International Education in Riyadh
Life as an expat in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city, can come as a culture shock to some. While the overall quality of life is great, some aspects are very different to other parts of the world. Gender segregation will be part and parcel of your day, and you will mostly live in the bubble of your ‘compound’ with other expats.
Saudi Arabian schools teach exclusively through Arabic and do not admit non-citizens. Therefore, an international school may be the only realistic option for educating your child in Riyadh. Before you begin your search, here are some important points to take note of...
The majority of international schools in Riyadh teach students through English and follow the American school system and curriculum. You will find a large selection of schools offering the International Baccalaureate and the British curriculum too, and a smaller number offering Indian, Islamic, Australian and even French curricula.
Riyadh’s international schools vary in size, with some schools enrolling a few hundred students and some enrolling a few thousand. In all cases however, actual class sizes are quite small - it’s rare to find a school with more than 25 students per class. This means a more hands-on learning environment for your child, and more opportunities for them to engage with students and teachers in a meaningful way.
The working week in Saudia Arabia is from Sunday - Thursday, with Friday and Saturday as weekend days. Schools follow this schedule too. In general international schools in Saudi Arabia follow the national school calendar, which is two terms per year with a short winter break and a longer summer break. Many schools are now adopting the more common three-term school calendar however, while still observing Saudi Arabian national holidays.
Religion, or Islam to be specific, is a big part of life in Saudi Arabia. During the holy month of Ramadan, those who practice Islam fast from sunrise to sunset. There are many other restrictions to normal daily life too, including the school day. Some schools may alter the start and end time of lessons to take account of Ramadan.
International schools are not segregated like their public counterparts, and with the large diplomatic community in Riyadh, there is often a very diverse student population. In fact some schools are actually governed by embassies. There is a downside to this; they tend to give preferential admissions to children of the embassy’s nationality, which can make it difficult for others to win a place.
As for fees, the breakdown is similar to international schools worldwide. In addition to tuition and registration, you will be expected to cover the costs of school uniforms, extra curricular activities and any other optional extras. Don’t forget to get your application in as soon as possible, because waiting lists are long and international schools are in high demand!
Below, we have compiled our top 10 international schools in Riyadh. However, there are another 25 schools to choose from in the city. You can find the best international school for your child by personalising your results. Just fill in your search criteria, and we will calculate a personal score for every international school in Riyadh based on your requirements.