Friday, 23 November 2012

Groups for Expat Women In Riyadh

If you're a woman new to Riyadh and wanting to meet other expat women or want to join women's groups to socialse then the following information may help get you started.

 American Community in Riyadh, otherwise known as ACR, is one of my favourite groups for a few reasons but mostly because they organise a number of interesting activities, many being family focused. 

There is an annual registration fee to become a member though for a little more dineros non-members can sign up for activities, too. You do not have to be American to join but you do have to be an expat.

For more information visit their website

Corona Ladies - My second favourite group, Corona Ladies, is the Riyadh branch of Corona Worldwide, an organisation that provides worldwide fellowship for people moving to overseas posts.

Corona Ladies in Riyadh has monthly meetings throughout most of the year except the deep summer when the majority of expat women exit the country to escape the heat.  Each month Corona attendees are entertained, enthralled or updated by interesting speakers organised by the Corona Ladies committee.  Funds raised from the groups activities are donated to charities determined at an AGM at the start of each year.

Unfortunately there is no website for the Riyadh chapter of Corona ladies so getting connected is usually via an existing member.  Asking around should find you a Corona lady.  There is also an annual registration fee to join.

Womens Skills Bureau - The Womens Skills Bureau is a network for expat women to find some form of meaningful employment - whether that be paid or voluntary - as well as build your friends network.  Every few months they have events where potential employers can meet potential employees and women working in the Magic Kingdom can give newcomers a heads up on a working life in KSA, among other things. 

Women's Skills Bureau has a regular newsletter and a website

Ladies For Networking - This group is the brain child of an entrepreneurial woman from Italy.  Every few months she brings together individuals and companies that provide services for women and families in and around Riyadh to present their wares and ideas.  It's quite an informative get together.  You need to be on the mailing list to find out about upcoming events.  To get on a mailing list keep your ear to the ground listening out for the next event then tag along.

For non-working expat women, and the occasional expat house husband (yes there are one or two), networking is a sanity saver.  Saudi isolation can drive you absolutely crazy.  If you're shy my advice is get over it - fast.

Of course you don't have to be part of the above groups in order to network and find friends.  Having children is always a great ice-breaker no matter where you live.  No kids?  Then the compound notice board, particularly at the larger western compounds, will advertise the activities they provide for all age groups.  These activities are usually only for compound residents but it's a great way to meet your neighbors.

Not in a large compound?  Then you have a bit more work to do to grow your social life.  Having been in this position myself I found the groups listed above a great place to start my networking.  Signing up on active internet forums such as Expat Blog was also a good move.  And being on the mailing list for Haya Tours has allowed me to broaden my Saudi cultural experience as well.

Of course, if you are working in Saudi then you will have work colleagues to socialize with, though if you get sick of working with, living with and socializing with your work colleagues (which is a complaint often heard in the Magic Kingdom) then it is healthy to take steps to broaden your friendship circle.

If you are fortunate enough to be befriended by local Saudis and, as in my case, be taken under the wing of their family then your expat view on life in Saudi takes on an added dimension.  It is possible to see behind the veil and find a group of people as diverse in nature as humans are capable of being anywhere in the globe.

The transient nature of the KSA expat population means that networking for expats, men and women, is an essential ongoing activity, as we are social beings after all.  Making friends in Saudi Arabia is a huge contributing factor to enjoying your experience here, so don't delay, go forth and network at not just one, but all the groups available for expat women in Riyadh.

Ka Kite,

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