Best International School In Riyadh (2021 Update) – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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Life as an expat in Riyadh can come as a culture shock to some people. If you check our previous post often, you’d have seen our post on living in Saudi Arabia as an expat. While the overall quality of life is great in this city, some aspects are very different from other parts of the world. But don’t be scared!
Gender segregation will be part and parcel of your day. And you’ll mostly live in the bubble of your compound with other expats. So, worry less and read through the living in Saudi Arabia as an expat. This will surely give you an edge on what to expect. So, you might love the city if you’re from a Muslim background.
Overall, Saudi Arabian schools teach exclusively through Arabic and might not admit non-citizens. So, an international school may be the best option for your children in Saudi Arabia. But before you begin your search, you need to consider some important points. Are you sure you want to know it?
If that sounds like a yes, we’ve got you covered. In fact, be aware that the majority of the school in Riyadh teaches through the English language. Not only that, but they also follow the American school system and curriculum. More so, you’ll find a large selection of schools in this capital city with excellent Islamic, Australian, Indian, and even French curricula.
However, if you’ve been surfing the internet to get the right information about the best international schools in Riyadh, you’re on the right platform. Here, we will walk you through the benefits of studying in Riyadh. Not only that, but you’ll understand more about the pros and cons of living in the capital city.
Pros of Living in Riyadh in 2021
Before we walk you through the best international schools in Riyadh as of today, you must know what living in the capital city entails. Of course, moving abroad is an exciting concept, and there are many reasons to consider taking this step. But let’s quickly walk you through the pros now.
Attractive Salaries in Riyadh
This is one of the major reasons why expat would love to live in this city. Riyadh is known for its healthy salaries with the prospect of no income tax, unlike other cities in the world. In addition to this, most of the contracts also come with the company’s cars, education allowance, and medical covers. Meanwhile, some sectors that can afford to offer these opportunities include banking, medicine, IT, and more.
Safety and Security Measures
The safety and security measures in Riyadh cannot be overemphasized. And since safety needs to be a concern in a new country, laws and extremely hard punishments are strongly in place in this city. This way, there are many strong security measures in areas, such as high walls around living compounds, and guards are also prevalent.
Excellent Education Options
Just as we’ve said earlier, the benefits of studying in Riyadh cannot be inundated. In fact, expats that move to this city with their family and children will be pleasantly be surprised with the education options. Also, due to its large expat community and population, there are many international schools around the city. Even so, there’s a high level of competition to gain a place, and school fees are pricey.
Comfortable Compounds in Riyadh
Typically, all expats in Riyadh live in compounds of apartments and villas that are found in the eastern and northern suburbs of the city. These gated communities offer expats a comforting place to enjoy a relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle. Meanwhile, most of these compounds have all the home comforts that expat would need to enjoy their lifestyle.
Exclusively New Shopping Experience
Apart from finding home comfort, Riyadh can also be a shopping destination for you. This is solely because; many of the leisure activities common to western tastes aren’t present. However, Riyadh certainly has a huge array of shops to counter this, with their thriving indoor and outdoor malls.
Expensive accommodation can be a problem if you’re moving to this city for the first time. Although the expat compound offers security and comfort, but you must work for it if you want safety and security measures. However, rent within this compound can be expensive, not to mention as well a 10% deposit.
Expect Culture Shock
Since Riyadh is the capital city, culture shock is something you can’t do without in Saudi Arabia. Expats are expected to respect this and show some level of understanding of the cultural expectations. Not only that, but the treatment of women in the country often shock expat coming to the country for the first time. More so, wives of expats may not be able to work in the city on their husband’s visas.
Since the country is a notable Islamic nation, you should be aware of business ethics during Ramadan. This is because; business can be slow during Ramadan, and you don’t need to expect to get much done during this time. Therefore, western expats are advised to treat it like the Christmas holidays, but lasting for an entire month.
Benefits of Studying in Riyadh
If you’ve decided to study abroad but can’t decide where to put your head, Saudi Arabia is the best. Perhaps you might have considered some of the biggest international destinations in the UK, USA, and others, but none of them has quite captured your imagination. Worry less, and check below for more.
Growing in Prominence
It’s no doubt that Saudi Arabian universities or institutions are growing in prominence. With a steady increase in government spending on higher education, the country has taken active steps over the past decade to develop its educational system. With 29 Saudi Arabian universities ranked in the top 100 institutions of the world, the benefits of studying in this country cannot be overemphasized.
Amazing Travel Opportunities in Saudi
One of the many perks of living in Saudi Arabia is just how much traveling you can get done whenever you have a spare bit of time in the country. This means a short stay to study in Riyadh can allow you to have a short drive to the red sea and an hour or a half’s flight from Dubai or Oman.
