British International School in Riyadh

Today I visited the British International School in Riyadh (BISR). Although it is full for this year, I thought that if I liked it, I could perhaps consider it for next year. I have still been trying to find a school for TJ although meanwhile it has been a month since TJ left 1st grade in C’ville and we have been homeschooling him since then. The main difference between the American International School in Riyadh (AISR) and the BISR is that the latter has a uniform and the lower grades have about 20,000 SAR less fees that what AISR has. AISR gives priority to American passport holders and BISR gives priority to the British and Dutch. So in AISR our family has guaranteed admission unless we are transferring from another school in the Kingdom.

Anyway, AISR is far from us and quite expensive for us to have three kids in there with about 60,000 SAR fees for each child. So I thought I might as well check BISR out since it’s just a few miles from our home. In BISR there weren’t any unruly kids running around during recess so that was a relief. There were a lot of kids with Muslim sounding names in the earlier grades. We started with touring Foundation 1 and 2 years and then moved to the higher grades. What I liked was that the school was nice and organized like I expected. There were groups and activities and pictures on the walls and the colorful classrooms and disciplined kids. What I didn’t like was the co-ed basketball game that was going on and not allowing girls to wear full body swim suits if they wanted to participate in the swimming team. I was actually quite put off by the idea of not letting the girls be fully covered up. I mean who does it hurt if a person wears a body suit until the knee only (the rule at BISR) or until the ankle. Don’t the Olympians participate in full body suits without affecting any of their performance? I was happy to note that two girls were wearing full track pants during the co-ed basketball game so at least they let the girls wear track pants without forcing them to wear shorts.

Anyway, no matter how much I was impressed with BISR, I couldn’t shake away the thought that I didn’t move to Saudi Arabia for this. I had expected when moving to KSA that I would have a lot of choices for Islamic schools but I have run into a huge quandary. In KSA, Islamic schools are of two types, Arabia or International. The Arabia ones have Arabic as their main communication and kids whose mother tongue is not Arabic can’t get into them at least in the later grades. For us, the only international school close to us is the Manarat whose boys’ section I don’t like at all. I am trying homeschooling but it’s becoming very fatiguing for me. I have to take care of cooking and cleaning and teaching and I don’t get any “me” time at all. Plus with TJ, since he is young, I have to work harder to make sure that he is working and doesn’t have his mind towards playing when its study time.

I wish there was an ideal Islamic school that existed near my home that would have all the things that a regular American school has PLUS faith. How beautiful would it be to discuss various prophets’ stories or enact dramas about it (without showing the prophets of course) or have discussions about various Islamic virtues. This school could have female teachers for the younger boys as opposed to all the male teachers only that the KSA Islamic schools for boys seem to have. I just feel that for younger boys, female teachers are safer to have. I would like TJ to Hifz the Quran, insh’Allah, but I also want him to play the piano. I just wish I don’t have to sacrifice one virtue (good worldly curriculum) for another (good religious curriculum). I want TJ to learn both. I hope I inshAllah discover this school soon, Amin.

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96 thoughts on “British International School in Riyadh

  1. Hi

    I going through same dilemma as you have been through, I sent my 2 children to this school and at 1st day of registration, the old son had a good look of the school and said Dad what are we doing here, this is not Islamic school and it’s same school as back home….OOps no response, I never expected such question!!.

    I though may be they will forget these things once they start school but unfortunately the questions got more and more, up to the point that they said they don’t want to continue this school anymore because of same thing you highlighted “co-ed basketball/football games that was going on and not allowing girls to wear full body swim suits if they wanted to participate in the swimming team”, as well as during swimming lesson allowing all children’s (boys) to change clothes in front of each other without changing rooms….this they really hate it!!!

    So now I’m looking Islamic school, will check-out Rowad Int School

    Ali

      • If the administration of a school is dishonest, as is the case with this school and others, can it still be referred to as ‘Islamic’?

      • The best school in riyadh free admission fees quran islam arabic each day excellent teachers staff here is the contact 0530208907

