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 serve as a volunteer on many community-focused projects and particularly enjoy working on initiatives which use science or technology for social benefit.

I have previously worked in communication and community-building projects in the KAUST Core Labs, the KAUST President’s Office, and at Acadox, a KAUST-funded start-up.

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.

Most of my professional projects have in common deep-seated community roots, but the part I’m most proud of is that for the most part 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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  • Guest

    Hie Claire
    Thanks, that’s understandable. May you send to this email: zau_elsie@yahoo.com.

  • Kayla

    Hi Claire,

    Your post is quite informative an interesting. We are considering KAUST. We are an african american family my husband and I would come with children. Are there other African American families there? We would want our children to feel welcome and included.

  • Nadeem

    I am Nadeem from Pakistan. I have been offered postdoc fellowship by Kaust subject to security clearance. I would like to know about the housing at kaust. I have gone through the pics that you have posted. Is there a list of inventory that shall be available in the house?
    Secondly, I understand that Kaust will keep our passports and we need to get permission to travel abroad? And even locally we need to ask someone first!

  • Hi Kayla — yes, there are other African American families here! I really encourage you to read this comment that I posted to someone who asked a similar question a few months back: http://clairesale.com/about/#comment-957685053

    But I also encourage you to understand that this is a really diverse community, and while it’s nice to connect with “people like us” when we get here, it’s also really nice to get out and meet people from other backgrounds as well. One of the things I like best about this place is that I get to become friends with people from all walks of life.

    I am sure your family will feel welcome and included :-)

  • Hi Nadeem — yes, there is an inventory list. Just ask your relocation advisor and they will supply it.

    KAUST will not keep your passport. You will need an entry/exit visa to travel abroad though. Your relocation advisor can also explain this in more detail.

  • Mary Ann

    Hello Claire – I moved to KSA from West Virginia less than one week ago. I am an obstetrician/gynecologist hired by DSFH to provide ob/gyne care at KMC. I checked out your blog before I moved which was very helpful. As I was already in the process of downsizing and living without my “essentials” for a few weeks before I moved, adopting that same attitude has been very wise for me. I had boxed several items to be shipped over but after rethinking that and realizing the shipping process including finding the right address and the cost has made me decide to hold on that for awhile. I have enough stuff to survive. Patience is the key to doing well here. For now I am going with the flow.
    My question for you is “Are there any places on campus to get a haircut?” If not, where?
    I am also in the process of having my dog, Elizabeth, shipped here. I hired professional pet movers to do this that helped with all of the paper work. Vet services on campus?
    Thank you for your help.
    Mary Ann Scott MD …please call me “Mary Ann”

  • Hi Mary Ann — We’re so excited for our new OB to arrive! Welcome!

    I’m so glad that you’ve found my blog helpful – thanks!

    Yes, there is a salon on campus for you to get your haircut – they also do manicures/pedicures, waxing, massage etc. You can call 012 802 4061 for more information and to book an appointment. Here is a map to the salon (which you can only access from a computer that is physically located on the compound) http://thelens.kaust.edu.sa/?p=21624

    There is not a vet on campus right now, hopefully one day, but I wouldn’t hold my breath!

  • Napsi Budai

    Dear Claire,
    I would like to contact you with a collaboration proposal. Shall I ask you to contact me via email please? Thank you.
    Kind regards, Napsi

  • Shagufta

    Hi Claire
    I am at KAUST (but don’t use facebook) – I would like to know how we can get “Shade canopies” fitted at the community playgrounds and over swimming pools – we came to KAUST from Doha, and many of the public parks and compound pools there had canopies over them. Its great having these facilities but for most of the day they are very difficult to use because of the sun. I am talking about canopies similar to what they already have in the school and day care playgrounds. Some shade would make them much more useable. Thanks.

  • Hi Shagufta – I totally agree! The best way to suggest this is to contact recreation. Their contact info can be found on this page (only accessible at KAUST or on KAUST VPN): http://facilities.kaust.edu.sa/pages/CategoryLandingPage.aspx?catID=29

    If enough people request things like this, then it will happen!

  • Shagufta Malik

    I have contacted them and also Glenn. Can you please also raise it through your work with the KCAC, thanks. I think this is something the whole community would welcome – especially the young!

  • What was the response you got from Glenn and recreation? Can you please forward them to me? I’m claireDsale on gmail.

