As Saudi Arabia recovers from the pandemic, the good news for technology professionals is that IT spending in the kingdom is forecast to rise this year, and digital transformation efforts in private companies and government entities are expected to accelerate.
IT spending In Saudi Arabia will rise 4.2% this year to reach $11.1 billion, according to IDC. This is a continuation of the steady growth the IT sector has experienced over the years. IT is a key pillar of the country’s digital transformation efforts outlined in its Vision 2030 strategy to diversify its economy and enhance public services. Despite economic turmoil caused by oil market turbulence and the coronavirus pandemic, technology jobs — especially those related to core digital transformation efforts such as migration to cloud services — are still in demand.
“Saudi Arabia’s vision for a smart economy relies heavily on digital transformation initiatives, an area the government has always focused on and heavily invested in long before COVID-19. The ongoing pandemic has validated the country’s strategic direction, acting as a catalyst to spur the adoption of emerging technologies” said IDC regional director for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Hamza Naqshbandi, in a press release on the Saudi market.
Though Saudi Arabia has been feeling the effects across some sectors including aviation, retail and construction, the overall picture looks positive. The Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) revealed in January that unemployment among Saudis reached 14.9% in the third quarter of 2020, down from 15.4% in the second quarter, while the overall unemployment rate for both Saudis and foreigners in the country dropped to 8.5%.
To further bolster the nation’s employment figures, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD) launched a new program in January, aimed to increase employment among Saudi citizens. The program partners with private sector organizations to provide job opportunities for 115,000 Saudis.
As Saudi moves to digitise much of its government service portfolio, the need for robust cybersecurity continues to increase. According to a study released by Markets and Research in May of this year, the Saudi Arabian cyber security market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.4 percent during 2020-2026 in spite of a predicted overall economic downturn due to COVID and the falling price of oil.
Roles that support cloud infrastructure and data analytics are in particular demand, according to Tom Turpin, senior manager for IT & Digital at recruiting firm Hays. This is likely due to the continued adoption of cloud computing solutions and proliferation of regional data centres throughout the GCC, including one of Oracle’s latest regions, opened in Jeddah in early 2020.
More than a quarter of enterprises in the Kingdom plan to use a combination of on-premises and dedicated private cloud systems, public clouds and legacy platforms, according to IDC’s annual Saudi Arabia CIO Survey.
In fact, reliance on multiple workloads and remote working seen during the coronavirus crisis may be bolstering demand for technologies that Saudi has been investing in for years, including government service portals and emerging technologies. Increased demand may mean good news for IT professionals entering the job market in Saudi, or looking for another job in the country.
Below are some of the most in-demand IT roles in KSA. Information has been gathered from a variety of sources, and salaries are provided in SAR, and in approximate U.S. dollar equivalent on a per-month basis.
SAR 18,000 – 30,000 per month (US$4,800 – $8,000)
As the Saudi cybersecurity market continues to grow, so too does the demand for qualified IT security personnel. Security engineers are required to maintain networks and manage end-point communication. Engineers are also needed to manage device security and monitor and investigate system breaches and other critical events.
SAR 30,000 – 45,000 p/m ($8,000 – $12,000)
Security architects, like security engineers, are needed in the country as the government and private enterprises move forward in their digital transformation efforts. Security architects are responsible for designing, building, testing and implementing security systems. As the backbone of IT security within an organization, security architects are expected to have an ecosystem-wide understanding of IT systems, the latest security standards and authentication protocols.
SAR 15,000 – 20,000 ($4,000 – $5,000)
Network engineers oversee enterprise networks for data, voice, video and wireless services. They are responsible for installing and configuring network systems as well as performing disaster recovery operations and data backups, investigating faults or administering firewalls and other security technology. Depending on the enterprise, some duties overlap with those of the security engineer – investigating faults or administering firewalls and other security technology. Network engineers may also be involved in planning networks, though a more senior-level engineering role focused on the design of networks across an enterprise may fall into the job category of network architect. [For the sorts of certifications often required for a network engineering job, see “9 top certifications for network engineers in Saudi Arabia”.]
SAR 15,000 – 20,000 p/m ($4,000 – $5,500)
Cloud engineers are needed in the Kingdom, particularly as cloud offerings in the region continue to expand. Cloud engineers are tasked with creating and maintaining cloud services, including design, planning, management, maintenance and support. Job requirements usually include familiarity with one of the major cloud provider’s services.
SAR 25,000 – 40,000 p/m ($7,000 – $11,000)
Cloud architects have higher-level responsibilities that include leading overall cultural change for cloud adoption, as well as developing and coordinating cloud architecture. Tasks also may include cloud application designs, cloud approval plans, and management of systems required to manage cloud storage. Those with a cloud engineer background are best suited to move up to the role of cloud architect.
SAR 27,000 – 40,000 p/m ($5,000 – $11,000)
As users generate enormous pools of data, data scientists are needed to analyse and pull value out of that data. Data scientists take information from various sources and validate and analyse that data in a way that can give businesses powerful insights into performance and processes. A data scientist advises the business on the potential of data through the use of statistical analysis, data mining and data visualization techniques.