    • Asak,
      I am so happy to read this blog and to know I’m not the only one having this school issue here in Riyadh. I am an American coming from Iowa. I have lived in Riyadh for almost 3 years now and i too came with the hope of providing better Islamic environment for my girls. That was a hard dose of reality to swallow when I came here, I feel like besides wearing abayas and getting time off to pray salah we are far from it. I had my daughters enrolled at Al-Rowad Internationsl School upto now and I’m officially done, disappointed and disgusted. I put them here because i didn’t want them in a public school environment (aisr). But now I’m almost being forced to.
      My husband doesn’t want me home schooling the kids because he wants that physical interactions with kids. He says there’s not much going on here so I want the kids to be around other children. Plus for me with a two year old whose really making homework time difficult for me I can’t imagine teaching everyday.
      However, Rowad disappointed me so bad. I kept them there this long in the hopes that things will get better but it didn’t. I thought I’d get the best of both worlds but I find myself constantly stressed and reteaching everything. The school has a very weird policy that Quran, Islamic studies and Arabic will only be taught in Arabic. Teachers are not allowed to speak in English to help the kids understand what there learning. As a foreigner who doesn’t speak Arabic it gets a little much. Even the weekly plans for these classes were in Arabic and when asked to translate to help the kids at home we were told we can’t do anything. The vice principal there is an american revert whose main goal is to bring the good of the western society (way of teaching) to the islamic environment. she is sweetest and most caring women and really understands our concerns and tries her best to help but her hands are tied to. Through constant persuasion she was able to finally this year get them to translate it the weekly plans into English. Now they have Islamic English and Islamic Arabic. Quran, Islamic A (fiqh) and Arabic are taught in Arabic when I ask my kids what’s this about they say they don’t know and just memorize what they need to. They’ve done a smart thing of separating the weak/ non Arab kids from the ones that are of arabic background. But they still refuse to use English to help to get the kids to understand the lessons and when I went and spoke to them about this they said bluntly that by now they should understand Arabic and if u care for there education you’ll hire them a tutor, we cannot do anything else to help! I was so flabbergasted. Ok at that point I was like whatever at least there getting good academic education right?
      The first year we were there it was ok, the girls were happy so I was content. But year 2 and 3 it keeps getting worse year by year. My older one is almost 9 is a good student who has no interest in reading or writing and my second one who is 7 no longer cares to try her best. If I hadn’t worked my tail off with her she would probably be failing right now. There is no variety of teaching methods, just the basic board and book. If your lucky that your child got one of the few good teachers then great otherwise prepare yourself to undo a lot of confusing damage, which is what ive bern doing the last two tears for younger daughter for the last two years. I can keep going why this school has done more good. The bottom line is the lack of experienced teachers really messes things up. I love the uniform code, I love that’s it all girls, I love that every morning there day starts off with the morning Duas. But on the other side my kids are not exceeding academically infact my younger daughter has officially shut down herself from learning and hates school. Shes always upset and blames me if she didnt do well on her tests. i find that when there’s too many subjects ( at one point I was studying for 4 tests/week for a 2nd grader plus Quran memorization) to be a bit much. And to know that next year my older daughter who will be going into 4th grade will be having midterms and finals for all subjects is like robbing there childhood.
      This is not how we grew up in the states. School was not a burden. Many times through play we didn’t even realize we were working. I don’t ever remember my mom working 1/10th of what I have to do for the girls. Exams, that didn’t exist until high school. I can’t put them through this unnecessary stress anymore because they still have many years of schooling ahead of them. I’ve realized that all these international schools are the same way. So I now begin my journey on the path I didn’t want to take. Today I will go to visit Ais-r to see if its to our liking. Monday will be multinational. I pray allah guides us to do what’s best for my children both islamically and academically. Aameen!

      • RKA,

        First of all, welcome to my blog and secondly, I feel your pain. There are a few things that you may do to ease your situation. Our Quran teacher that comes and teaches our son TJ, Hifz, also knows Arabic so he helps TJ with the Arabic lessons. I am thinking that Manarat is slightly better than Rowad in some regards. First of all, they have Arabic for native Arabic speakers and they also have Arabic for non-native speakers with the latter relatively easier than the former. Secondly, the Islamic studies are also in English. The girls section in Manarat is also much more disciplined than then boys section. While you visit AISR and Multinational, you might want to pay Manarat a visit.

        Here are things that work for us, mash’Allah. Our Hifz teacher helps with Arabic so perhaps you might hire a Quran/Arabic teacher to help with both Quran and Arabic. We are also homeschooling TJ while he is enrolled in Manarat so in a way he has the best of both worlds – mash’Allah. He learns better at home but then for different functions/examinations he goes to school. I am suggesting that you could perhaps work out a thing with Rowad where you teach your kids at home while having them enrolled in the school and then have a Qari for the additional help. There is another lady in our compound that is purely homeschooling all her children using Calvert and the kids are doing okay so you could perhaps go that route. I find that my situation is mash’Allah easier than hers since I am still getting help from the school regarding readymade curriculum/examinations etc. I know another family from Rowad who had sons doing Hifz that was partly homeschooling like us – studies at home and examinations in schools. It finishes the work in the mornings and frees up the evenings.

        I think this is a dilemma that many of the Muslim families face. In the west, the education is perfect but the environment is morally corrupt. In Saudi Arabia, we have the morally righteous environment, at least generally but we don’t have the good worldly education. In the ideal world, we would have the best of both worlds. I feel at least personally for me that homeschooling provides the compromise between the two. I know many families that had their kids spoilt morally in the USA while they had all the best worldly education.

        I hope insh’Allah it works out for you. Please try to be patient and not be too hard on yourself. May Allah give you Barakah as you strive to achieve the best for your family. Amin!

    • Hi I m new in Riyadh,I have two boys and they got admission in Alrowad international school.i read above that u r going to check alRowad for ur kids so I wanna tell u that it is a horrible school plzzz don’t even think abt that I m having a very tough time and searching for another good school.the teachers r simply incapable.the weirdest thing is that the teachers r simply refusing to correct the worksheets.

      Regards

      • Shumaila,

        I am sorry that you are having a bad experience with AlRowad. I did visit it and figured out that it was horrible so never ventured there again. I hope insha’Allah you are able to find something better.

        Best,

        A.

  2. Ali,

    I checked out Rowad. Now it seems that their Saudi section is close to Granada but their international section is in some part of the city not close to us, There is another school that many people have recommended to me. It is called Shoefat or also called King Abdul Aziz International School. You could perhaps check it out if its close to you.

  3. Asalamualaikum sister
    This is a good article but I jst want to ask a few questions..
    Is swimming compulsory even for secondary school?
    Is there any hijabis? Is it a good school with nice people?

    • Walekum Assalam,

      Swimming is not compulsory but since they have created this requirement for not being fully covered up, I am sure observing Muslim girls will not participate. It’s a good school. I didn’t like three things about it. The lady who gave the tour was very chummy with the whites in the tour and quite cold with the Arabs. Plus I didn’t like this swimming policy where you could not cover your ankles. I also wanted my son to study Islam, Arabic and Quran if I was moving all the way here.

