General Information about KAUST

This is probably going to be a bit of a fractured post, but there was a bunch of stuff I wasn’t sure about before I came and for the life of me I could not find the answer to anywhere on the internet. Since my arrival a few weeks ago now I’ve learnt the answer to a lot of those questions so I’m going to put them on here in case it helps anyone else. Apologies if it’s a bit all over the place!

Tattoos at KAUST.

I’m heavily tattooed and I was concerned this was going to be a big deal over here being that Saudi is a fairly conservative country. I didn’t need to be worried and therefore neither do you! Obviously this is somewhat dependent on what you are actually tattooed with, if you have offensive, or rude tattoo’s then it’s not going to go down well (and nor should it – you’re an idiot for getting something branded on you that specifically causes other people upset). Also if you have any religious tattoos I’m not sure how they will be received – or if you have naked ladies (or men) tattooed on you – considering the moral standing of the Kingdom this may not go down well either. I have none of the above so I can’t really be any help there but for me, it’s not been a problem at all.

In the office you will be expected to keep them covered which is in-line with most UK business guidelines to be honest so it didn’t come as a surprise to me. At the beach you are free to wear bikinis/swimwear no problem – it’s a heavily westernized area in general so tattoo’s don’t get a second glance. The pools you are required to wear a one-piece costume but again, tattoo’s weren’t an issue. Day to day dress as long as you wear a top that covers your shoulders, a skirt/pants of a decent length you don’t need to worry about tattoo’s being on display. Outside of the complex I imagine tattoo’s are a bit of a bigger deal but as a female you will be wearing your abaya anyway so your tattoo’s will automatically be covered up. If you are a man with sleeves, or visible tattoo’s I just suggest you wear long sleeved shirts when out and about to avoid causing unnecessary offense or drawing attention to yourself.

Netflix at KAUST.

You can get Netflix at KAUST! This was such a massive deal for me and I couldn’t find the answer ANYWHERE. So fear not, you needn’t be without binge Netflix sessions. Netflix (minus the chill) is ON.

Plug sockets at KAUST.

I told you this was going to be a bit all over the place. Plus sockets in the houses are the two-pin European socket so bring plenty of adaptors in your suitcase. In the offices they have both English and European sockets.

What clothes to bring.

Because I wasn’t sure about the tattoo situation, I only brought heavy long sleeved tops and pants with me. I do need these for work and such but for outside of work it’s far too hot to wear these out and about. I advise bringing lightweight, baggy tops, lighter colours will obviously help keep you a little cooler than darker but let’s face it – no matter what you wear you’re going to be incredibly hot, and baggy jersey pants. On a weekend I wear harem pants, jersey peg pants (ASOS sell some really nice, lightweight pairs of both of these) and ¾ length sleeve H&M tops. The most important thing is how lightweight the fabric is (of course without being sheer). You will need some head scarves for when you go into Jeddah as well as your abaya, and I do wear one on campus sometimes to try and keep the sun off my hair. Bring a swimsuit for the pools and your gym stuff, and a bikini for the beach. You’ll need office clothes suitable for work (nothing short, sheer or tight) as well as office shoes. You will also need some sunglasses, flip flops, sandals, etc. It can be a while before your air shipment arrives (and an even longer while until your sea one does) so pack with this in mind. Having said all of that – anything you do find you desperately need when you are here you can buy in Jeddah.

Prayer times.

Get a prayer time app. None of the shops or restaurants etc on site close for prayers, but they do outside of Campus. Always worth being prepared.

Online shopping.

ASOS and House of Fraser both ship to Saudi. Amazon will ship some stuff but they do have a list of items that they will not send here (for example pet supplies). Lush cosmetics also ship here. I imagine there are many other websites that will ship here so feel free to tell me about them and I will add them to the list.


We weren’t sure if we would be able to bring perfume into the kingdom with us as a lot of it contains alcohol. I believe its fine to bring in your luggage, I’m not so sure about your shipment so check with your shipping provider.

Home Wifi.

All houses here are set up with wifi capability however a router is not provided, so bring an Ethernet router with you. You can buy them here but it’s easier to just bring one with you.


When you arrive you will be allocated a house (this will be discussed with you beforehand). How big the house is is dependent on the size of your family -so for Paul and I we were automatically assigned a two-bed house which would be the same if you had one kid. If you have two kids you will get a three bed house and so on. If you are coming as a single person you can chose to move into a shared house with other singles and your accommodation will be free. For the others there is a relatively low rental cost which will come out of your wage on a monthly basis. So for our home we pay approximately $14,000 per year which equates to about 750-800 pounds per month. This cost covers everything in your house, energy bills, water bills, internet, front garden maintenance. You will only pay extra for your phone bill (I’m not sure what the payment plan is for your house phone but I will try to find out), for back garden maintenance if required – I believe this costs 19 SAR per gardener per hour which is approximately 4 quid, and the same for housekeeping.

