged into my Amazon affiliate account and found that my website was still making some money even though I had not updated it for several months. 

Make money with Amazon affiliate marketing in Saudi Arabia
Click to view full image.

By the time I started actively working on it again in May, it had lost a fair share of keyword rankings, but things kicked off again in June. I hope I'll be able to keep up with the writing.

Challenges in Getting Paid

This was one of those things that made me grit my teeth. How difficult can it be to get paid because you're living in Saudi Arabia?

You can imagine my excitement when I collected my very first cheque mailed from the US by Amazon. A few years back, I wouldn't have believed I could actually build a niche site and make money from it. But I finally had this sleek piece of paper with my name and address on it showing that I had earned $159 from referring people to Amazon.

My excitement died when I arrived at the female branch of my banking institution but I was asked to go to the male section because no one knew what to do with my cheque. At the male branch, the cheque caused a lot of commotion. People came of their offices to see this cheque from أمريكا--even the branch manager was called to see "the cheque." 

Phones rang...a few persons were trying to find out what they were supposed to do with the cheque. Finally, a kind Saudi asked me to sit down and told me that banks do not accept cheques issued in US dollars. 

Frustrated, I left the bank and decided to seek help from other Wealthy Affiliate members. Apparently, affiliates who lived in other countries such as Greece faced the same problem. It seemed banks won't accept cheques issued in US dollars because the US was trying to control the flow of its currency...whatever that meant. I just needed to cash my cheque.

A Wealthy Affiliate member who faced a similar issue advised me to contact Amazon and have them cancel the cheque and add the amount back to my balance in my affiliate account. Next, I had to sign up for a Payoneer account. Payoneer permits affiliates, freelancers, and other persons doing business online to have a virtual US bank account.

After signing up, I confirmed my identity and created my global account. Later on, I used my new virtual account on Amazon to be eligible for direct deposits. I also used my global bank account on ShareASale. During the next payout, the amount was transferred to my Payoneer account.  

Make money online in Saudi Arabia and open Payoneer account
Click to view full image.

Need your own Payoneer account?


I have now added my local bank to my Payoneer account. I plan to withdraw the amount to my local bank account once I make at least $1000. The withdrawal fee is low and you can view the transfer fee on Payoneer's website or within your Payoneer account. Some banks might charge a small fee for withdrawal. I don't know what my banking institution charges, but I'll try to find out. 

My Take on Wealthy Affiliate

I’ve tried every affiliate marketing programme that you can think of, and I’ve lost a lot of money in my bid to make money from the comfort of my home. I’ve even joined programmes that permitted me to make only $3/month before I got mad and quit, and I would never recommend such programmes to anyone. At the end of the day, there’s only one that I can advise anyone to join: WealthyAffiliate® (WA).

Wealthy Affiliate®, in my opinion, is the number one programme that can teach anyone (from anywhere in the world) to make money online. I’m an active member of WA, so I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who has experienced this first hand. See a screenshot of the members’ area below:

Wealthy affiliate make money online in Saudi Arabia

These are some of the benefits of WA:

1. You can choose to sign up FREE and only upgrade to become a premium member when you wish to take your business to the next level. I generally advise those who sign up under me to use the free option for as long as they want before upgrading IF they see the potential of this programme. I, for example, signed up for a free membership and only upgraded after 2 years. It took me a while to understand the programme because I was skeptical in the beginning, having wasted too much time on other programmes that didn’t get me any closer to my goals.

2. There are so many resources in the members’ area, where you are taught how to make actual money online. Members are provided with tools, training, and videos to teach them how to build an online business. Members can also get support directly from the founders of the programme, Kyle and Carson.

3. Wealthy Affiliate® has an active community. I’ve never seen such an active community in other programmes that I’d joined online. Members are always quick to respond to questions when another member is experiencing difficulties in setting up their business. In other words, you get support all round the clock. 

Ebook Publishing

You can make a pretty decent amount of money from ebook publishing. However, it does take a lot of work to write and publish a book. In addition to writing the book, you have to hire someone to edit and proofread it. Next, you need someone to write the blurb and another to design the cover. 

If you don't have the budget, you can hire someone on Fiverr. You can find someone who's willing to edit and proofread a manuscript of 2000 to 5000 words for as little as $5. Once, you start making sales, you can hire an editor elsewhere for a more refined job. 