      I saw a total of two hijabis – one student and one teacher’s aide or perhaps a teacher.

  4. My children go to the BIS R. In key stage 3 lesson most PE lesson single gender lessons. In swimming Cover suits are allowed as long as the fits properly, I under the reason is that suits that don’t fit properly are dangerous, they restricting movement and becoming water logged. I am keen for my children swimming and do PE. It is a life skill “have a health body you have a health mind.”

  5. Hi there
    We are moving in September and I was looking at schools for my son grade 3 and daughter, she just turned 3. Were you able to find a school of your liking? any input will be great…thank you!

    • First of all, Meena – a big welcome to you to Saudi Arabia (once you arrive that is) and to my blog (a welcome to anyone else too that wrote here). I wouldn’t say I found a school completely to my liking. I did settle but slowly and gradually I have started to like Manarat International where my 6 year old son goes into the primary boys section with female teachers. This section only has boys until 3rd grade. They do have another primary boys section too that has male teachers. If you search my blog with American International, British International and Multinational, you will find some of my commentaries on those schools.

      In summary, there are the three western schools whose names I stated above plus you have other foreign schools like Pakistan International, Indian and a host of schools from other countries. As far as Saudi schools are concerned; there are two types. One is the Arabic where everything is in Arabic and the other type is International where the communication is in English.

      I basically totally rejected American, British and Multinational for my boy because they are secular with no Islamic education. Maybe for an older child, you could skip the Quran and the Islamic studies but for younger kids whose minds are developing, I feel it’s crucial that they study it in school as a community. For example, in Manarat they will sing songs like “Mashallah” during assembly or they would discuss the qualities of Muhammad (PBUH) in class which I think is priceless and will not happen in American, British and Multinational. I think size wise Manarat is the largest in the Saudi international schools in Riyadh. There are others like that too but smaller in size. The main competition is Rowad International but they have advanced Arabic requirement in higher grades but for Manarat there isn’t. Strategically Manarat was also close to where we live so that made a big impact too. Now, I do have older children in 8th grade and 9th grades that are continuing their online curriculum that they were following in States. Insh’Allah I am hoping that this coming year they will start in Manarat as well since I do not prefer the coeducation in American plus its tuition or the lack of uniform or the distance from where we live.

      I would strongly suggest that you bring original transcripts for the past two years, signed by the Saudi Embassy at the country where you are coming from. The Saudi schools make a BIG fuss about it. Have it signed by the British or American consulates as well. Do call the school before hand to find out what other documents you might need though I think the signed original transcripts/certificates for the past two years is the big thing. Manarat will start at the end of September. It’s a good thing to plan your arrival date in the beginning weeks of (or before) when the school starts.

      • salaam
        i dont think there is anything wrong with multinational.i have seen atleast 20 hijabis in my school, my friend is one and in th grade i am in we do islamic studies but it is different it is like we are teaching the tacher and we learn from each other. the other day we watched the movie the last prophet masallah. i can tell you that like half of the kids are pakistani. so we are always talking islamicly. so many teachers are muslims my mom teaches there so she is one too, in swimming you can swim with full swimming costumes since my friend is a hijabi she wears a burkini, it is allowed. i wear full costume. we are allowed to wear normal swimming costume or the full. our uniform obeys islam. we have trackpants and elbow length shirt and no problem if you want to wear a shirt underneath. also me and my friends are signing a petition for a prayer room so inshallah if come u will see it. our school is right infront of a masjid, so we always hear the zuhr azaan. yes i read your articles and have seen tht you dont like AISR. i agree with u. one year ago i moved from america with the excact same reason as you closer to islam and pakistan our home.. i was really excited in america to find out there was an american school, but wen i came i shook my head saying astughfurullah. but anyways i have been to the american school for a math olympiad amd i can tell you the winners were king saud inter school phillepeno inter school and delhi public school. not AiSR MNSR BISR. i have also participated in the basketball team for the first time and today is my first game.i think after the age of ten girls play with girls and boys play with boys. i think you are completely right when you said in some article about the ibayas . i do the same thing and you made me think. i always just take my ibaya off at school. my mom makes me wear it because of the driver and the gaurds while going to school . but i wear it all the time whereever i go. even to neighbours place. thanks for your knowledgeable words. it really made me think and pls take note of this paragraph

  6. hi, your blog has been really informative. Have you visited Abdulaziz International School? I’m thinking of sending my son there. He was in Al-Hassan International school before, which is only 2 years old in Riyadh and I loved it, but it was just too far from where we live.

    • YZ, welcome to my blog and thanks for liking it. Yes, I have heard about this school a few different times. When we moved here on Sep. 22, 2011, that school was already full. This year we gave it a passing attention but just didn’t get there. It is far from where we live as well and I think that was part of the reason we didn’t send our kids there. Also, after experiencing Manarat, I have the feeling that most Arab international schools are more or less the same. They have an excellent curriculum, good uniforms but don’t really have good teachers.

  7. aoz,
    Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog. I have a feeling that I might know you since I know a family (from USA) that lived in our compound that had a daughter your age and their kids went to Multinational. They moved to another compound. I am happy that Multinational is turning out so good for you, mash’Allah. Multinational was my first choice for TJ and M3 as well but I am a big Istikhara person. I did Istikharas for both kids and they didn’t turn out to be good so I didn’t pursue it. Plus later on I met a tutor who had a daughter at Multinational (as a teacher) who was manhandling a Saudi prince and this mother (the tutor) was gloating about it.
    In any case, I think different people want different things and as long the schools meet the priorities of the parents and students – all is well. Best, A.

