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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia/Life for a single female ?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by Mariadelasol, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Mariadelasol

    Mariadelasol New commenter

    What kind of lifestyle can a single female expect in Riyadh ?
    Can she join an all woman's gym or shop at malls by herself ?
    Can she wear the abaya without covering her face ?
  2. honestandy

    honestandy New commenter

    Riyadh is an awful place for women, in fact all of saudi is bad for women, i would never go there, i have some friends working there and they tell me of horrors, the religious police hounding women in malls even a bit of the leg is showing, the black abaya is a must and in the summer heat it is unbearable to wear the black bin liner as it is called by the locals.

    You will be stuck in a compound with not much to do, just perhaps watching TV/DVD movies etc. You will not be able to go alone to a mall at all, the police would stop you and hound you....

    Covering the face might be a good idea as saudi men will feast their eyes on you, if you are a Western white women!!!

    So beware of going there, just think carefully before you decide.

    Do you have a job offer there?
  3. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    I was in Riyadh for 3 years. The single females had the wildest time of all. Life in compounds was full of fun. There are many social events organised along with impromptu dinner/evening invites. In addition the British Embassy holds social evenings (although you have to be invited).
    There aren't too many sporting opportunities, although there are tennis courts, gyms and even golf courses on some compounds.
    You are allowed to go into a Mall, but I would go with another female. You cannot go anywhere, on your own with a male who is not you husband, father, brother or uncle. This includes being driven anywhere (apart from with a taxi driver ironically) and also eating out is only allowed with other females. If you get caught with a male you will almost certainly be arrested and then deported.
    It's a bit of a schizophrenic existence, but if you can get used to it, it is worthwhile and recommended.
    PM me if you want any more info.
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Mrs Hippo and I were in Jeddah, not Riyadh, so maybe I am not the best person to advise the OP. Also it was a few years ago now, so perhaps my information has passed its "sell by date". However, I would concur with a lot of what stopwatch has written. On your compound you can pretty much do your own thing, even as a single lady. Some compounds are huge - almost like small towns. Mrs Hippo always had to wear an abayya in public (i.e. whenever she was not on the compound), but I understand that in Riyadh ladies are also expected to wear headscarves. In Jeddah, a western woman could usually get away without wearing a headscarf, but in Riyadh this may not be the case. The compound used to organise "the shopping bus", a minibus for the ladies who wanted to go shopping during the week. The good news is that the law has been changed, ladies, so now you can buy your lingerie from a female shop assitant.
    Yes, it is a bit of a schizophrenic existence in the KSA, aka the Magic Kingdom, but hey, most compounds have a gym, tennis courts, some nice gardens and a swimming pool or two. Okay, the Internet was restricted and you would open the newspaper or a magazine and find that some advertisements had been blacked out. Well, that is something that you get used to pretty quickly. On the whole I would agree with stopwatch and say that you could do a lot worse than Riyadh. If you are going to be working for a good school, then I would go for it.
  5. Mariadelasol

    Mariadelasol New commenter

    Stopwatch- I will PM you.

    In the meantime, am I to understand that a woman can not shop alone in the malls ?
    Does she have to cover her head or can she just wear the abaya ?
  6. Mariadelasol

    Mariadelasol New commenter

    How do you PM on this forum ?

  7. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Click on the word 'Stopwatch' then look to the top left and click on 'send a message'
  8. honestandy

    honestandy New commenter

    awful place for women as i said before....PM me for more info....
  9. I've known a lot of women who lived in Riyadh. Admittedly they weren't teachers but they loathed it - and some of them were there with husbands. Many of them ended up leaving their husbands to complete his contract on his own as they couldn't cope with it any more. I would think very carefully - I suppose it depends if you're happy living in a confined existence and socialising with the same people that you live with and work with. Personally I want to live somewhere I feel a little free-er to go where I want and socialise with who I want. But obviously it's a case of each to their own.
  10. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Yes I think it depends on whether you are working or not and whether you live on a compound.
    If you do not work you will find it hard to fill your time meaningfully.
    If you live off compound (ie amongst the general populace) you will feel very isolated and have difficult building up a social circle.

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