Top 13 Things To Do In Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter In The Summer

The Saudi summer is long and HOT! If you find yourself “stuck” in the Magic Kingdom for the summer, you will most likely be looking for activities to pass the time. Especially since schools are out and children are at home, families are desperate in finding things to do in Riyadh. One of my personal favorite areas in Riyadh is the Diplomatic Quarter, often referred to as “the DQ”.

The DQ was originally built to accommodate the all the foreign embassy staff and diplomats, but nowadays anyone can live there in one of the many residential areas. The DQ is so large it’s almost like a small town right next to Riyadh. The diplomatic quarters can easily be reached from the city center within 10 minutes by following the Ouroba rd to its end. Once you’re inside, it feels like any normal neighborhood anywhere in the world, lush and green and peaceful. You will forget you’re in Riyadh and it’s such a refreshing change to the concrete jungle. Check out this post for more info on the diplomatic quarter parks and gardens.riyadh dq discover


In general, everyone is allowed to enter the dq and the parks are public areas. When asked, many Saudis will remember weekends from their childhood spent playing and picnicking in the diplomatic quarter parks. In the 90’s these parks and gardens were hugely popular among Riyadhis, the DQ was the place to be on weekends. However the rules tightened a lot after the terrorist bombings about ten years ago. The National Guards who guard the entrance gate are known to be whimsical and sometimes illogical (in other words racist) of who they let in or not. There are no residential passes and sometimes residents of certain nationalities are given a hard time at the gate too.

If you come on weekday mornings you could say you’re visiting the embassy, and they should let you in. There are lots of companies and businesses that have their offices in the dq, why not combine running some errands in the Quarter with a stroll in the park afterwards. Unfortunately like most compounds in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis and Arab nationals will have the most trouble entering, especially on weekend evenings. In general the more ‘western’ you look, and if you speak English, the easier entry will be.

Best thing in my opinion for women is that abayas are not compulsory inside the DQ area.  This enables us women to enjoy outdoor physical activities even during the summer without dying from heat exhaustion! When entering the Diplomatic Quarter from Circle 1, there is an Info-point shortly after on the right hand side with two large maps of the area.

Here are Blue Abaya’s Top 13 recommended things to do in the DQ during the summer:

1. Enjoy a fun day at the wave pool. The Sports Club outdoor pool area is definitely one of Riyadh’s hidden gems. A large wave pool, children’s pools, water slides, sun chairs in a garden setting and a restaurant offering healthy meals and fresh juices. What more can you ask for? Ladies and men’s days separately, membership required to enter, visit the Sports club for the details. *Update: Some expat ladies have entered the wave pool without membership for a fee of 50sr this year 2014.

2. Take a long unwinding walk on the nature trail that encircles the diplomatic quarters. The track can be accessed from many places along the parameters of the DQ just look for the signs ‘walking trail’. One easy starting point is next to the Tuwaiq Palace. Along the 20km of the track,  you can find flora and fauna which are all endemic to the Arabian Peninsula. There’s breathtaking scenery of Wadi Hanifa on one side of the quarter and spectacular views to Ritz Carlton from the other side. During the summer, walking in the very early mornings or late afternoons and evenings is best. Luckily there’s a nice cooling breeze from the valley and you can take a rest at one of the numerous shady parks along the way.

3. Enjoy an outdoor breakfast at the beautiful Kindy plaza. Sit in the shade next to the cooling fountains and choose from a variety of different breakfast places such as Kudu’s, Diet Center, Dr Cafe, Quiznos and House of Donuts. Seating is open area, for singles and families alike. Children and teenagers can enjoy playing, bicycling or roller skating around the spacious plaza.

4. Visit the Prince Salman Science Oasis located off circle 4 inside the Sports Club facilities. The center offers interesting and fun activities for children and is a learning experience for the entire family. During the summer the center organizes various science courses for children.
5. Wander around the beautifully designed and lush gardens of the diplomatic quarter. Each has a unique design, indigenous plants and flowers, rest places, shaded walkways and playgrounds for kids.  All parks have attractive fountains to cool you down.

6. Visit the luxurious women’s only center Manahil for a day of pampering. In addition to the spa and salon services, Manahil also offers a design shop, restaurant, gym, indoor pool, dancing and swimming classes for children and adults.


