Saudi Arabia to import thousands of Pakistani doctors

Published: January 8, 2012
Govt agency offering doctors triple their salaries to work in Saudi hospitals.

Govt agency offering doctors triple their salaries to work in Saudi hospitals.


Dr Nawaz* (not his real name) is a medical officer (MO) at Mayo Hospital and, like all government-employed doctors in BPS-17, got a Rs15,000 raise last year, taking his monthly pay to Rs44,000. Yesterday, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health offered him a job for 6,000 riyals (Rs145,000) a month.

“It’s a handsome offer. I’m going to take it,” said the doctor after an interview with the Overseas Employment Corporation, a Pakistani government agency that is hiring doctors for Saudi Arabia.

At Mayo Hospital, Dr Nawaz has to serve in shifts of up to 48 hours straight. In Saudi Arabia, he will get two days off each week and work eight-hour days.

“Here we have a lot of uncertainty. We cannot get a raise unless we protest and boycott work. I am getting out of it,” he said.

Dr Nawaz has been in a government job for three years and said he would resign before leaving. However, many doctors with more years in government service will likely seek permission from the government to go on leave to Saudi Arabia so they can return to their government jobs upon coming back to Pakistan.

Two private Saudi agencies are also interviewing Pakistani doctors for posts in government hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Saturday was the last day of interviews in Lahore. Interviews in Islamabad will take place from January 11 to 13.

“Around 3,000 doctors have been interviewed in Lahore for different positions including residents and consultants,” an OEC official told The Express Tribune.

He said that the Saudi government had recently built a lot of new hospitals and they were short of doctors. He did not say how many doctors the Saudis aimed to hire from Pakistan.

Residents (trainee doctors) are being offered salaries of between 5,000 (Rs121,000) and 8,000 riyals (Rs193,000), while consultants with a fellowship are being offered between 12,000 (Rs290,000) and 16,000 (Rs387,000) riyals. Senior professors and associate professors are being offered up to 30,000 riyals (Rs725,000) per month.

Last year, the Saudi Ministry of Health hired a thousand Pakistani doctors. Shortly afterwards, government-employed doctors in Punjab went on strike to demand better pay.

“This time they are going to hire more doctors,” said a senior doctor who went for an interview.

“The Indian government has just increased the salaries of public doctors and no Indian doctors are going to Saudi Arabia. They are focusing more on Pakistani doctors this year.” The Pakistan Medical Association warned that the country was losing its best doctors to Saudi Arabia and urged the government to improve the service structure for health professionals to stop the brain drain.

“The government on one hand claims to invest in health and education and on the other it does nothing to stop the brain drain,” said PMA Joint Secretary Dr Salman Kazmi.

“The government announces a pay package for doctors and nurses only when they go on strike or take to the streets. This is no solution. The government needs to develop a structure otherwise we may run out doctors.”

A Health Department spokesman said that the government couldn’t match the salaries offered to doctors abroad, especially when they had only recently been given raises. He said the government spent hundreds of millions of rupees on educating and training doctors and they should consider reasons other than monetary for working in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Ahmed
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:41AM

    SR6000? Is is that much stupid? How one can manage a family in KSA in such a low salary.


  • Maria
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:44AM

    I think this is a win win situation for Pakistani doctors. They get a chance to go abroad and learn the art of medicine where they can use better equipment and facilities which will improve their level of care and expertise. Invariably they will come back to Pakistan with their added experience and finances since no one wants to live long term in any Arab nation. This will increase capital coming into the nation too.


  • raja
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:54AM

    They should serve the taxpayers who funds them These Doctors should then study on own expense I am sure in Pakistan we can find those students who can stay back interview them before admission to judge them on monetary issues Pakistan will never be able to pay them like saudis. they should sign a bound of at least 10 year. Mr shabaz sharif is not taking any action ……… he is hare to serve the masters the same how is hiring


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:16PM

    Import like in a commodity? Saudi Arabia has always treated Pakistan as a ready source of coolie labour.

    If Indian doctors are spurning Saudi Arabia, that only shows the kind of package the Saudis are offering.


  • shadi
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:19PM

    yes import them..and then treat them like second class citizens like the royal family does with all pakistanis :))


  • Farhan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:40PM

    You can live a a good middle class life with decent amount of savings in 6000 salary with family. Since Petrol is cheap, everything else is too!


