Sunday, February 24, 2013

International Schools in Riyadh:The American International School of Riyadh

If you are an English speaker and are moving to Riyadh, your best bet for schooling for your children comes down to three options: The American International School of Riyadh (AIS-R), The British International School of Riyadh (BIS-R), and the Multi-National School (MSN-R).

It's useful to look at all three schools and see what each school has to offer. I have the most experience with AIS-R, so I'll start there.

AIS-R offers programs from Pre-K to High School. The Elementary school is in a different building from the Middle and High Schools, but all three schools share the same campus. AIS-R has a diverse community of students, with Americans being a minority on campus. I think this is a great thing for American children to experience great diversity and interact with kids from all over the world.

One important thing to note about AIS-R is that it doesn't cater to children with learning disabilities. It doesn't provide resources for kids with learning issues, beyond a little extra help in the classroom. They are very upfront about this both on their website and during the admission process. If your child has a 504 plan or an IEP, AIS-R will not accommodate either.

AIS-R follows the American curriculum but also utilizes the International Baccularreate Program for the High School, which means that high school students can go to other international schools and be current in their programs.

The school is staffed by Americans, Canadians, Saudis, local Ex-pats and well as Arabs from many different Arabic nations. The school complies with the Saudization law which requires that a certain percentage of the staff be Saudis.

Like many international school, AIS-R offers Arabic courses for all students in all grades. In Middle School, students can choose between French, Spanish, and Arabic.

One of the benefits of attending AIS-R are the many programs and activities offered for students of all ages.

Elementary School Activities

The Elementary School offers an outstanding music program. Each grade produces an hour-long assembly packed with music and an inspiring program revolving around AIS-R's core values. In the winter, both the Lower and Upper Elementary grades perform musical plays in which all children participate. The upper Elementary School offers a terrific talent show at the end of the school year. During the Arts Day each grade performs some type of music concert, whether it be vocal or instrumental.

The upper Elementary school has a Student Council where 5th graders run for office and then learn how to be in Student Council.

Drama club puts on a play each year where students audition and then perform a decent-length play.

A variety of after-school activities are offered each term that are made available free of charge. These activities range from cooking, arts and crafts, photography, dodgeball, basketball, soccer, etc. Enrollment is done through a website and is a simple process.

Each year the upper Elementary School participates in an intense Battle of the Books session where students are challenged to read specific books and then compete in trivia contests.

Middle School Activities

The Middle School has a student council which is active in planning activities and events for the Middle School students.

After school activities are also offered such as dodgeball, tennis, Science Club, Battle of the Books, etc.

The Middle School offers 11 different sports including cricket, basketball, badminton, track and field, soccer, and volleyball. These teams compete in local tournaments.

The Middle School  offers the excellent program Model United Nations where students participate in conferences and learn many different skills. Select students are able to attend the MUN in London.

The Middle School also offers an excellent music program with an orchestra and a choral program. They have a drama program and students perform in a play each year.

One unique offering of the Middle School during class hours are the technology classes which include robotics, computer programming, video editing, etc.

Each year AIS-R runs a Week Without Walls program. For the elementary school, they have field trips and activities at school. The Middle School students have a choice between two programs. One program has the students do some service activities as well as tours around Riyadh to learn more about the culture and history of Saudi Arabia. The other program is TREPS an is entrepreneurial program which teaches students to develop a product and then market and sell their product. Students learn about start-up and production costs as well value and other important business skills.

High School Activities

The High School offers a full range of athletics including cross-country, softball, volleyball, and basketball. Tournament dates are scheduled each year so athletes have the opportunity to both train and compete.

There are wide variety of clubs offered at the high school. Students can participate in the Arabic club, the Future Doctor's club, the Debate Club, etc.

The Model United Nations is also offered to interested and motivated students. This year, select students will be traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia to participate in an International Conference.

The Theatre program produces a musical and a play each year. There are full offerings for orchestra and choir.

The school has both an Honor Society and Student Council. The Week Without Walls offerings are particularly interesting for High School Students. Some students choose to do a big international trip like Nepal this year, where students will have service opportunities to work with the poor and needy. Other students work on internships or prepare for IB exams.

AIS-R provides a robust community for international families. They offer many family activities such as Family Fun Day, Day with the Arts, International Day, etc. AIS-R is committed to celebrating the global diversity of its students and community. AIS-R is an excellent choice for an ex-pat family looking for a good school with solid academics and a diverse offerings of activities and athletics.

More information can be found about AIS-R here.

(P.S. I know this sounds like this was written by a staff member of AIS-R. I'm not a staff member, remember, I'm too busy teaching piano lessons! I've tried to do the best research I can as well as talk with AIS-R families about the offerings of the school and its benefits and advantages.)


  1. Thank you this is really helpful. I like how you were objective and detailed. Thanks a lot.

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