The banking system in Saudi Arabia is robust and has managed to put a progressive foot forward for the past decade. Expats can be fully confident in the banking aspect of their transition to the Kingdom.


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: 1, 10, 25 and 50 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 9am to 5pm.

Opening a bank account

Expats can open a bank account in Saudi Arabia with a work permit and a letter from their employer. 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. However, 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 many transactions.


Taxes in Saudi Arabia

Expats won't be taxed on their salaries as there is no personal income tax in Saudi Arabia. However, they should check whether they are liable for paying taxes in their home country.