I believe you can make more from self-publishing. Fortunately, the Internet has made this easier for us. Anyone, young or old, can write and publish a book. My favourite platforms are Amazon's KDP and Draft2Digital.

With Amazon's KDP, you have to hire someone to format your manuscript before uploading it to Amazon. If you can format the book yourself, fine. You get to save a few dollars. 

It is much easier to use Draft2Digital. You can upload your Word document or an epub file, and Draft2Digital will distribute your book to several online book channels, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Tolino, Scribd, Inktera, OverDrive, Playster, Apple, 24 Symbols, and Bibliotheca. All you need is one document to upload and Draft2Digital will do the rest.

Most of my income from ebook publishing comes from Draft2Digital, especially from Scribd. I don't make a lot from Amazon due to the high level of competition on that platform. If you have to get into ebook publishing, my advice is that you start with Draft2Digital, earn a few loyal readers, then move to Amazon. 

You might not even need to get a KDP account to publish on Amazon because can submit your book to that channel on your behalf. But if you're writing in the self-help category, you'll have to submit your book yourself, as Amazon won't allow Draft2Digital to submit books in this category.


Contrary to Amazon that offers direct deposit (US), gift cards, and cheques as the only payment methods, Draft2Digital offers more options. You can select direct deposit (both US and international), PayPal, Payoneer, or cheque, and Draft2Digital will transfer your royalties every month once your account reaches the payment threshold.

Other Ways of making Money Online in Saudi Arabia

Mystery Shopping

In mystery shopping, you’re contracted to pose as a “shopper”. You’ll purchase or use a service and give your feedback to the contractor at the end of your assignment. The contractor will refund (either in part or in whole) the amount that you spent during your “shopping” and pay you a small fee for your evaluation. While this might be a good way to earn extra cash, I don't believe anyone can make a living from this.

There’re a lot of scams out there, and you don’t want to lose money when your goal is to make it. Be wary of 'mystery shopping' programmes that ask you to pay a small fee (even if it is $10) to join.

One programme that I found interesting was that of International Service Check (ISC). Read more about what they do here. The members’ area looks like this (see the screen capture below) when you sign up, and you have to complete a certification process to be assigned checks for projects in one of the following areas: Jeddah, Riyadh, Madinah, Makkah, Al Ahsa, Taif, Dammam, Qassim, Tabuk, Jizan, Najran, or Yanbu. They typically send emails whenever they need service checkers at particular locations.

Make money online in Saudi Arabia with mystery shopping

They are legit and pay mystery shoppers when they complete their checks. However, you may have delays of up to 6 weeks before receiving your payment. One other downside of this programme is that if ISC isn’t satisfied with your evaluation, you won’t get paid. Imagine how distressing that can be—spending money as well as time and energy only for your evaluation to be qualified as ‘unsatisfactory’.

Direct Selling

I’ve tried EDMARK®, Avon® and Forever Living® and can proudly recommend these to women (and men) who have a business mind and who wish to make part-time income while hunting for a job. I personally know a few women who earn between 2000 and 5000 SAR/month just from promoting and selling Avon® products, and I’ve heard about other women who make up to 10000 SAR/month.

I'm a fan of EDMARK® products, and there're specific products such as Red Yeast Coffee, Ginseng Coffee, Shake Off Phyto Fiber, and Splina that I purchase nearly every month. EDMARK® has a very interesting referral programme where they offer incentives to members who have the highest number of referrals and sales. Hard-working members can even earn a car or a villa! And before you scream, I've personally met a Filipino who won a villa in Jeddah through their programme.

Online Services

If you’re good at writing or you have other skills that can be offered online, then there’re good chances you may be able to make some money with Fiverr®. If you don’t know it yet, Fiverr® is a marketplace that permits people to buy or sell their services (also called ‘gigs’) for $5. Here is a list of services that you can offer on Fiverr®:

Make money online in Saudi Arabia with Fiverr

·         Writing and/or editing

·         Graphic design

·         Voice over

·         Ebook formatting

·         Book cover design

·         Data entry

·         SEO / SEM, etc.

Fiverr® is totally legit and they’ve been around since 2010. No get paid after each successful transaction, i.e., when your client is happy with the service you provided.

Another option is to create a free website and offer your services. I've tried this and I can tell you that it would very difficult to find clients if you don't know how to promote yourself. 