    I’ll be happy to bring this up again. I know we’ve talked about it before at the meetings and nothing happened :-(

  • Bootus

    Hello Claire,
    I’ve been reading through your posts and find them quite helpful. I have a Skype interview tomorrow night for a position at KAUST, and hoping that will go well.

    I’m from the U.S., middle-aged and single, and am curious about what life may be like for a single man of my age at KAUST. I do realize there are a good deal of families (faculty, staff, etc.) and a good deal of students, but wondering about singles that fall in the middle of this jumble of people.

    Any insight or observations of what life may be like for a single person would be helpful. I’d like to pursue work at KAUST, but don’t want to have it be the loneliest experience of my life, either.

    I’m also curious of what you may know of housing for single staff. Can I get a detached, small house ? At my age, I’m not interested in having roommates (for a number of reasons), so wondering how housing works for singles, and what their options may be ?

    Thank you for your help.


  • Hi Will –

    As I am not a single man I fear I’m not a very good person to answer your questions! But I posted your comment to our community group and hopefully someone will have some helpful info for you.

    What I can say is that there are plenty of single guys here and that you can have an active social life here. Your situation is not very unusual – you’ll be in good company!

    As for your housing question, you need to ask your relocation coordinator. If you’re working for KAUST (rather than a contractor) I believe you are entitled to your own place and will not have to share. But, I’m not 100% sure on that and you should double check!

    I’ll let you know what I hear back!

  • Carina

    Hello Will, good luck tomorrow.
    I’ve been here a little over three weeks., came out here alone. So far I love it, i need to be with people and get involved – it’s here if you want it.. If you weren’t sporty before you get here, you will start to be – enjoying the beach, there are lots of beach sports you can take up, meet people through common interests. The place will appear very quiet when you get here but there is a lot going on, a great place to travel from to other parts of the world and explore. The weather is lovely, gets hot in the summer but, you have gyms, cooled down pools and more.
    I’ve found people friendly and helpful. After all we all know what it’s like to get here, different country/culture and then settle down.
    As far as housing, I’m not sure where you will be housed. Housing is decided around 10 days prior to your arrival. Once you pass all the interviews, you will be allocated a Relocation Officer who will answer any questions regarding housing etc.
    Take care and good luck again.

  • Bootus

    Thank you, Carina.

    I’ve applied for a few current openings, so hoping this interview gets things moving forward. Thank you again for your note.


  • Bootus

    Thank you, Claire.

    If the interview goes well, I’m sure I’ll have more questions as the process moves along – but thank you for taking the time now.


  • Christina

    Hi Will,
    I am also middle-aged and single from the U.S. and have found KAUST to be a bit lonely, but I am female and my options are limited here in the Kingdom. I do agree with Carina, though. There is a lot going on here at KAUST. You just need to put yourself out there and find your nitch. You also need to be open-minded and leave yourself open to experiencing new cultures and people.
    Best of luck to you with your interviews.

  • Bootus

    Thanks Christina.

    I think the whole thing would/should be a lot of fun, and I’ve always been open to trying new things – at least once. :)

    I was more curious if there were a good number of people ‘similar’ to me, or if I’d be the only solo act in the lot. But, it sounds as though there are plenty of people ‘like’ me, so that’s a good thing.

    Thanks for the note and well wishes.


  • Sure thing! I’m glad you got some good responses to your initial questions above. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help :-)

  • FYI: I also just sent you a private message someone sent me directly to your email.

  • Bootus

    Got it ! Thank you….

  • Bootus


    After your initial interview, how long did it take you to ‘hear’ back ?

    You also mention ‘initial interviews.’ Did you have more than one – or a few ?

    Just curious as to your experiences….


  • Bootus


    I think the interview went well, so will just have to wait to hear back. It really was less about job / resume specifics – and more about my interest in KAUST, my hobbies, interests, etc. So, in many ways, I took that as a good sign, as if the interviewer was just trying to gauge if I’d ‘fit in.’

    –I’ll now be biting my nails until I hear something…. ;)


  • Ken

    Hi Claire,

    Thank you for maintaining this incredibly informative site! A friend of mine is soon headed to KAUST, and I’ve been impressed with how well your site has prepared her for what to expect and what to do (and given me a lot of insight into what life will be like there). From both of us, thank you!

