Before the 1930s, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was one of the most underdeveloped countries in the planet. Upon the discovery of oil, it transformed into one of the wealthiest nations and migration hotspots in the world. Relying essentially on foreign labor to efficiently make use of their vast oil reserves, there are roughly 9 million foreign workers now in the country from all over the world such as the United States, Europe, Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Most of them engineers, architects, technicians, machine operators, and some are even agriculturists and domestic workers.
Today we compare the world’s Oil Baron with the Lucky Country.
Possessing over 18% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves, Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with the government having strong control over major economic activities, and ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum. Main industries include crude oil production, petroleum refining, petrochemicals, industrial gases, cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, and construction. Unemployment rate is at 11.4% while inflation rate is 3.77%
Just like its neighbor country, United Aram of Emirates, salary level here is just the same (or slightly greater) as those offered by western countries. What makes the country a lucrative destination is the absence of personal taxation. This makes the net income much bigger. Also, housing, car, and education provisions that were previously given are now being offered as cash packages. Though you have to endure the 40 to 48-hour working time that is a norm here.
Australia too operates on a mixed market economy structure, and the 12th largest economy in the world. The economy is primarily driven by its service sector, comprising 68% of its GDP. Other sectors (and biggest employers) include mining, manufacturing, agriculture, finance, tourism, media, education, and logistics. It is the 12th largest in the world in terms of GDP. Unemployment here is higher by a small margin at 5.8% with a lower inflation rate of 1.3%
The country currently has the highest minimum wage in the world. Though income taxes may apply, the net income is still very much considerable. Packages and fringe benefits include company cars, mobile phones, laptops, and even utility bills.
In Saudi Arabia’s national health care system, the government administers health care services through a number of its agencies. However, there is a growing role and increased participation from the private sector in the provision of health care services.
Both the natives and expats are entitled for a comprehensive package of benefits. These include public health, preventive, diagnostic, and curative services and pharmaceuticals with very minor exclusions and without cost sharing. Majority of such as state of the art cardio-vascular procedures, organ transplants, and cancer treatments (including bone marrow transplants) are covered. For private sector expatriates, sponsors and/or employers are contracted for settling for an extensive package of services
Australia’s health care is divided into two systems. There is the private health system, and there is the Medicare for the public system. The latter is funded partly by a 2% Medicare levy (with exceptions for low-income earners), with the rest being supplied by government. An additional levy of 1% is imposed on high-income earners without private health insurance.
Medicare is the government’s universal health insurance scheme. It provides Australian residents free treatment as a public patient in a public hospital and free or subsidized treatment for optometrist, dental care, and psychology services as well as treatment by doctors.
Check here how the Australian Public Health Care System Works.
Food and Dining
Arabian cuisine had gone through thousands of years with little to no evolution. Some of the common food items include wheat, rice, lamb, chicken, yogurt, potatoes and dates. The Islamic dietary laws prohibits the eating of pork and the drinking of alcoholic beverages. This law is encompasses all of Saudi Arabia. Also, animals must be butchered in a halal way and blessed before they can be eaten as per Islamic law.
Dinning etiquettes here is quite complex. As the food is served before meals, guests say, “Sahtain” (much like “bon appetit”), or “Bismillah” (“In the name of God”); when the meal is over, guests should also say, “Daimah” (“may there always be plenty at your table”). Never use your left hand when eating. Women should not directly touch Muslim men’s’ food, unless they are direct relatives. Men and women may be asked to dine separately. And spouses are typically never invited to business meals and dinners.
Australian cuisine has changed over time and is a fusion of native aboriginal inventiveness and British colonial contribution, with mix of Asian and Mediterranean traditions provided by wave after wave of post-colonial migrations and helped transform their cuisine. They usually take advantage of meat available in the continent, such as lamb, kangaroo, and emu, as well as pork, beef, and chickens. Check here for Australia’s most amazing/weirdest foods).
Unlike in Saudi Arabia, gender equality is being observed here. Women can dine with men and can partake in business meeting. There are no laws governing which food to eat to anything available can be served (and yes, including pork and alcohol). However, it is not encouraged that you talk about business or work when dining here, unless your host initiates so. Even during business lunches or dinners, it is rare that people will dive in straight on to business conversations. Always start with small talks during meals. Tipping here is usually 10 to 15 percent.
Due to the rapid growth of the economy and the abrupt arrival of expats, housing for new migrants had to be built as fast as possible. This means that, instead of individual houses, apartment blocks were constructed. The term ‘compound’ refers to a group of houses or small apartment blocks within a walled enclosure. This may include a communal swimming pool, a restaurant, a shop, tennis and squash courts, and a gymnasium. There might be a play area for children and a form of community hall known as a majlis – the traditional Arab meeting area for visitors.