  • alicia
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:42PM

    One weird thing about arab countries especially Saudia Arab inviting doctors is that when they invite male doctors they are often given family visas and allowed to bring their spouses depending on the type of their job. However most often female doctors are not allowed to bring their family along which creates a lot of problems


  • Bilal Ahmed
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Actually in Saudia Arabia you can lead a very decent life and support a family in 6k riyals while still being able to save. This is possible as there are simply no taxes. Not even on consumer products. You can get extremely low interest personal loans very easily. The point made above about petrol is also very pertinent as petrol over there costs rs 8 per liter. YES IT IS THAT CHEAP! So people go there and lead very decent lives. But you will be treated as a second class citizen and will eventually want to return after you have saved up enough money!Recommend

  • Tanveer
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:04PM

    Anyone knows where these interviews are going to take place in Islamabad?


  • Qaisrani
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:08PM

    Let the doctors go,stay and work in Saudia Arabia.Then they will really know what does it mean to be a doctor when they will be treated inhumanely.Can any one quote the information as how many doctors who went last time,came back early??

    Here the doctors are respected in society and they enrich themselves with modest higher education too.The Saudis d’not respect them as they treat them at par with all other Pakistanis who work as labor.


  • xzy
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:17PM

    Import US Army for protection
    Import labourers for work force.
    Import doctors from abroad.

    Don’t the Saudi’s ever invest in their own people?

    P.S: Shouldn’t it read MUSLIM Pakistani doctors? I doubt any CHRISTIAN Pakistani doctor will be allowed.


  • THE
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:34PM

    The word “import” really shows the mentality of the recruiters from Saudi Arabia. I have spent my early years in Saudi Arabia but am really glad that my parents sent me to a western country for higher education and I decided that my life was better in a country where I am respected. I have seen my share of bad things in Saudia happening to the “workers” and yes a doctor is also the same in the eyes of a government, other officials and majority of the people as any other “labor”. I guess these doctors will earn a good living compared to Pakistan but then they will also know what it means to be an “imported worker”!

  • Ali S
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:39PM

    I’m a medical student and I must admit that it’s a darn good salary for residents. But I doubt you can raise a family for that much in any city in Saudi Arabia. But job security is always iffy in these countries since they hold your green passport.


  • Mani
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:08PM

    Dude which world are you living in? I think the lower class people barely manage with 6000 riyals! 10 k is a minimum to survive as a middle class in Saudi Arabia with a family. If you are living alone, that is a seperate matter…


  • ASQ
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:09PM

    honestly which sector in pakistan pay u handsome other then armed forces?doctors should stop bashing pakistani public on whose tax money they study!Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:13PM

    The prime motive of any Pakistani is Mecca and Medina and that weighs heavily on peoples minds.
    And besides Doctors are treated with respect contrary to liberal
    s perceptions. They are given compounds etc etc


  • rk singh
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:36PM

    GDP of Saudi arabia is 100,000 Rials and they are generously offering doctors 5,000 rials for doctors. Goat hearders and unemployeed saudia are paid 20 times that salary there. Which shows the shallowness of Arabians. Strange Pakistanis consider Americans their enemies and themselves Arabians.Recommend

  • Zahid
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:49PM

    Monthly emolument structure in Saudi Arabia usually is: Basic salary plus transport allowance plus housing allowance. In addition there is air-ticket for vacationing at home country. SR6000/m looks to be basic salary.


  • Raj Patel
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:39PM

    The grass is not greener on the other side !! Try living in that much in SA !
    I am surprised that this Educated Doctor does not even have basic grasp of the standard of living in foreign countries!!


  • ProudPakistani
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:45PM

    If u are that much hungry about money then you should have chosen KSA or any other foreign country to pay for your studies too…You have studied on Pak money & going to serve abroad…hypocrisy at its peak..
    Instead of helping to improve situation here u r leaving Pakistan…Shame..!!


  • adnan raza
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:57PM

    an 18 year old boy with just fsc joins PMA and after 2 years training he gets the rank of 2nd Lieutinant and after just 3 years he becomes captain.the perks he gets include servant, banglow free medical, subsidized products at army store and almost free education for children.on other hand what a boy afte doing fsc with excellent marks further studies in medical collegefor 5 years.and what he gets after 17 years tough govt should change the priorities.otherwise all professionals will leave and we wil only left with army


  • Hu Jintao
    Jan 8, 2012 - 4:13PM

    6000 riyals is pretty good salary. neither you are poor nor rich
    chances are there that you may get raise with your experiance


  • Sweet Dee
    Jan 8, 2012 - 4:21PM


    Hmm…Never knew patriotism was enough to feed a family.