    I also have a somewhat off-the-wall question that I’m hooping you can answer. I’m going to be arranging to have a bike shipped from the UK to KAUST for my friend, and I’d like to have it shipped to the Banaweer Bike Shop on campus if possible, so that they can do the final assembly and have her pick it up. However, I can’t seem to contact the bike shop at all to confirm that they can provide this service, and to find out the right shipping address. I’ve tried calling them from the U.S. several times at different times of the day (using 966 2 802 4068 as the contact number), but haven’t reached anyone. I also tried contacting the Banaweer Trading Est. company in Jeddah, assuming that this is the parent company of the KAUST bike shop, but my email to them (sent to banaweer@banaweer.com) has not been answered, and I tried several different phone numbers for them (966 2 648 3910, 966 2 647 7054, 966 2 647 7873) but without any answer or voicemail.

    Do you happen to know their hours, or if they are still open? And do you know if they answer their phone, or if they have an email address? Or if there is a better way to accomplish this?

    Sorry to inflict this on you, but you seem to be very resourceful (and helpful!), so I hope this isn’t too much of an imposition. (I also tried contacting one of the maintainers of the KAUST Community Wiki, but haven’t heard anything yet.)

    Thanks again for such a great resource and all your work, and I’d love to hear if you have any thoughts or ideas!


  • Hi Ken — Thanks for all your kind words! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my blog and that you and your friend have found it useful.

    Ahh… Banaweer is a little shop and it’s pretty hard to get the guy to answer the phone at the best of times! I think your best bet is to mail the bike directly to your friend and have her take it to banaweer in person to have it worked on. It’s not ideal, but I think it’s the only way…

    I think if you mail it to the following address it should work:

    4700 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
    Thuwal 23955-6900
    Saudi Arabia

    If you want to double check, you could email the FedEx office here and ask SMSAFedExMailroom@kaust.edu.sa

    Hope this helps!

  • Ken

    Thanks Claire! This is *extremely* helpful information, and will help out tremendously. I’d sort of guessed that it would probably be best to ship the bike to my friend directly, and so it’s perfect to have a reliable shipping address format, and also to know that the Banaweer shop is small and best to handle in person. Thanks!

    Thanks too for the FedEx contact email. I may indeed followup with them to confirm a few details about shipping the bike, as it appears that shipping goods over a certain value (USD$100) may require that I include the recipient’s national identity or iqama number, which would mean that I’ll need to wait for a few more days before arranging the shipment, as my friend hasn’t gotten her iqama yet. I was also hoping to find out if there’s any way to pay the customs duties and taxes rather than sticking that to my friend when she receives the bike. (I believe the company I’m using will be using DHL instead of FedEx, but I’m guessing they have similar practices.)

    In any case, thank you *so much* for your reply, and for being so helpful to all of your readers. You’re an invaluable source of information and encouragement!

    — Ken

  • Aww, thanks again! I think FedEx should be able to answer those questions.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  • Kalyani

    Hi Claire, I will be coming to visit KAUST next week with my husband, who is a candidate for a professorship, and my 5 mo old baby. We also have a 4 yr old, who will be staying with my parents in California (where we currently live). We will be there for 8 days so we can meet some people at the university and scout out the living conditions (housing, schools, parks, etc) and get a feeling for what life would be like if our family moved. Could you suggest some places/people I should absolutely be sure to see to really get a good idea of what everyday life is like there? So far, I was thinking about visiting the school where our 4 yr old would attend, some parks, the gym/tennis center (I would love to improve my tennis game!), and do a walk through at the grocery store. Is there a mom’s group or something like that meeting anytime next week? I really want to talk candidly to some expat moms about what their experience has been and the challenges they face. Thank you in advance!

  • Hi Kalyani – Congrats and I hope you have a nice visit! Most people don’t have the opportunity to visit KAUST before they move here – yay you for making the most of it.

    I’m happy to chat with you one-on-one when you are here, assuming the dates work out. I have some family in town but after they leave it could work. What are your dates?

    In addition to the excellent ideas you mentioned above, I’d suggest:

    1. See if you can meet with the pediatrican or family doctor at the clinic for a few minutes. You can email patient-relation[at]kaust.edu.sa to see if they can arrange something. Keep in mind though that this isn’t really a standard request, so it might be best to just pop in and see if the doctor/s are free.

    2. Go to the Wednesday coffee mornings at the Island Recreation Center. It starts around 8:30 am and goes until people leave (~11ish?). Sometimes lots of people go and sometimes not so many, but it’s a great way to meet stay-at-home moms. They’re very welcoming of new people and should be able to help answer some questions. There is also a play place for the kids so you can throw them in there and have a coffee and a chat.