7. Dine in a relaxed and open setting at the Italian restaurant Scalinis, located in the Fazari plaza. Delicious Italian meals, abaya free area and no reservations required. UPDATE: They opened a outside seating area and added Sushi to their menu in 2016.
8. Take your bike out on the walking trail for an amazing work out with the best scenery in Riyadh! Make use of the numerous exercise stations along the track. Women can bicycle her freely without having to worry about their abaya getting caught in the wheels.
9. Feast your eyes on the eclectic and fascinating architecture of the Diplomatic Quarter buildings. World renowned architects contributed to the diverse and unique architectural style faithful to the Najdi region. Be sure to check out the Cultural Palace, Tuwaiq Palace on the edge of Wadi Hanifa, the Fortress America and Kindy Plaza mosque and surroundings. From the embassies special mention goes to the Japanese, Ethiopian, and Indonesian embassies and the official residences of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Check the map at the info point (circle 1)for the embassy locations.
10. Play a game of football, basketball, cricket or any of your favorite sports at the Yamamah park located off circle 8. The park has a large and shady fountain area, huge playgrounds, a large grass field, soccer and basketball courts, a mosque and a track perfect for walks and bicycling in the shade.

11. Enjoy the cooling breeze and fantastic views down to Wadi Hanifa with its hundreds of palm trees and historical Diriyah in the distance from the Annafel park. This park, located on the walking track close to Tuwaiq Kindergarten off circle 8 has three waterfalls and is the perfect place for a picnic and the sunsets from here are amazing!

12. Take horseback riding lessons at the Al Aghar Equestrian club. The club also has a closed-off poolside area available for renting by the hour, open to non members and families. Separate ladies and men’s days.  Family day is Friday.

13. Enjoy lunch or a refreshing drink on Riyadh’s only non- segregated outside terrace located on the plaza off circle 7. Choose between Crepe World, Starbucks, Subway and Dunkin Donuts and sit under the cooling mists feeling worlds away from Riyadh’s hustle and bustle.

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  • flawlessvelvetJuly 15, 2013 - 4:07 pm

    if only getting into the DQ wasn’t such a hassle :/ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 15, 2013 - 3:28 pm

    thanks very much for theses wonderful ideas! does someone knows if you can buy daily entries for the sports club or if there is an annual membership required?
    thanks tanjaReplyCancel

    • ahmedMay 18, 2014 - 10:34 am

      Manahel can go with daily entry.
      The sports facilities you need to know someone with membership to let in after paying the fees.

      Have a good day.ReplyCancel

  • amalSeptember 15, 2013 - 4:41 pm


    I have a question, is there a volleyball court inside Manahil? Can I find a team there?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 17, 2013 - 12:48 am

      Hi Amal, they don’t have a volleyball court, there’s tennis too..the only team I know of is the King Faisal hospital team, not sure if they accept outsiders, it’s worth a try, contact the Social Club!ReplyCancel

  • ehabSeptember 22, 2013 - 1:29 am

    hello there… I was wondering how to get the chance and rent an apartment inside the DQ… MANY THANKSReplyCancel

  • AyeshaNovember 9, 2013 - 9:56 pm

    I have a question, do you know if there’s a soccer field for girls in riyadh? And if there’s a soccer team I can join for girls?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 10, 2013 - 7:12 pm

      The only one I’ve heard of is at the american international school..ReplyCancel

    • MayAugust 10, 2015 - 8:42 pm

      I would like to start some soccer facility after 2 yeas in Riyadh for women.
      Are you still interested? Do you know of other girls who would be?ReplyCancel

  • TaimurFebruary 2, 2014 - 2:57 pm

    Can i enter Tuwaiq palace??? I am a member of sports club but i don’t think it will be of help.

    The second question, Can i use the walking trail along wit my family. some of my friends told me that the security guards create trouble, Is it true???


    • LaylaFebruary 2, 2014 - 3:40 pm

      Hi there!
      No unfortunately you cannot enter the Tuwaiq palace.
      Yes sure you can use the walking trail with your family. The security guards regularly patrol the walking trail because it’s in the perimeter of the DQ so they naturally have to keep that area safe. The only times they have approached us was when we in in the palm tree park down the wadi where the stream is. They just politely asked us what we were doing there and we said having a picnic and they left :) For some reason that area seems to be which they watch the most.ReplyCancel

  • Sans Abaya in Saudi | Blue AbayaFebruary 13, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    […] Quarters The DQ in Riyadh is the area where most of the embassies are located. The huge area has some amazing parks worth […]ReplyCancel

  • RezaFebruary 18, 2014 - 3:59 pm

    Dear Miss,

    Can you tell me how to enroll for membership at the DQ sports club for my wife and kids and what are the membership fees.

    Thanks and have a nice day.ReplyCancel

    • TaimurMarch 31, 2014 - 9:45 am

      Hi Reza,
      The membership fee is 3000 for individual and 4500 for family. To enroll you have to fill in the membership form for the club which is available from the club administration.ReplyCancel

      • kalApril 15, 2014 - 12:22 am

        Hi Taimur,
        You were saying 4500 to get in the sports club for family. I am assuming that membership is an annual one. Correct?ReplyCancel

  • Audrey AndersonMarch 5, 2014 - 4:37 pm

    Is there a map of the diplomatic quarter anywhere that has these things on it? I have been searching but can’t find one anywhere…ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 9, 2014 - 10:40 am

      When you enter the dq there are info points where you can see the locations of parks and facilities on the map!ReplyCancel

  • SawsanMarch 28, 2014 - 10:25 am

    Where exactly is circle 7?ReplyCancel

  • DanishApril 9, 2014 - 3:35 pm


    I am very much interested in getting the membership for this club but cant seem to get their contact details. Is there any website? Can anyone give me their phone number so i can get further details? Thanks in advance.