That’s all I can think of for now, let me know if there is anything else you can’t find the answer to and I will do my very best to help!

15 thoughts on “General Information about KAUST

  1. Hi. I read your really interesting blog about sport and leisure facilities. I’d be really interested to know about what restaraunts, shops and other services are available on campus?

    Appreciate any info you can provide. Thanks again .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. I had been looking this information so thanks for your post. I would like apply to KAUST, maybe next year…

    I have a tattoo in my arm and it is written in arabic, مكتوب “it is written.” i have read that tattoos are prohibited in The Quran.

    I dont know if my tattoo is offensive or maybe foolish for arabians, what do you think?

    best regards and thanks again.


    1. Hi there – thanks for reading! Tattoos aren’t common in Arabic culture at all but generally speaking no one cares. I keep my tattoos covered in a working environment but otherwise no-one really bats an eyelid, I think the same would apply for you. As long as your tattoo says nothing offensive then I wouldn’t expect anyone to care at all. Hope that’s helpful!


  3. Hi – I would like to ask where I could buy the following items at KAUST (1.) vegetable/fruit blender; (2.) ethernet router. If these are not available on campus, which stores in Jeddah would sell these? I am in the process of moving to KAUST from the US. Unfortunately the electrical items here would not work in Saudi. Thank you for your advice.


    1. Hi there and sorry for my late reply! I have been in the UK for the past few weeks celebrating my sisters wedding.
      Both of these items are available in KAUST – the blender you will find in Tamimi (the supermarket), and the router you will find at the IT store on Campus.

      Of course you will find a better selection in Jeddah, possibly even a little lower in price. My recommendations in the city would be SacoWorld and Extra – you should be able to get both items in both shops (also they are both very easy to find).

      Hope that helps and good luck for your move!


  4. Hey, there’s a good chance I’ll be visiting a researcher at Kaust for a month and half this autumn. Do you know anything about gym/facilities access for student visitors? Will this be included in my housing costs? Also, I’d be really keen to try out windsurfing and would love to spend some time at the beach and get some sun before heading back to Scotland. You said to bring a bikini for the beach, is that what most people wear and are swimsuits suitable for windsurfing as well? I’m guessing at the oncampus pool people dress more conservatively? Any advice on what to pack/expect is appreciated.




    1. Hi laurie, thanks for your comment and cool that you’re coming to visit! When you arrive you will get a KAUST ID card for the duration of your stay, this will give you access to all gyms/recreation centres/ the beach etc. The gyms are all free for residents (awesome right?) so you’ll have no problems there.
      Windsurfing classes are held every weekend am at the beach, you will have no problems signing up to do that (still haven’t tried it but it’s on my list). Bikinis are fine at the beach but yes, at the swimming pools you need to wear a one piece.
      In terms of what to wear when wind surfing, its completely up to you – for the sake of the sun though I’d be tempted to wear a tshirt so you don’t get burnt!
      Hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions. I’m friends with a bunch of Scots here if you would like to be introduced to anyone 🙂 xxx


      1. Sorry for the belated reply!! I just searched my inbox to try to find your website and saw your reply! Thank you so much for the advice:-). I have a couple other questions I was wondering about. Does KAUST have a University webpage where people can post things? I am interested in finding someone to do an Italian language exchange while I’m at KAUST (I can help with English proofreading) and wondered if there was a space where people post those sorts of things. Also, how are the snorkelling and diving trips organised is there a webpage for those?

        Thanks again,



      2. Hi Laurie. There is a kaust community Facebook group which is widely used by everyone here for things like language exchange as you mentioned. I *think* they ask for proof of your KAUST ID when you ask to join so you can’t join before you get here but that’s definitely your best bet. In terms of the marine trips, there are scheduled ones each week – these can be accessed by speaking directly to the marine center once you get here. You can also book private snorkelling or diving trips yourself through the same guys 🙂


  5. Hello. Interesting and very informative post. Yes, netflix is almost a deal breaker for me too. I have been head hunted to work at Kaust and not entirely sure about accepting however also offered a one bedroom villa or shared accommodation. I am in my 40s and single; will be relocating from Australia.
    First of all I am definitely leaning over the 1 bedroom apt instead of shared. I think shared accommodation will be good to know ppl but I am not keen on sharing – what your feedback on it? And how is life over there; easy enough to connect with expats?


    1. Hiya, and thanks for reading! I have not lived in shared housing myself to be honest – but personally I would not want to share. But of course, you’re right it is one way of meeting people.
      But to be honest, it’s not difficult to meet people and make friends here at all. There are so many sports clubs and events happening all the time here, and the Australian community is big and active so it won’t be hard for you to meet people here!
      Netflix….well you can get it here and it works fine, BUT it is Netflix Saudi Arabia which is a little more limited. But we have a streaming box that we brought from the UK which works no problem at all. Hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions 👍🏻


What do you think?

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