    3. Check out the events at the community library – the best way to do this is to just pop in when you get here to find out what’s on. The events are a good way to meet other parents and see what kaust has to offer your kids.

    4. Go to the kids pool at the harbor sports club. Again – a great place to meet other parents. Going anytime on the weekend is sure to be a popular time.

    I also posted your question to our community facebook group and will let you know what I hear back!!

  • Kate

    Kalyani…there are a lot of people here from California (my name is Kate and I am one of them…from Sacramento, but we have them from all up and down the state!). When you go to the Harbor Club be sure to check out the activities available for your 4 year old as there are many! There is also a playgroup that meets every week for babies…in general everyday life here is what you make of it, it can be really boring or lots of activities to do (especially if your child loves the water!). Less traffic is a big plus which means less commuting times :-) I hope you enjoy your stay here :-)

  • I had the following two suggestions come through from other people:

    – “I suggest she goes to the community information center and meet the lady there. Her name is Najwa and her office phone is 8086565. She will be able to provide a lot of information for her and answer most of her questions.”

    – “Working in PSE for 4 years now, we plan lunches for potential canditates’s wives and depending on what her interests are we usually accomodate them very well. I am wondering if this is not being set up by the division her husband is being hired into.”

    Hope these two help!

  • Roxana

    Hi, you should visit the school, your daughter will be admitted to K1 or K2, you should also check the play land at Island recreation center. You will do lot of friends soon, and most of them with small children as there are lot of children in KAUST. In my opinion KAUST is a great place to rise children. Safe and nice. All my friends agree.

  • Will

    Hey Claire,

    Back for another one….

    When saying the university name in acronym form – KAUST – is it pronounced over there as ‘Cowst’ or ‘Cost’ ?


  • “Cowst” :-)

  • racey rollaway

    Hi Claire, I left another post recently but then read another blog and you answered it perfectly for me. Thanks and I look forward to moving to KAUST!

  • Oh that’s good! But I’m concerned that maybe I missed your initial message. Where is it?

  • Kalyani

    Hi Roxana, thanks for the ideas and sorry I did not respond sooner. My 4 yr old has been sick for the last week (of course, right before we have to travel!). In any case, I have made note of your suggestions for our visit. We are leaving today. Thanks again, Kalyani

  • Kalyani

    Hi Kate, thanks so much for your suggestions – as I was saying to Roxana, sorry for the delayed response – my 4 yr old has had a fever for the last week and I have been at wit’s end also trying to prepare for our departure (which is later today). In any case, interesting that there are so many Californians there! I have made a note of the Wed morning playgroup for babies. I hope to maybe meet you there if you also attend regularly? In any case, thank you very much for your ideas. I am nervous about it all, but getting all of your all’s responses has been very comforting and helpful to make the most of our time there. Hope to meet you, Kalyani

  • Kalyani

    Claire, a great big thank you for your very thoughtful and thorough response. I have made notes to follow up with our representative to arrange or just go myself. Please excuse my tardy reply – as you can see from my responses to Kate and Roxana, my 4 yr old (who we are leaving here with my parents), has had a fever for the last week. (Of course she does, since we are scheduled to travel today, that is always how it works!). In any case, I would absolutely love to meet you if you are at all available with your relatives in town and all. I also understand if things are too hectic for you. We will arrive Sat, Mar 22 and leave Sat, Mar 29. What I really want is the chance to talk candidly about my reservations, and to hear first hand positive experiences too. My email is kchandr[at]yahoo.com and I am more likely to check that email but of course will check here too if you are able to make some time. Many thanks! Kalyani

  • Just sent you an email :-)

  • Stefani

    Good Evening from sunny Florida! I hope all is well for you. I have enjoyed reading all the information you have provided on your blog, so thank you :-) I have just started the application process for KAUST, and hoping to find out whether or not I am a candidate for a position there. While I wait, I am hoping to retrieve some answers, and seeing that you are knowledgeable I thought, “Who better to go to than Claire?!” Hope I don’t overwhelm you with my questions.
    1). I am a single mom, so my concern is how welcoming the community is to single parents.
    2). The houses/apartments/townhomes that I have seen are pretty extravagant. I read that they are pretty “cookie cutter” houses though. Does your position in the university determine what type of house one has?
    3). Are women from outside of the country allowed to drive or does the no women driving law pertain to all women?
    Thanks in advance for answering my questions!

