Meeting people at KAUST

By | June 6, 2013



As the end of the school year closes, it’s a time of change at KAUST. Many people are departing this time of year and the classifieds listings are going mad with people selling household items. And, just as these people leave, their spots are filled by bright-eyed and enthusiastic new people. This is one of the absolute best parts of living in a University town. There is a constant sense of rejuvenation.

Recently, a new community member named Patrick wrote on one of the KAUST online community groups. He wanted to meet people and put himself out there to see if anyone wanted to meet him. I was impressed with his post, so decided to write a few words about how to meet people at KAUST. Patrick: this post is for you!

One thing that’s really great about living on a compound like this, as I’ve said before, is that nobody is a local, which levels the playing field a bit. Everyone has been here for 4 years or less, and almost everyone seems eager to be inclusive and willing to make new friends and help new recruits out.

Here are a few specific ideas for getting settled-in socially:

Go to lunch with your colleagues

Hopefully your colleagues are cool. Hopefully they’re also thoughtful enough to invite you out to lunch. If they do, GO! You already have something in common with them, and in this small community your coworkers can be your best assent in terms of finding out about things to do and who to meet.

Go to the events

KAUST tends to host several events throughout the year. From big events like the annual Saudi National Day celebration, to smaller events like movie nights on Thuwal Park, these events can be a good opportunity to meet new people and catch up with existing friends.

Find out what’s going on at the gym, golf course, marina, and library

The gym, golf course, marina, and library all host regular events. There are yoga classes, dive trips, language learning classes, and more. Once you arrive, you can learn about all of these opportunities on the Facilities and Community website (website only accessible on compound). These regular events are all either free or cheap and are a great way to meet someone with a similar interest to you.

Join Groups 

There are a variety of Self-Directed Groups and online-community groups to check out. The self-directed groups are special interest groups where people interested in a specific topic meet on a regular basis. There is a pet-owners group, a photography group, a cycle group etc. You can also start your own group if you’re so inclined. The online community groups are a good way to connect with people of similar interests or need. There is a shared taxi group, a place to sell and buy things, a general community conversation group and more.


A Final Thought: as this community is so small, you really only need to meet a couple people to start to be part of things. It seems that everyone knows everyone and you’ll soon be in the mix socially if you just get out there and try!


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  • Chebu

    Hello, coming to KAUST in October! I am around 30, got 2 kids and come from Europe! Let’s meet! ;-)
    Looking forward to the international vibe..

  • Cheryl Courtois

    My husband, 11 year old daughter and I will be arriving by the 30th July. We are all so excited and looking forward to meeting new people and our new lifestyle. Hope to get to meet you when we get there. Regards, The Courtois

  • Yay! Hey Cheryl and Chebu. Hope you have good journeys and settle in well in KAUST :-)

  • Ayman

    Hello everybody
    Im ayman from KSA and i leave at kaust and working also and i hope to meet a lot of pepole here

  • Julie Piper

    We are in the last stages of the waiting game, I think. We are waiting for the invitation letter to send to the embassy here in order to get our visas. I was wondering if you were aware of ballet/dance classes being offered at KAUST. Our daughter has taken ballet for 6 years and would like to continue. Thanks for all your helpful hints in your blogs!

  • Hi Julie, I asked about this via our facebook group as I had no idea! Turns out there is a woman who works in the KAUST schools who offers dance classes to a small group of kids. It’s not ballet specifically, but includes ballet and modern dance and other dance types too. But the post generated a lot of interest in other parents who wish there was a ballet class, so perhaps someone will start one soon!

    Best wishes and good luck on your move.

  • Julie Piper

    Thank you for inquiring for me. I suppose upon arrival I need to get on that facebook group.

  • Yes! Here is the list of online community groups here at KAUST:

  • Julie Piper

    Boarding the plane tomorrow evening (Texas time) and arriving at KAUST Friday evening. Looking forward to meeting new people and beginning our new life adventure

  • Hey Julie —

    Sorry for my delay in responding… this went to my spam folder for some strange reason! How was your move? Do you have any suggestions for how I can update my posts with new info for new people moving here?

    Have you seen all the online groups for community members? Might be a good place to start getting to know people and what’s going on here:

    Best wishes!

  • Julie Piper

    I have already replief on facebook to your post there. Things are going well. I start working at the school tomorrow.

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  • Em

    Hi Clare, I’m thoroughly enjoying your posts. My family and I are considering a posting to KAUST to work at TKS. I’m a violinist and wondered about bring musical instruments into the kingdom. What is the view on that? Are there any limitations, as I understand music is forbidden in the Kingdom in general, or am I incorrect in that? Cheers, Em

  • Claire

    Hi Em – Sorry for my delay – you wrote just 2 days after I had my baby. Definitely bring your violin! There is a string ensemble here which you may like to join. I’m happy to put you in touch with the director if you’re interested.

  • charlie

    3 years late.. but I hope to get a job at the KAUST school in a few years. KAUST seems like an amazing place to raise a family.

  • Never too late :) It really is a great place to raise a family. I hope it works out for you!

  • charlie

    Thanks!!!! Perhaps my family will meet yours in the coming years! I am a music teacher.

  • Lindsey

    Thanks for all the details! Do you know much about life for older kids? If we come, we’d have a sophomore, 8th grader, and 6th grader. Are there organized sports? Any idea how the high school education compares to schools in the states?

  • Hi Lindsey – my kids are young so I’m not too keyed into this network. We have a community group where I shared your question – hopefully someone will reply back to you here soon!

  • Melvin Cruz

    The kids and I came from Texas , a 4th and 5th Grader. Now they are in 6th and 7th grade. IB system (you can research more online and visit is definitely different from US school system but I think it exposes the kids to a different way of learning and broader knowledge base. If I’m not mistaken, the 11th and 12th grade have personal projects that count toward graduation. Curriculum is not aimed to only prepare for standardized tests as is done in Texas. They will make new friends here from all over the world so they won’t be lacking in social experience and culture. The sports system is a little different as it is done all the through the school system (TKS). They are done in blocks throughout the year, everything except baseball and football, but add those not available in US, such as rugby. There are plenty of school activities available that cater to varied interests. The recreation centers do provide sport lessons as well.

  • Thanks for weighing-in Melvin!

  • Ali AbdulSalam


    My name is Ali and I came to KAUST when I was 9 during grade four and now I am a senior in the KAUST school. I came from a non international to a school with so much culture and very diverse. It has been an amazing experience so far in this school. Everything is offered here. They offer a lot of sports in three different categories U14, U16 and U19. Within these categories are four sports Volleyball, Football, Basketball and Badminton (In that order during the school year). The U16 and U19 participates in two tournaments one somewhere close to KAUST and the main one sometimes allows the students to travel. The U14 only participates in one tournament. Even with these tournaments in school there is multiple other opportunities outside of the school.

    One of the most important things about this school is the fact that are preparing you for the future while many other schools i been to is just teaching us how to do this problem or how to make this. Here is more about the application. The school is well equipped and there is a lot of teachers for support. Its a really good school with absolutely everything available for a student.

    Hope this Helps

  • Lindsey M

    Thanks so much for all the information! I appreciate so many details!

  • :-) Thanks Melvin and Ali!