Online tools for life at KAUST

By | May 15, 2019


[Update: the below information which was initially published in August 2015, has been refreshed in May 2019. I’ve curated the information to include current and accurate information.]

For the second timeI asked our community Facebook page for suggestions for online tools that are invaluable for life at KAUST. Here is a round-up of what I learned:

Tools for exploring and getting around:

  • Prayer time app for your phone – There are many options of prayer time apps to choose from. A prayer time app will keep you informed of when prayer times are, which is especially handy when outside the KAUST walls where all businesses shut during the prayers.
  • app – “download the KSA data and you can find your way from any house to any house or building.” – Laurie Nason
  • Uber car hire service – “I’ve found Uber incredibly useful for getting around Jeddah.” – Chris Waldron
  • Skyscanner – for booking good rates on flights, hotels, and car rentals.
  • Airbnb – for finding interesting places to stay all over the world.

Tools for recreation or information sharing within KAUST

The following tools are only available for people who live or work at KAUST. Many are only accessible when you’re viewing them from the KAUST network. 

  • The LensMake sure you subscribe for email updates to the KAUST internal blog. This is an invaluable resource for all the official information you need from KAUST. If you do nothing else on your first day at KAUST, do this. 
  • Welcome to KAUST app – This is a mobile app designed to help community members find information about different topics of day to day life on campus.
  • Kaust Community Facebook Group – a private group for KAUST community members to connect.
  • KAUST For Sale Facebook Group – for buying or selling used goods at KAUST.
  • KAUST Map – an online map of KAUST (or use the tool listed above)
  • Community Life Website – houses tons of information about KAUST services, facilities, events, programs, news and more. This site is run by my team- woohoo!
  • Atinio – Online booking and delivery food service located only at KAUST.
  • Library Website – For access to journals and more.
  • KAUST Government Affairs App – features access to various Government Affairs services such as Exit/Re-Entry Visas, Iqama services, emergency contacts and much more (For KAUST employees/dependents only).
  • KAUST Pets Facebook Group – A group for pet owners at KAUST to connect.
  • KAUST Health website – All about the medical clinic located in the heart of the KAUST community.
  • KAUST Community Bot – According to the creator of this tool, Andrew CM Yip, “Community Bot is a virtual friend in the community along the Red Sea.” Add the app to your facebook, then send it a direct message to find out about restaurant opening times, movie listings, bus schedules, event calendars, ice cream truck whereabout, maps, and directions too. If you haven’t tried this bot out, it’s well worth giving it a whirl!
  • KAUST Apps – Initially curated in 2019, this listing of useful apps, websites, and links for life at KAUST is similar to this listing, but arguably more comprehensive and only accessible at KAUST.

Tools for connecting with family and friends abroad

  • Skype – For making free video calls to friends and family abroad.
  • Whatsapp – Use this mobile app for free private or group messaging. This app has become absolutely ubiquitous for both work and personal use in Saudi and is a great way to keep in touch with family and friend back home too.

Tools for accessing media

  • VPN – for accessing media that may only be accessible in your home country. Note that Netflix is getting smarter at identifying VPN users and so you may have to get increasingly creative with accessing home-country media.
  • A kindle or other e-reader – “My Kindle was invaluable because it allowed me to read books that I wanted when I wanted. The library was good, but nothing compares to an online supply!” – Christine Merritt Girouard
  • YouTube – for watching whatever you want, whenever you want.

Online Shopping

  • Amazon – you can buy pretty much anything here. Just make sure you click the button to sort by items that will ship to Saudi.
  • Ebay – for buying new and used items online.
  • iHerb – Sells vitamins, supplements, and other natural health products including good quality baby food. (Note from an anymous reader: iHerb has raised the rates of their shipping and taxes. It’s not such a bargain anymore. Plus it is sometimes taking a long time to arrive)
  • The Book Depository – Free worldwide shipping on books. Be warned, it takes a long time to arrive though!
  • Mumzworld – a reputable Middle East based online shopping site for mother and baby items.


  • Evernote: “It allows me to keep all manner of my personal life put away electronically into folders. I have one for recipes, one for school (I’m a teacher), one for ‘Books I must read’, one for ‘Memorable Quotes’, one for the numerous things I need to remember at KAUST…e.g. bicycle serial numbers, ID numbers etc etc.” – Emma Nason
  • Pepperplate – “Allows me to download recipes at the click of a button and store them on an app on my phone/tablet. You can also make a shopping list (sorted by aisle) from the recipes that you select for that week. Awesome!! It’s been useful in Tamimi!” – Emma Nason

Thank you to all of the community members that contributed their ideas and suggestions for this post! Is there something missing from this list? Please share it in the comments below.

Disclaimer: I am not advocating use of any of these sites. Use them at your own risk and with your own common sense!