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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  • Anoop Mahajan

    Hi Claire – thanks a lot for writing this blog. It has been really helpful considering my fiancée and I are thinking about moving to KAUST. We have a couple of questions, if you could help:
    1) My fiancée and I are not married as yet – is that a problem for living together at KAUST?
    2) My fiancée is applying for a post-doc at KAUST, while I am applying for an academic position. Would we be able to live in the post-doc housing for some time? Where would you suggest staying within KAUST?

  • Hi Anoop –
    As far as I know, KAUST will not sponsor a visa for a fiancee – you must be married to bring your spouse with you. That said, if you both get positions here independent of one another, you would be able to both come ostensibly living in separate accommodations. To answer your questions more specifically:
    1. Yes, this is more than likely going to be a problem.
    2. You will likely be housed separately and will not be given much choice in your accommodation.

    This is absolutely something that you should discuss with your relocation advisor and my info above is simply from what I’ve heard and it could be totally wrong. I do know *lots* of people who have gotten married right before moving here though :-)

    Hope this helps!

  • Anoop

    Great – thanks a lot for the reply. I’ll check with the relocation advisor. I am visiting KAUST 17-21st May for an interview. It will be great if we could meet. I am sure we’ll have a million questions then too :)

  • I just sent you an email.

  • Hari

    Hi Claire,

    First, many thanks for taking effort to provide so much

    I am Hari writing from India. My wife is about to accept a post-doctoral
    research position at KAUST. I was
    wondering about my job options. I have
    11+ years of experience in industry and consulting and hold an MBA from Tier-I
    business school. Specifically I would
    like to know the following:

    1. Can husband and wife work for two different

    2. Assuming answer to 1 is Yes, how do the visa
    rules work? I assume I would first have
    to come on dependent visa, my wife’s visa being primary. Can I take up jobs with other firms than
    KAUST on dependent visa?

    3. How do I go about finding a job? Are there any
    good job agencies?

    4. I understand that a huge economic city is coming
    up nearby. Has this opened up jobs?

    5. I understand that KAUST itself provides jobs to
    qualified spouses. How does this
    work? Would I know what job I can take
    before I reach KAUST?

    Thank much!

  • Hi Hari – Thanks for your kind words about the blog and thanks for reading! Let me try to answer your questions one by one:
    1/2: Your dependent visa will state specifically that you are not allowed to work in Saudi. If you would like to work for an employer outside of KAUST you will need to have your own visa/iqama through that company. This can be a big hurdle.
    3. I don’t really know to be honest.
    4. There are a few jobs at the economic city, but it is still very much in it’s infancy. I have heard about jobs at the schools and clinic only for professional level positions, but I am sure there are others that I don’t know about.
    5. This is probably your best avenue. Talk to your wife’s relocation advisor about this. More than likely, you will apply once you arrive.

  • Laura

    Hi Claire,

    I am considering to move to KAUST in the next months with my family. I have a couple of questions for you.

    Can you please tell me what you usually wear (included at the beach and pool) within the compound?

    Somewhere you mentioned that there are fitness classes available at the sport centre. Can you give me some examples of these classes?



  • GriA

    Hi Claire!
    Really nice blog about the KAUST experience!
    I have a question for you about the spouses and the KAUST!
    I am going to apply for a position over there but actually I am not yet married.
    I should be in KAUST starting from January 2016 and I am planning to marry some months after my arrival.
    My question is: could my future spouse join me later (once married) even if at the beginning I will join KAUST as a “single”? Or is it possible only if I am married prior to my application/arrival?
    Thank you in advance!

  • Hi GriA – As far as I know, this shouldn’t be a problem. Fiances are not permitted to come to KAUST, but once you are married then your spouse should be able to join you. This is definitely something to talk to your relocation advisor about once you get an offer.

  • Hi Laura –

    There is a wide range of clothing choices here – based usually on what the individual is most comfortable wearing. However, it is generally more conservative attire than we in the west are accustomed to. For instance, around the residential and recreational areas of the compound, I do not wear shorts or spaghetti straps, or anything too low cut. I wear a one piece swim suit with shorts at the beach and pool. in the professional/academic areas I wear at least ankle length trousers/skirts/or leggings and try to cover my arms as well. Many other women are more conservative in their dress and many choose to be fully covered. Some are less conservative in their clothing choice than I am, but I believe it’s best to lean towards the more conservative attire to be respectful of our local culture.