I hope you’ll be able to find something that works for you on this list. If there’re other programmes that you think can help expats in Saudi, please feel free to leave a comment below.

(Disclosure: Some of my links are affiliate links. This means that if you decide to upgrade, I shall be paid a small commission; however, I'd appreciate your support.)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Happy Ramadan 2018

The Holy Month of Ramadan is here again. I wish all Muslims around the world a Happy Ramadan. May Allah accept your prayers this month and bless your family abundantly.

I also wish to seize this opportunity to say "Thank you" to all my loyal readers who have been keeping me busy via email. I apologize if I have not been able to respond earlier than expected. 

You have probably noticed that I no longer blog frequently here. This busy mom is trying to catch up with a lot of things right now. However, I will try to take some off this month to write a blog post to address frequently asked questions.
All the best!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Saudi Licensing Exam for General Practitioners: Resources to Help You Succeed

So, I've been getting a lot of questions from doctors who wished to know how to prepare for the Saudi Licensing Exam. Instead of responding to each individual email, I thought it would be time-saving to respond to most of the questions that I typically get.

What is the Saudi Licensing Exam (SLE)?

The SLE is a one-step examination for healthcare professionals in Saudi Arabia. Physicians who wish to practice in the kingdom have to take the exam in order to be registered with the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. While some physicians have been reported to practice without sitting for the SLE, the exam is mandatory for those who wish to join a residency programme in Saudi Arabia or for those who earned their medical degrees out of the kingdom to ensure that they have achieved the appropriate standards and criteria to practice in the kingdom.

The exam for general practice consists of 100 multiple choice questions (MCQs) from the following areas:

- Internal medicine (25 questions)
- Family medicine (15 questions)
- Ophthalmology (3 questions)
- Gynaecology/obstetrics (10 questions)
- Paediatrics (15 questions)
- General surgery (15 questions)
- Orthopaedics (3 questions)
- Ear, nose, and throat (3 questions)
- Basic sciences (3 questions)
- Psychiatry (5 questions)
- Dermatology (3 questions)

It is considered an easy exam to pass, but candidates need to put in more work to get high scores. The passing grade for the SLE is 50%, but you should aim for a much higher grade (>75%) if you wish to increase your chances of joining a postgraduate programme.


Anecdotal reports from interns and general practitioners suggest that the questions are recycled. This said, it might help to revise previous exam questions. A few books currently on the market are great for the exam:

SLE Made Easy: Saudi License Examination by Dr. Yasser Albrahim

Where to purchase: Jarir Bookstore

This 769-page long book contains over 1,300 MCQ, including answers and explanations, to help students understand concepts instead of them just practising to memorise answers to questions.

Comprehensive Review for Saudi License Examination (SLE) by Dr Yahia M Al-Khaldi.

Price: 26.66 USD (100 SAR)

Where to purchase: Jarir Bookstore (either online or at a physical store in your area)

Format: Paperback

This 306-page long book contains more than 1,200 MCQs, with answers provided by the author.

Other helpful books

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine by Murray Longmore, Ian Wilkinson, Andrew Baldwin, and Elizabeth Wallin

Price: 39.49 USD (148.13 SAR) for the Kindle version and 46.81 USD (175.59 SAR) for the flexibound version

Where to purchase: Amazon and Jarir Bookstore

Format: Kindle and flexibound

First Aid for the USMLE Step 3 by Tao Le, Vikas Bhushan, James Yeh, and Kachiu Lee

Price: 33.08 USD (124.07 SAR) for the Kindle version and 42.32 USD (158.73 SAR) for the paperback version

Where to purchase: Amazon and Jarir Bookstore

Format: Kindle and paperback

How to Register for the SLE

To register for the exam, you need to visit the offices of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS). They have offices in several cities of the kingdom. You can visit their website for information on how to register and the location of testing centres, both within and outside Saudi Arabia.

The SCFHS warns all candidates on their website not to submit fraudulent degrees when registering for the exam, as they check all certificates submitted to the council. Frauds risk a jail term and a permanent ban from Saudi if caught.

Have you taken the SLE? If yes, please share your experience below. And for first-time takers of the exam, I wish you all the best!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Migrate to Germany from Saudi Arabia: hHelios Review

If you live in Saudi Arabia and want to live and work, study or start a business in Germany, chances are you don't know where to start. Your next move might be to search for education/immigration consultants who can help you immigrate to Germany. In my case, I typed a long-tail keyword "immigration and education consultants Saudi Arabia to Germany." And bingo! I had a whole bunch of results and there at the top, there was this company called hHelios.