    • AJ as soon as i came to riyadh we were living in a villa. i have a friend who also moved with me from the US. maybe its her and she just moved to a villa too. are you in star compound. the last bit was very imformative. my mm does istikhara as well as you in many things. hahahah
      SAlaam

    • Assalam o Alikum I like your blog. iam also looking for a school .How was ur experience with manarat? I am considering Manarat or Multinational? Can anyone tell me their experinces about it ? My kids r going to AlAmeen Islamic school now i choose this school by considering it as Islamic & i came here in Riyadh late and schools r full but i am not satisfied here looking for better options here

      • Sehar,

        First of all welcome to my blog and Riyadh. I find Manarat to have very good to excellent curriculum. Besides the core subjects of Grammar, Reading, Spelling, Science, Maths, Handwriting, Fine Arts, Social Studies, Quran, Health and Fitness, PE, Islamic Studies, etc. the kids learn Arabic and French. The teachers are good. The discipline is weak. You will find the boys to be a little rough i.e. if you are coming from a place with a “keep your hands and feet to yourself” place. Here the hands and feet are all over the place ;)

        The boys KG – 3rd grade classes are housed in the girls section so they have female teachers. I like that. Once my son crosses 3rd grade, insh’Allah, I will think about placing him in the all-boys 4th grade (with male teachers) and up in Manarat or not. I do not like Multinational. My istikharas for my kids were bad. If you really need to place your kid in an international school, go for American or British. Any questions – please email me at aayjay5@hotmail.com. I speak English, Urdu and Pushto :) if you need to speak to me.

        Best. A.

  8. assalaammu alaikum wa rehmatullahi wa barakatahu,

    i was just searching for the teaching job in Riyadh, suddenly i came through your article, which i believe is quite related to me. i am an Indian and had been a teacher in an Islamic plus modern school., there i used to Teach modern and Islamic education, as well as relate puoil to the Allal (swt), i used to tell them stories of prophets n learn them sunnah.it felt as if i was teaching and also doing sadq e-jaria. Here, too i wish i could do the same thing but dont know whether they will allow to teach islamic values n sunnah or are they only Secular.

    • Mrs. Bastavi,

      I am sure there are many schools in Riyadh that will be looking for an Islamic Studies teacher. Manarat has one too. The person needs to know English plus have knowledge of Islam. Best of luck in your job search. A.

  9. I am so glad I came across your blog. We will be moving to Saudi soon and was lost among all the many schools.. And like yourself I too am concerend about getting the best of two worlds; education and religion. We are considering Abdel Aziz International school and hoping for the best :))

    • DK, AOA and welcome. I have visited that school as well. One of these days, I should write something about it too, insh’Allah!

  10. assalamualaikum, mashallah your blog is very good ….. even iam in dilemma of choosing school for my 2 kids aged 5 and 2and half years which will be helpful to build both worlds in excellent manner ….we came from india just 3 days back we dont no any good islamic schools with cbse or isce curriculum we r ok with any curriculum provided they have good islamic education pls guide me in this regard……jazakallah

    • AS, welcome to my blog. I would recommend doing a search on “school” on my blog. Those are all the schools I know of in Riyadh. Presently, I don’t think of any of them as the best. Manarat has been working for me on a part time basis. It might work for you. I am struggling myself on making future decisions. Best of luck to you!

  11. Assalamaualaikum
    Thank you first of all for this wonderful blog.We currently are in this dilemma because 1 have 2 boys aged 11 years MashAllah and one with learning difficulty aged 7.Do you think manarat accepts children with learning difficulties.He is ok physically but limited in speech.
    Do you know of any schools that will take children with learning difficulties??
    Please reply,,,,,,,,

    • ML,
      First of all, welcome to my blog. I don’t know if Manarat accepts children with learning disabilities. You will have to check with them. My son, TJ, is in the Manarat International Primary section. You can call these numbers. The 11 year old will perhaps not be in the Primary.
      Principal – Ms. Wafa – 454-0444 (extension 711)
      Vice Principal Ms. Melina – 454-0444 (extension 712)
      Ms. Melina is exceptionally helpful. So is Ms. Wafa. I hope you are able to find what you are looking for. I don’t know of any other school that accepts children with learning disabilities.
      Best, A.

  12. Aslmz,

    AJ,

    When you enrolled your child in Manarat, what were the documentation requirements. As home-school parents we have assessments and exams. Are these accepted. I have been trying to contact the British Islamic School in Riyadh, but have not gotten any reply’s.

    Shukran.

    ps. I don’t go a day without checking your blog. Ma Sha Allah keep it up.

    • Zakeera, WS,

      Aww..thanks for liking my blog. I am sorry; I am just under the weather these days and not writing much. We just came back from a very tiring vacation.

      When I enrolled TJ in Manarat, he had his elementary certificate from his school in USA so I didn’t use the certifications from one semester of homeschooling that I had done at home after USA and before Manarat. With the older girls, it was a little different. M2 and M3 have also attended Manarat albeit only for a week. For them, I had to have the certifications from their homeschooling schools in the USA be endorsed by the American Embassy here in Riyadh or to have the originals stamped by the Saudi Consulate in DC. Neither of it happened – but the school had me sign a paper that I would provide those – in the end it wasn’t needed.