    • ahmedMay 18, 2014 - 10:39 am

      There is no website.
      I am membership with the healthy club since 5 years.
      I can help you to get in and apply for membership.
      Let me if you are looking that.ReplyCancel

      • dodoSeptember 23, 2014 - 2:39 pm

        Can you guide me Mr.Ahmed , i’d be gratefulReplyCancel

      • DanishApril 1, 2015 - 3:52 pm

        Hi Ahmed,

        I would very much like to visit the club and have a look around before applying for membership. Please let me know how i can do that. Thanks.ReplyCancel

      • muhammednizarMarch 29, 2016 - 9:56 am

        salam AHMED,


        IF YOU FEEL FREE PLEASE WATTS UP ME 0549674830ReplyCancel

  • AnnonymousMay 23, 2014 - 11:11 am

    Hello. Is it possible to have a birthday at the DQ just to use their playgrounds and parks? And if yes how do I go about it?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 23, 2014 - 5:20 pm

      yes you could just come to any of the parks, plenty of families come to the parks on weekends to have picnics.ReplyCancel

  • SalmanJune 24, 2014 - 11:16 am


    What are the activities available in sports club and can anyone provide me the directions/google map of the DQ?

    Can i visit the club to have a 1st hand experience alone or need some member to take me in?

    Secondly, is there any residential area for non-diplomats like apartment available?

    Looking forward to hear from one of you and Thank You in advance.ReplyCancel

  • MidhunAugust 5, 2014 - 12:40 pm


    Kindly let me know the procedure how i could get entry to the diplomatic quarters on a weekend saturday with my family. Let me know if there is any entry fee other than for sports club. Also would there be any rooms to rent for few hours.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 5, 2014 - 4:08 pm

      hi there, no rooms for rent in DQ but there’s the Diplomatic quarter Marriot hotel right outside the gate.
      No entry fee to diplomatic quarter. If you’re interested in joining the sports club you could say that at the gate and go check it out for the membership fees.ReplyCancel

  • dodoSeptember 23, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    Hi, i’m trying to reach the sports club over there but it’s not appearing when i Google it up . Any contacts or more details .ReplyCancel

  • DBSeptember 26, 2014 - 5:33 pm

    The diplomatic quarter can be nice, as your photos demonstrate. However the sports facility is not well managed. The outdoor pool has been closed nearly the whole year, without much explanation, and the indoor pool has been closed most of the year to women, supposedly because of difficulty finding or getting a visa for a female lifeguard. As for whether a membership is required, a card is necessary for the pools and the gym, but it’s easy to access the other facilities with no card because you are not required to show anything at the main entrance to the facility. If you are looking for a free place to play tennis this is probably the best bet in Riyadh. The male-only gym is really the only part of the facility that is used much, and like the pool is poorly managed. Over-crowded gym and locker room, old equipment, free weights lying all over the place, frequent breakdowns of equipment, and despite an overstaffed cleaning crew, the showers are not especially clean.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 26, 2014 - 6:01 pm

      yes the current pool situation is really bad. I wonder when they will fix if they have no intention to help people enjoy sports or swimming..or any other kind of sport! Kind of “funny” since they are a sports club :)ReplyCancel

  • ellaJanuary 9, 2015 - 1:38 am

    May i ask, can me and my boyfie go there? Or its forbidden for unmarried couple to go there?ReplyCancel

  • Christmas Day At Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter | Civis terraFebruary 6, 2015 - 12:27 pm

    […] Saudi State capital Diriyah, the national museum, and various other landmarks, I checked out the Diplomatic Quarter, where all of the foreign embassies are […]ReplyCancel

  • wafaaMarch 3, 2015 - 11:11 am

    i am working in DQ kindly how to know where is the TWEEQ kINDERGARTEN here and if some body has any info about.ReplyCancel

  • Faisal AlmadaniApril 6, 2015 - 6:10 am

    How long is the track?ReplyCancel

  • Maria JoannouMay 20, 2015 - 11:28 am


    I would like to know if I can high bikes? Or if I would need
    to have my own, which would be difficult as I am over on business trip first two weeks June.

    Also with regards to membership to sports facilities? Do they have day passes?

    Looks lovely, definitely going to visit DQ when in Riyahd

    One more thing; I am female travelling alone, am I okay to get taxi to DQ? – I quess I need my Abaya to get there though? right?