I checked them out. They had a good internet presence: a Linkedin profile, a Facebook profile, a Twitter handle, a phone number (Viber and WhatsApp-enabled), an email address, as well as Skype and live chat on their website. I ran another check for complaints but couldn't find anything (at that time). So far so good, they had won me. Now lets get into specifics and why you should read this before using their services.

Who is hHelios?


Services: immigration, visa and career consulting.
Price of services: Free registration on their website. Pricing varies thereafter, depending on the service you require.
Owners: After a thorough research, I couldn't find who the owner was, but I did find that they listed Muhammad Oweis as the CEO of the company.
My rating: 2 out of 10

Is hHelios Worth Your Time and Money?

Good question. When you send your hard-earned money to consultants you expect them to guide you throughout the process. In this review, I am going to share my experience and explain why I wouldn't recommend hHelios.

Pros and Cons of hHelios


  • Their website is user-friendly and it is very easy to find your way around.
  • Initial contact is quick. I remember filling in the registration form on their website and got assigned an ID within 24 hours. 

  • Customer service can be very poor. I'm not sure who manages their main Skype account or who provides email support. They won't answer any queries.
  • Some consultants are not helpful. They start out wanting to help then disappear on the client.
  • It can be very frustrating trying to talk to anyone on the phone. They do have a number +49-89-21547450 listed on their website, but most often, calls won't go beyond the automatic call distributor.  

My Experience and Why I Won't Recommend them to Anyone

My first contact with hHelios was on August 19, 2015 when I filled in the free registration form. After receiving my hHelios ID, I waited to hear from the company then I finally contacted them via Skype on August 24, 2015. Someone finally responded on August 31, 2015 and asked for my email address. A consultant, whom I shall call Consultant #1, sent an email on September 1, 2015 to inform me that I was eligible for a German job seeker visa. I had a few questions and Consultant #1 was quick to answer them. By September 9, 2015, I paid the company to start online German classes. 

Fast-forward to 2016, I started having second thoughts about immigrating to Germany, so I thought I could visit the country for 7-10 days to make up my mind. Consultant #1 agreed it was a good idea and encouraged me, and on March 21, 2016 I sent payment via PayPal so that they could open my case. Consultant #2 contacted me via email on March 22, 2016 and reassured me that he was going to assist me throughout the process. 

On March 24, 2016 Consultant #2 sent me a list of required documents, which I forwarded on the same day. Within two days I was assigned an ID, and I asked to have a Skype call with the consultant. He was very professional and reassuring and promised to call back with a few days with instructions. Then after waiting for two weeks, I sent a follow-up email. He responded and said he couldn't reach me on my mobile (I do have network issues sometimes at home, so it's quite possible he tried to call). I sent another follow up email and a couple of chat messages on Skype, but got no response from Consultant #2. At this stage, I couldn't request a refund, as their refund policy states that:

Client reserves the right to claim for the refund of their package price within 14 days from the date of receipt of payment/first installment of payment." 

I informed Consultant #1 and within a couple of weeks, Consultant #3 called me. I had a few chat messages and each time he asked me to 'just wait'. He asked for my transcripts and certificates. We're talking about a visit visa here...but he said, please send these documents. I did but after he failed to get back to me as promised, I followed up on Skype. He reassured me that I didn't have to worry because they were taking care of my case. And it was already June 1, 2016. I had planned to travel on July 17, 2016--that was less than two months away.

I waited and after trying to call their number without success, I gave up. Then out of the blue Consultant #4 sent me an email and said my case was on hold due to missing documents and information. It was July 27, ten days after my planned visit! It took three consultants more than four months to tell that my file was incomplete! I asked Consultant #4 why the other consultants won't talk to me or inform me even when I sent follow up emails and messages. I requested for a cancellation. Not surprising, Consultant #4 never wrote again.   

I went back to Consultant #1 and complained and Consultant #5 called me a few days later. He offered a refund or a job seeker visa and gave me time to think about it. He called a second time but I was at a meeting so couldn't talk. He promised to call again, but after two weeks and hearing nothing from the company, I went back to Consultant #1 for advice. He promised to have his superior call me.

