About

Claire Sale Headshot

I’m Claire Sale. On this blog, I share information about things I’m passionate about – including community building, communication, science and technology, and expat life.

I am a professional communicator and community builder focused on using science and technology for social benefit. I am a communicator by education, a community builder by profession, and a consensus-builder by disposition.

I have a passion for building strong online and offline communities with an aim to create real impact locally and globally. I value transparency and have experience in large-scale, international projects as well as small, local projects.

I live as an expat in Saudi Arabia where I work in communication for the KAUST Core Labs. The Core Labs are a host of shared laboratories – a dazzling array of leading scientific equipment and brainpower including the fastest supercomputer in the middle east. I also serve as a volunteer on many community-focused projects and particularly enjoy working on initiatives which use science or technology for social benefit.

Before living at KAUST, I spent several years as a community builder for NetSquared, an organization that is focused on the intersection of technology and social benefit. I was also the founder of Net2Camb, a local meetup group in Cambridge, England for people interested in connecting on using technology for social good. Before that, I worked in Washington, DC as a social media specialist at the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross. I have also been known to dabble in community-building and communication focused consulting.

All of my previous professional projects have in common deep-seated community roots, but the part I’m most proud of is that they are now being run by new people that have put their own passion into the cause and multiplied the positive impact.

If you have a project that you’d like to collaborate on, please get in touch!

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  • Yes, this is a walled and secure compound. We have multiple layers of security and it’s a very safe place to live. It’s also a very bike-friendly place. Children (and adults) ride their bikes everywhere here. Because it’s so safe, the kids have more freedom here to roam at an earlier age than they do in places like the US and UK.

  • Chez

    Hi Claire, we are moving to Kaust in August 2013, my husband will be teaching at the school. We have an 11 year old daughter and have been working in Doha for the past 2 and a half years.
    We are looking forward to the move, and your blog has helped us immensely, thank you!
    One question, particularly for my daughters benefit – do ,any people have dogs and or cats in Kaust and what do they do with them when they go away? Are there kennel facilities?
    Is that beautiful dog in the photo, yours?
    Many thanks,
    Cheryl, Louis and Michelle

  • Morning

    hello Ms. Claire, as I am doing some research in KAUST compound living, I saw your blog and it initially helped me with some basic details in KAUST living. I am from Philippines, currently offered with a nanny/housekeeping job of a foreign family working in KAUST. The thing that bothers me is how a KAUST community treats with house maids, especially Filipinos. I don’t have an experience in Saudi and if it things work out, I will be leaving on July for my host family, I can sense they will be great, but the most thing that bothers me are the residents, are they friendly?as I can read in some blogs, discrimination is there. This I would like to seek an advice with you, as i am friendly and wishes I could meet freely some housemaids/nanny in KAUST in the near future. Looking forward for your advice Madam as this will play a role in my decision. Thank you very much, and more power!

  • Hi There – ah, this is a very timely question from you. We are currently in the process of hiring a Filipino domestic helper and want to be sure that she is happy here. I have read some awful things about being a domestic helper in Saudi and other middle eastern countries (as well as elsewhere of course!) and I sincerely hope that craziness does not go on here at KAUST. As I think you already know, being at KAUST is a little different than being in the rest of Saudi – women can travel freely on the compound, and I often see domestic helpers congregating with eachother. I think KAUST is inherently a good place to live and work and I would not bring someone here if I didn’t honestly believe that. The main advice I have for you before you make your decision is to ensure that you like and trust the sponsor family. If they are not nice people, then they may not treat you nicely. But, if you find a nice family, then you should have a good experience.

    There are many, many Filipino workers here, and some are our friends… if you’d like I can try to put you in touch with someone who may be able to share more?

  • Hi Cheryl, Thanks for your kind words and big congrats on your invitation to work and live at KAUST! Yes, that’s our boy, Muttley :-)

    There are a lot of dogs and cats at KAUST. You can read a bit about our (not so good) dog moving experience here: http://clairesale.com/shipping-our-dog-to-saudi-arabia-part-1/

    Pets are allowed here (up to two per household I think). I can’t say it’s the most welcoming place in the world for pets, but we make do. We don’t have any place where they are allowed to go off lead, no dog parks, no vet, and no kennel facilities. But, there are people who are working to get all of those things here at KAUST… shweya shweya.