    Looking forward to hearing from you

    thank you

    Maria JoannouReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 20, 2015 - 5:48 pm

      hi there
      there’s no place for bike rental that I know of, so you’d have to buy your own or borrow from a friend.ReplyCancel

  • KostasJuly 1, 2015 - 10:06 am

    Hello Blueabaya,

    I’m new to Riyadh and will be bringing the family as well in the near future. I have been searching for housing in western compounds and found some, but very expensive. Do you know if there are rental properties within the DQ and their pricing (approximately)?

    I would appreciate your feedback as I’m under pressure to find something (peaceful and well maintained) soon.

    thanks in advance for you help!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda HolmesJuly 2, 2015 - 4:28 am

    Can we please request that people show respect when visiting. I live by an amazing park but every weekend and holiday time it gets full of visitors who just get up and wagon away leaving behind all the rubbish.ReplyCancel

  • Rabeeh MardathJuly 12, 2015 - 4:39 pm

    Hi!!….Great blog btw…….I juss moved from India to riyadh…..Im a teen……so obviously this Riyadh life is killing me… can I enter this Diplomatic Quarters…is the security strict…..???
    Thanks in advance for your answerReplyCancel

  • Diplomatic Quarter Sports ClubAugust 9, 2015 - 1:00 am

    […] Top 13 Things To Do In Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter In The … – 9. Feast your eyes on the eclectic and fascinating architecture of the Diplomatic Quarter buildings. World renowned architects contributed to the diverse and unique … […]ReplyCancel

  • AnonAugust 12, 2015 - 12:13 am

    I recently moved to dq and there are barely any activities to get to know people! I wanna enjoy these places with others from my age(19).jjust wondering how do i make friends in here?ReplyCancel


  • […] Diplomatic Quarter Despite the heat the parks in DQ are much cooler because they all have lots of greenery and shade, fountains and many are situated on the edge of the wadi so they catch the breeze. You will forget you’re in Riyadh! Guide to Diplomatic Quarter parks here.  […]ReplyCancel

  • Leann WileySeptember 22, 2015 - 12:32 pm

    Hello Layla,

    Thank you for sharing this information about the DQ.

    i have been searching for a space in Riyadh to rent to give art classes (as I used to do in the States). I already have enough students to run a class but haven’t had any luck with real estate agents or office space that rents by the hour.

    Do you have any suggestions for a space that would be amenable to these classes/

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions youu may have,


    • Laura of ArabiaSeptember 22, 2015 - 2:01 pm

      Have you tried with the art galleries themselves? some of them have classes by visiting teachers. try Areej art cafe, Alaan artspace, Lam art gallery, L’Art pur, Saudi Arts and Skills institute.ReplyCancel

  • WillaSeptember 27, 2015 - 12:45 pm

    Is there a track in DQ? Can we use it for free or only the members of the sports club?
    Looking forward for your answer.
    Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaSeptember 28, 2015 - 1:28 am

      hi there, yes there’s a 20 km long track around dq and anyone can use it.ReplyCancel

  • […]  For more activities and restaurants inside the diplomatic quarters, check out Blue abaya guide: 13 Things to Do in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter Riyadh’s hidden gems-the Diplomatic Quarter […]ReplyCancel

  • Chris AllenDecember 21, 2015 - 2:33 pm

    Hi Anyone know if any parties happening in the DQ or dinner for xmas this year? i’m a british expat looking to meet other expats and xmas would be a good time to start.ReplyCancel

  • RMFebruary 21, 2016 - 7:22 pm


    I lived in DQ till 2011 for nearly 6 years. Your pictures have made me nostalgic. You have missed the stables in DQ, though. The riding club is also a cool place.I had great fun in winters when many of the embassies organised different kinds of festivals.ReplyCancel

  • […] a nice evening outdoors at Kindy Plaza Square inside the Diplomatic Quarters. A large plaza where kids can ride bikes, hover boards, roller-skate etc. Outdoor seating area for […]ReplyCancel

  • […] a nice evening outdoors at Kindy Plaza Square inside the Diplomatic Quarters. A large plaza where kids can ride bikes, hover boards, roller-skate etc. Outdoor seating area for […]ReplyCancel

  • BaderJuly 4, 2018 - 12:54 pm

    Thanks so much Laura! Very nice article.. I really enjoyed it! Also, I want to add OUD SQUARE to the list. Located after circle #4 on the right side when you coming from the Kindy place on the right. The new place great to grab a bite or coffee inside the DQ. They got Urth cafe, Starbucks, IHope, Calendar, Wokx (Asian cuisine), and Draft. It’s brand new so I’m expecting they will add more to the list. The architecture and the atmosphere are breath taken! All the best :)ReplyCancel

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