Moving to Sudan

Sudan was once the largest country in Africa. However, since July 2011 when the people of South Sudan voted for independence, the country has not only been split geographically but has undergone some other dramatic changes.

There are sizeable expat communities in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and the city of Omdurman. While most expats in Sudan are from Egypt, there are also a fair number of Europeans and North Americans. The majority of foreigners who relocate to Sudan come to work in the country’s growing oil industry or do humanitarian work.

While Khartoum is relatively safe, there are a number of areas of Sudan that expats are advised to avoid. The security situation in the north and east of the country is volatile and any area close to the Eritrean border is regarded as a no-go zone for foreigners. A number of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are known to be operating in Sudan, so Western interests are seen to be at risk within the country. The United States, among other governments, has released travel warnings for the regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

Social life in Sudan is fairly muted because of the country’s alcohol ban. Expats living in Sudan should always remember that local laws reflect the fact that it is a predominantly Islamic country. There should be limited public interaction between people of the opposite sex and expats should dress modestly as a sign of respect for local traditions. While Sudanese Arabic is the most widely spoken language in the country, expats should not have too much difficulty communicating in English, which is also an official language in Sudan.

Because of the climate and lack of public transportation, expats living in Sudan will need a car, with an off-road vehicle being the best option if they intend to explore the country. Road conditions in Sudan are hazardous due to the erratic behaviour of road users, animal obstructions and a lack of signage and infrastructure.

There are a handful of international schools in Sudan, all of which are located in Khartoum. Fees at these schools are high. The general standard of healthcare in Sudan is poor and there are very few private hospitals. Expats should ensure that they have an extensive health insurance policy in case they need to be medically evacuated to another country.

Ultimately, expats moving to Sudan should be prepared for life in a developing country. They should also expect to make some significant adjustments to accommodate living under strict Islamic law. With the volatile security situation in mind, expats should take the time to make an informed decision about relocating to Sudan.

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Aetna International

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