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.


Resources

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: Amazon 

Format: Electronically delivered as a .mobi file on Kindle or any device (PC or tablet) that accepts Kindle

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?





Website: http://hhelios.com/

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


Pros



  • 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. 
Cons 


  • 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.



Conclusion

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.
 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Can You Make Money Online in Saudi Arabia?



Hi there!


I’ve practically abandoned my blog. In fact, I’ve been caught up with a lot of activities during the past two years: taking care of baby number 2 (who is now a toddler), completing a course, and writing elsewhere. Yes, I do write and promote my work elsewhere, but I made it a habit to keep this blog as a place where I share my thoughts and experiences as an expat wife in Saudi Arabia. I’ve been keeping in touch with my readers, though, via email and through the comment section.


Since I created this blog in 2011, I can’t count the number of CVs that I’ve received. I can’t also count the number of CVs that I’ve forwarded to friends and relatives who worked as HR and recruiting agents. Unfortunately, I’ve never found out whether any of these potential candidates ever landed a job. As much as I would love to know what happened, it was (and it is) practically impossible for me to follow up every case.


The truth is, I still get CVs. And these are CVs from educated men and women (in most cases) who possess a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. It's a pity that some of these otherwise qualified persons face difficulties in getting a job and making a living. Thus, I did a lot of research and tried some programmes to help me put up something that will guide dependent expats in Saudi Arabia to make extra income while searching for a job. If done well, some of these can become a full-time activity that can help you earn substantial income.

Below is a list of what I was able to come up with:


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 make a living on 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.


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®:


·         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 worries...you 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.



Affiliate marketing


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 screen shot of the members’ area below:


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 advice 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 while to understand the programme because I was skeptical at the beginning, having wasted too much time on other programmes that didn’t get me any close 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.
(Disclosure: I used affiliate links in the paragraphs above. This means that if you decide to upgrade, I shall be paid a small commission; however, I'd appreciate your supporting me.)


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.

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 Naukrigulf.com, 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 freedigitalphotos.net

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.

Schedule

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

Fare

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

Location

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Djeddah : Cours de cinématographie

Arabian Jewel présente pour la première fois à Djeddah des cours de cinématographie (genre documentaire). Cette initiative culturelle est ouvert aux aspirants cinéastes documentaristes et membres de la communauté qui sont intéressés par la réalisation de films. Ce cours est ouvert au publique et se déroulera a la fin du mois de février 2015. Les participants seront enseignés par des cinéastes légendaires / réalisateurs de documentaires, acteurs et écrivains qui ont, dans l'ensemble, environ cinq décennies d'expérience dans la cinématographie. Ces experts donneront leur impressions et leur critiques sur les films produits par les étudiants afin d'améliorer les compétences de ceux-ci.

Selon Arabian Jewel, les réalisateurs sont des experts bien connus dans ce domaine et ils sont confiants que ces experts seront en mesure de former les individus talentueux dans l'ensemble de la communauté.

Vous pouvez visiter Arabian Jewel sur Facebook pour plus d'informations. Pour vous inscrire, suivez ce lien s'il vous plaît.