  • Salahuddin
    Jan 8, 2012 - 4:23PM

    Wish the Doctors community all the very best. They deserve good salaries as I believe we have been producing quality doctors. Moreover, such move will bring in much needed foreign exchange for Pakistan. If we can not give them respectable employment opportunities, then we should not be just giving “ethical” lectures. In any case, our competent doctors will bring good name for us while serving in Saudi Arabia.


  • Chodhary
    Jan 8, 2012 - 5:19PM

    Apart from being treated as 3rd class citizen (2nd class is reserved for the nationals of developed countries i.e. Americans, Canadians, Europeans etc. people from 3rd world countries are treated as 3rd class citizens.. take it or leave it!) Saudia is an ultra conservative religious society.. so life is not rosy in Saudia.. its tough and extremely boring most of the time, so much so that even cheep petrol and tax-free salary doesn’t help much….


  • Cynical
    Jan 8, 2012 - 6:15PM

    For some of the successful ones it will be kind of ‘returning home’ or ‘going back to your roots’.


  • alicia
    Jan 8, 2012 - 6:48PM

    @proud pakistani
    NO one stays in Saudia arab forever. Its just a chance to earn money + a learning experience. There are so many different breakthroughs happening in medicine these days. SO many different techniques to treat patients are being developed. If pakistani doctors earn some money and come back they will ultimately bring the knowledge and expertise of modern medicine with them which they for obvious reasons cannot learn in Pakistan.


  • Raj Patel
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:04PM

    There are so many different breakthroughs happening in medicine these days. SO many different techniques to treat patients are being developed.

    Yes ! I suppose that’s the reason why most of the Saudi Elite go to USA for their medical treatment !!!
    Get real, the facilities may be better than Pakistan, but its obvious that they are not to the level of western nations !!!


  • Ch Allah Daad
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:15PM

    I think Doctors are smart enough to calculate the pros and cons of their contracts but that is not the point. Their education in Pakistan is paid by poor people of Pakistan and people of Pakistan deserve to be treated fairly. In many poor families, focus is on one one bright person. The family spends all their resources to educate that person hoping one day he will help other family members but when time comes, the bright person leaves for greener pastures. Surely, these doctors will make more money but their conscious and self respect will haunt them for rest of their lives. If they don’t have these two things, then they should leave immediately, we don’t need them here.


  • Cautious
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:21PM

    And how does one replace thousands of doctors? Those who think this is a good move for Pakistan are deluding themselves.


  • Tariq Hassan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:30PM

    A friend of mine was lured to this. He could not get his family and he spent a year in great difficulty.


  • Sameer
    Jan 8, 2012 - 8:31PM

    6000 saudi riyals is not the salary of a pakistani doc in Saudi Arabia. Here, a technician is paid as much as 6th riyals per month. Pakistani doctors are most highly reputed in Saudi Arabia and most of them are getting over 17000 saudi riyals when hired directly by the Saudi govt. My sincere advise to Pakistani docs is that they should not agree to anything less than 15000 saudi riyals. I’m sure the ministry will be ready to pay at least 13000 s.r. in the end of a bargain.

    I’m a Pakistani teacher, working in a saudi govt college and my salary is 10990 saudi riyals p.m. So, please my dear docs, try to bargain at least 13000 SR as your monthly salary.


  • Jan 8, 2012 - 9:28PM

    Diasporas of various nations are mutually beneficial to both the sending and the receiving countries. They send home the money to help their families and friends financially. And they often acquire advanced education and technical, professional and managerial skills and contribute to solving problems in their host nations. And given the right political and policy context, the members of the diaspora can also help their countries of origin by using their deep knowledge of their home countries and by offering advanced skills, experience and knowledge acquired in more developed nations.

    In terms of development help with the skills and capital of the diaspora for their home nations, there are three examples of fairly old and mature diasporas: China, India and Armenia. While China and India have benefited greatly from their diasporas, Armenia has lagged badly, according to a World Bank report titled “Work Globally, Develop Locally: Diaspora Networks as Springboards of Knowledge-Based Development”.

