Schools in Riyadh


I have long been wanting to write about schools in Riyadh. I found no useful information when I was researching about schools back in England. So, I hope the information provided here would be of use to a lot of people who are still deciding to whether or not to move to Riyadh or Saudi in general.

International schools in Riyadh.

First, like I said in my earlier post, there are plenty of international schools in Riyadh. These are English-medium schools following either British, American, Canadian, Australian or Indian curriculum. There are lots of international schools that follow Indian curriculum and run by Indians. I have heard some positives about these schools. But, average international schools, with the exception of British and American international schools, can’t afford to bring qualified teachers from overseas. So, because they mostly employ local people with fluent English proficiency but not necessarily trained to teach a group of children a certain subject, the standards are low. Also, the whole system puts so much emphasis on memorizing and not necessarily to research or project-based learning. So the education approaches and methods used are very different. Thus resulting in not encouraging innovative thinking or creative writing etc.

Below is the list of schools in Riyadh that was recommended to us,

  1. American international school
  2. British international school
  3. Manarat international school
  4. Rowad international school
  5. Multinational international school

Some schools have both International and Arabic section. For example, Manarat and Rowad, they have 2 sections. They run both English and Arabic private schools on the same premises and the tuition fees differ slightly with Arabic section being a little cheaper.

Private Arabic schools.

Also, there are lots of private Arabic schools, called Ahliy schools. Most of these schools are administered and run by non-Saudis. For example, there are lots of private Arabic schools that follow Egyptian or Jordanian curriculum. Since we wanted to register our children at Arabic school, some friends recommended us the following schools. They have children currently attending these schools and they are really happy with progress etc.

  1. Dar al Arqam private school
  2. Ahad private school

Both of them have primary, secondary and high school sections. They have Boys school and Girls school totally segregated but the school buildings not too far apart from one another (makes the school run easier). Also, schools run two programmes- Tahfeed programme or regular school programme. If a child enrols in Tahfeed programme, all the other subjects are shortened so they spend a lot of time memorizing Qur’an at school. For example, they get taught main concepts in Maths, English and Science but they skip lots of pages in their textbooks and workbooks. Instead, they will be spending more time memorizing Quran and they have a specific schedule to follow (like a target to accomplish each year)

School transport.

Now, most of these schools are located in north of Riyadh, so around exits 7, 8, 9 and 10. These areas are very popular with western expats, especially due to main schools being located in one of these areas. Once you register your child, you would have to arrange transport. You only have 2 options: school bus or private driver. Either way, it is best to live close to schools. As I mentioned before, transport is the biggest hurdle in Riyadh. Basically, transport costs could add up to more than the school tuition fees annually. Most school buses charge around 6000-10000 SAR a year for two way transport, depending how far you live from school. Alternatively, you can arrange your own driver (any taxi driver you have used before and trust your kids with, or someone you know from school etc). If parents have more than 1 child attending the same school, arranging private driver may work out better both in terms of cost and time (school buses take longer time as they map out the route for picking and dropping 20 or more kids in one go)

Nurseries and kindergardens

There are some day care services catered to western expat working couples. I have also observed most people arrange their own day care: leave your child with someone you know. A lot of the time, the information is passed by a word of mouth, someone at work recommends someone they know or have used before etc. I have come to know two British sisters who opened registered nursery/day care in their houses. You can’t arrange none of these unless you are in Riyadh.

And you can’t arrange none of these online or with phone conversation. You have to visit every place/person in person and speak to them in person, fill out applications on site (no online version for anything).

Registering your child at school in Riyadh.

This is the most difficult task parents have to undergo. Basically, if your child doesn’t start school here from age 4 or 5, no school can admit your child directly. All children wanting to enrol at any school (international or Arabic) in Saudi after the age of 5, they have to register through the Ministry of Education. So, you go to school, your child sits a placement test. Your child is allocated a place in a certain grade according to their ability. And then they will say, you have to take the following documents to the Ministry of Education and complete the whole enrolment procedure there:

  1. Child’s birth certificate
  2. Child’s passports
  3. Child’s iqama
  4. Parents’ iqama
  5. Passport size pictures
  6. Immunization certificate
  7. Previous school reports attested by the Saudi Embassy in your home country (this is the biggest pain as most parents don’t have school reports or they have not been attested by Saudi Embassy in London. Basically, you won’t find this information anywhere until you arrive in Riyadh and directed to go to the Ministry of Education)
  8. If your children have been homeschooled and therefore can’t provide a school report, a letter explaining your situation and stating the education law in England that says home-educating is legal etc. I have a template letter, so do contact me if you need one.

If the Ministry of Education is happy with all the documentation, they will issue Approval Letter to state that any school can admit the children listed on the letter. So, you have to take this letter to a school of your choice and register them.

One more thing, it may take a month or even longer to have all the documents ready. But schools don’t give any discount because your child missed X number of days in Term 1. As long as you register in Term 1, even if they attend 1-2 weeks of school before Term 1 ends, you still have to make the full tuition fees payment for that term. So, the best is do your research and have all the documents ready before your arrival ( for which you will have to follow my blog lol). Or in our case, school started in August. Our children missed 2 months of school. If we send them to school now, we still have to make the full payment for term 1 for three of them. So, the best is, to wait until term 2 (mid January) and register them then so we are not paying for the school days they have missed. Meanwhile, you can get a tutor that comes to teach them at home, or register them at Tahfeed at one of Dar’s (Arabic+Qur’an classes that run in most mosques or education centres etc).