Diverse International Community
With many institutions offering generous scholarships to international students and most courses taught in English, many institutions in Riyadh have large numbers of international students already enrolled and catering to many expats families in the city.
This means, if you study in Riyadh, you’ll have the chance to make friends with both the locals and students from all over the world. And if you decide to work in the city after your studies, you’ll most likely cross paths with young professionals from a host of different cultural backgrounds.
Opportunity to Save Money
Keen to become more international, many institutions in Saudi Arabia is eager to attract international students and offer various funding incentives and scholarships to ex-pat. Aside from this fact, the costs of living in the capital city are relatively low compared to many parts of the world. Again, renting a one-bedroom apartment in Riyadh will cost you around US400 per month. This means you can rent a house while schooling as an expat.
Opportunities to Study and Work
Development in the country’s economy has opened up opportunities for international graduates to work for a fixed number of years in different sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, banking, and many others, to mention a few. Meanwhile, you’ll need a sponsor to help you secure your employment visa, but this could be your employer in the long run.
Enhancing Your International Experience
As a parent, if you choose to enroll your child in any international school, there are more opportunities to boost their curriculum vitae in the long run. Perhaps with a short period of work experience in Riyadh, you’ll have the opportunity to speak within your field broadly. Moreover, the broad range of soft skills gained from studying abroad will undoubtedly help you impress recruiters in all kinds of roles.
Studying in the best international school in Saudi Arabia will give you or your children international exposure. This is because; it helps you learn new approaches to handle different situations, experience international methods, manage time between your studies, and help you handle different situations.
Best International Schools in Riyadh
Religion, or Islam, to be specific, has been a big part of life in Saudi Arabia since its inception. During the holy month of Ramada, those who practice Islam fast. This way, there are many restrictions to normal daily life too, including the school day. Without further ado, below are the best international schools in Riyadh.
1. SEK International School in Riyadh
SEK-Riyadh is a co-educational, multilingual international school in Saudi Arabia. They offer locals and expatriate community advanced learning to become helpful people. The school languages of instruction are the English language.
However, students aged 3 to 13 years can enroll in the school with ease in the admission process. Aside from this fact, SEK international schools have a rich tradition of pedagogical innovation and leadership in Spain and worldwide.
2. Advanced Learned Schools
The advanced learning schools are private, international day schools that offer a full instructional programme, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, for boys and girls who meet the school requirements and conditions. Not only that, but the school year consists of two semesters while the calendar is aligned with the state. This means that, while local students maintain and develop their place, students from other countries are able to gain first-hand experience of the culture of Saudi Arabia.
3. King Faisal School
The King Faisal School offers the IB primary year’s programme, IB middle years programme, and IB diploma programme. KFS aims to raise intellectual students using the national and international educational programme to develop students mentally, physically, and intellectually in the country.
4. British International School, Riyadh
The British international school is another place to enroll your kids if you’re looking to get a quality education in the country. The BISR follows the National curriculum for England to the end of year 9 and many others. Also, this school benchmarks itself against private and leading states, and it has a good standard. Moreover, it has a long link with British universities and a strong relationship with the RGB.
5. Al Faris International School
Al Faris international school aims to foster an understanding, intercultural, and highly effective learning environment that inspires students to become knowledgeable, compassionate, and a better version of themselves. Again, they are one of the fully certified IB World Schools that follow the philosophy and teaching methodology of the IB Programme, which centers on inquiry-based learning whereby students actively guide the learning process through inquiry and discovery.
6. My Little School International
This is also one of the best schools in Riyadh that has the vision to become the leading elementary school in Saudi Arabia. They focus on fostering a stimulating environment tailored to meet the needs of every child’s mind, empowering them emotionally, physically, morally, and intellectually. Aside from this fact, they also offer a trilingual program and a unique learning environment where children are encouraged to be useful, functional, and creative.
7. Manarat Al Riyadh International School
Manarat Al Riyadh international school has a very long history when it comes to education. This school aims to widen the creativity and innovation horizons of a child using internationally recognized standards. Also, it’s at the forefront of the national and international contests in terms of results and participation. So, if you’re looking to enroll your child in one of the best schools in Saudi Arabia, consider Manarat.
8. Al Forsan International School
Al-Forsan international school is unique in international education, and they’re creative in qualifying the future generations to meet their era demand, being committed to their culture and identity. Aside from this fact, the school is dedicated to providing international education while ensuring that students remain firmly rooted in their own language and culture.