After two weeks his 'superior' did try to call twice, unfortunately, the silly network didn't permit the calls to go through--I only received two text messages that someone had tried to call on their company number. I tried returning the call, and over the next two weeks, the call would simply drop after the automatic call distributor. My spouse also tried from his office without success, then tried to call their Pakistan number. Someone did pick up the phone and when my spouse said he was calling from Saudi Arabia, the man excused himself and said he would call back shortly. My husband attempted to call again after about 15 minutes but no one answered the call.

So, here was I again back to Consultant #1 to complain. It was September 19, 2016. He promised to have someone call within two hours. Finally, someone called after two days. This time around, it was a charming lady, whom I shall call Consultant #6. I got the usual "we're very busy", "so many files", "colleague on vacation"...not that these might not be true, but when you've had to deal with consultants who suddenly stopped talking to you or gave you the impression that they were working on your case but wouldn't care to update you, weird things start crossing your mind. 

Consultant #6 promised to handle my case, even if I planned to travel in 2017--my case was already registered, I was informed. At this time, I felt I had endured enough to wait until July 2017 to receive the same treatment. Since their consultants didn't provide the services they were supposed to provide, I thought I was entitled to a refund. Consultant #6 agreed, but I was going to suffer a deduction of service charges and other third party charges. That sounded OK to me, except that I wanted to know what third party charges I would be required to be pay for. That email was sent on September 25, 2016 (seven days ago). I haven't heard from anyone from hHelios again. If I do, I shall certainly post an update.


My experience with hHelios was very poor. I think one of the most important things when you're dealing with immigration consultants is being able to receive updates during the process. When that isn't coming forth and a consultant keeps making promises that he can't keep, then a client starts sensing something else: you start wondering whether the company you're dealing with is legit or not. 

Have you ever dealt with hHelios too? How was your experience with their consultants. Join in the conversation below to tell us about it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Simple Steps to Learn Arabic Quickly and Boost Your Career Opportunities

People across the world learn Arabic for various reasons- work, family, friendship, or travel. I chose to learn Arabic due to my hobby to understand different languages (I know French and Mandarin) and most importantly, I had a plan to work there (now it’s been 3 years working in Saudi Arabia). I believe that for every expat job seeker, it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the foreign language to fit in the corporate culture of the country.
Here I’ll highlight a few important points to help those who share the similar dream of living and working in Arab countries.

Understand the Language Types

Arabic is an Afro-Asiatic language, which is spoken by millions in the Arab and other parts of the world. It is the official language of around 26 Middle Eastern & North African (MENA) countries. Before planning to learn the language, understand and decide which kind of Arabic is your requirement. The regional dialects and accents differ significantly, with each sub-dialect as per the country- Egyptian Arabic, Gulf Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Maghrebi Arabic, and Mesopotamian Arabic. 

When you are not sure about the region of your job, the safest option is to study Modern Arabic Standard, which is the classical or Qur’anic Arabic and mostly understood everywhere. It is widely used in literature, political speeches, television/radio, and formal writings. Standard Arabic is also used in the Qur’an. Moreover, it is the origin of all words used in different Arabic dialects.
Get an Idea about the Dialects
As said earlier, Arabic has several dialects. In every Arab country, you can see people using a certain dialect or in their daily life. Now the first question for a beginner would be, “Is this the right way to start learning Arabic with its dialects?” Learning a dialect includes earning vocabulary of a particular dictionary. Therefore, according to my experience, learning a dialect as the first step towards learning Arabic is a good idea.  

Learning the alphabets and dictionary

For many people, the Arabic script looks daunting in the beginning. They prefer to rely on transliterations of the Arabic words instead of trying to learn them. However, this often creates problems in the later stage of the learning. Therefore, the best you can do is, follow a systematic process to learn the alphabets. Read books. Using an Arabic dictionary can help you a great deal in the process. 

Understanding the Arabic Dictionary

The next vital step is to know how to use the dictionary. In Arabic dictionary, words are mostly listed under three-letter roots. For example, if you are looking for a word “istiqbaal” in the dictionary, it should be checked under “q” as its root letters are q-b-l. Obviously, learning the trick requires some practice. However, it is not that difficult as it follows a set pattern that needs to be understood by you.  

The Other Tips for Beginners

I followed them strictly, and continuing with the rulebook!

