Are you planning to move to Riyadh soon? As Riyadh expats, you are probably concerned about your safety and the strict laws. That is very much expected because of all the misconceptions about Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the thought of moving to Riyadh at first might be really challenging, but once you adapt to the lifestyle, you will feel yourself back at home. Nevertheless, before moving to Riyadh, you need to prepare yourself with all the culture shock you may encounter. Below are 4 things every expat needs to know before living in Riyadh.
Reside In Compounds
Living in a safe and decent neighborhood in Saudi Arabia should be at the top of your priority list. In Saudi Arabia, most expats prefer to live in compounds. Compounds are gated community or residential housing designed for foreign non-Saudi nationals. Compounds generally have pools, markets, movie theatres, schools, gym, and restaurants. In other words, it is a safe community housing where expats are free to do whatever they want. The most exciting thing about living in compounds is that they apply western rules. As you may already know, Saudi Arabia is a conservative country and has strict gender-based laws. However, in compounds, these laws are not applied. For instance, women can dress freely, women and men can go to swimming pools together, and families can celebrate Western holidays freely. The cost of living in compounds might be a little bit high, but the perks are definitely worth it.
Download Pinngle App
Network issues have been an ongoing problem for residents in the Middle East. Similar to any other Middle Eastern countries, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in Saudi Arabia are blocked. In order to use voice calling apps, people download and buy VPNs to call for free. To avoid all the hassle, you can choose to download Pinngle App. Pinngle App is a messaging app that allows instant messaging and voice/video calling for free. The App is designed specifically to work everywhere and even in countries with VoIP ban. Pinngle also comes with many features. If you’re an expat living in Saudi Arabia, you can choose to buy virtual numbers to make international calls. With Pinngle, virtual numbers are as low as 1.50 USD. Moreover, Pinngle App can take up to 50,000 participants in a single group chat and can save your battery’s life up to 40%.
Anywhere you go in the Middle East, exposing too much flesh might not be a good idea. In the Middle East, foreigners are advised to dress modestly and conservatively in public. However, in Saudi Arabia, you will not be advised but rather obliged to dress conservatively. The Dress Code in Saudi Arabia is governed by Sharia law, which means you are obliged to follow their rules. The dress code states that women should cover their hair and wear an abaya; a long black gown covering sleeves and legs. Not adhering the rules might end you up being deported. So before arriving in Saudi Arabia, make sure to dress modestly and bring with you as many headscarves as you can.
Shop At Kingdom Center
If you google “Riyadh Images” you will find images of a circular shaped necklike tower. This iconic tower is called the Kingdom Center and is a 99-story skyscraper in Riyadh. For shopping needs, Kingdom Center is the favorite amongst Riyadh expats. Why? Because it literally has everything and is located near most of the residential compounds. Besides shopping, Kingdom Center offers a food court, hotel, offices, and a sky bridge at the top of the center. The most shocking part about the Kingdom Center is that it has a female only floor where women can take off their Abayas and walk freely. Also, Riyadh’s most luxurious cinema is opening soon in the Kingdom Center. So for leisure, Kingdom Center is always a good option to spend your weekend.
To conclude, expat life is full of ups and downs everywhere in the Middle East. In order for Riyadh Expats to adjust quickly, all they need to do is get out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in Saudi Arabia’s lifestyle.