About Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, population approximately 5 million, is the capital city of Saudi Arabia. Large companies have their corporate headquarters in the city. The embassies of foreign companies are situated in the Diplomatic Quarter. It is also the banking center for international finance. With it, striking, futuristic-looking buildings designed by famous architects, and its many more traditional, handsome palaces, the city looks very affluent.


Located in the heart of the desert, the temperature is hot and dry most of the year, though it can be quite cool overnight in the winter. Riyadh has seen rainstorms and hailstorms during May and November.


English is the main language in business, including in the hospitals, and it is a compulsory second language in Saudi schools.


Over the last several years, things have changed a lot: movie theatres, Western concerts, sporting events, mixed socializing! Although many Saudi women still wear the abaya, a long black cloak, and cover their hair and face when in public, abayas are no longer mandatory.


Check out our article: Having Fun in Saudi Arabia which outlines the types of cultural events, sporting events, concerts, etc., etc., now available.

But in general, expatriates are surprised by the many and variable athletic and entertainment options which are available. Men and women can join a team to play road ball hockey (on the grounds of the Diplomatic Quarter). There are organized overnight desert camping expeditions. You can play soccer, tennis, golf. Salsa dancing (with lessons) has become very popular. Dedicated salsa dancers even travel to Dubai or Beirut for weekend dance festivals.

For the less physical expatriates, there is shopping at the ancient souq or at any of the many expansive malls. Eating out is popular. You will find restaurants where labourers from the Far East eat, so the food is authentic, cheap, and real, or at high-end restaurants, which have fanciful décor and every type of international food. There are craft groups, a theatre group, and even an opera society. And now there are movies, concerts, and major sporting events to enjoy.

Working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

If you’re interested in learning more about working in Riyadh, see our Frequently Asked Questions or Contact Us for more information.

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Video: Expat Life in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

People are often surprised about just how much fun one can have as an expat in Saudi Arabia. A Canadian RRT talks about some of the things she does in her spare time. more