    So, most of the pet owners band together. We look after eachothers’ dogs when we go on vacation, and share taxis to the vet in Jeddah. Sometimes we’ll all work together to bring the vet up to KAUST for the day and have him visit at someone’s house to do vaccinations, exams, and other routine work.

    Hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions!

  • SF

    Hi Claire,

    I am stuck in limbo with regards to my application. I seem to have passed all the interviews, have signed the COI (and related documents), and have been informally told (through the dept coordinator) that the background-checks were ok, and that HR would soon be generating an offer…yet i have heard nothing from HR for over a month. Even the coordinator’s e-mail is over 2 weeks old.

    What should I do?

  • Morning

    Hi Ms. Claire,many thanks for the response! your offer to make me in touch with some Filipino out there would really make an important factor prior to my decision in joining my prospect host family. As for them (host family), I can feel they would make a good employer, as our country and races are not far different. I am consistent in finding new job abroad, even it would be a sacrifice for me as a mother to be away at the meantime, since currently my salary with my current position can’t even support my family’s basic needs. I believe it would be very helpful and important for me if I will have the idea of what place I would be in, so that I maybe productive and motivated. By knowing if I will be fine in KAUST outside my host family residence and KAUST compound itself, will be a great factor for me to decide if I shall go with the offer or not. I think this concern is just normal for non Saudi citizens. Again thank you and looking forward for the soonest response Ms. Claire.

  • Hi SF. I don’t work for KAUST, so it’s hard for me to give you any advice on this. I do know that things here can take a LONG time. If it were me, I’d probably send HR an email and ask them for a status update.

  • Claire Sale

    I can completely understand this – and it’s very smart of you to think this way. I have just sent you an email introducing you to a friend of mine. I hope this person will help you to make an informed decision.

  • Morning

    Thanks Ms. Claire, I have just read my inbox. I wish I could meet you in person in the near future. Your opinions and advice really helped not only me but also for the others who are planning to stay at KAUST. Knowing I will be staying in an open-minded and secured community will really fuel me to be motivated and efficient to my host family. Again thank you Ms. Claire, a warm wishes to your whole family, and congratulations for the cute baby, a real blessing!Take Care!

  • Claire Sale

    Thank you for your kind words! You’re so sweet.

    I am so happy that I was able to help you, and I really hope that you like it here. Let me know when you arrive, and if our helper is with us by then, perhaps I can introduce you.

  • Chez

    Hi Claire, it does help, but we have made a decision to find Tom another home in Doha. The logistics and costs are just too much for us.
    Fortunately my daughter has accepted this fact and is looking for a new loving home for him.
    Sad, but a fact of living the expat life….
    Thank you

  • Chez

    Hi Claire,
    You had mentioned in a much earlier post that we should bring our own wireless router to be installed in the apartments. Is this still necessary, or can we get one in Jeddah easily?
    Many thanks,
    Cheryl

  • Claire Sale

    Oh no! This is very upsetting. I have put out a request to the KAUST pet community to see if anyone can help you bring Tom in. Is Tom a dog or a cat?

  • Claire Sale

    You can get this in Jeddah easily. We just wanted internet on day-one.

  • Claire Sale

    There were two suggestions for you – contact Mr. Saeed from the Jeddah Vet Clinic or Dr. Carlos at Eurovets. Both are in Jeddah.

  • Chez

    Thanks so much Claire, Tom is a cat, we will contact them, I will keep you informed.
    He is a stray, so hope that won’t be a problem….

  • Claire Sale

    I hope it helps.

    Maybe just refer to him as a “rescue” rather than a stray :-)

    Good luck!

  • manail

    Claire, can you provide any info or a number for the daycare on campus? Thanks.

  • The daycare is called Building Blocks. The email is daycare@kaust.edu.sa. All I know is that there is a very long waiting list to get children in. Jordan has been on the list since I was pregnant and I’ve never had an update. I hope you have better luck than us :-)

  • Julie Piper

    It seems that we will soon be relocating to KAUST. I have seen some conflicting information on whether or not my daughter’s baby doll (the one she can’t live without) and her stuffed animals will be allowed in the country. I know you little one is very young and you were already at KAUST when giving birth, but do you have any information for me on this topic?
    Thank you,
    Julie Piper

  • Congrats!

