Schools in Saudi Arabia

03 October 2012

According to UAE firm Alpen Capital, Saudi Arabia was home to 37,145 state schools and 3,255 private schools in 2009, but only nationals and naturalised Arabs are permitted to attend government institutions

Children in the kingdom start school when they are six years old and continue their education until they are 17 or 18 years of age.

Most expatriates send their children to international schools. These are often run by embassies and, unlike state schools, tend to be unisex. Country-specific schools will tend to follow their nation’s national curriculums, while others often have mixed curriculums.

Children are not required to attend the school of their nationality and most institutions do not regulate their pupils in this way, although some embassy-run schools will give preference to students from their country. American and British schools tend to follow this rule.

Demand for admissions in schools is high and rising as the expatriate population grows. It is worth applying as early as possible, even from your home country, to ensure your child receives a place. Schools charge a non-refundable registration fee, so if you have been offered a job in Saudi Arabia, check to see if your children’s education costs are included in your contract.

Demand for admissions in schools is high and rising as the kingdom’s expatriate population grows

Schooling in the kingdom is also expensive. Although some institutions charge as little as SR8,000 ($2,130) a year, they tend to be of poor quality. SR15,000-25,000 should provide a good level of education. American and British schools can charge SR50,000-70,000. Many reimbursement packages include school fees.

It is worth factoring in the cost of private tutoring over and above the annual cost of school fees. A shortage of decent teachers and a high staff turnover rate mean that standards are often inadequate to prepare expat children for university education. Schools can recommend tutors, or you can search the classifieds section of local magazines. Tutors tend to charge SR100-200 an hour.

Other expats choose to send their children to boarding school in their home country, a cost often comparable to top-level education in the kingdom. After school, most expatriate students leave the country to attend university.

Selected schools

American International School of Riyadh
Tel: (+966) 1 491 4270

British International School of Riyadh
Tel: (+966) 1 248 2387


Al-Waha International School
Tel: (+966) 2 672 9660

American International School of Jeddah
Tel: (+966) 2 662 0051

British International School of Jeddah
Tel: (+966) 2 699 0019

Jeddah Prep & Grammar School
Tel: (+966) 2 654 2354

Other areas

Dhahran British Grammar School
Tel: (+966) 3 330 0555

Dhahran Elementary/Middle School
Tel: (+966) 3 330 0555

Dhahran High School
Tel: (+966) 3 330 0555

International Schools Group Jubail School
Tel: (+966) 3 341 7550

Yanbu International School
Tel: (+966) 4 392 1088

Key contact

Ministry of Education
Tel: (+966) 1 202 28888/2952

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