Sectors in Saudi Arabia


I seem to be feeling the hostility even while I am writing this, my aim is not to annoy anyone, I aim to clarify the differences, and mention the reasons of choice… also when I am talking about sectors, I mean in the job market sectors


Saudi Arabia is the number one country in oil exports, with this comes business opportunities, after working in various sectors in Saudi and talking to people about the working environments in those sectors I came to this conclusion:

Saudi Arabia is -like most countries- mainly two sectors:

  • Government Sector:

The government sector in Saudi Arabia has been -and still is- criticized by many groups of people, bureaucracy is soaring, job security is at its highest, performance is low, and working hours makes it a dream job for a highly social nation. But to people whom are looking to succeed and make something out of themselves, it is a graveyard.

  • Private Sector:

Now the private sector is divided into four main categories:

    • Government Funded:

Some examples of those companies include:

These companies are the “big boys”, they have massive funding -compared to the others- and they sure act like it.

Government funded private sector companies are the envy of the rest of the private sector, they got a lot of money to work with, compensation and benefits are almost always competitive  training is handed out like free candy most of the time. on paper it is a relaxing atmosphere for an HR professionals to work for, but in life reality is never on paper, the fact of the matter is, the amount of bureaucracy in there sometimes makes you look closely to confirm if it is indeed a private sector and not a government sector in disguise.

A small observation, usually people employed under this sector have a narcissism complex, it would be best if they humbled themselves.

    • Fully Private (Public):

Some examples of those companies include:

These companies are usually found in the stock market, but what differs them from the government funded is,,, well the funding, these companies strive to compete against the “big boys” but what they can’t understand is that the “big boys” have really BIG pockets, only once they realize that they are in a different league they will start to function better.

Companies in this group usually strive to compete with the “big boys” but due to the limited funding they can’t, but in their defense they do offer competitive compensation and benefits -not compared to the government funded- and when it comes to training they don’t usually shower their employees with training, but they give them very specific training to their jobs which sometimes can be more beneficiary for the employee. On the surface it seems like a healthy challenge for HR Professionals  but in reality the issue here is usually management, management is often stolen from the government funded sector, and the stolen ones are not always the best. It is due to the fact that the government funded sector can’t accommodate everyone, so the fully private companies take that opportunity and snatch some of those employees. Knowing this you can expect a similar taste of bureaucracy. Another major issue is centralization, I don’t know exactly the root cause of this issue, but I know it is a big thing in these companies, usually work needs to be signed off by so many people that it takes more time to finish the paperwork than it is to do the actual job.

A small observation, the employees in this sector -like their companies- suffer from an identity crises, the messages they receive from their companies are mixed between “WE ARE XYZ COMPANY” & “we are xyz company”.

    • Family Owned:

Some examples of those companies include:

This branch has it the toughest, they are surrounded by monsters, and they try, even-though it is very tough to succeed in a market that is demanding more and more to spend money on things like employee engagement, training, development, …etc. At the end of the day they are doing what they do to make a profit.

These companies usually suffer to find national employees, and even if they found them, the good ones usually get snatched by someone from the above categories.

Compensation, benefits, training and development are very low -compared to the above-. HR professionals in these companies suffer between finding the candidates and holding on to them, until the inevitable happens and the HR employee either moves on to one of the above or looses interest in being productive.

It is a different story in companies like these, if you know the family on a personal or professional level, you get the perks, but if you don’t it is usual that you stay there for a VERY LONG time with no movement of any kind. I think that social responsibility is misunderstood in this sector, it is not some billboards and advertisement campaigns showing that the company cares about health, safety or environment, it is a full involvement from the company. and only once they realize and work in this direction they can be called socially responsible. Next article, I will get into social responsibility in more details in future articles.

A small observation here, this sector has a the SLAVERY mentality.


Some examples of those companies include:

although they share the same building blocks of fully private companies, they are VERY different. advancements is tied by achievements and hard work. opportunity is available to whomever wants it, lets get things straight, some companies have their negative points, some companies neglect the local talent due to outdated mentality that Saudi’s are undependable which as I wrote before NOT correct, bureaucracy is there somewhat lower but still there, and the training -due to the size of the company- is from within which has it’s negative points in my opinion, but all in all, at least if you work yourself you will succeed. Also, compensation and benefits are different, for some reason they usually don’t understand how other companies -mainly government funded- can spend this vast amount, I guess they sometimes forget that Saudi Arabia is the number one country in oil exports and is pretty rich so it can afford it. HR Professionals here find extreme challenges, a collaborative environment  and help from all over the world, also they are sometimes conflicted due to the amounts of policies available, whether it is local, regional, and/or global, Some burnout and decide to “retire” to one of the above sectors and others enjoy the drive and accomplish.

A small observation here, this sector is HIGHLY delusional, they are still in the mentality of dealing in a 3rd world country!

 So let me sum everything up:


Again, I am only writing my observation, and it is subject to bare mistakes.

4 comments on “Sectors in Saudi Arabia

  1. Abdulaziz Al Salman

    What would you say to the people who are claiming that SME (small & medium enterprises) are the building block of our economy? and how would they compete with the Big Boys?

    I would like to see you think, at least from an HR prof point of view.

    1. HamadJ Post author

      I am not sure about the accuracy of that statement for Saudi Arabia. As I said in the article Saudi Arabia is the number one country in oil exports, so it would be accurate to say that SME can’t be considered as building blocks for OUR economy, but it is an important part of it.
      But regardless of that statement, from an HR point of view, I think that we can safely say that SME can be grouped under either fully owned (public) or family owned.

  2. Pingback: Sectors in Saudi Arabia v2.0 | HR MasterKey

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