    I am aware of what you are talking about, and do know some muslims who do not keep stuffed animals/dolls in the house. I haven’t heard this being an issue in terms of import for anyone here at KAUST though. You can easily buy barbies and stuffed animals at the malls in Jeddah.

    Bring the important dolls in your carry-on rather than your shipment so you can at least reason with them if there is a problem (I’m certain there won’t be though!)

    Good luck! You’ll be fine.

  • Julie Piper

    Thank you so much for the information. I have many questions since my husband received an official job offer this morning. As we are looking at the budget I am wondering if the housing utilities; water, electric, trash pick up, cable, internet, etc are included in the monthly rent?

  • Ooh! Congrats on the offer! How exciting :-)

    All of the utilities are included in your rent – you will have no extra charge for any of the items you listed. You will need to pay for a home phone calls though, but that’s just a few riyals a month. I hadn’t had a land-line in years before I moved here, but I’ve found that it’s very good to have on here.

    Rent is taken out of your base salary every month, so you never actually see a bill. It’s quite convenient!

  • Julie Piper

    Claire, thank you for allowing me to “bother” you with all my questions. I am trying to do some sorting and preparing here at home. What are the sizes of the beds? Is there a washer/dryer provided in the home? Will my daughter and I need an abaya and hijab when we arrive in Jedda or will just an abaya do?

  • Chebu

    Hello Julie,
    We will be moving to Kaust soon, in August my husband will fly to Kaust and I am coming at the end of September with my two kids. I am sorting through the stuff and I have exactly the same questions. Is there an ironing board! Can I take a fake Christmas tree? It’s driving me mad. Looking forward to meeting new people however!

  • Chebu

    And thanks Claire for all the answers. You are the best!

  • Julie Piper

    We are coming from Texas. I have a 13 year old son and 9 year old daughter, how about you?

  • Chebu

    I come from Europe. My sons are still small, they are 4 years old and 2 years old. Must be a big change for your kids! Are they looking forward to it or is it quite difficult for them? And you? Good luck with packing, it is a challenge.

  • Not at all —

    1. The beds will differ in size depending on the house. Talk to your relocation advisor about this.
    2. There is a US-style washer and dryer in your home.
    3. You actually don’t have to have an abaya when you arrive if you dress conservatively. I didn’t one when I first came – I work baggy black pants and a baggy long sleeve black top and that was fine. But if you have an abaya you should wear it. Non-muslims do not need to cover their heads in Jeddah.
    4. Depending on your daughter’s age she may not need to wear an abaya just yet. I think the girls start wearing them around age 12 or 13. So if she looks younger than that, she’s probably fine in her normal clothes.

    Hope this helps!

  • Hi Chebu –

    1. some people get ironing borads, some don’t! No rhyme or reason. But, you can always buy one at Tamimi, which is really easy.
    2. Definitely bring your fake christmas tree! These are hot commodities here!

    I know it’s hard to pack, but honestly, you can buy most of what you need here in Jeddah.

    Good luck!

  • Oh — just reading that your daughter is 9! You can probably skip the abaya for her in that case. For now at least :-)

  • You’re very welcome!

  • Zainab

    Hi Claire, Brilliant blog and very informative.
    Keep it up!

  • Thanks!

  • Ramsey

    Hi Claire, amazing blog! It made me go back to the beginning. I’m up for an interview and looking seriously at considering a position with KAUST if offered. I’m married with two kids (12 & 8) and wondering if I could get some insights before next interview. Would it be possible to email me offline?..ramsey.shantouf@gmaill.com thanks

  • jez

    Claire thanks for a great blog. I move out in August and whilst my wife wont be moving iut she will be a regular visitor and wondered what the unofficial rules on bikinis is at the beach or around the communal pools and then in our own back garden?
    Guidance appreciated.
    Thank you

  • Hi Ramsey, Congrats!
    I really prefer to answer questions publicly so others can benefit from the information too. How can I help?

    -C

  • Hi Jez – Congrats! Non-revealing swimsuits are allowed at swimming pools, beaches, and boating areas. I think a higher-coverage bikini is probably fine. As for your back garden, I think you’ll just need to see when you get here… if you have a very private garden or if your neighbors seem laid back then I’m sure it’s fine.

