Things to do in Sakaka Al Jouf? - spa/gym for female - expat compound?

Does anyone live in sakaka-Al Jouf, i need some advice on places to eat- dine out, and if you are female- are there any good spa's or gym . Also are there any expat compounds here?

Hi there,

I am not in Sakaka yet, but I have been hired to work at a college there as well. Perhaps it is the same one  :)  I am anticipating being there next month. How is Sakaka so far?? I would love to connect with expats as well! Let me know if you find out information.

Welcome to your beautiful, athani

From which country are you?

It must be the same! It is the only female college in Sakaka.
What role will you be doing? I will try and cover all the things I wished someone told me...
I have been here for just over 2 weeks, it is a serious culture shock in which you can never prepare for.
All women in Sakaka cover their faces, my colleagues and I do no but ensure your abaya is covering your ankle and headscarf covering all hair and neck and us worn like a hijabt.

There is nothing really to do, you cannot go out on your own, cannot take taxis because there really is'nt any and it is not safe to!
Eating out is almost zero and choice is very very limited.
While we have a driver, all activities are done in groups, you do not have a personal driver and cannot get items or go places when you please, you have scheduled days for shopping and mall , which are the only two past times you will have.

You are not allowed to speak to men or even smile at them.... It is a very rural area in the middle of a dessert! It is quite cheap to buy food and items in the mall. (So do not waste your baggage allowance of general toiletries etc. Stick to your cloths and bring modest work cloths, (no legs out, scirts mid calf and nothing skin tight or too fitted).

Oh, it's a great place to getting your excersise as you will have no other way to past your time except for working, so bring a yoga mat, trainers, skipping rope and dvd's! Books are also a good idea! No one searched my baggage that I am aware of but be sure to not pack the obvious alcohol, you can have toys etc... If you wish.. And keep your pics on phones etc.. No one looks at that.. Well me or none of my colleagues!!!!

And to the good part!!!The college is just stunning and the staff are great. One of the most rewarding jobs you will ever find.. Well at least for me so far!!!

Be clear in your mind why you are coming here and be prepared to face the unexpected, and if you are not patient and flexible you will not survive. Everything is not as it was painted due to the difficulty of doing business in this part if the world but I believe management is trying.
If you are coming for a good time, forget it! If your are coming for financial gain-tax free money and carrear enhancement then this is your place!

Oh and there really is no alcohol!!!!!
Hope to see you soon!

Oh, and just come with one abaya, they are cheaper here!

I have been in saudi for over 5 years now and i had to google to find where the place is ! God have mercy on you. LoL

No moonshines?

Thanks for detailed reply! Yah, I am expecting the unexpected. I am OK with culture shock, But I was told I don't have to wear the hijab, just the abaya. ?? OH well, it isnt the end of the world I guess. Saves on me doing my hair.

What is your apartment like? Any pics of it??

You said it was unsafe to go out alone? Why is that? Do men harass you??

Im not coming expecting to party it up in my best abaya and heels, so i am good there. I figure I can take a quick flight to Dubai or Jordan for that!!  Im so glad to hear the campus and staff are great!!! That will make it worth it for me.

Thanks for your info, we will be sure to meet up when I arrive!!

Great to hear, it sounds like the place for you.
You will never see a woman here on her own, and the reason you are not allowed to go out on your own is for your safety, men will harass you and may just snatch you....staff who has done it in couples said they would not again because of the harassment and stares. And also a staff member who disobeyed the rules to not go out alone, when she arrived back, her bags were packed.
It is like being in prison, and you cannot simply go somewhere when you feel to. And you may not want to see the same people all the times, but you have no choice. (Remember the men here are not used to seeing other women faces, or having foreigners in their town). The local women we interact with a very nice and accepting, the ones we work with and attend the college.
Apartments are not ready yet and people who arrived 3 weeks ago are still in hotels. The apartments are also according to your role, so if your a senior staff you will be in a different apartment. The senior apartments are not entirely finished and only 4 of us have moved in so far.
What role will you be doing?

