Entertainment and things to do in Saudi Arabia KSA for an Expat

Things to do in Saudi Arabia

What will you do as an expat for entertainment in Saudi Arabia? Well you are not going to be going to the local disco, nightclub or even a quiet bar to chase women, that is for sure! Alcohol is strictly forbidden and so are public venues such as discos, there is no mixing of the sexes for any reason! The raciest thing you will experience with your friends is a coffee shop with your same sex friends or a family dinner. The sexes are segregated what ever the event, even at a Saudi “party” you will find the women in one area and the men in another.

With not even a cinema; eating, the malls and the souks (markets) are about your only option within the cities. There are many places to eat with all tastes catered for, you will find just about every western restaurant chain has outlets in Saudi; from Applebee’s to McDonalds. There are also many restaurants serving Saudi, Lebanese, Turkish, in fact any type of food you can imagine, Saudi is a great place to get fat!

Also don't be afraid to go out, the country is on the whole quite safe and as a foreigner you are likely to be left to your own devices most of the time. However if you are a woman I would advise going in a group or with your husband rather than alone at any time. Saudi Arabia is not a place for women to explore on their own.

Eating Out in Saudi Arabia

Entertainment at restaurant
Entertainment at restaurant | Source
Things to do, eat out
Things to do, eat out | Source

Things to do; go to the Malls in Saudi Arabia

The malls here are very modern with all of the western chain stores that you could imagine in any western mall (Except maybe the naughty knickers stores!) They are great places to spend time, especially for the women! They also have some great food courts (again be careful about segregation), and often have great play areas with some fine rides for the children with everything from bumper cars to roller coasters (the Saudis love their kids!)

The malls vary from smaller older malls to brand new "mega" malls which are huge and contain everything you need for a whole day and night out for the whole family. Malls generally are open to around midnight or 1am at the weekends.

Note however that if you are a single man you may be refused entry to some malls at the weekends as they try to protect the families from naughty single men!

Saudis Having Fun

Entertainment; Saudi Arabian Souks

The souks are great, you can find almost anything that you want from rugs to very fine gold jewelry. However be warned that as a westerner you will be seen as a walking wallet and charged accordingly. Most of the vendors will try to rip you off for as much as they can, if you can pick out what you like then get someone “local” do the haggling for you, but always haggle – there is always more than one “final price”, when you know how much things should cost it is much easier to navigate your way around the souks and find the bargains.

Find where the souks are if you want to furnish your house, prices on the souks will be a third or less of what you will pay in the big stores and you can find some very ornate quality work.

Desert Party

Exercise, Saudi Arabian Gyms and things to do.

There are a number of Gyms for men around the kingdom, most well equipped and attended with all of the facilities you would expect.

However Gyms for women do not legally exist unless part of a hospital! So women will have a tough time finding a good gym off compound!

You can walk outside, many people exercise by walking along the seafronts in both Jeddah and Al-Khobar, this can be a very sweaty experience as even in the evenings the temperatures are well above 30 degrees. Do not try running! As well as the seafronts you will see a number of areas where the Saudis will walk around various blocks. But remember women must still wear their Abayas over their clothes!

Have a Party to entertain yourself

Entertainment in Saudi Arabia
Entertainment in Saudi Arabia | Source

On compound Entertainment

On the Compounds it is another matter, western compounds tend to have fairly western rules, some even have bars and regular discos but kept fairly low key so as not to offend. There is always alcohol available, either the home brew variety or if you talk to the Saudis most have access to a few bottles of Jack for a steep price! I have met a few people who have come to Saudi Arabia to try to escape drinking problems who have then ended up with even bigger problems as there is nothing much else to do on the compounds in the evenings except sit around the pool with your buddies and drink!

In addition to the compounds there are also occasional events at the embassies, so get yourself signed up and meet some people there.

