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New expat arrival to KSA

New expat arrival to KSA

Old Dec 9th 2020, 8:59 am
  #1  
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Default New expat arrival to KSA

Hello everyone,
I'm about to start a new, open-ended position in Saudi Arabia, in the next couple of weeks - just waiting for the visa, which is imminent. I've never been to the country but have had a decent stint in the GCC (Qatar) in the past.

My employer (a large Western consultancy) has - quite strangely - failed to provide any sort of guidance, advice or information about moving to the country. My immediate questions relate to bringing in our personal belongings - I don't want to maintain two households.
  1. Is there any reason why general personal possessions shouldn't/can't be brought in? These are planned to be shipped to follow shortly after our arrival.
  2. Is there any particular difficulty/cost to this? Any categories which have exorbitant import duties - e.g. cameras, hi-fi?
  3. Other than alcohol/pork/drugs/pornography, is there anything in particular that's forbidden? I've seen, for example, conflicting opinions about Christian artifacts - some say crucifixes and Christmas decorations are banned, some say things are much more relaxed.
  4. Are radio-controlled models and/or equipment allowed? I've seen "radio transmitters" are banned, yet there are model aircraft clubs. Which prevails?
  5. Phone and laptop contents: do they actually search individuals' devices on entry? Not that I have any 'adult' content, you understand, but it's easy to forget about that last explicit joke/link/video shared by Random Bob on BookFace just as you arrived at the airport...
  6. Any other advice/recommendations on personal belongings - and on local agents, shippers etc - will be appreciated.
That's it for now... One would think that the company would prep the incoming employees - and to be fair, they did for Qatar - but so far nothing. The flights, reception, C-19 isolation, testing etc have, on the other hand, been prepared thoroughly.

Thanks in advance,
TBC
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Old Dec 10th 2020, 9:13 am
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Default Re: New expat arrival to KSA

Can’t help with most of that as we didn’t bring anything except clothes, but phones and laptop certainly weren’t searched.
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Old Dec 10th 2020, 12:09 pm
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Default Re: New expat arrival to KSA

Camouflage clothes if that's your thing...
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Old Dec 10th 2020, 1:17 pm
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Default Re: New expat arrival to KSA

Radio-controlled models were a definite taboo when I was there, but I left 10 years ago.
Model aircraft were seen as having military or terrorist applications and were forbidden or definitely discouraged. I taught at a technical university and suggested we could use them to encourage our students to pursue aeronautical engineering. A definite "NO" came from on high - for reasons of security.
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Old Dec 13th 2020, 4:30 am
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Default Re: New expat arrival to KSA

To fly a drone in KSA you need to apply for a licence and to secure an annual permit which is about a $100 you can do it all online. Importing the equipment is not prohibited. When bringing pork products in please label them turkey just to save boarder staff embarrassment. If they find alcohol on you they will take it off you its a perk of the job. I haven seen analog porn since the advent of the internet so cant advise on that but no one it going to wore about a crucifix or star of David. Shipping costs are quite high but second hand household items don't attract duty.
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Old Dec 13th 2020, 10:04 am
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Default Re: New expat arrival to KSA

Thanks all, for your contributions.
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Old Dec 13th 2020, 10:57 am
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Default Re: New expat arrival to KSA

Regularly get stopped at customs in Qassim. My main problems have been an Xmas tree which had all labeling removed. The guy very politely told me off, repackaged it, and gave it back to me telling me never to bring one in again.

The other thing that's been a problem is books. Had a suitcase full of a load of my dad's old books one time that caused a lot of interest. Think they thought they were bibles. Had to find Trevor Brookin's autobiography and show them some of the pictures to make them believe me.

I'd never smuggle alcohol personally, but do agree with what was said above about pork. Al Jazeera supermarket in Manama were always very good about removing any labels and repackaging. Got caught once and said it was chicken and the guy didn't even want to touch it. However I do know one guy who actually got fined and ended up with pork smuggler stamped in his passport.

I always found that the trick was to fill up the back with so much other stuff that they could never be bothered to go through it all.

Never known anyone to have their hard drive looked at, or even their phone.
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