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Living on a Western Compound in Riyadh

Compounds will vary quite considerably from one to another, in particular for Western to non-Western Compounds.  On that basis, this article will provide an insight for those wishing to live on a Western Compound and I hope will prepare you for your new life in Saudi.  If you are seeking to live on a Compound, it will serve you well to firstly establish if it is Western, Non-Western or mixed.

Western Compounds will apply western rules, which generally means the following:

  • No covering (no abaya, head cover or niqab), when you enter the Compound, western dress only is permitted.
  • Swimming, sunbathing and general pool lounging in swimming costumes, trunks and bikinis are acceptable modes of dress by the pool.
  • Displays of affection are permitted (holding hands with family members, greetings with a kiss, gentle signs of affection) are all acceptable behaviour .

Most, but not all other normal western social and cultural norms

There will be a range of housing available, from single studio apartments to Executive villas. 

There will be a range of facilities provided, usually within the rental fee of the resident and these typically consist of the following:
  • Restaurant
  • Café
  • Convenience Store (general groceries)
  • Dry Cleaner/Laundry Services
  • Tailor
  • DVD shop
  • Gym (fully equipped) – with on-site personal trainer
  • Games room/facility (can include things like pool, table tennis, darts board)
  • Library
  • Reading or Quiet Room
  • Lounge areas
  • Function rooms (can be booked for social gatherings by compound residents
  • Bowling alleys
  • Skate Parks
  • Children play areas
  • Swimming pools

Most will hold a range of events/functions for Western Cultures, such as:  Valentines Day, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year etc.

A full range of activities for children, families and adults are held throughout the year and all residents are activity encouraged to participate in the social schedule on the Compound.  Most events will normally carry a modest fee charge.

Compound residents are permitted to hold social gatherings and get-togethers with friends, families and can have limited external guests granted consent to enter the Compound.  However, strict rules apply to external guests and some nationalities may be excluded from entry.

Fully serviced accommodation units, most furnished but at the request of the resident, can be unfurnished.

Internet and Wi-Fi services available at a reasonable cost to residents.

The lifestyle and social atmosphere on a Western Compound is usually very casual and relaxed.  Often, residents are friendly, approachable and relaxed with each other; which provides a very content and sociable living environment.

gowiththeflowUK Serial expat
Member since 29 September 2009
Aberdeen, Scotland
3 Comments
2 years ago

Great Thread, indeed explains how you can find some piece of freedom in saudi. The only issue about western compounds is that they are so expensive, and not many people can afford them. Unless your company is providing accomodations for you, and you put it as a condition on them that they get you a house in a western compound.

2 years ago

NIce Articale

5 years ago

I would like to thank the writer for these information but I am a bit greedy and would be grateful and request the user who has written this Artcile to please give more details on non-western compounds as well as mixed community compounds and situation in private apartments (not in compound) as well as standalone villas.

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See also

Dammam, which is found in the Eastern Province, is very popular with expatriates. You are likely to find different types of accommodation there.
Being Saudi Arabia's second biggest city, Jeddah not only welcomes expatriates worldwide but also offers a range of accommodation options.
Jubail is known to be a huge industrial Saudi city. It has thus been attracting thousands of foreigners, along with offering housing.
If you are moving to Khobar, finding accommodation should not be a difficult task. Besides compounds, you can find apartments and villas there.
Riyadh is definitely one of the most popular Saudi cities with expatriates. Hence, it provides a range of accommodation options for all.

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