You can get yourself signed up for various excursions through the various social networks in the compounds for trips out into the desert, sightseeing, diving and so on, there is a surprising amount to see! However be aware that there have been incursions by groups such as ISIS in the North and other groups close to the Yemen so you do have to think about where a trip is likely to take you with the way the region is at the moment.

Driving in the Desert - Take water!

Entertainment at Saudi Arabian Resorts

If you are on the coast there are a number of beach resorts that you can visit, some of these are western only and you can dress and behave as such. The seas and the beaches are relatively clean and there are often pools restaurants and places to relax in the shade.

In addition to this they also have villas that can be rented out for a night or several, depending on how “posh” the resort is, these can cost anything from 500 – 2000SAR per night depending on location, size and season.

Often you can go on diving and boat trips either from these resorts or close by.

For a more private party, it is possible to hire small private villas with pools on the edges of the cities, these can cost 1000 – 2000 per night plus. If you are looking to have a party off compound with ladies, booze, swimming pool, music and so on these are your best bet – but don’t get too noisy! Loud western music and women giggling and screaming could get you busted! Otherwise these are ideal.

Entertainment in Dubai or Bahrain for the Weekend

If you do want to escape for a wild weekend then it is not too expensive to get on a plane to Dubai or to queue for several hours with all of the Saudis trying to get across the causeway into Bahrain! I guess that the Saudis are traveling there for religious purposes not to drink beer and bed the many prostitutes that fill the bars and nightclubs, but I may be wrong!

Women cannot leave the kingdom without the permission of their husbands (fathers), if you want to leave make sure that you get the right forms filled in or you will be held!

The rules within Dubai and Bahrain are officially the same as in Saudi Arabia however a blind eye is turned to what goes on in most places, however if you behave badly in a “family” area or someone decides to complain about you, you need to get away as quickly as possible!

My advice is that wherever you are in the middle east, if some asks you to stop doing something or complains about your behavior; immediately stop, don’t argue, and get away as quickly as possible. These problems tend to fester in people's minds and the problem becomes bigger and bigger even though you have stopped, often resulting in police being called and so on. So get away as soon as possible even if everything seems OK!

More ideas for things to do in KSA

If you need to know more about what you can get up to in KSA and the care that you need to take while doing so you can read all of the information I have about being an expat in Saudi Arabia here on Hubpages. This hub will give you information about everything from driving around the country to getting a date.

Just remember that whatever you do you must follow their rules and respect their traditions, punishment is Saudi Arabia can be pretty severe so take care with regards to what you do in this fascinating country.

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Comments 43 comments

viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland

Thanks for another fascinating insight into life in Saudi. I did not realise that there were no cinemas there. As per usual it is the local women that lose out on any social life. No gyms for women either.

I have read a few incidences in the papers about tourist offending Saudis and then being arrested and imprisoned, so your advice on that score is certainly correct and all visitors to the country should heed it.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

It really is a very different way of life to that we lead in the west Viking. But they are very much focused on their families and often socialise only with their own family groups, those bonds generally are far stronger than those we have in the west.

I have said in a few of my hubs that as soon as any incident occurs walk away as quickly as possible, you never know when the issue may reignite and get worse. Better to be safe than sorry!

Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

As a woman, I couldn't live in Saudi Arabia. I would be kicked out for sure. I'm to rebellious. I would never ask my husband permission for anything. He would think I was nuts if I did. I always enjoy reading your hubs. They remind me of how lucky I am to live in America.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thank you for stopping by Wendy, maybe your husband would like living here and having the opportunity to control your life! Women here in Saudi Arabia don't know what they are missing as they have always been bought up this way, the younger generation however are already starting to rebel.

humagaia profile image

humagaia 6 years ago from United Kingdom

It's OK if you are a night person. And a shopaholic to boot. All night shopping sprees are the in thing these days. Where do I book a flight?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Humagaia, have a look at my review of Saudi Arabian Airlines and my hub on Saudi visas before you come lol. It would be great to have you come visit, I will clear up the spare room.

wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

LeanMan - must be quite interesting to be an Expat living and working in Saudi Arabia it all sounds pretty exotic to me. And as you are the quiet type (ummm) you really must meld right into the crowd when you go to the souks. Good thing the Mrs. has her earrings to keep her busy while her man roams the Kingdom:) Thanks for taking me on such a wonderful tour arund Jeddah and Al-Khobar!