    As for fitness classes – there is yoga, jazzercise, spinning, ab-blast, 20-20-20, early morning boot camp, personal training and more along these lines. All instructors are appropriately certified.

  • Laura

    Many thanks, Claire, for your useful answer and all the information in your blog! After living 4 years in UK, I think I will need a new wardrobe if I move there! :)

  • I lived in the UK for 2 years before moving here. I still wear many of my same clothes, but just pop a cardigan, scarf, or leggings on too. You can definitely skip the raincoat and wellies though!!!

  • Laura

    I read somewhere you were in Cambridge, right? I am in Norwich… not so far away! :) When you say “leggings” you mean the tight ones, don’t you? So I guess you wear leggings together with with a skirt long at least at the knees or with a very long top/shirt, right?

  • That’s right…. not far at all! Yes – that’s what I mean exactly. I just tried to find ways to make my existing wardrobe a tad more conservative.

  • GriA

    Hi Claire! thank you for your reply.
    I will talk to the relocation advisor as well!
    I will let you know ;)

  • Eshan

    Hi Claire
    Great work indeed, thoughout the blogposts.
    I am going to join for doctoral position in KAUST pretty soon and have a few questions that, I believe, you are better poised to respond to.
    I would be grateful if you can help.
    How conservative the atmosphere is in the university? I know, by Saudi standards, its very liberal. But are inter-gender interactions common (in classrooms, eating joints, on the streets etc), or are there restrictions even on those things. I mean, are we free to interact with people irrespective of their sex? Are students themselves apprehensive of mingling due to the prejudices we hold about Saudi.
    How does prayer timings effect the working inside the university? I have read at countless places that the whole country, shuts down during the prayer hours?
    Are there places outside the university where one can go, suppose in weekends or freetime, or places to visit nearby?
    How are the accomodations at KAUST for students (I am going to join for doctoral studies). I have seen the accomodation for people in job at KAUST and they were wonderful. However, I didnt get to know, how it is for students.
    I am thankful for your time and consideration.


  • Hi Eshan –

    Thanks for your kind words. Let me try to answer your questions one by one:

    1. You are free to interact. Men and women are co-educated and can live and work in a more western environment. Of course, people still keep their own cultural practices – and with over 100 nationalities represented at kaust that means that consideration, respect, and cultural sensitivity are very important.
    2. You will hear the call to prayer throughout the university and community. Those who wish to pray may do so (of course!), but shops and facilities do not close for prayer time.
    3. Yes, there are many places to explore on the weekends. The university organizes some trips or you can go on your own.
    4. The accommodation for students is very nice. I think some people did some tours of their apartments on youtube. There are even some very new apartments which everyone at KAUST is jealous of!

    Hope this helps!

  • eduardo

    Hi Claire,
    I am just wondering if you could help me with some information.
    I am a nurse who has been offered a post at the KAUST medical centre. As far as I understood during the interview, i would not live at KAUST accomodations, it would be at KAEC. How are the conections? Easy to drive through? Other question is if people who dont live at KAUST but do work there could use the amenities on it. And my last question is about sport activities. Have you heard anything about soccer or futsal around there?
    Many thanks on advance,

  • Hi Eduardo – KAEC is still very much a building site, but there are people who live there already. When it’s done it will be as big as Washington DC, but right now it’s still very early in it’s development. The medical center here provides a bus between KAEC and KAUST for employees, and it is an easy drive – though it takes about 40 minutes (hopefully one day there will be a more direct road! as it’s only a few miles away!). This is a good article about the ambitious aims of the city – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31867727

    I don’t know if the medical center employees are allowed to use our amenities such as the sports and recreation centers or the beach. My guess is that they are not, sadly. You would be able to use our restaurants and shops though.

    I don’t know about soccer or futsal at KAEC, but I’m sure you could start a league if there isn’t one there already! Soccer is very popular at KAUST – and if you meet the right people you may be able to participate in informal kick arounds.

    I practically live at the clinic, so if you take the job, let me know and I’ll swing by to say hi!

  • Shubham Phadte

    Hi Claire,

    Was looking forward to applying for M.S in Computer Science in KAUST. I have hada lot of positive I just wanted to get some idea regarding life of students academically & overall as well as in terms of career growth. Would you advise me to apply for KAUST in comparison to other renowned universities ?