  • Hi Stefani –

    Thanks so much for your nice post. I wish you luck in your job hunt. Let me answer your questions one by one:

    1. The community is welcoming to single parents. There are a number (not a lot, but a good handful) of single moms, and they are particularly supportive of each other as far as I know. I can’t imagine that being a big issue here as opposed to other places.
    2. They are the epitome of cookie-cutter! There is hardly any variation at all – including in the furniture that is provided! But, they are fairly nice houses and pretty big – I was shocked at how big our house was compared to our previous tiny house in England.
    3. Your position at the university only determines the house size if you are an executive or a student or working for a 3rd party (ie not KAUST). Otherwise, the number of people in your family determines your house size. Talk to your relocation advisor about this when the time comes.
    4. Your nationality does not determine your driving status. Women can drive inside the KAUST compound, but in the rest of Saudi we are required to have a man drive us.

    Hope this helps!

  • Chebu

    Well, how was your visit? Did you like it?

  • Yasmeen

    Hi, love your blog, it provided some useful insight about KAUST when we were at the stage of making up our minds about it. We just moved in yesterday and haven’t been housed yet (staying in KAUST inn for 2 days). Anyways, I’d love to attend any social gatherings that you arrange and get to know people since I don’t know anybody in KAUST and I’ll be a stay-at-home-mom. Let me know if anything is coming up soon. Thanks!

  • Thanks for your kind words. It’s been two days since you posted so I’m guessing today is the day you move into your house. Congrats! Hope it’s great.

    Did you read my two posts related to your question?

    I think the another place to start in terms of social gatherings is to meet some of the ladies at the Wednesday Coffee Mornings at the Island Recreation Club cafe. There is an informal gathering every Wednesday from 8:30-11ish and all ladies are welcome. If you just go and say hi and tell them you’re new, I’m sure they’ll welcome you with open arms. Playland is also there, so if your kids are the right age you can toss them in there while you have a coffee and a chat.

    I’m not sure if you can access this link, but here is the invite https://www.facebook.com/events/410786805723722/

    It’s totally informal, and a great way to meet new people.

    Welcome again!

  • Yasmeen

    I couldn’t access the facebook invitation but went on the 9th to the IRC anyway, not only didn’t I find anyone, but playland was also closed. It was a double disappointment for my toddler and I :( I guess I’ll try again next week. I tried joining the KAUST-for sale facebook group and haven’t been accepted for 4 or 5 days now. Do you know how long it usually takes? from comments on the KAUST-give away group it seems like they haven’t been accepting any requests lately?

  • Tina

    Hi Claire,
    My husband and I might be moving there from Delaware (for work). We have a cat. Do you know if there is a quarantine time for cats? Or can we get possession of her right away? Thank you. If you’re still there, we appreciate your tips and advice, for sure. Have a great day!

  • Ken

    Hi Claire,

    I just wanted to give you (and others) a quick update on the saga of getting the bike to my friend at Kaust. The great news is that, thanks in no small part to your advice and encouragement, the bike *did* finally arrive, and my friend has been very happily riding it this past week. The not-so-fun side of things is that it took nearly a month to make it on campus, thanks to a series of missteps and miscommunication and general confusion, and with a considerable amount of delay and frustration revolving around customs duties, some cultural barriers, and an inability by the DHL team to meet at pre-arranged delivery times at the Kaust entrance gate. (An important lesson learned here is that FedEx is *much* better equipped to handle shipments to Kaust, thanks to their presence on campus and their ability to set individuals up for paying for customs duties online…. I wish I’d pushed the bike manufacturer more on what carriers they could use.)

    Regardless, though, in the end, and after many many phone calls and a bank wire transfer or two, we were able to get DHL to hand off to FedEx and then eventually on to the Banaweer Bike Shop, where my friend picked up the bike this past Tuesday evening and has been happily biking ever since.

    Thanks for all your help!


  • Hi Yasmeen. That’s too bad that you didn’t see anyone. I went the previous week and there were at least 10 ladies there. Did you wait around for a bit? They really are a great group.

    For the KAUST Facebook groups – just contact the admin directly. They have a LOT of requests and I guess that sometimes things get backed up. Also check your “other messages” folder. There may be something in there for you.

    Good luck. I hope you have a more positive experience soon.