Student life in Riyadh

student life in Riyadh
Updated 2022-03-04 08:35

Moving to Riyadh as an international student can be challenging due to cultural contrasts. However, with proper research, you'll discover that student life can be interesting, diverse and full of new discoveries.


Most expats in Riyadh choose to live in compounds with luxury apartments and villas. Behind the intensely monitored entries, these compounds provide a range of facilities including a swimming pool, a gym and other playgrounds.

As an international student, however, there is a smaller chance of you settling in one of the compounds as the prices for lying here are quite steep. If your budget does not allow for luxury dwellings, you may instead opt for student residences, rooms or apartments.

Also, keep in mind that female students are more likely to find accommodation in female only residences while men are restricted to male-only residences.


Most TV programs in Riyadh are in Arabic, so if you're not familiar with the language, you might be looking for different channels. Unless books are your best friends, you can still apply for an Internet connection and a satellite dish.

Leisure activities

How to enjoy your free time as an international student in Riyadh? Head to the National Museum, the Masmak Fortress, and the Kingdom Center with its astounding sky bridge are some of the must-sees. What about the weekends? Plan a day trip to the Arabian Desert with your new friends.

Shopping and dining out

If you're not keen on the desert experience, there's still a range of things to do in Riyadh as an international student, like shopping and eating out. The Souk al-Thumairi is a customary Arabian market where you can buy beautiful handcrafted products, adornments, incense, and carpets for your friends and family at home. Besides, there are a few upscale shopping centres, especially in Riyadh's business region, where you can shop Gucci, D&G and Versace.

While alcohol is restricted in Saudi Arabia, life in Riyadh doesn't mean that you won't enjoy eating out. From Middle Eastern and Indian food to Italian eating and Japanese cuisines, Riyadh's eateries are amazingly diverse. If you are new to the city, you will have to get used to the "Saudi champagne" with your suppers. It's basically a squeezed apple flavoured soft drink blended with lemon and sparkling water!

Social life as a student in Riyadh

Making friends with fellow foreign students during your time in Riyadh shouldn't be a problem. However, you need to be aware of a number of social rules and norms to follow when part of a Saudi society. For instance, some universities and a lot of classes are gender-segregated and unmarried people are not supposed to spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex. Learn more about the Etiquette and customs in Saudi Arabia.

Building relationships with Saudi nationals may be a bit more complicated. As the family has a far higher status in Saudi Arabia than in most western countries, a great deal of mingling happens among relatives. In any case, you should endeavor to meet different people that aren't your adjacent neighbors. University is thus an excellent way to develop your social circle. Attend events with your friends and plan outings together to make your stay a memorable one.


The first thing to do before moving to Riyadh is to get international health insurance as you will not be covered by the local healthcare system.

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