  • Hi Shubham – Thanks for your note. Of course I’m a bit biased that I think KAUST is an excellent university. Besides that I advise you to speak with experts in your field and see what they think :-)

  • Shubham Phadte

    Thanks Claire !

    I would be apply for the fall semester next year. Thanks for the advice

  • Shubham Phadte

    Thanks Claire.
    I would be really grateful if you could get me in touch with anyone doing MS in Computer Science at KAUST. Sorry for the trouble.:-)

  • I’m sorry but I don’t know any of the students there. I’m sorry I’ve not been of much help to you.

  • Shubham Phadte

    Hey, its nothing like that. You have been of great help to me in finalising about KAUST , with your numerous posts about the university . Thanks a lot !

  • Excellent – so glad you’ve found the site helpful! Hope you get answers to your questions soon.

  • Laura

    Hi Claire,

    I am preparing the documents for the visa in order to relocate soon at Kaust! Can I please ask you whether you know any employed mum (single or married) that moved to Kaust without the father of her child(ren)? If so, can you please help me to get in touch with her? Many thanks in advance for your help!


  • Hmm… let me see if I can find someone. I have a friend in mind. I’ll email you if I hear back.

  • Ms.Raja

    Hi Claire, glad to find your blog and read about all the interesting time you are having at KAUST. My hubby got a job offer in the Petro Rabigh and its seems hard to find good schools and expat compounds. I just want to find out that: Can a non KAUST employ can live on KAUST compounds and can they send their kids to KAUST school ? Please reply . Also a non resident of KAUST can avail the amenities of this your side of world or not?
    USA to KSA

  • Hi Ms Raja – KAUST is a closed compound and only people who are working here (or their families) are allowed through security. Unfortunately this means that people working in Rabigh cannot send their kids to school here or use the KAUST amenities such as the shops or housing. I understand that many of the families in Rabigh send their kids to school at the school in the King Abdullah Economic City.

    Hope this helps!

  • Ms Raja

    Thank you so much for your quick reply. Any idea about KAEC compound or amenities? Any information about the school? According to my search the better campus and compounds are in Jeddah but its like 2 hours drive each side ,every day for hubby. So not sure what to do. Not much information about KAEC . My kids are in Pre.ap and Honor classes with other extra curricular activities. so confused !!

  • I really don’t know a lot about KAEC. I know it’s still very much under construction, but that there is a small international school, a grocery store, a medical clinic, a hotel, and several restaurants. I really don’t know much more than that I’m afraid.

  • Ms Raja

    Thank you for your quick replies, please update me on any imp info you find about KAEC or its school.

  • Uzair

    Hi Claire,

    Your blog is great for people trying to find info about Kaust. you mentioned it is a closed compound. If your parents wanted to visit you, would they be allowed? Also, do you know anyone that is in the Finance department? (I’m applying to a few there).


  • Hi Uzair – nobody is coming to mind in the Finance department, I’m sorry. But, once things move forward you should get a “buddy” on the team to connect with you. You can ask your relocation advisor about that.

    The compound is closed, but you are able to sponsor visitors to visit. Foreign visitors will need a visa and only immediate family can be sponsored for family visit visas (parents, siblings, children etc). The relocation team can help you with more information on this as well

    Hope this helps!

  • Uzair

    Thanks, I appreciate your help.

  • Leon

    Hey Claire,

    thank you for this useful blog, it was really hard to find any first hand information on the live at KAUST.
    I wonder if you know whether there are any arabic classes organized by KAUST?
    I think a big part of getting to know a culture is to learn there languages and at my home university the only offer is a arabic a1.1 course, which i found is not going to help me to talk to any one :/

  • Hi Leon – funny you should ask! Here is my post about learning arabic at KAUST: http://clairesale.com/learning-arabic-at-kaust/

  • Leon

    Hi Claire,

    unfortunately most of the information is already a couple of years old.
    I dont have facebook, but found an email adress on the facebook page of the women you said is teaching arabic. Thank you so far.
    One more question: Are there any other languages courses offered by the KAUST?

  • There are no university-level language classes, unfortunately. I remember seeing something about french classes and english classes at some point. There are also many people in the community who may be interested in doing 1:1 classes for all sorts of languages. If you move here I suggest creating a facebook page just for getting this type of information. Most of the community communication happens via facebook.