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

You are welcome Wavegirl, maybe one day we could take you on a real tour of the cities of Saudi Arabia. I am sure we can find you some real entertainment here in the Kingdom.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Dubai Bahrain for weekend beautiful, are those all your Filipina girls (just kidding) hehe, Maita

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

They are all part of my Harem PDH, have to try to fit in after all. Thanks for stepping by.

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

That desert run looks pretty fun but I will say it again I can't help thinking that sand gets in all the wrong places with Saudi Arabia entertainment.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

The sand certainly gets everywhere BillyA. But it does not stop us getting out in Saudi Arabia and find things to do to entertain ourselves.

Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Very informative hub on Saudi Arabia, thanks for sharing the info. It seems it has a lot more to offer now days, other than miles of desert sand. Thumbs up!

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thanks for the comments Money, you would find the Malls and souks here in Saudi Arabia a great place to spend your time.

IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

Fascinating stuff LeanMan! Seems things are still as strict over there as they were 20 years ago.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

From what I hear from those that have been here for a long time things have calmed down quite a bit! Thanks Izzy.

sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

it actually sound kind of fun if you are a westerner hanging out in only westerner areas.

but, I think I would be scared to go the mall , never know when I might get caught looking at piece of tasty flesh exposed around the eyes!

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thanks for reading and commenting Sunforged, that small area of exposed flesh around the eyes begins to look very sexy after a while here, and the Saudi girls know how to make up their eyes! But there are many things to do here in Saudi Arabia to keep you entertained, I am sure you would enjoy time spent here.

arab 5 years ago

Saudia is soo nice especaially the jeddah sea .. with the beautiful weather its awesommme ..

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travellerjim 5 years ago

Thank you leanman. I've accepted a teaching post in Saudi Arabia and will work there soon. I do have some ME experience with 3 years in Abu Dhabi. I like to keep fit and spent a lot of my free time in the UAE exercising. Are the pools you describe just for lounging? Or can one get laps in? Thanks. Really like this site, hub, blog...whatever! hahahah. Keep up the good work.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 5 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thanks for the comments traveler-Jim, I hope that you enjoy your time and find yourself plenty of things to do in Saudi Arabia. Many of the pools on compound are quite large and certainly weekdays you can often find the pools fairly empty so you will be able to keep exercising in Saudi Arabia. I managed to lose 5kg in my first two months in the kingdom just by swimming in the compound pool.

Alex 5 years ago

I'm not a Saudi national but I was born here.. Iv moved to England for few years but still I got back here.. It was always very convenient for me to do what I wanted in my way.. Always had no problems in gettin anyfin.. (real entertainment). If you have links this country is not less than any western country.. Or I must say it's always been more fun and luxury than any European country..

marcel 5 years ago

hey i'm 15 and i would like to know what kind of sports and activities can i do over there!

thank you

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 5 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi marcel, assuming you are a boy you can play most sports; soccer, tennis, swim etc.. However be aware that it is very very hot so drink plenty and don't over do it!! If you are going to live on a western compound then there will be various facilities such as gyms, pools, tennis courts. Outside there are also soccer clubs and other facilities but no cinemas or anywhere you can mix with girls!

Dude 5 years ago

Can I get Cricket over there ? Is there any clubs who play Cricket ? As an Indian, I am passionate over Cricket. It is my weak point. :) I hope I can see cricket on TV if there is Cable/dish available and they show Indian Cricket.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 5 years ago from At the Gemba Author

They have many sports channels and others available via satellite and I know some Indian colleagues of mine used to have regular games on their compound against teams from other compounds.

