Allocation Assist

What is Life like for Expat Women in Riyadh?

What is Life like for Expat Women in Riyadh?

Allocation Assist Middle East expanded out into Saudi Arabia’s rapidly expanding healthcare sector earlier this year, while still maintaining our focus on our base in the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia has been undergoing a transformation in the past several years, including many cultural and social reforms. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s plan to modernise and diversify its economy, is driving changes in society, especially for women. We have found that much of the information available on the internet about Saudi Arabia is now outdated.

How has life in Saudi Arabia changed?

Since 2018, significant changes to Saudi law mean that women can now drive, and there is no longer mandatory gender segregation, so that men and women can mix freely in public spaces. Princess Reema bint Bandar, who was appointed Saudi Arabia’s first female Ambassador to the United States in 2019, said that the economic and social progress of women has “drastically improved” since the launch of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Dress regulations have been removed. Women are no longer required to wear the abaya or a headscarf in public, although both men and women are still encouraged to dress modestly, in respect of the local culture. As society opens up more and more to international visitors, there is an increasing array of entertainment, music, cinema and sports activities. Riyadh hosts many international sports events and concerts.

What opportunities are there for women in the workforce?

Women’s empowerment is a key aspect of the ongoing social reform in Saudi Arabia. There are many events and initiatives promoting access to skills and training, job opportunities, and greater female workforce participation. Female participation in the workforce is rising exponentially each year, with women represented at all levels in the workplace. Saudi’s total female workforce participation rose to 33.6 percent in the first quarter of 2022, compared to 20.5 percent in the same period in 2019. According to a 2021 report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Saudi has the world’s third-highest percentage of female entrepreneurs.

The Saudi government has been actively encouraging the employment of women in both public and private sectors. There are, of course, many opportunities in Riyadh and other Saudi cities for female doctors and other healthcare professionals. The recent reforms have opened up more opportunities for women in many other sectors. Women relocating to Saudi Arabia for their husband’s work can secure employment and obtain their own employer’s sponsorship.

Is Riyadh a safe place for women?

Riyadh is an incredibly safe city, with a low extremely low crime rate and strong police presence. According to Numbeo’s 2024 rankings, Saudi Arabia had a safety index of 73.1, much higher than the UK (52.3), the USA (50.7), or France (44.7). In Gallups’s 2021 Law and Order poll, Saudi Arabia ranked in the top 5 countries in the world where people reported feeling safe walking alone.

Both locals and expats are generally friendly, hospitable, and respectful towards women. It is helpful to be sensitive to the local culture and dress modestly. While women can now drive, taking public transport is a safe way to get around. There are many female taxi drivers and the Saudi Uber App has a “women preferred view” option, which allows female riders to select female drivers. There are also ride-hailing apps exclusively for women, including Wsslini and Leena.

How is the social life for expat women in Riyadh?

Whether you are single or married, there are many opportunities to socialise and make friends. Many expats live in housing compounds, secure, gated residential areas with a full range of amenities, often provided as part of their employment contracts. Within expat compounds, there are many opportunities for socialising such as coffee meet-ups, mums groups, sport related activities and other events. Whether or not you live in an expat compound, there are many social groups based on a wide range of hobbies and interests, such as hiking, diving, book clubs, food and dining etc.

InterNations Club, one of the largest global networks for expats, has a branch in Riyadh:

Meetup also has many social groups in Riyadh:–riyadh

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