    Someone asked about this once before as well, you can see my response here: http://clairesale.com/kaust-2-bedroom-housing/#comment-734401848

    Hope this helps!
    C

  • JAY

    Very informative post. I have a friend that’s African American and thinking of accepting an executive position with KAUST. He is married with 2 kids and racism is a major concern. Can you shed any light on diversity within and outside of the compound? Have you seen any African Americans on the staff or in other leadership positions? Any insight you can provide is greatly appreciated.

  • This is one of the most international and diverse places in the world. I don’t know the specific diversity stats here at KAUST, but I can tell you that it’s not unusual for everyone sitting together at the lunch table to be from a different country and culture. It’s one of the things that I love most about KAUST.

    I’m American and I am white, so I’m not sure I can comment on that specific type of racism. What I can say is that people do generalize – as an American woman, people expect me to act and be a certain way. People have certain expectations of me because of how I look and how I dress – and I’m sure I prove them both right and wrong on occasion!

    I do know that there are plenty of african americans as well as black people from a host of other countries that seem happy here, though I can’t say this is something I’ve ever really talked about with them.

    I like to think that KAUST is a pretty welcoming place. But again, I don’t have experience in the specific question you’re asking.

  • azera

    Hi,
    Just like to know how KAUST HR deals with their interested/prospective employee from their initial brief phone call/contact to arranging proper interview and then the job offer? And how long it takes generally.
    Some details will be highly appreciated.

  • I don’t work for KAUST and don’t really know much about KAUST HR. Have you tried emailing them to ask?

    I do know that the hiring process can take quite a long time. 1 year from first interview to move date is not unheard of.

    Good luck!

  • Arden Thomas

    Hi Claire,
    Thank you for your awesome blog! Can you tell us more about life outside of KAUST? Do you travel much? Do you feel free? Or, do you sometimes feel trapped inside the compound? Like if you went biking you’d just run into the boundary walls and be stuck? We have two little boys ages 5 and 3 and we feel so free to do whatever we want with them – go hiking in the mountains, swimming in the ocean, take the train into LA to the Natural History Museum, drive to the town next to us to go to the Arboretum, go camping, etc — total freedom. Do you feel this way, too? Thanks!

  • Arden

    I have 3 more questions! Is there an art scene at KAUST? Theater, galleries, music, dance, etc? Also, have you found an organic co-op / market / natural products store / cafe? Along those lines, is there any community gardening? Thanks!

  • Hey Arden —

    All of your questions here are ones that I ponder often. Do I feel free here? Sure, I do. But do I feel like this is an enriching environment with lots of options for hippies like me (with theater, galleries, music, dance, co-ops, and natural products)? No, not so much. There isn’t much value here in Saudi on the things that you have mentioned above. I have never found an organic co-op or very many natural products — we mostly have to pick this kind of stuff up when we’re abroad. And dancing is apparently haram (or so I’ve been told).

    But, living in the middle east means we get to explore this exciting area which is great! We’re an easy and quick trip to Jordan, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar etc – all of which have excellent art scenes. And, we get an excellent vacation package which means that we really can/do get to see these places.

    Also, I think there is some value among some people here at KAUST for the things you mentioned. And I think over time we will get more support for these types of niche interests. But, we’re a young community and just getting up and running is still the priority. Much of the campus is still under construction!

    This really is an excellent place for families though. We have plenty to do here – a bowling alley, movie theater, pool, beach, water sports, and every place is easily biking distance. The young kids (your kids ages) seem particularly happy here.

    Hope this helps!
    C

  • Also: No, there isn’t community gardening but there are tons of gardens/green areas at KAUST and you can do what you like in your back yard.

  • Arden

    Thanks for all your insight, Claire! I really appreciate it! My husband would be able to find a job at KAUST but since I’m a professor/artist in the arts and humanities …. not sure there’s a place for me. We’re still interested though!

  • Ah, there are a lot of people who have “spouse jobs” outside of their main professional area. Talk to your relocation coordinator about your options here!

  • Indra Keliuotis

    Hi Claire, I love your blog! the pictures are beautiful! I got your name from Susie….I am considering applying to KAUST and would love to email you some questions. My email is indrachannels@gmail.com Thank you so much! Indra