  13. Asslamoalikum. Luv 2 see Ur blog mashallah u did fantastic job Plz tell me more about abdulaziz international school

    • Afshan,
      Welcome to my blog and I am glad that you like it. The only thing I can tell you about King Abdul Aziz International is that many people have recommended it. I have paid it a visit myself. I like the building. The coordinator set up the visit on a day when students were not around so I can’t say how the teachers were or how the students were. Looking at the graduating class, I could tell that it was predominantly non-Gulf Arab girls so I don’t think there are too many Asians there. Here is the email for the coordinator. She seemed very helpful.

      Raneem Hamadeh
      Office Coordinator
      Abdulaziz International School
      Managed by SABIS®
      Tel +966-1-4738555 , Fax +966-1-4731318.
      http://www.aisriyadh-sabis.net

  14. Assalam alikum, todya only i saw this communication, and i feel happy that I could get good information regarding my son & daughters education.

    AJ .thank you very much for your efforts/ time spending.

    my son TH is 9 years old completed grade 3 in INDIA . nursery to grade 2 in DUBAI.now we are coming to Riyadh inshallah end of April-2013. I am looking an islamic school (Quraan Hifz) for my son, and daughter of age 4 years old (nursery).please advise us which schools preferable for Quran Hifz & Arabic language along with Academic studies.provide me with address.thanking you

    • Fathima,

      I am still myself looking for good schools for my children. I suggest that you search for “school” or “hifz’ on my blog to find all the information that I have published so far about what I know. I am sorry, I am a little sick and can’t type too much. Welcome to Riyadh!

  15. Assalamualykum AJ :) mashaa allah you have a wonderful place and full of info about schools. We have been living in Singapore for the past 11 yrs (we are indians) and moving to Riyadh after Eid inshaa allah. Im also looking for Islamic schools which im now realising is hard to find in KSA :( Malaysia on the other hand has a wide range of Islamic international schools!

    Our main objective is to expose kids to an islamic environment. My kids are 9 (girl) 7 (boy) and 2.5 (girl) I would like you to advice me which would be the best? Did u find Manarat the best anoung the Islamic schools there? Can you please give the fee structure of Manarat and an outline of the Islamic studies there?

    • Shifa,

      I wonder if I ever replied to you or not. I apologize if I didn’t. I must have missed this. I found Manarat to be okay. I have noticed that the girls international primary is quite good and the boys not so good because of the discipline problems. It’s still better than shelling 64,000 plus on AISR for kids that age.

      • I am also looking for schools for my children in Riyadh. The following were recommended to me

        1. Delta international
        2. Najd school
        3. Afaq
        4. Alfaris
        5. Abdulaziz

        Has anyone heard of these?

      • Db,

        Welcome to my blog. I have heard of Najd and Abdul Aziz. In fact, Abdul Aziz is a little more international than Najd which seems to me more like a Saudi school. Here is the number for Abdul Aziz. We have quite a few people going from our compound to Abdul Aziz. None go to Najd. We didn’t consider Abdul Aziz because my daughters, rising 11th and 10th graders, Insha’Allah, did not have courses to their liking. Here is the number for them.

        966-1-4738555

        Best,

        A.

  16. could anyone please tell me about delta international school in riyadh. i have got an offer to join there as a homeroom teacher.

    • hello
      did u join delta international school?even i got a call fromthem..want to know how the school is,their working environment and the pay..
      thanks
      kadija

  17. Salaam alaikum,
    I have 3 sons aged 12, 8 and 6 . i want them to learn arabic grammar, writing and speaking for the purpose of uderstanding Quran. They are enrolled in the NMEIS . can anyone please guide me to an institute or school where they can learn arabic.

    • Mirza,

      No one has replied to this yet but I just wanted to point it out to you that Manarat does teach Arabic and so do most of the Saudi International schools. There are non-Arabic speaking expatriates who sometimes put their children (if just starting out) in Arabic medium schools instead of International schools to accelerate their kids’ learning of Arabic. But that can only be done with a child in their first year of schooling since they would not be able to understand the Arabic in higher classes. The pace of Arabic in the Saudi International schools is although slower than their Arabic counterparts but still the child learns a lot. My own son, TJ, learnt quite a bit of Arabic while he was attending Manarat.

  18. A/A,
    I really liked your blog. We have come from Utah,U.S.A, and have been living in Riyadh for sometime.What we did was go to U.S for school and them come to Riyadh for the holidays.Because the first time we came here we went to school at Multinational school not exactly like, only because when it was recess time all the students(primary and high schoolers) were in the same ground no seperation. The way that’s a threat is there is all these teenagers walking in groups and can do anything.Also there isn’t any proper playground with swings,slides,jungle gym,e.t.c.There library was also a problem.Suppose the second grade has come, they have only one section where those kids can go.And in there they have only picture books that have no moral.And if you go to get a fictional chapter book for kids like ‘The boxcar children’ the librarian scolds you!And just in 2011-2012 we went to Abdulaziz International school for one term.It was ok.But it was not good for a 9th grader who is taking IB classes in the U.S.Otherwise for the primary it was good standards.Like 4th garders did:Social Studies,Math,Science,English,Islamic Studies,And Arabic.There were two different sections for people who speak Arabic and for those who don’t speak Arabic.The people who didn’t speak Arabic would go to a different classroom to learn Arabic when it was time for Arabic.The teacher for Non-Arabs was quite nice and tried her best to explain us.The islmaic teacher also tried her best and the students were given booklets with suras to memorize.The books they gave was good but the teaching was like a 3 stars (total 5 stars).And now we are lokking for another school because now we moved but are still in Riyadh.We were really hoping for Manarat International School but once we called once the person for the girls section said you are late.But because we left Riyadh and came back just this month and have a American passport I hope if we try again she might let us.the question is Manarat or Al Rowad?The reason we liked Manarat is they have stuff like student council,honr roll,and etc.Also the have A Graduation ceremony for 6th grade! well still hope if I can get in manarat school.If I don’t please tell me if Al rowad is good? if it is not how about Ibn Khuldoon?
    Thank you

