French Expat Living in Saudi Arabia - Interview with Shérine

Published: 10 Nov at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Saudi Arabia
Shérine is a French expat living in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) with her husband who has a job there.
She was born in Syria and grew up therem then she moved to France, then to Germany and moved to Riyadh four years ago after finishing her Master Degree in Landscape Architecture.
She works as a freelance Architect and Landscape Architect.
She started blogging a few months ago to share her experience as an expat in Saudi Arabia and more specifically in Riyadh. Her blog is called Thoughts & Notes. She sometimes writes about her travel experience and places she visits. Shérine's expat blog is called Thoughts & Notes (see listing here)

King Abdul Aziz Historical Center - Riyadh
King Abdul Aziz Historical Center - Riyadh

Here's the interview with Shérine...

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from France but I was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am currently living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

How long have you lived in Saudi Arabia and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been here for almost 4 years and I am planning to stay for a little bit more! :)

The Edge Of The World
The Edge Of The World
Why did you move to Saudi Arabia and what do you do?
I moved here because of the job of my husband, I worked for almost a year as a freelance Architect and in my free time, I enjoy blogging about my life here in Saudi.

Did you bring family with you?

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Moving to a foreign country is something and moving to Saudi Arabia is another thing!
As a woman, I keep having challenges to move around, to find a job, living your life normally with the harsh climate in the summer and many other challenges...
But this does not stop me from enjoying my time here with friends and family! I think being positive is important!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
No, it is not easy at all. I started meeting new people only when I started working one year ago... then I met new friends. But luckily, in the beginning, I had my husband's family who live in Riyadh too.

Sunset view of Riyadh
Sunset view of Riyadh
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I would say shopping and eating! To know more about the best things to do here in Riyadh, please visit my blog. There are a lot to explore here.

What do you enjoy most about living in Saudi Arabia?
My friends, family and husband make it so much easier to live in Saudi Arabia. It is important to have people you like around you.
When you have a good entourage in Riyadh, then you can enjoy it. otherwise, it could be difficult to live here.

How does the cost of living in Saudi Arabia compare to home?
Saudi Arabia is less expensive than France.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Saudi Arabia?
The lack of entertainment is the biggest problem here.
Women cannot drive so you have to be dependent on drivers all the time.
It is too hot in the summer, you cannot do anything outdoors.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Saudi Arabia, what would it be?
Try not stay alone and try to socialize by meeting people and going to embassies events. Go to the gym, find a hobby, make friends... All this will make you feel less lonely if you are coming to live alone in Riyadh.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
As a woman, it seems to be difficult to find a good job as an Architect.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I don't know if I will ever return home ...

Camels in the desert
Camels in the desert
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Be positive! Living in Saudi Arabia is challenging but everywhere you go, there are advantages and disadvantages. Saudi Arabia has its own culture and it is different than any other place. You just have to accept the differences and live the adventure!
  2. Socalize! Don't stay alone at your place, just open up to people and meet your neighbours, go out with your colleagues, go to events, check online about websites and facebook groups for expatriates...
  3. Enjoy the food! If there is something to enjoy in Riyadh, it's the food! with all the different cuisine and types of restaurant, Riyadh is the best city I know to enjoy food! So, go and explore!
  4. Find a hobby! In summer, when is it almost 50 degrees outside, you cannot do many activities outdoors. So, you might find yourself something useful to do..
  5. Follow the rules! Even if you don't understand the culture at your arrival, just respect them.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Thoughts & Notes about Saudi Arabia culture, Riyadh, events, expat experience, travel experience... I also have a section about Arabic language.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Please contact me through my blog or even through a message on I also have an Instagram account Thoughts_Notes.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingShérine is a French expat living in Saudi Arabia. Blog description: We are a French blogger living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Our journey began four years ago. We started our blog to share our experience and tips with expatriates living in Saudi Arabia. I hope you enjoy!
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