Brief Guide to Top OFW Destinations

When you just accepted an overseas job offer? Make sure that you are prepared for the new working environment and culture that will greet you upon your arrival in your host country. It is wise for all newly-hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to do basic research about the country they are headed to so their adjustment period would be easier and faster.

Check out these short guides about the top five most popular destinations of Overseas Filipino Workers: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore, Hong Kong and Qatar.

The top 5 list is based on the latest data posted in the official website of POEA.

Basic Guide in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar

  • They are Muslim countries that follow Islam rules and rites. All foreigners are expected to respect and follow their customs and traditions.
  • No one is allowed to bring the following in Saudi Arabia: narcotics, pork products and pornographic books.
  • An expatriate should always carry their iqama or residence permit with them.
  • The labor law of Saudi strictly prohibits transferring to another employer while the worker is still under an existing employment contract.
  • It is not recommended to join in any political or religious demonstrations.
  • Possession, smuggling and trafficking illegal drugs even in residual amounts are prohibited. Severe punishments awaits those who will be caught.
  • It is not advisable to bring religious items such as rosary, holy images.
  • Taking pictures of any government facility, mosque, airports, and residential houses without permission might get you in trouble.
  • Respect the time of Ramadan or holy fasting by avoiding eating or drinking in public places.
  • Gambling and alcoholic drinks are also prohibited. Likewise, do not drink and drive and appear drunk in public.
  • Smiling at Arab men is not recommended as it might be mistaken for a romantic interest. Staring at Arab women is also considered rude.
  • Avoid pointing your fingers to a person you are talking to and always address them with their proper names.
  • Couples should refrain from engaging in public display of affection. Men and women that are living together out of wedlock is also strictly forbidden.
  • Muslims follow a prayer time or schedule several times a day. Foreigners are expected to respect their sacred routine.

Notes: UAE is less stricter than Saudi and Qatar when it comes to appropriate clothing. However, women should still avoid wearing revealing clothes such as skimpy dresses, short skirts, swimsuits and sleeveless blouses.

Basic Guide in Singapore

Singapore is considered a “city of fines” because of its numerous rules. Strive to follow all the rules to avoid fines and penalties.

  • Smoking in public places such as taxis, movie houses, government offices and in air-conditioned establishments is not allowed. The fine for the first offender is up to SGD1,000.
  • Do not throw cigarette butts on the streets. Fine: SGD 50.
  • All kinds of littering will be reprimanded. First offender: SGD1,000; Repeat offenders: up to SGD2,000.
    Selling and possession of chewing gum is not allowed.
  • Do not spit in public and always flush the toilet after using it.
  • Do not bring fresh meat into the country unless you have obtained an official permit to do so. Do not bring any animals, birds, reptiles and insects into or out of the country.
  • Observe punctuality.

Basic Guide in Hong Kong:

  • Observe and respect the customs and traditions of the Chinese.
  • Always greet someone you meet.
  • Stick to conservative dresses. Do not wear revealing clothes.
  • Always be polite and punctual.
  • Always carry your passport with you. Do not pawn or use it as collateral for loans.
  • Strive to be punctual in all your appointments.
  • Do not give your passport to your employer as it is your personal property.

The following items are not allowed in Hong Kong:

  • Drugs like opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine, cannabis, methadone, psychotropic drugs like stimulants, Amphetamine, Ecstasy, Benzodiazepine, Antibiotics like penicillin, tetra-cycline, corticosteroid, etc.
  • Chemicals like Acetic Anhydride, ephedrine.
  • Arms and weapons, grenades, firecrackers, and other explosive items.
  • Animals and plants
  • Endangered species
  • Diamonds
  • Meat like pork, chicken
  • Cigarette products.

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