Kev B 5 years ago

Hi i am working and living in Jeddah can any one tell me how find out were or who to ask about partys and social events that are on at weekends

cheers Kev B

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 5 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Just start to mix with your fellow expats on the various compounds, also sign up at your embassy for any events where you will also get to meet your fellow countrymen.

Kev B 5 years ago

Thanks for that will make some calls

bye for now Kev B

Pierce Cobb 4 years ago

Well its pretty to read ur blog, hope i enjoyed. I am moving to Jeddah as soon as possible, u know i have a degree & 5+ years work experience. Whatz the salary i can expect? cost of living?. I need Gym, some entertainment, beaches so on...Mainly now am looking for a good job & earn a bit for my life ..lol

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Pierce, how much you earn will depend on the field of work that you are in, you can compare salaries on sites such as Bayt.com. Cost of living is very low so you can expect to save well. You should enjoy Jeddah, I certainly did.

maha 4 years ago

can we have parties in alkhobar , i have heard that in compounds they throw parties by tickets ,, any one can help to provide contact ,, iam 28 female with hubby ,, in khobar ,

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 3 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Maha,

Yes there are often parties on some of the bigger compounds there in Saudi Arabia and a few do organize events through their social clubs and committees. You need to get to know people on those compounds so that you can get yourself invited.

Al Khobar is one of the more relaxed areas so there is usually a fair bit to do, but even in Riyadh you will find many things going on across the compounds.

alaahassan profile image

alaahassan 3 years ago

Well thank you for all this information.

I have been in Jeddah for a while and still if you want to attend nice parties, or access to any entertainment stuff, you will need connections and know someone.. There is nothing direct unfortunately. I managed somehow.

I've just moved to Riyadh and have few connections but I am looking for:

- Compounds and embassies parties.

- Group trips or safari as they call it here (If there is safari in here ;-) )

I appreciate if you can provide me with some tips as you seem to be an expert ;-)

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 3 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Alaa Hassan,

As you say in your comment the trick to having things to do in Saudi is having lots of connections so you need to network within your work, your embassy, and on your compound so that you meet as many people as you can. Riyadh is a little quieter than Jeddah but it is still ok for finding parties and other things once you have been there a while.

Most compounds have some form of social committee so you should be able to find organised events including trips into the desert.

Good luck, keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

purplegirl 3 years ago

hello cani ask questionshere?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 3 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Purplegirl, you can ask anything you like as long as it is related to this article.

greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 3 years ago from Malaysia

If I may add the followings:

The Red Sea is fantastic for scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing.

You can also try desert golfing or go on a Safari 4-wheel driving in the desert.

These are other great things to do in KSA.

arvind 2 years ago

Hi. I am a German invited to work for a retail store chain operating out of Jeddah at a senior level. Can you recommend a compound to live in jeddah where I could have a semblance of some life? Thanks. My email id is arvind.verma@web.de

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 2 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Arvind

The best thing to do with finding a compound is to ask your employer, maybe 4 years ago I contacted most of the major compounds in Jeddah to compare their prices and accommodation with what the company I was working for were building. There were only 2 vacancies in the whole of Jeddah at that time so it is very hard to find something. Shabbatley (not sure of spelling) compound is one of the bigger ones and has a fair amount of facilities to give you a fairly western lifestyle.

That being said, Jeddah is fairly relaxed compared to some other places in Saudi, I lived there for 3 years and thoroughly enjoyed my time there and I did not live on compound.

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traveltogreece 2 years ago

Nice article

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

you are still in Saudi arabia?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 19 months ago from At the Gemba Author

No, I am currently sat in the Philippines with my wife. I spent 4 years in Saudi Arabia which is more than enough. Still have family and friends there and get regular visits from those still working there.

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