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Entertainment, Media and Television for Expats in Saudi Arabia

Submitted: July 2014


A different approach to nightlife is usually a requirement for an expat in Saudi Arabia. Alcohol, music in public places and the opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex (who are not related to you) are all on the banned list of possible activities. It is possible to find western style nightlife and parties in some of the compounds, and it is said that getting to know a western nurse working in Saudi Arabia will give you a source of information. You might find it useful to join one of the local expat groups such as the Hash House Harriers as this will allow you to network and find out what is going on, fortunately their activities do not always involve running. Otherwise you can enjoy a night out at one of the huge variety of restaurants that are to be found all over the Kingdom, taking solace in the excellent food on offer. Cafes are also a popular option and are places to while away the evening with friends. A trip to a souk in the relative cool of the evening is also popular. Prices in souks are considerably cheaper than in the local shops and malls, and the necessary haggling can be fun. You should be aware that no matter how much you haggle, you will generally still end up paying more than a local Saudi.


Sightseeing and Tours

Saudi Arabia has a long and rich history, with some stunning architecture and museums on offer. The landscape and countryside are probably quite unlike anything you have ever seen at home. The Asir National Park is a popular destination for expat visitors, not least because it stays cool in summer. It is largely unspoilt natural vegetation with an abundance of walking trails. There are over 60 campsites which provide basic facilities for visitors. Beyond that, what you choose to do there is up to you.

Diving is a popular activity for expats and the seas around Saudi Arabia offer some excellent diving opportunities in crystal clear waters. Boat diving is probably the best way to do it; Boiler Wreck offers an excellent wreck dive, Farasan Bank is another popular destination.

The Saudi Tourism website is here and contains details of many other fascinating destinations in the country which will give you something to do on your quiet weekends. If cultural heritage is your thing, you can head for Buraidah and Unaizah in Al Qasim province in the north of the country, both are fascinating, and a trip around the date market in Buraidah during harvest time will be memorable.


Media and Television

Unless you are fluent in Arabic, Saudi television has little to offer the western expat, the programming is limited and has a fair amount of news and religious content. Most expats either subscribe to a satellite or cable TV service and access English or American content that way, or simply watch streamed content over the internet. Due to censorship the content of broadcast TV may not be as complete as the original; for instance programmes are censored for any depiction of drinking alcohol and other banned activities. This censorship can cause some loss of plot, so for instance, a man walks in the direction of a building which might contain a bar, in the next shot he is lying dead in the morgue.

Unless you are fluent in Arabic, there are probably only two suitable newspapers in Saudi Arabia: the Arab News and the Saudi Gazette.




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