  • Geoff

    Hi Claire, I’m from Saudi Arabia (unfortunately), and I was wondering if I could pick your brain on some issues surrounding KASUT (if you don’t mind).

    Form what I hear about KAUST it seems to me like it’s not really a place of work, or study for that matter, nothing gets done there, it’s only purpose is to make the Al-Sauds feel good about themselves and to show off the royal family’s money and power.
    I heard from a friend who works there that the entire place is joke, even Jean-Lou Chameau doesn’t have much role in the university, the whole show is run by Nadhmi Al-Nasr and Najah Al-Ashry.

    More importantly is the Saudi Arabia situation, this is a misogynistic, barbaric, homophobic, twisted country, with no regard what soever to human rights or free speech. Don’t you think it’s immoral to support (by working) such regime and it’s ventures?
    Some articles I read argue that a policy of engagement is better than a policy of isolation. Meaning that the university will have a good impact in Saudi by fostering innovation and free thinking. But I fear it’s a delusion, why? because I know a lot of my friends who studied in the west, in big universities like Caltech and MIT, but when they returned home I’m amazed how NOTHING changed, they’re still backward thinking misogynistic molisms. one of them who is a Georgia Tech graduate reported me to the religious police because I questioned the existence of god (I’m Atheist BTW), I was detained for seven days (they would’ve lashed me if they had evidence or two people testified), can you imagined that Georgia Tech graduate thinks I should be killed for questioning god?. It would be unfair to say ALL saudis are like this, but the thing is, anyone who isn’t like this has already left the country or is planing to, huge number of students who went to study abroad never came back, that’s why I think “educating people” is not a good excuse, because the ones who really learn would run for their lives.

    The barbarity of Saudi is especially a concern for KAUST after the death of King Abdullah, he was liberal and he wanted change, unlike his family, King Salman is the exact opposite of Abdullah, and I fear he will undo everything his brother did.
    For example, cleric Saad Alshathry hugely criticized KAUST in 2009, he was then kicked out from his position as a member of the Council of Senior Scholars by King Abudllah himself. Now after King Salman took the throne, he became a member of his close counsel !!!! this is just one example of what’s going on after Abdullah, and I fear it will only get worse.

    Maybe my comment is a bit political, I would understand if don’t want think about the concerns I laid out.

  • Jay B


    Thank you for your blog! I am considering an opportunity at KAUST and you have covered many great things. I bet you get this question a lot – is KAUST a dry campus given restrictions on alcohol in Saudi Arabia? As a scotch lover, I can’t help but ask. Thank you.

  • Better get your Scotch fix abroad, then :) Like the rest of Saudi, alcohol is prohibited here.

  • last last

    Hi claire, I need to ask about the hiring process in KAUST, I have already accepted by one of research group at kaust as a postdoc researcher. I made an interview with hr more than one month ago but I did not receive an offer letter till now. Can I understand what is the problem. Does the hiring process is slow there or may be something else?

  • Hi last last – I am not involved with HR at all so I really don’t know. Best to get in touch with them directly.

  • last last

    I mean it is normal to wait for more than one month

  • I don’t know. Best to get in touch with them directly.

  • Aqeela

    Hi Claire,

    Lovely blog, kudos to you!

    There is something I’d like to ask you. I hope to visit Mecca with my family for a Pilgrimage, and then also hope to visit my cousin in Jedda who is living there with her family. I am a huge science enthusiast and there is something about kaust that draws me to it (probably the vibrant mixture of different cultures right in the middle of a totally conservative Islamic nation) and I would love to study there someday.

    For now, what I want to know is, if I could visit the university, just tour around etc. when I visit Jedda. I read online that you could do so if you got invited from someone on campus, but that post was a little old. Is that still the case, do you need someone on campus to invite you? or are the rules different now?

    Thanks loads!

  • Hi Aqeela — Thanks for your kind words and thoughtful question. What you read is still true – KAUST is a closed compound with heavy security. You will not be allowed onto the compound unless you are sponsored by someone who works here.

    I hope you have a good visit to Jeddah and Mecca – and that you one day come study here at KAUST!

  • Aqeela

    Thanks loads for your reply and wishes.. and all the best to you too! :)