Things are not so bad in bigger cities. Should you have the option of getting a role in Jeddah, Riyadh, or Dammam/Khobar things are much better.

I will be teaching. I have yet to hear from them in several days so I am getting a bit antsy.

So we are told, as a rule, that we cannot go out alone??? Hmmm, that sounds strange. Has anyone really gotten snatched?? I am not a group person really and like to do things on my own. Her bags were really packed and she was told to leave?

Well, I guess this will be interesting. Thanks for the heads up on everything! Much better to go into the situation knowing as much as possible.

Im sure the bigger cities are better for certain things...but this is the place I choose. We shall see!!

Well I hope you hear soon. It certainly has it's advantages and disadvantages.

Those are the rules for your safety and her bags were packed and she was on the next flight before she could say boo! It's not strange at all for a rural place like this in the middle of a dessert. There are too many stories of women getting snatched.. As I say, you will prob never see a women in her own here.. Ever! If you are not a group person, I suggest you get used to it if you wish to live here. I can tell you it's tuff!!! Every time you step outside and go anywhere it will be in a group, for the period you are here you will never be able to do anything on your own except for enjoying your apartment or hotel room!

But like I said you won't find a better group of people to work with and a college more beautiful. It certainly makes going to work very enjoyable. It's job satisfaction and that's all.
Think of the holidays!
Hope to see you soon.

The problem is Skaka one of the small cities in Saudi Arabia, and most of the people there are tied by desert culture so much (everything is serious!), so, you will see the difference when you go to big cities such as Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam. However, you should have this experience to see the lifestyle of the people at this side of the earth lol. Have fun and enjoy your time wherever you are! if you are in Riyadh, I can help you. I hope you get someone can help you there.


Nuja :

You will never see a woman here on her own, and the reason you are not allowed to go out on your own is for your safety, men will harass you and may just snatch you....staff who has done it in couples said they would not again because of the harassment and stares.

From my own experience - men in rural areas are afraid of strange women, especially foreigners, and are trying to absolutely avoid and ignore them. And those rare instances when a man looks at me and even says "hwryu" I don't accept as harassing - in contrary to local women.

Nuja :

There are too many stories of women getting snatched..

I hear many such stories but never real facts from any reliable source. I'm sure all those stories are fairy-tales created by males in order to keep females at home.

Hi Which Witch

Oh, it's very uncomfortable here for us, it's a matter of horns popping, cars slowing down as you walk, even being told to cover our faces in supermarkets. Have you been to Sakaka?

Local men do not try and say how are u here. There seems to be three kinds here, one is they ignore you completely.. Which is fine.. Or they .stare.. Kinda weird... Or they harass you... Only really Galen's if walking on road. In the hotels, non English expats will try to say hello... Which is fine, you may not even realise they are expats because they speak Arabic.

And as for the stories they are just told by local men trying to keep women inside, as I have never spoken to a local man except for our sponcer who is a reputable scholar in the region and he has also advised us not to be out alone. He explains that it is not in our culture and men may get the wrong impression if they see a women on her own! (:/)  also by other expats who are genuinely concerned about our safety and have heard or experience like this in their circles.

It's a great place but you go to accept this is what it is, and look for the best in it..and there are good things like I have mentioned... My colleagues and I say, it's like being in rehab but you get paid!!!!

I haven't been in Sakaka, but I've visited many different towns and villages across the Kingdom from Hail till Najran. And I saw women in small towns walking on their own. Not many though, more in the South than in North.
Horn popping? Cars slowing down? This happens everywhere from Tahlia till Champs-Elysees. They say - you became old when bypassing drivers stop honking to you.
They stare? Is this wrong? If I visit any village in my home country everyone is staring at me because I'm stranger there. They will stare even more if someone would come in abaya. Because they are curious. Kids in Saudi are looking openly and trying to touch me because they are just curious and not driven by dogmas. All local females stare at me even my few arab friends here have asked me if they can touch my hairs. Is that weird too? I feel more uncomfortably when one removes his eyes.
I was told to cover my head few times, even in Jeddah airport and Red Sea Mall, I allways have a scarf in my bag just in case.
One thing what is truly weird - when gang of shababs being absolutely drunk from home distilled dates beverage try to demonstrate around you their drifting skills in their Hilux trucks.
For locals is a big shame if someone sees his female or even knows her name. Your sponsor (in reality - the owner) does not allow you to go out alone not because of direct danger to you, but because of danger of public opinion for him.

