Study abroad for a semester in

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, located on the Arabian Peninsula, is a country where ancient history meets modern innovation. Saudi Arabia is not only a place to pursue academic excellence but also a destination rich in experiences, from exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites to participating in traditional festivals and tasting the rich flavors of Saudi cuisine. As a student in Saudi Arabia, you will encounter a unique blend of old and new, with opportunities to delve into the country’s deep cultural roots while engaging with its rapidly evolving contemporary society. The nation’s universities are known for their high academic standards and state-of-the-art facilities, providing an environment that fosters both intellectual and personal growth. Whether you’re studying the sciences, engineering, or the humanities, Saudi Arabia offers a vibrant and enriching educational experience.

Saudi Arabia is best known for

Modern Infrastructure 🏗️: Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in modern infrastructure, featuring state-of-the-art transportation networks, innovative urban developments, and world-class facilities.

Innovative Research Opportunities 🔬: With a focus on scientific research and innovation, Saudi Arabia offers cutting-edge research opportunities in various fields, supported by significant funding and advanced laboratories.

Economic Hub 💹: As a global economic powerhouse, Saudi Arabia offers numerous opportunities for internships, networking, and career development in sectors like finance, technology, and energy.

Table of contents

1. Visa and Health Insurance 🛂

Starting your educational journey in Saudi Arabia involves obtaining the appropriate visa and health insurance. These essential steps ensure compliance with legal requirements and access to necessary healthcare services throughout your stay. Proper documentation and insurance coverage are crucial for a smooth and secure study abroad experience.

Visa Types

  • Student Visa: This visa is required for all international students enrolling in academic programs at Saudi Arabian institutions, including undergraduate, graduate, and exchange programs.

Application Process

  • Acceptance from a Saudi Institution: Secure admission from a recognized Saudi university or educational institution.
  • Issuance of Visa Authorization Number: Your university will obtain a visa authorization number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and send it to you.
  • Prepare Documents: Gather all required documents, including your passport, visa authorization number, proof of financial means, and health insurance.
  • Visa Application Form: Complete the student visa application form available on the website of the Saudi consulate or embassy in your home country.
  • Medical Examination: Undergo a medical examination and obtain a medical report.
  • Submit Application: Submit the completed application form along with all required documents to the nearest Saudi consulate or embassy.
  • Pay the Application Fee: Pay the required visa application fee.
  • Wait for Processing: Visa processing times can vary, so it’s important to apply well in advance of your intended travel date.

Required Documents

  • Passport (valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay)
  • Completed visa application form
  • Visa authorization number from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Proof of financial means (bank statements or financial guarantee)
  • Health insurance coverage proof
  • Medical report
  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Academic transcripts and diplomas from previous education

Application Timeline

Start Early: Begin the application process at least 3-6 months before your intended departure.
Processing Time: Visa processing can take several weeks to months, depending on the country and application volume.
Important Deadlines: Be mindful of university application deadlines and ensure your visa application is timely.

Tips for Success

Complete Documentation: Ensure all your documents are complete and accurately filled out.
Financial Proof: Clearly demonstrate financial stability and sufficient funds.
Health Insurance: Secure a visa-compliant health insurance plan early in the process.

Importance of Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory for all international students in Saudi Arabia. It ensures that students have access to medical care and covers a wide range of health services, from regular doctor visits to emergency care.

Types of Health Insurance

  • University-Sponsored Health Insurance: Many universities in Saudi Arabia offer health insurance plans for their students.
    • Cost: Varies by university, typically between SAR 1,000 and SAR 3,000 per year.
    • Advantages: Convenient enrollment and comprehensive coverage.
    • Limitations: Coverage may be limited to university-affiliated hospitals and clinics.
  • Private Health Insurance: Some students opt for private health insurance to ensure more comprehensive and faster access to healthcare services.
    • Cost: Varies based on the provider and plan. Dr Walter offers competitive and comprehensive plans.
    • Advantages: More extensive coverage, faster access to services, and flexibility in choosing healthcare providers.
    • Limitations: Generally more expensive than relying solely on university insurance.

Country-Specific Requirements

University Health Insurance Plans: Most universities in Saudi Arabia require international students to enroll in their health insurance plan. Ensure you are familiar with the specific requirements of your institution.
Private Health Insurance: Must meet the minimum coverage requirements set by Saudi authorities. Private plans often provide quicker access to healthcare services and more flexibility in choosing providers.

Finding the Best Health Insurance

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What happens if my visa application is denied?
If your visa application is denied, you will receive a notice explaining the reasons for the denial. Address the issues mentioned and reapply, or appeal the decision if you believe it was incorrect. Review the reasons for denial carefully and seek guidance from the embassy or consulate if needed.

Can I change my health insurance plan after arriving in Saudi Arabia?
Yes, you can change your health insurance plan after arriving in Saudi Arabia. Ensure the new plan meets the mandatory health insurance requirements for students. Compare different plans to choose one that offers comprehensive coverage and suits your needs.

What should I do if I need medical care and don’t have insurance?
If you require medical care and don’t have insurance, you will need to pay out-of-pocket for all medical services, which can be very expensive. It’s highly recommended to have valid health insurance to avoid these costs. If you find yourself without insurance, contact a health insurance provider immediately to enroll in a plan.

Additional Resources

Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs: This official government portal provides comprehensive information for foreigners looking to study in Saudi Arabia, including visa requirements, application procedures, and practical advice for living in Saudi Arabia. It’s a reliable source for the most up-to-date information and official guidelines.

Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission (SACM): The SACM provides support and resources for international students in Saudi Arabia, including information on educational programs, scholarships, and cultural integration. This resource is particularly helpful for understanding the academic and social environment in Saudi Arabia.

2. Cost of Living 💰

Saudi Arabia offers a blend of traditional charm and modern luxury, and understanding the cost of living is crucial for effective budgeting. Whether you are living in the bustling metropolis of Riyadh, the coastal city of Jeddah, or the serene environment of Dhahran, knowing what to expect financially will help you make the most of your stay.

Detailed Breakdown of Living Expenses

Accommodation: Monthly rent varies widely based on location and type of housing.
SAR 2,000 – SAR 10,000/month
Food: From groceries to dining out, here’s what to expect.
SAR 800 – SAR 2,000/month
Transportation: Getting around Saudi Arabia is both convenient and affordable.
SAR 200 – SAR 350/month
Utilities: Essential services like electricity, water, and internet.
SAR 300 – SAR 700/month
Entertainment and Leisure: Enjoying Saudi Arabia’s vibrant social scene.
SAR 300 – SAR 700/month
Miscellaneous Expenses: Personal items and services.
SAR 200 – SAR 500/month

3. Accommodation Options 🏠

Finding the perfect place to live is a key part of your study abroad experience. Saudi Arabia offers a variety of housing options that cater to different needs and budgets, from student dormitories and shared apartments to private rentals. The type of accommodation you choose will greatly influence your experience, so it’s important to consider your preferences and budget.

Types of Accommodation

Student Dorms: Many universities provide on-campus dormitories that offer convenience and a sense of community. Dorms are often located close to campus and include basic amenities.
Price: SAR 1,000 – SAR 3,000/month
Shared Apartments: Sharing an apartment with other students is a popular and cost-effective choice. This option allows for greater independence while still being economical.
Price: SAR 2,000 – SAR 5,000/month
Private Apartments: Renting your own place offers privacy and independence. This option is ideal for students who prefer more space and freedom.
Price: SAR 4,000 – SAR 10,000/month
Housing Complexes: These are residential communities that often include amenities like gyms, pools, and social areas. They offer a higher standard of living and a secure environment.
Price: SAR 3,000 – SAR 8,000/month

Find accommodation in Saudi Arabia

Find the best student housing options with our Accommodation Finder

Tips and Resources

Start Early: Begin your search well in advance to secure the best options and avoid last-minute hassles.
Budget Wisely: When planning your budget, include utilities and internet costs.
Consider Location: Choose accommodation that is conveniently located near your university, public transportation, and local amenities.
Use Reliable Platforms: Book through reputable platforms to avoid scams and ensure quality accommodations. The options on wearefreemovers have been preselected by us, offering you greater peace of mind.

4. University Information 🎓

Choosing the right university is a crucial part of your study abroad journey. Saudi Arabia is home to a variety of universities that offer diverse academic programs and vibrant student life, all within a culturally rich environment. Whether you are interested in engineering, medicine, business, or the arts, Saudi Arabia has something to offer.

Find universities in Saudi Arabia

Try our University Finder and discover the best universities for your needs

5. Further Practical Information 🛠️


Saudi Arabia’s transportation network is modern and efficient, making it easy to explore the country and commute to university.

Public Transportation 🚆: Major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam have extensive public transport systems, including buses and metro lines. Monthly passes range from SAR 150 to SAR 300, with student discounts often available. Riyadh’s metro system is particularly extensive and user-friendly.

Bicycles 🚴: Although not as common, some cities are becoming more bike-friendly, with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing programs. Cycling is an excellent way to navigate certain areas, especially during the cooler months.

Long-Distance Travel 🚐: The intercity bus system and trains connect major cities and towns, offering a convenient way to travel across the country. For longer distances, domestic flights are available and relatively affordable.

Tips 💡: Always check for student discounts on transportation passes. For intercity travel, booking bus or flight tickets in advance can secure the best rates.

Banking and Finances

Managing your finances effectively is crucial for a smooth study abroad experience.

Opening a Bank Account 🏦: Most banks in Saudi Arabia offer special accounts for students with low or no fees. Popular banks include Al Rajhi Bank, National Commercial Bank (NCB), and Riyad Bank.

Documents Required 📑: To open a bank account, you will typically need your passport, proof of enrollment, and a local address.

Currency 💵: The currency in Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Riyal (SAR). Having a local bank account helps avoid foreign transaction fees and simplifies everyday transactions.

Tips 💡: Look for student-friendly bank accounts and make use of online banking apps to manage your finances efficiently. Consider using services like for seamless international transactions.

Local Culture and Etiquette

Understanding local customs and social norms will help you integrate smoothly into Saudi society.

Punctuality ⏰: Punctuality is highly valued in Saudi Arabia. Arriving on time for classes, meetings, and social events is expected.

Greetings 🤝: A common greeting in Saudi Arabia includes a warm handshake, often accompanied by the phrase “As-salamu alaykum.” In more formal settings, men may kiss on the cheek.

Mealtimes 🍽️: Saudi mealtimes are usually social events, with lunch around 1-2 PM and dinner around 7-9 PM. Sharing food and hospitality is common, and tipping (usually 10-15%) is appreciated in restaurants.

Public Behavior 🤫: Saudis value politeness and respect in public spaces. Being loud or disruptive is generally frowned upon, especially on public transportation and in residential areas.

Do you still have doubts?

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We would be glad to help you guiding step by step in every application you have to complete or to simply solve your doubts.