    • I didn’t like Multinational for the exact same reason – the older boys and the younger boys shared playing space and I think the bathrooms as well. It can be quite dangerous for the younger boys. That’s why I didn’t consider Multinational for my son TJ plus my istikharas for this school were horrible.
      I haven’t tried King Abdul Aziz International although quite a few people recommended it. In the end, they didn’t have the courses that my current 10th grader and 11th grader girls required.
      I would recommend Manarat over Rowad. Quite a few people from our compound go to Manarat. My own son went there part-time for two years. I would have kept him there but this year he would have moved to Boys section and I didn’t want him to go to an all-male teachers and students place.

  19. Hi,

    I am planning my son to get admission in Play Group.

    Can you please guide me that AISR (American International) or BISR (British International) which one is good?

    • If you have a US passport, AISR favors you and if you have a British one, BISR favors you. Usually, BISR has a longer waiting list than AISR. I guess the reason is that it is cheaper and there are more people from UK than US. Anyway, I would suggest to call both schools first and see if they even have space, which they may not have at this time during the school year. If they do have space, plan a visit and see which one you like better.

      • Hi,

        Unfortunately I don’t have US or British Passport and I am not in KSA. I am planning to come there in March and interested my son to join in 2014-15 session.

        Considering this, what would you suggest would be helpful?

      • Well, you not having an American or British passport should not be a problem. If they have a space and there is no competition from a British or American passport holder, then there is no issue. It’s only when there are limited spaces and more people vying for them that these schools give preferences to people from their own country. I suggest that you look up AISR and BISR online, call them, let them know your time frame and ask them if they have space. If they do have a space, ask them what you need to provide for your son – namely documents/transcripts/entrance tests/etc. – so that when you do arrive, you have all these documents ready.

  20. Thank you for so much of the information. I feel now that going to Riyadh is a mistake for my children. Although homeschooling makes the most sense my wife couldn’t do it we have 5 kids. I guess stay in an American Islamic School is the best.

    • Nasser, I don’t know where you live but I strongly suggest that given an opportunity, you should live in KSA for a couple of years. First of all, you do Hajj, you make some money, you learn an alternate style of life, you get relaxed and lose the pent up anxiety accumulated in the stressful Western environment, you enjoy the Halal lifestyle and if you do go back, you have more appreciation for things you might be taking for granted in the West.

  21. Aoa
    Im.silent reader of ur blog…its really good n helping…I am a mother of 2sons…one is3.5…I want to give him.best Islamic values as well as quality edu…so I want a school which offer best islamic studies as well as quality edu..I enrolled ibi (my son) in al rowad international..they offer hifz too from class 1 so i was happy that I got 2things in one place…but know im not satisfied from school becz of some policies n trachers…now im goin to visit king saud..kindly post ur comments n recommendation about this school
    Thankyou. …..stay blessed n keep goin

    • WS,

      The perfect school in Riyadh does not exist. Either you put your child in schools like Manarat, Rowad (much more horrible than Manarat) and complain of bad teachers and indiscipline or you put your child in American or British and complain of no morality being taught (and still complain about bad academics as well). That’s how it is. I love homeschooling and am inching back towards it Insha’Allah!

    • Asalam Alaikum Maha. My neighbor sends her son to Faris Int. School. She has told me that it is modern , beautifully built with cameras (like many here in KSA) but the teachers are not very pleasant and there are discipline issues.

  22. Assalamualaikum,
    I really liked your blog. Very informative. I will be moving to Riyadh soon and was really worried about getting a good school for my 2 year old daughter. Since she would be starting school I wanted to give her an enironment with both islamic and wordly knowledge. What do you recomend? And at what age do kids start school is ksa? We will be residing in malaz I think, is manarat school close by ? Or could u suggest a good school in d neighbourhood. Thanks

    • hd,

      WS,

      Thanks for liking my blog. I think the earliest you can start school is 3 (at least at AISR). I am not aware of anything for 2. I have attached a map here. You can see that Malaz is not close to Manarat but that wouldn’t mean you can’t arrange transportation to it. Here in Riyadh, it is very common for private taxis and vans to be transporting school aged kids besides the compound buses that do the same.

      https://www.google.com/maps/place/Manarat+Al+Riyadh+Schools/@24.7524142,46.7338227,11z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x3e2efdb00a53a1b1:0xa6355d9a28fa4e09

      To be honest, I am at a loss myself to find a good school. My kids are attending AISR these days but that doesn’t mean I am 100% satisfied with it. I am about probably 50%. The teachers are good – the work is too less plus I am not too happy with the lack of Islamic studies and the lack of Islam in the clothes that the kids wear.

      • Hello,

        I have same question.

        I have applied my son admission in British International School in Foundation 1. How easy is to get admission there? Actually I am also looking for accommodation so my preference is to have apartment near to school. So I am bit confused these days.

        What about King Abdul Aziz International School. How good this school is?

        I have also applied in AISR. If he get admissions in all above schools, which one you think is good to consider?