    In Pakistan’s case, growing remittances amounting to 5% of its gdp in 2010 from the nation’s diaspora provided an important lifeline for the state of Pakistan in funding its large current account deficit and in helping the individuals and families receiving the funds to supplement their incomes.

    Remittances are a source of income for households in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and other provinces in Pakistan, according to a 2010 World Bank report titled “Poverty fell in Pakistan in 2001-08 partly because of remittances”. A recent Asian Development Bank study found that foreign remittances constituted 9.4 percent of household income in KP, compared to 5.1% for Punjab, 1.5% for Baluchistan, and 0.7% for Sindh.


  • blaaah
    Jan 8, 2012 - 9:29PM

    the term “import” says it all. Saudis don’t respect Pakistanis. Ask a Pakistani living there and you will know.


  • Shahid
    Jan 9, 2012 - 12:02AM

    My advice to all doctors, avail the oppurtunity. It is good both for you and the country.Safar Wasila Zafar.


  • Haseeb
    Jan 9, 2012 - 12:03AM

    Its strange how many of the “commentators” are trying to tell the doctors about the money spent on their education by tax-payers. The doctors themselves are from tax-payer families, so they have an equal right to education, and they earned this right even more by studying the hardest. Why does everyone forget about the money spend on educating engineers and computer professionals etc, who also leave for better alternatives.
    And I believe its not all about money, read the above article carefully. 48 hour duties in a go, compared to 48 hours in a week. How can someone expect a human to be able to do any job after being continuously 48 hours on job. And after that if a patient passes away, the doctor is beaten up mercilessly for carelessness and a murder case is registered against him.


  • Pakistani
    Jan 9, 2012 - 12:15AM

    My dad is a vice president of a major holding company based in Jeddah and in a month he earns around 50 000 Riyal. We have substantial information to prove you other wise :)Recommend

  • USMANm
    Jan 9, 2012 - 2:29AM


    and how does this impact an Indian who goes by the name of cautious???


  • stenson
    Jan 9, 2012 - 2:38AM

    It’s an international world but I think it’s good for Pakistani doctors to go and make a decent living in Saudia because frankly there are too many doctors in most Pakistani cities anyhow. We need more doctors in rural Pakistan but most students there just like in Western countries don’t want to work in underserved areas. The majority of Pakistani doctors will come back and invest in Pakistan because we all know that there is no future in the corrupt Arab nations.


  • Rehman
    Jan 9, 2012 - 3:38AM

    Docs. Study a bit more, come to USA and make SR100,000 or more.Saudi society is better from Pakland but you won’t treat Saudis rather hujjaj karam or south Asian expat labor class. Saudis royal or non royal come to west or go to US/UK qualified physicians period.


  • muslim
    Jan 9, 2012 - 3:47AM

    at Marriot hotel: please see the advertisement at employment corporation website)


  • Khan Bhai
    Jan 9, 2012 - 5:03AM

    We simply cannot match Saudis or Americans when it comes to money. That is a fact. Sure we can curse the doctors for leaving as it will take 25 years to replace those leaving but there isnt much we can do as we are not providing these doctors with good opportunities. Doctors, Engineers, Scientists & Computer professionals continue to go overseas and we are equally to blame for failing them.


  • Sadia
    Jan 9, 2012 - 6:47AM

    When people go to Saudi they should leave their rose coloured glasses at home and have their priorities right. If you expect respect from them you are going to be disappointed. They treat all Pakistanis be they doctor, teacher or laborer like the hired help. Go there make money and then get out.It’s not expensive to live there. Food and petrol is subsidized. If you spend sensibly one can save money. You will not get a family visa if you earn below a certain level. So many people leave families behind in Pakistan.Those who are preaching patriotism must remember Doctors take oaths to serve humanity but they have families too.


  • Dante
    Jan 9, 2012 - 7:40AM

    It is entirely the doctor’s decision to practice wherever he desires. If the government was genuinely concerned, they’d definitely raise the pay like the Indian government did, rather than bicker how many millions of rupees were spent educating doctors.


  • islooboy
    Jan 9, 2012 - 1:25PM

    keep a low profile earn a lot of money and come back after 10 years and start a real estate bussines in pakistan


  • shah
    Mar 3, 2012 - 7:29PM

    money is not every thing a statement mostly given by people in well fed state or u should put in another way,
    after having the money money is not everything.


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