Learning words by using pictures is an easy way to learn and memorize the new words. 
It is important to make this learning process a fun experience and not for the sole purpose of finding a job. Remember, if you are not enjoying Arabic language, you can never learn it.
Make a proper plan and set a schedule for learning. If you think that, you can study anytime or only during your free hours, it will not give you the desired result.
Choose a mentor who can guide you throughout the process. Of course, he should also have knowledge of the language to give you a proper feedback. 
Learning any new language is not a child’s play. You can definitely try language classes for better results and learn quickly.
Practice is always required at your end. It is important that you learn at home, practice some language test papers, and read books.
Joining some Arabic speaking groups on various networking sites can also help you practice more with other Arabic learners. This also creates a great platform to share your doubts with other people.
Learning a new language is always a fun, especially when it relates to your career opportunities abroad.
All the best!

Author - Swati Srivastava is an avid writer with a keen interest on the extensive domain of job search and career counselling for job seekers in Saudi Arabia and the entire GCC region. Currently associated with, her articles are published on several reputed career sites. Follow her @Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Could "Hiring Based on Experience" Be the Solution to Fake Degrees in Saudi Arabia?

OK. Lets admit it. As expatriates, we each (personally) know at least a couple of folks who are working in Saudi Arabia with fake academic degrees. And they've been doing so for years without anyone at work noticing (in most cases). Have you ever asked yourself how they managed to keep their jobs for so long? Do you think their employers kept them for so long despite the fact that they weren't productive? 

I will cite a few examples based on the experience of persons whom I know (no names mentioned):

X and Y are desperate to get a job to feed their families. They have completed at least high school and can speak English better than most Saudis. So, they opt to work as teachers. Now the thing is, employers won't hire teachers who don't have at least a bachelor's degree. X and Y are stranded. They find someone who can get them a fake BA or BSc. Then they pay more to have a copy of their 'fake' certificates authenticated at the Saudi consulate in their home country. Bingo! The employer sees the authenticated copies and he's impressed. X and Y have just landed a job and are keen to keep it because that's how they get to feed their families.

A and B have worked for ten years with fake bachelor's degrees and no one has ever noticed. They feel they have achieved enough experience to pose as holders of master's degrees. That's about double the time required to complete undergraduate and graduate studies combined. They pay someone and get their master's degrees within a few months. They get lucky. A recruiter succeeds in making them land a position as lecturers at a Saudi university. Eureka! The Saudi government grants them visas and all the benefits that follow (housing, medical insurance, paid vacation, two-way ticket, education for two children, etc). 

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not an advocate of fake degree use, and I abhor the use of fake documents (in fact I possess an authentic degree that I spent three years short of a decade to obtain). I'm just saying that shouldn't employers offer jobs based on experience instead of insisting that the minimum requirement should be a "bachelor's" or "master's" degree? How do people with fake degrees sometimes outperform holders of authentic degrees, which employers are so much after? 

The implications of using fake degrees are serious. The Saudi government plans to introduce penalties against people found to be holding fake academic degrees and to deport them from the kingdom. According to one report, fake degree holders will be prosecuted, imprisoned, deported and banned from entering Saudi (more). Although the punishment is harsh, this still doesn't deter people from purchasing counterfeit certificates. I, however, still believe that if employers focus on experience/ skills instead of academic qualifications, many people won't find a reason to break their moral rules to purchase fake degrees. I agree that hiring employees based on experience might only work for some professions, and it will probably not work in the case of engineers or doctors. Thus, it is reasonable for the Saudi government to regulate such high-skilled professions and use the necessary measures to catch fraudsters.   

What do you think? Should people be hired based on their skills/ experience or qualifications? Will hiring people based on their experience/ skills decrease the use of fake academic degrees?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Saudi Arabia: Tom and Jerry Live Show

Desgined by Stuart Miles; courtesy of

As a big Tom and Jerry fan, this is surely one event that will get my son, and probably many other kids, screaming. For the first time in Saudi Arabia, kids will be having Tom and Jerry live on stage, an event hosted by Kids in Motion MENA and EventBox.


Jeddah: February 18-21
Dharhan: February 25-28
Riyadh: March 04-07


Ticket prices range between 65.0 and 550.0 SAR, depending on the seating arrangement. 


For more information and booking, you can visit their Facebook page or their website.