IT Job Market in Saudi Arabia: Opportunities and Challenges for Job Seekers
Saudi Arabia has gone through rapid development and an unprecedented rate of modernization in many sectors in the past few years. This has led to a lot of focus on innovation and technology. The demand for skilled IT professionals in this region has thus increased and will continue to do so for many years.
According to a report, the information and communication technology strategy 2023 put forward by Saudi Arabia involves the creation of more than 25,000 jobs this year.
This is expected to bring a 50% increase in the size of the Saudi IT industry as well as a rise in the development of emerging technologies. The steps taken in this regard will increase the contribution of this industry to the overall GDP by an estimated $13.3 billion.
This shows the commitment and drive of Saudi officials to grow their nation’s IT sector. However, even though there are plenty of job opportunities for IT experts in this region, there are some challenges that job seekers need to face in order to secure a job. These include language barriers, nationality issues if you are a foreigner, and the Saudization policies to name a few.
IT Job Opportunities in Saudi Arabia
The IT sector in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2024, according to a report published by the Oxford Business Group. This rapid expansion in the industry has brought with it plenty of job opportunities for people skilled in different IT roles.
Here are some of the most in-demand IT jobs in Saudi Arabia
- Software Developer jobs in Saudi Arabia
Both the public and private sectors are in high need of software developers in Saudi Arabia. The job description involves developing custom software applications, providing maintenance and support, and updating these applications to ensure consistent performance.
Most software developers can make about SAR 11,500 – 15,000 per month. People skilled in Java, C++, Python, and other major programming languages have a higher chance of landing these jobs in this region.
- Network Engineer jobs in Saudi Arabia
An efficient and robust computer network is an integral part of any organization. As digitization continues in various sectors in the Saudi Kingdom, the demand for computer networking experts is now more than ever.
If you are skilled in network design, configuration, troubleshooting, and security, you have a much better chance of landing this job. Network engineers in KSA can make about SAR 11,000 – 15000 per month on average.
- Cybersecurity Specialist
As more and more companies in Saudi Arabia transition to modernization and innovation, the need to hire skilled cybersecurity professionals has also increased. These specialists need to have thorough knowledge and deep insights into network security, threat analysis, and risk management.
Cybersecurity professionals can protect your computer system and networks from online attacks and hacking attempts. The average monthly pay of these experts falls in the range of SAR 15,000 – 20,000.
- Data Scientist
Data scientists can play key roles in various industries including energy, healthcare, and finance. As a data scientist, you need to develop skills to help you analyze and interpret big and complex data sets. You will then be able to identify certain trends and patterns that will help you formulate better business strategies for your company.
Data scientists who are skilled in data visualization, machine learning, and the use of programming languages like Python and R are most likely to land such jobs. Data scientists can make about SAR 22,000 – 2500 p/m in Saudi Arabia.
- Cloud Engineer
As cloud services in the Saudi Kingdom continue to rise, the need for cloud architects and engineers has increased manifolds. In order to secure a job as a cloud engineer you need to be familiar with major cloud provider services in the market.
As a cloud engineer, your task will be to create new cloud services, provide maintenance and support, and effectively manage and plan cloud storage strategies in your organization. Cloud engineers in Saudi Arabia can make SAR 15,000 – 20,000 per month.
Challenges for Job Seekers in the IT Industry in Saudi Arabia
Navigating the Saudi Arabian job market requires you to face certain hurdles. The country is currently undergoing a rapid economic transformation and that has brought with it the implementation of new policies and initiatives. This can create various obstacles, especially for non-native IT professionals who wish to build an IT career in this region.
Here are the main challenges that you need to face in the Saudi Arabian job market as an IT professional
- Saudization Policies
The main goal of these policies is to increase the employment of Saudi nationals in various sectors. This limits the job opportunities for expatriates to a great extent. The aim of Saudization is to reduce the reliance on foreign labour and promote the growth of the local workforce. Though these steps empower Saudi nationals, they are not ideal for foreigners who are there to build a career in IT.
These people then have to hunt for organizations and sectors that are less affected by these policies and have a higher demand for international talent.
- Insufficient Arabic Language Skills
There are certain IT positions where a strong command of the Arabic language is absolutely essential for you to excel. If you are working in IT education, legal settings, or customer service, having fluency in the native language can improve your chances.
However, learning an entire language just so you can land a single job is not so attractive for some job seekers. So, they have to search for jobs where they don’t need to develop strong Arabic language skills which can be pretty tough.
- Cultural Differences
The cultural and business environment in Saudi Arabia is quite different and you need sufficient time to adjust to it. You need to familiarize yourself with the customs, business etiquette, and traditions to ensure quality professional interactions.
It can be very hard for an expatriate job seeker to wear an appropriate dress code and learn common greetings and communication styles and that can make it tough for them to adjust.
- Preference for Hiring Native IT Experts
The Saudi government under its Saudization policies has made it its priority to give preference to the nationals when it comes to various jobs and IT is not an exception. This significantly limits job opportunities for expatriates since every organization has to first hire a specific number of Saudi nationals for the same roles.
This makes it hard for non-Saudis to secure certain IT positions even though they are more experienced and skilled.
- Changing Regulations
As the IT sector undergoes an expansion in Saudi Arabia, at the same time various new reforms and labor policies are also being imposed. It is not easy for every job seeker to keep up with these changing regulations. This can make the job-seeking process quite cumbersome. Fortunately, you can avail the services of expert recruitment services to make the process a bit easier.
The IT job market of Saudi Arabia offers you a lot of opportunities and it has its own challenges as well. The country is looking to diversify its economy and that has created so many new job opportunities in nearly every sector.
As an IT professional, you can work in both private as well as public sectors in varied positions in Saudi Kingdom and build a great career if you know how to navigate the job market and overcome the challenges we have listed above.
You can visit Marc Ellis to discover a wide range of IT job opportunities in Saudi Arabia & UAE.