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Educational System in Saudi Arabia

The one tip that you hear expats living in Saudi Arabia repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Saudi Arabia. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Saudi Arabia is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Saudi Arabia.
|-Educational System in Saudi Arabia

Understanding the educational system in a new country can be a daunting task for expats. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the educational system in Saudi Arabia, including the main stages of education, the process of enrolling children in school, language requirements, and the availability of bilingual and private schools. It also covers topics such as homeschooling, online schooling, and the costs associated with private education. This information will be invaluable for expats planning to move to Saudi Arabia with their families.

What are the main stages of education in Saudi Arabia?

The Saudi Arabian educational system is divided into four main stages: Kindergarten, Primary School, Intermediate School, and Secondary School. Each stage has a specific focus and caters to different age groups. The education system in Saudi Arabia is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of various subjects, including Arabic, Islamic studies, mathematics, science, social studies, and English.


Kindergarten in Saudi Arabia is for children aged 3 to 5. It focuses on developing basic skills such as social interaction, creativity, and language acquisition. Kindergarten is not mandatory but is highly recommended to prepare children for primary school.

Primary School

Primary School in Saudi Arabia is for children aged 6 to 11. It focuses on developing foundational knowledge in various subjects, including Arabic, Islamic studies, mathematics, science, and English. Attendance at primary school is compulsory.

Intermediate School

Intermediate School in Saudi Arabia is for students aged 12 to 14. It builds on the knowledge gained in primary school and prepares students for secondary school. The curriculum includes more advanced studies in Arabic, Islamic studies, mathematics, science, and English.

Secondary School

Secondary School in Saudi Arabia is for students aged 15 to 18. It offers a more specialized curriculum, with students choosing between a scientific or literary track. The scientific track focuses on subjects like physics, chemistry, and biology, while the literary track focuses on subjects like Arabic, English, and social studies.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in Saudi Arabian schools by visiting the school of their choice and submitting the required documents, which typically include the child’s passport, visa, birth certificate, and previous school records. It’s advisable to contact the school directly for specific enrollment procedures and requirements.

Can children still learning Arabic enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Arabic can enroll in public schools in Saudi Arabia. However, the medium of instruction in public schools is Arabic, so it may be challenging for non-Arabic speaking students. Some schools offer Arabic language support for non-native speakers.

Are there public bilingual schools?

There are a few public bilingual schools in Saudi Arabia, but they are not common. These schools offer instruction in both Arabic and English. Admission procedures for international students vary by school, so it’s best to contact the school directly for information.

What types of private schools are common in Saudi Arabia?

International schools are the most common type of private schools in Saudi Arabia. These schools offer a variety of curricula, including American, British, French, and International Baccalaureate. There are also private Islamic schools that offer a curriculum based on Islamic principles along with standard academic subjects.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Most expats in Saudi Arabia choose to send their children to private international schools. These schools offer a familiar curriculum and language of instruction, making the transition easier for expat children. Additionally, these schools often have more resources and extracurricular activities compared to public schools.

How expensive are Private schools in Saudi Arabia?

The cost of private schools in Saudi Arabia varies widely depending on the school and the curriculum it offers. On average, annual tuition fees can range from SAR 20,000 to SAR 100,000. Some schools also charge additional fees for registration, books, uniforms, and transportation.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, homeschooling is allowed in Saudi Arabia. However, it’s important to note that the Saudi Ministry of Education must approve the homeschooling curriculum. Additionally, homeschooled students may need to pass standardized tests to progress to the next grade level.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, online schooling is an option in Saudi Arabia. Many international online schools offer programs for students living abroad. However, it’s important to ensure that the online school is accredited and that its curriculum meets the requirements of the Saudi Ministry of Education.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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