9. Qimam El-Hayat International School
This school has also made it to the best international schools in the country. They adopt a world curriculum that consolidates student’s performance through highly qualified teachers. Not only that, but along with aspiring leaders, the QHIS has set a vision that motivates and ignites student’s talents. More so, the school leaders spare no effort to provide directions and allocate resources to implement curricular and extracurricular programs that take the students to paths of high learning expectations.
10. Dome International School, Riyadh
Dome international school is the last on our list. And why Dome made it to the best schools in Riyadh is because it offers American and British curricula. Also, the American curriculum in this institution is embedded in the international foundation program for grades, orientation programs, and the America diploma program. They provide a diverse community with learners from over 36 nationalities worldwide.
Types of International Schools in Saudi Arabia
Since we’ve explained the best international schools in Riyadh, it’s quite essential to know the types. International schools are the ones that fully educate children between the ages of 2 and above about learning, skills, and more. Without further ado, below are the types of international schools in Saudi Arabia.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
The International Baccalaureate program is an academic structure that emphasizes critical thinking, writing, creativity, and extracurricular service. Moreover, students are able to study literature, math and science, and art at the end of secondary school. Also, the research disclosed that 19 schools offer the IB program.
International GCSE (IGCSE) School
This is another type of international school in Saudi Arabia. The international general certificate of the secondary school follows the British curriculum model, and it’s structured in three stages. However, once a student completes them, they receive an A-level qualification, which allows them to apply to different universities in their given field.
American High School Diploma
The American High School divides its structures into elementary, high school, and middle, but it is generally less structured than other models. In this type of school, students must be good in their academics and must pass their required exams before they can graduate. Meanwhile, this school is convenient because they offer students Advanced Placement courses and exams, which can count as college credit in the US, and SAT preparation classes.
How to Choose the Best Schools
Choosing the best international schools in Riyadh is quite easy. And for the fact that Saudi Arabia has a large local population, there aren’t as many international and private schools as you might find in its more expat-heavy neighbors. Therefore, narrowing down your options is a little simpler. Check the process below.
- Understand the kind of language they speak and consider which curriculum and teaching style would suit your child best
- Know the type of curriculum they use and what your children can benefits from the school in the long run
- Inspect the school to know whether there are competent teachers that’d help your kids grow
- Choose a focus, check out past records, make a list, and trust your gut
- Consider your child, environment, and understand what they want or what would excite them in the school
- Gather information and make your personal research about schools in the country and other cities
- Apply to you choose, check the admission process, and submit paperwork for follow up consultation and all
Frequently Asked Questions about Riyadh Education
Where does Saudi Arabia Rank in education?
When it comes to international education, Saudi Arabia is trying its best to emerge as the top 20 in the world today. Aside from this fact, they have been featured as having the 36th best higher education system in the world and in the first edition of the QS higher education system strength rankings.
What’s the cultural shock to expect in Riyadh?
Culture shock is something you should expect not only in Riyadh but in Saudi Arabia as a whole. And according to the 1992 Basic Law of Governance, the country’s official religion is Islam, and the constitution is the Quran and Sunna. This way, the legal system is based largely on sharia as interpreted by the Hanbali school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence.
What is considered rude in Riyadh?
Well, we can definitely walk you through the things that are rude in Saudi Arabia. As a student, there are certain things you’ll need to be wary about in the country. For example, you can only use your right hand for shaking hands or for handling anything. Here, it is considered rude to use your left hand in Islam. This way, you need to respect the religion and understand that the shops do close during prayer.
Can I bring my bible to Riyadh International School?
Since the country strictly adheres to sharia law, as stated above, it may be quite challenging to bring your bible to this country. On the flip side, bringing a bible for personal use is allowed if you plan not to go against the rule of the constitution or the government. The official form of Islam is Sunni of the Hanbali School, in its Salafi version. So, be careful about the kind of religion you’re bringing to the country while schooling.
How long is a school day in Saudi Arabia?
School hours in Saudi Arabia and international schools are usually from 7 am to 3:30 pm. So, if you’re planning to enroll your child in the best international school, endeavor to check the extra school activities and whether the school opening or closing hours are suitable for you and good for your child.
How can Riyadh improve its education?
There are many ways for the Saudi Arabia government to improve their education. College readiness and assessment strategy, system-wide planning and strategy, career readiness, teacher education, professional development, and many other things to check to improve the city education.
While you might be thinking that choosing the best international school is good, it’s always better to understand the process. Meanwhile, follow the steps in this article to understand better Riyadh and Saudi Arabia’s education system at large. You can refer to our next post to know more about Riyadh.