Life is very different in Saudi compared to western countries, e.g. there are no bars, clubs, cinemas or bowling alleys. Saudis are quite private, and tend to spend their time with family and close friends rather than socialising. Typically people spend their spare time shopping and eating out, or entertaining friends and family in their homes.
Sports such as football (soccer), volleyball, gymnastics, swimming and basketball are popular as is horse racing and camel racing (although betting is prohibited).
Group activities and events will also be organised for college staff when you arrive and throughout your stay to assist you to keep occupied but while living in Saudi you may choose to use the time to complete study, maybe your masters or doctorate or to learn Arabic.
A lot of ex-pats take the opportunity to spend time in a more liberal environment from time to time so you may plan regular trips to neighbouring countries like Jordan or Bahrain to relax or sightsee.
The more adventurist can choose to dive, snorkel or take trips to the desert!
Saudi Arabia has a lot of rich culture and history and there are a number of memorable places to explore as described by www.lonelyplanet.com.
If you can only visit one place in Saudi Arabia, make it Madain Saleh. This crossroads of ancient civilisations… (read more)
Converging point for pilgrims and traders for centuries, the Old City of Jeddah is the easiest going city in the Kingdom… (read more)
The oasis at Najran, surrounded by mountains and close to the Yemeni border, is one of Saudi Arabia’s hidden treasures … (read more)
Saudi Arabia’s huge diving potential is beginning to be recognised. Those who do know it rank it among the best diving countries in the world… (read more)
If you can only visit one place in Saudi Arabia, make it Madain Saleh. This crossroads of ancient civilisations, pilgrims, explorers, trade caravans and armies finds its most remarkable expression in the elaborate stone-carved tombs of the Nabataeans. The Nabataean capital was at Petra (Jordan) and Madain Saleh was their second city. Although the tombs are less spectacular than the misnamed ‘Treasury’ at Petra, the setting of sweeping sand and remarkable rock formations is unique and unsurpassed.
Converging point for pilgrims and traders for centuries, Jeddah is the easiest going city in the Kingdom. The range of foreign influences are reflected in the faces of its inhabitants, its range of restaurants, souqs and shops and even in the peculiar, chilled-out accent of the liberal, laid-back Hejazis. Jeddah has a palpably relaxed, seen-it-all feel. Don’t be surprised if you see bikini-clad girls on jet skis at the beaches here. Jeddah is also the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, so if you fancy a spot of shopping, this is the town. The Al-Balad district, the heart of Old Jeddah, is a nostalgic testament to the bygone days of old Jeddah, with beautiful coral architecture casting some welcome shade over the bustling souqs beneath.
The oasis at Najran, surrounded by mountains and close to the Yemeni border, is one of Saudi Arabia’s hidden treasures. With towering mudbrick, fortress-like homes known as qasr strung out along the wadi and an exceptional mudbrick fort, Najran is an Arabian jewel. Throughout its long and turbulent history, Najran has been a key link between Arabia and Yemen. Today, those connections are stronger than ever.
Saudi Arabia’s huge diving potential is beginning to be recognised. Those who do know it rank it among the best diving countries in the world. It’s also the relative obscurity that is its greatest advantage – its reefs remain pretty empty of divers and boats. Note that women (local and foreign) are permitted to dive, although conservative behaviour is still sometimes expected, such as wearing loose clothing over your wetsuit until just before you get into the water. Saudi Arabia’s diving is forgiving. Even in winter, the water temperatures rarely drop too low (at the southern sites from 24°C to 26°C) though wetsuits of between 5mm to 6mm are advised in winter and 3mm to 4mm in summer. Saudi’s greatest advantage is its visibility, which ranges from good to astonishing (up to 35m to 40m is not uncommon). In general, there are few currents to contend with. More experienced divers prefer to boat dive off Jeddah, and particularly around Al- Lith, Yanbu and the Farasan Islands, where the diving can be spectacular.