        Regards,
        Faisal

      • Faisal,

        Besides keeping the standard of the school in mind, you have to keep the fee structure. AISR is the most expensive. For our daughters in 10th and 11th grades, we pay about SAR 80,000 (each) per year and for TJ, it’s about SAR 66,000 in 3rd grade. BISR is a little less expensive. Al-Hamra is the closest compound to BISR. The compound is very expensive as well. You may search it and research the prices. You may also find out if they give to certain groups or organizations – I am not sure. There are some compounds where anyone can get into and then there are some reserved for certain organizations.

        I am not sure about apartments near BISR but I am sure that if you research areas around the Gharnata area (where the Gharnata/Granada Mall is), you will find apartments. King Abdul Aziz would be the cheapest. It’s about SAR 24,000 per year. Depending upon where your kid is coming from and depending upon whether you want Islamic education (in school) for your son, you would have to make a decision. Generally speaking, kids are miserable in King Abdul Aziz and happier in BISR and AISR.

        Best,

        A.

  23. Asalam o alikum
    Thank you M…so al faris ia just another school. …Almost all school faces teacher problems becoz of JAWazat issues….my son is goin in al rowad international so far…..I didn’t have any complain obout discipline ….the environment is very religious…n studies is also based on religion..which is not very common in riyadh….but the issues is same…… teachers…..n thy use old tecnique of teaching…thy just introduced smart class room system. ..but this is not enough….so I think u have to compromise on one thing to get another. ..we cant find perfect school in ksa….its very confusing sometimes

  24. ur blog is quite informative and interesting, i just moved on to riyadh but cant pay more than 12000-14000 per year. do u have any idea for the school of an average earners like aljawahir international or al ameen islamic school

  25. Aoa, my daughter will turn 2 iA this aug. I m just researching which montessori school will be best for her. Please give me your recommendations. Till now i am looking forward to al ameen international school. Your opinion about it?

    • Al-Ameen International seems to have the Montessori system that you are looking for. I don’t know much about the standing of this school.

    • Hi,

      If I want to compare between following schools:

      1) Abdul Aziz International School (Exit 6 Branch)
      2) British International School (BISR)

      Which one is good and pros & Cons of both?

      Can anyone assist me please.

      • Hi,

        If I want to compare between following schools:

        1) Abdul Aziz International School (Exit 6 Branch)
        2) British International School (BISR)
        3) Multi National

        Which one is good and pros & Cons of both?

        Can anyone assist me please.

  26. Alslam alikom everyone its reaaly im realy pleased to come a cross your blog i tried so many groups to find some usefull information but i didnt get any usefull info as i get from your blog. Let me start i just moved from canada with my 6 and 11 years old kids . My kids should be placed in grade 1 and grade 6 . Im here in Saudi riyadh for a 4 years contract with my husband and i will be going back after that so my doughter 11 years will. Be going high school in canada. Now i know it maybe too late to find the right school as the time is almost near for school time. But never know . i neeed the right school for my kids after i read all ur ideas i decide to place my son inshaa a alihh who just start school in a school that teach english and arabic islamic for noun native speaker and for my grade 6 going to internationl school and hire somene to teach her arabic and quran at home as it my be difficult for her to keep up with . American or britch is way too expensive right Now for me . I need after those 4 years inshaa aliih that my kids are able to read from the quran and read arabic right now im not realy consider them to know arabic grammer or the deep details of the arabic launguage . Thank you in advance for all ur time and ur help .

    • Halima, I am glad that the blog is of some help to you. We all look for answers and currently, I am trying to locate a madrassah in Riyadh that teaches during the day, Hifz-ul-Quran, and is convenient distance wise too. Best, A.

  27. Quite an informative blog and gives very good insight about schools and their standards. . I am looking for a school for my daughter as she will turn 4 next year. I am currently interested in knowing the reviews about following schools including pros and cons.

    * Kind Saud International School
    * Al Amjad International School
    * Knowledge Bridge International School
    * Middle East American section School
    * Learning Oasis International School

    Thanks

  28. Assalam Elai kum

    Can you please advise me which school is best BISR or AISR, i would be enrolling my Son to Pre-KG upto 10 or 12th grade Insha Allah.

    • Ahmed,

      Walekum Assalam,

      I am American so I am biased towards AISR. Even without the bias, I think AISR is a better school. There is some difference between AISR and BISR’s tuition – AISR’s is higher. If that difference is not much of a deciding factor for you, go for AISR. It definitely has better teachers and currently the best/brand new campus in Riyadh. Also, go visit both.

      Best,

      A.

  29. Home School available from a female Engineer at her home (RAWDAH / Andalus )

    Grade K.G to grade 4 : English , Maths , Science, Social

    Grades 5 and 6 : Maths and science 

    Grades 7 to 10 : Maths

    Timing : 8:00 a.m to 10 a.m
    OR 11:00 a.m to 01:00 p.m

  30. Assalam Allaikum,

    First Of all, thank you very much to all for providing a wonderful and knowledgeable information. I need help from you. I am working in new industrial area, al kharj road. My daughter will turn 4 years in may. For the time being, I am staying in Al, Iskan — 5 km away from my office.The problem is that there is no good schools near by. So I Decided to shift to another area and for me al, malaz will be ideal. Now I would like to know, which school should I admit my child since next year april she has to be in school. Please advice me if any nearby school to this area. I choose this area because I want to compromise between my working distance and my kid’s school.My office is around 25 km from Al, Malaz.

    Thanks

    • Walekum Assalam,

      First of all, thanks for liking my posts. I am sorry, I can’t be of much help to you since the only schools I have experience with is Manarat al-Riyadh and American International. I don’t think either one is in in Al-Malaz.

