Riyadh, Jeddah and Saudi Arabia:

For expats, the quality of life in Riyadh is fairly good, as far as creature comforts are concerned. The residents of Riyadh’s expatriate compounds enjoy a lot of amenities. Behind the heavily guarded gates of such communities, the facilities provide plenty of leisure opportunities. Pools, gyms, and various sports grounds are frequently standard features.


Exploring the City

As nice as your expat life in Riyadh may be inside your compound, it can feel somewhat stifling after a while. Venture outside for a change!

The National Museum, the Masmak Fortress, and the Kingdom Center with its spectacular skybridge are particularly recommended. You should also seize the opportunity for a daytrip to the Arabian Desert. However, make sure to book a guided tour through a reputable agency!

When outside the compound women should wear the black Abaya, it is a long flowing black dress with long sleeves. Women should be accompanied by a male family member when in public however western non muslim women would be provided with a driver to take them around. The driver will wait outside the shopping mall or gym until you are ready to return home.

Shopping and Dining

If a desert adventure isn’t quite to your taste, you can opt for the favorite activities of everyone living in Riyadh: shopping and eating. The Souk al-Thumairi is a traditional Arabian market where you can buy beautiful handicrafts, jewelry, incense, and rugs for your loved ones at home. Furthermore, there are several upscale malls, especially in Riyadh’s business district, where affluent customers can shop Gucci, D&G, and Versace till they drop.

Whereas alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia, life in Riyadh doesn’t mean you’ll have to go without a delicious meal. From Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine to Italian dining and Japanese specialties, Riyadh’s restaurants are surprisingly varied. However, you’ll have to get used to “Saudi champagne” with your meals – i.e. apple juice mixed with lemon soda and sparkling water! When out shopping or dining, expat women should take care to enter the “family or women's section” of shops and restaurants. Kingdom Mall even has a ladies’ floor, where you can take off your abaya.


Cultural evenings at foreign embassies, networking events at business associations, meeting other westerners at your kids’ international school, or online meet-ups are perfect for foreign assignees living in Riyadh.

Bahrain is a few kilometres away, a great place to go for the weekend! Many Saudis go there for the weekend(thursday and Friday!) It is much more relaxed with cinemas and ladies can drive there.

Rules and Regulations:
Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. If you move to live in Saudi Arabia you need to make yourself aware of what is and what is not legally and morally acceptable behaviour.
For example, public displays of affection are illegal.  Relationships outside marriage are also illegal. Public nudity is not acceptable.  The drinking of alcohol is illegal. When in public the abayah should be worn by women. During Ramadhan the fasting month eating in public is prohibited.

Whether a male or a female, you will notice that you can walk almost anywhere in the city at three o'clock in the morning without fear of being attacked or hassled. You can leave your car running, apartment open, laptop bag on a chair in a coffee shop and you are sure that they will be untouched by the time you come back.

Europeans love the weather in Saudi Arabia. The reason being that for a period of six month you constantly live under sunshine and temperatures ranging from 19 to 29 throughout the day.
It's the perfect recipe. Perfect weather with a lot of sunshine that will significantly wipe off most of the reasons you might think of to be depressed.