Expats and natives usually do not live together. The Arab culture usually call for large, extended families, which require large houses. The affluent typically own villas while the less well-off tend to own medium-sized houses.
Suburban fringes of cities and towns sport the inner-city medium to high-rise apartments and the low-density townhouses/fully detached houses, while Melbourne and Sydney cradles the inner-city public housing. They are usually 3-5 story walk-up flats and 11-22 story high-rise towers. Low-density suburban estates is located in almost every city and town in the country.
Logically, rents are more affordable in rural than urban areas. It’s also lower the further a property is from a large city or town, public transport or other facilities, the cheaper it is. The average rents are highest in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin.
To find out more how to rent a house in the country, check here.
Public and Private Transport
Operated by two government-owned companies, a railway network move around in Saudi Arabia, transporting people and good across the country. Inter-city buses also operate country and operated by the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company. It includes 2,000 buses connecting Saudi Arabia’s major cities such as Riyadh (the capital), Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Taif, Dammam, Abha, Gaseem, Tabuk and Hael. But the most used mode of roaming around the country is road transport; such as private driving and getting a taxi. The country funneled much of its resources in building roads and infrastructures
A one way train ticket here costs US$53, while a monthly pass is at around US$53.33. Starting taxi tariff is US$2.67 with US$1.33 for the first one kilometer. A Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) will set you back US$17,331.48. Gasoline is at US$0.17 for every litter.
The rail way system in Australia is very extensive and efficient due to its huge size also. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide all sport expansive electric commuter rail networks which eventually have developed and expanded over time. Trams have operated extensive across the country but have since shut down in favor of cars, except in Melbourne and Adelaide. While Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth have partially underground transit systems. Buses and taxis also operate in the country. However, despite the very good public transport system, driving is the most used mode of transport in the country, and this number continues to rise. If you want to find out how commuting etiquette here works, check here.
Commuting costs here are pricier than in Russia, though. A one-way ticket here sets you back by US$2.96 while going for a monthly pass will increase it to US$96.96. A kilometer ride of taxi is US$1.62 with US$2.98 as starting tariff. If you want your own car, A Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or any equivalent new car) will cost you US$18,644.84 plus US$0.96 for every litter of gasoline.
Weather and Climate
Saudi Arabia has a desert climate defined by extreme heat during the day, a sudden drop in temperature at night, and very minimal annual rainfall. There is considerable variation in temperature and humidity due to the influence of a subtropical high-pressure system. Meanwhile, the region of Asir along the Western coast is influenced by the Indian Ocean monsoons, usually occurring between Octobers. The two main differences in the climate of Saudi-Arabia can be felt between the coastal areas and the interior.
The average summer temperature is approximately 45° C, but readings of up to 54° C are not rare. The heat becomes intensified just after sunrise and lasts until sunset, followed by surprisingly cool nights. In the winter, the temperature seldom drops below 0° C.
Due to its massive size, climate varies vastly in Australia to a wide degree. This is reflected on the snow-capped mountains in the south and arid deserts in the interior. Majority of the country leans more towards the temperate, tropical rainforest climate. Australians get plenty of sun and warmth most of the year but with huge drops in temperature during winter.
The weather widely differs with every city. To find out more about the climate in each of them, check it here.
Aside from both having the warm, dessert climate, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Australia are worlds apart. The earlier thrives with a strictly middle eastern-culture governed by Islamic laws. The latter is rife with Western influences with no adherence to a specific religion or ideology.
Saudi’s employment comes with unusually high perks not found in most countries such as high salaries, free tickets back home, and the absence of tax. The also offer free education for kids and lucrative end of service benefits after two or three years of employment. Not to mention, the free health care and other medical benefits. On the down side, you may need to survive the language barrier, the very intense climate, and the ultra-conservative nature of their society, especially when it comes to women (they are not allowed to drive, wear certain clothes, compete in sports, swim, interact with men, etc.). Also, there isn’t much freedom when it comes to religion and the lack of entertainment options in the country is very apparent.
Meanwhile, Australia provides greater freedom to its citizens and migrants in choice of their religion and beliefs, employment, and choices in life regardless of gender, race, and status in life. Everybody speaks English so it’s easier to communicate. And expats can go for permanent residency and even citizenship to further improve their quality of life, a benefit not typically found in Australia. Though the country offers the highest minimum wage in the planet, the income tax and cost of living offset that.