Banking, Money and Taxes in Saudi Arabia

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Banking, Money and Taxes in Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia has always been one of the most economically sound countries in the Middle East, and even now continues to show increases in employment opportunities and production despite instances of surrounding recession. It follows that the banking system in Saudi Arabia is relatively robust and has managed to put a progressive foot forward for the past decade. 
Expats moving to Saudi Arabia can be fully confident in the banking aspect of their transition. Based on the intake of high oil revenues and regulatory actions of the Saudi Arabia Monetary Association (SAMA), no bank has ever failed in the country. 

Money in Saudi Arabia

The currency in Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR), which is divided into 100 halala.
  • Notes: 1 SAR, 5 SAR, 10 SAR, 50 SAR, 100 SAR and 500 SAR
  • Coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 halala

Banking in Saudi Arabia

Expats can choose between local and international banks, mobile and Internet banking is standard, and facilities are advanced.
Banking hours are usually Sunday to Thursday, from 8pm to 12pm and 5pm to 8pm, and on Fridays from 8am to 12pm.

Opening a bank account

Expats can open a bank account in Saudi Arabia with a letter from their employer and their Iqama permit. It's worth doing this to avoid paying international transfer fees.
Due to Islamic law, banks don't pay interest on balances, don't lend at high interest rates and don't let account holders accumulate debt. Non-payment of debt is a criminal offence that can get expats imprisoned – and this doesn't discharge the debt. 
Expats' salaries will be secure in local banks, but if they want to earn interest on their income, it's best to periodically transfer their earnings to an offshore account. 

ATMs and credit cards in Saudi Arabia

Major credit cards are accepted at most shops, hotels and restaurants throughout the country. ATMs are freely available and some permit foreign remittances. Cash is still used for most transactions.

Traveller’s cheques may present a few problems, and expats should keep their purchase receipt. The best currencies for this medium are the Saudi Riyal, Euro, US Dollar and British Pound. 

Taxes in Saudi Arabia

Expats won't be taxed on their salaries and there aren't any sales taxes either – the biggest advantage to working in Saudi Arabia.