I sincerely think you have it all wrong and do not understand what us taking place in this forum! No one is cristiscingm but simply explaining what it is like! nobody says it is wrong, just that it is not a manner we may be used too or comfortable with. And it takes a matter if getting used too if you choose to live here!
Our safety is number one here and we are employed by The College of Excellence, funded by the Saudi government and ran by Britsh organisations, the project is worth over £850million and we do not have a owner!!! there are rules we have to obey -for our safety. Empats that come here need to understand this! Our sponcer we have only seen once and has really not much to do with the project other than paperwork as all foreign organisation need one.. Apoarently, or something to that effect.
You seem to be defending, when that really isn't necessary. My explanation was to explain what is it like here and that is what it is like, wether you want to accept it or not. The many women here all agree.
I think you need to read all the threads to catch up. We live in apartment blocks and have drivers which takes us as a group where we need to go.. We are not allowed to go out alone for our safety which I cannot give examples on this forum, but let's just say, it's been tested and verified..
We have many local friends as we work with other Saudi's and they all agree to this -not going out alone as well. Think you may need to visit Sakaka!

The life in Saudi is what you make of it. All people are different and have different experiences and different opinions about it.

Cat fight!!  Meow!!

hii...can you tell some information about good hospital, shopping mall and transport.

Hi, I live in Sakaka, I'm the FM at the female college.
I am the only European living in an apart/hotel on the outskirts of the city. The locals are all friendly and I have no issues walking round town or eating in any of the restaurants. Granted there are a lot of restrictions on women and many of the restaurants that I go to do not allow women, but there are also many family restaurants that I am not allowed in. I think there are a couple of female gyms, one of these is not far from the Nebras Hotel. The local shopping mall is not massive, but it does offer a good selection and of course Cinnabon, I can buy from Cinabon, but I'm not allowed to sit, family's only. I like the small town feel of Sakaka and enjoy living here, maybe because I'm from a small village. I am aware that it is difficult for females, and I have a lot more freedom. Good Luck.

There are only old messages from Sakaka and al Jouf, are there no more expats on this moment ?
I am site manager on RSAF. living in a western compound with all the facilities.
like to meet some other expats.

I also been in Sakaka and had a different experience, as i have been in a small town for the first time, that's good to know that now there is a western compound with all the facilities.
Its a town where you save your traveling time as you can reach any where you want with in 10 min unlike bigger towns like Jeddah, Riyadh, & Dammam.
You can have a fell of Sand Dumes (Real Desert i must say), if you travel around Sakaka which you din't get to see around Bigger Cities here.
There is also an small Lake there around 20 km from sakaka, but you must visit in day time in a group.

I went to that lake last weekend, they have some good facilities for waterski and you can rent a jet ski. for the rest there is nothing to do.
my compound is here already more than 20 years. it was from ballast nedam. I work for the company that take over all the works from ballast nedam.  I am here now the only dutch expat but there are working about 140 Filipino, India and sri lanka expats for me most of them stay on my compound as well. for a western expat the facilities are good. swimming pool, sauna. billiard room and  bar. for expats from different countries the facilities are less but still good for their standard.  basketball field, tennis field, gym and relax area.

heuveljo :


Wow, are you sure about this ??  :/

yes , I am, you can come by to check it.  or I can send you some pictures.

My wife is woriking in al jouf as a staff nurse and i am working for Duba Govt. We planned together and i am moving to Al jouf, KSA in visiting visa. Can you help to find job there? if you can that will be a great help.  I am  a mechanical engineer with diploma in mechanical engineering qualification.


nice to hear that there is a private compound in sakaka , is still open .

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