      A.

  31. Hi,
    Going through all posts is very informative for parents looking for suitable education for their child and i feel much more informed about the schooling of riyadh now.
    I am also looking for best possible option for my 3 years old daughter, keeping in mind that i cannot afford british or american international schools.
    two schools in my mind are Abdulaziz international and Learning carvan, so looking for someone having personal experience of both schools.
    Thanks

  32. Hello,

    I have had a few people from our compound go to King Abdul Aziz in the past. Had someone go to Learning Caravan as well but forgot who they were :) In any case, I hope somebody reads this and gives you an opinion.

    I would recommend Al-Manarat for your 3 -year old daughter since the elementary Manarat is quite good. The majority of our compound people going to a Saudi International school in our compound prefer Manarat.

    Best,

    A.

  33. Thank you for your informative blog, Jazaki Allah Koul Khair
    I guess I am not the only parent who is facing schooling issues in Riyadh. I have been here for almost 4 years and we are still looking for the “perfect school”, which offer both the worldly and the religious education.
    Arrived in 2011 from Australia we have enrolled the kids at the British Islamic School, good school to some extent. However, the downsides are teachers lack some experience, the books were not matching the grade requirements and student abilities, and homework was massive. It used to take my older son most of the evening working on various subject. Plus they try to stuff everything in one period, have regular tests and quarterly scheduled exams. I liked the Quran and the Fiqh subjects as well as the Arabic. It was exhausting for the kids.
    2012 we decided to take the kids to the multinational school after they physically separated the primary school to the new dedicated building with dedicated playground and entrance for the primary school students. The main reason was the Australian curriculum offered by the school, plus the discipline. Academically I don’t have any objection to the multinational school. Qualified teachers with experience, accommodate the needs of every student, regular two way communication, regular support, teach through playing, and the teachers and school system are evaluated by the Victorian education board from Australia on a regular basis.
    The school follows a holistic evaluation system based on understanding of the subject concepts, applying the concept independently, and the establishment of the concept. From grade 4 onward there is regular test, which is not part of the student assessment but will assist the teacher on knowing the educational needs of the student and how to accommodate their needs base on their understanding and performance. Class work and home work are complementary of each other in order the student will understand the subject concept.
    However, the biggest downside of this school is the lack of any form of Islamic studies. There is on one class from memory they call it Islamic Culture or something along that line. My kids don’t get any religious education, no Quran, no Hadith, no fiqah that satisfy the basic requirement for a Muslim child at my kids age. The kids only know what they learnt from the British Islamic School and what their late mother used to teach them.
    For next year I was planning to move them to Al Rwad, but the comments to this blog kind of put me off the idea. I will still check it out just to make my own independent assessment. Mind you tow friends, one from Canada and one form Australia gave me a positive feedback about it. Particularly, the Australian friend he took his daughter and sons out from the multinational school because of the lack of Islamic education and the co-education issue, and place them at Al Rwad from year 9 up to year 12 and now they are back in Australia doing their Universities. I will check Al Manarat too, but could you please tell me what are the nationalities of the teachers? Do they speak good English? How is the home work and class work structured? Do they come home with a humongous amount of work to be completed on the night?

    • The teachers at Al-Manarat Primary are mostly Pakistani and Arabs from various backgrounds. I do like the structure for the classwork and homework since it is all written down on a sheet and given to the student by the weekend. You have a choice to complete the HW on the weekend instead of doing some every day, the following week. I think it takes about an hour to complete all HW every day. Insha’Allah, I hope it works out for you.

      • Thank you AJ for your prompt response. Are you kids still studying there, if yes could you please provide some of the books they used for science and math, just to check it out.

        I will check it out, hope it will work out for you and everyone who is facing the same delima.

  34. My kids are not studying there. My son went there partially (exams only) during second half of Ist grade and for 2nd grade. My daughters went to the senior section in fall of 2012 for a week only and didn’t like it. I don’t have books now but they are American curriculum. I would suggest for the primary section, you should give it a try.

    • Omar I suggest you go back see british islamic last year had million sr refurbishment. The quality of teaching now 2nd to none 99.9% native and qualified . Yearly standards rose.

  35. My 2 kids attend the british islamic school last 4 years. .For us amazing education and after 5 years achieved a fantastic set native qualified teachers. Next year heard the girls. Moving to state art campus. The quran they learnt delighted. It’s clean and safe and the teachers really care. Best. Luck

  36. I recomend Alalameen British school. First reason it’s British. Then we have good fees lowest for best education. Admission fees don’t apply. They don’t take any kids in. They don’t have any special needs. My child learnt half quran. Developed a beautiful british accent. She comes home happy. Free events in school over 15 year made learning fun.

  37. hello,i am searching schools in riyadh for my son who will doing his grade 1 or year 1 in coming months. my priorities are

    1)english as medium of language
    2)safety
    3)extracurricular activities
    4)academic performance
    5)good teachers
    6)and others things as well….plz reply me.

      • sister,thanks for the reply. i gone through but still confused.today i called british islamic school.they said they dont have seats vacant for grade 1.ais,bis are way to expensive. saud is also expensive but i have kept in the waiting list.manarat is also good .meanwhile can you review me about the following schools.
        1)delta international school
        2)future window international school
        3)learning oasis international school
        4)advance learning school
        5)swedish international school
        6)also any other good schools u know.waiting for ur reply sister.thank u.

    • thank you sister,if you get to know any other schools other that those mentioned in your blog ,plz do let me know.thanks.

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