I hope this information will be of benefit to many more parents who like me spend hours searching the internet about schools and administering procedures in Saudi only to find nothing and left feeling frustrated.

May Allah make things easier for all of us and allow us benefit from the system here and make the most of our stay. Amin ya Rabb.


15 thoughts on “Schools in Riyadh

  1. Umm Sarah says:

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاتة
    جزاك الله خيرا
    It was very helpful info for our family Alhamdulillah. I have one quick question which I couldn’t fomd out on the net. If you don’t mind would you plz recommend any dars which are held in the masjid for woman and small girl? I am looking for the Arabic & Quran class close to the izdhihar.. شكرا


    • In the name of Allah the Most Merciful the Mercy Giver

      center for women (for the memorization of the Quraan)

      We are pleased to announce the program and registration for the year 2016-2017( 1437H – 1438H)

      🗯 *The morning program consists of the following*:

      📌*Quraan memorization classes for adults*:
      🔻• Level one: from sura Adhaariyaat to sura Annaas
      〰– tajweed for beginners (pronunciation and characteristics of the letters).
      🔻• Level two: from sura Yaaseen to sura Qaaf
      〰 – the rulings of noon saakina and mudood.
      🔻• Level three: from sura Al-muminoon to sura Assajdah
      〰– rulings of the pronunciation and characteristics of the letters.
      🔻• Level four: from sura Al-hijir to sura Al-hajj
      〰– the rulings of waqf wal ibtidaa.
      🔻• Level five: intensive memorization for those who have completed the Quran.

      📌*Memorization of Islaamic texts*:
      🔻• Level one:
      〰-Usool athalaatha by sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul-wahaab
      〰-Shuroot assalaah by sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul-wahaab
      〰-A set amount of chapters from Kitaab attawheed by sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul-wahaab

      🔻• Level two:
      〰-Al-aqeeda al-waasitiya by ibn taimeeyah
      〰-Set number of chapters from Kitaab attawheed by sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul-wahaab

      📌*Non Arabic speakers section*:
      🔻• Level one:
      〰memorization of juzz Tabaarak and revision of juzz Amma.
      🔻• Level two:
      〰memorization of juzz Mujaadala and revision of juzz Tabaarak and Amma.
      〰• Attajweed: for beginners (pronunciation and characteristics of the letters).
      〰• *Arabic language classes* for non Arabic speakers.

      📍(this includes programs and activities in Islaamic knowledge for all the above levels)

      📌*Kindergarten Section*
      (🔻Beginners,🔻Intensive 🔻and Advanced):
      〰• Memorization of some surahs of the Quran.
      〰• Islaamic studies.
      〰• Letters and numbers in Arabic and English.
      〰• Reading and writing in Arabic and English.

      📍 (plus fun and educational activities)

      🗯*The afternoon program consists of the following*:

      📌*Quran memorization classes*:
      🔺• for mothers who are able to read.
      🔺• for mothers who are unable to read.
      🔺• for those who have completed memorization of the Quraan.
      🔺• for beginners.
      🔺• for the upper grades from primary level.
      🔺• for the lower grades from primary level.

      📌*Kindergarten Section*
      (🔻Beginners 🔻and advanced):
      〰• Memorization of some surahs of the Quraan.
      〰• Islaamic studies.
      〰• Letters and numbers.
      〰• Reading and writing.

      📍(plus fun and educational activities)

      🗯*Registration and timings for the morning and afternoon sessions are as follows*:

      📌*Registration started online*

      🔺• Registration for the individual classes:

      🔺• Registration for kindergarten:

      📍The new term will begin on Sunday 18th September , 2016 ( 17/12/1437H)
      🔺The morning session is 5 days from Sunday to Thursday
      from 8am to 11am
      🔺The afternoon session is 4 days from Sunday to Wednesday
      from straight after Asr prayer to the adhaan of Maghrib prayer.

      📍child care is available.
      📍transportation will be available to all areas on the condition that there are 6 or more students from the same area.

      📩 We can be contacted via:
      Mobile :0530203134
      Twitter : @dar_elraed
      Instagram: @dar_elraed
      Facebook : dar alraed

      🗺 location:


  2. Souad says:

    Salam alaykum
    Sister thanks so much for all the info. Would you have any details for the Arabic schools Dar al arqam and al Ahad by any chance? I cannot find them anywhere online. That’d be extremely helpful.



  3. Umm Faatima says:

    Assalamu alaikum Sister.

    Jazakillahu khair all the lovely articles. Can you please email me the template as well on . Iv homeschooled my daughter for just this year as we could not find a school to accept her when we arrived in January. Now the schools refuse to recognise that shes did her grade 2. And want her to repeat the year. Hoping the letter to ministry will help them to atleast assess her for the next grade Inshallah..

    Jazakillahu khair for all your help


  4. Ariff Juhari says:

    Assalamualaikum Sister

    Thank you for an enlightening article. We are parents from Australia with kids who have been homeschooling, but now that we are in Riyadh, we would like to enrol them into a school here. Our kids have been refused by schools because they do not have proper school records. Your article is the first to indicate that there is a way to gain approval from the ministry to gain admission, which as you had mentioned, is to provide a letter. Would you please send us the template you are referring to? Thank you sister, in advanced.


    • Waleykumussalam wr wb,
      Please leave your email address here and I will search for the letter I wrote for my children. there’s always a way, there was nothing special in that letter. I just explained that my kids never went to school in Britain, they were homeschooled, they can be tested for their ability if need be (and they were) etc


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s