Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. The word “Riyadh” means “the gardens.” Although deserts make up most of the city, mountains and green pastures in some parts of Riyadh come as a pleasant surprise. Surrounded by the Persian Gulf to the west and the Arabian Gulf to the east, Riyadh is bordered by Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan. The city has few lakes and rivers and rain showers are infrequent.
Riyadh is divided into 15 branch municipalities in addition to the Diplomatic Quarter. Each branch municipality in turn contains several districts, amounting to over 130 in total, Olaya District is the commercial heart of the city with accommodation, entertainment, dining and shopping options. The Kingdom Center, Al Faisalyah and Al-Tahlya Street are the area’s most prominent landmarks. The centre of the city, Al-Bathaa and Al-Dirah, is also its oldest part.
Riyadh is the transport hub for the entire kingdom, both by excellent highways, rail to the Dammam and the King Khalid International Airport, which hosts the majority of international flights and connections to all other airports in the country, the modern City of Riyadh rises from the sultry heat of surrounding desert as a picture of high-rise towers and sprawling skyscrapers. Once a small oasis settled for its palm trees, dates and orchards, Riyadh is rich in history and archaeology. It has magnificent sand deserts with high sand dunes, pleasing green valleys, good hiking locations, escarpments, forts, castles and numerous rock arts in wadis
As the centre of power and the commercial hub of the country, many expatriates have moved to Riyadh to pursue career paths and to climb the ladder of ambition. Current statistics even estimate that the expat community makes up nearly 40 percent of the city’s population. Such a large foreign presence is certainly a reassuring factor for Doctors moving to Riyadh.
Although few Saudis play golf, there are surprisingly good golf courses around. The best one is the 18-holes course in Dirab Golf & Country club a good 30 minutes drive west of Riyadh. Nice layout with green and inviting grass, and the last 9 holes are floodlit. They offer tennis, swimming and horse-back riding as well. Football is the most popular sport in Saudi Arabia and has one of the most successful football teams in Asia.
Eating out is one of the pleasures of Riyadh — there is a good selection of restaurants for various cuisines, ranging from cheap and hearty to fancy and expensive. The famous Saudi “Kabssa” is worth trying, this spiced up rice, served with chicken or lamb is the main and most favourable dish/meal in the kingdom.
Most Western Doctors are accommodated in residential compounds, often owned by their employers, located about the northern and eastern suburbs of Riyadh. Downtown housing tends to be taken by lower-salaried employees, both Saudi and expat. The residential compounds, depending on both their ownership and the cultural make-up of their residents, may be more liberal in their policies than the general situation might suggest. Men and women are permitted to socialise freely in these neighbourhoods, women can drive and the strict clothing rules for women do not apply. These self-contained housing complexes have all the modern amenities Doctors may require, including shops, gyms, tennis courts, and even schools, and an active social life can be enjoyed by all. All jobs for Doctors come with very generous tax free salaries and excellent spacious accommodation.
Although plans are currently in place to begin construction of an integrated metro and bus transport system in Riyadh, the city’s transport infrastructure of today leaves most Doctors relying on their own vehicle or taxis for getting around. Taxis are abundant in the city, and the most viable option for women to travel around.
Despite the glitz and glamour of monstrous malls and futuristic architecture, Riyadh is still an Arab city in the heart of the Arab world.
Temperatures during the summer months are extremely hot. The average high temperature in July is 42.6 °C. Winters are warm with cold, windy nights. The overall climate is arid, and the city experiences very little rainfall, especially in summer, but receives a fair amount of rain in March and April.