Market Opportunity: Daycare in Saudi Arabia






With women joining the workforce on the rise in the Kingdom this has created a new market opportunity for the enterprising individual – Daycare!  The customs and culture of the Kingdom are not yet as accommodating to the working woman.   Tradition still expects the working mother to either have a nanny or housemaid caring for children in the home or having a child looked after by relatives while at work.  The few day care centers which do exist in the Kingdom are more like play groups with condensed hours such as from 0800 – 1200 hours and usually do not accept children under two years of age, if even accepting them that young.


In speaking with working Saudi mothers I have learned that many of them had wished to join the workforce earlier than what they had but some were constrained by having to wait until their children entered school due to the lack of daycare.  These same women advised that they would welcome the opportunity to take their child to a facility which would be open during the traditional Saturday – Wednesday work week from 0700 – 1800 hours since most business hours are 0800 – 1700 hours.  They were also eager for their child to have an opportunity to interact with groups of children towards teaching them independence, discipline, sharing and playing well with others.  They believed that daycare offered additional opportunities for a child’s growth and development than a solitary housemaid or family member could provide.



29 Responses

  1. Definitely in child day care centers, child have an opportunity to interact with groups of children towards teaching them independence,discipline,sharing and playing and moreover day care centers provide additional opportunities.So,Starting child day care businesses is a good way to make extra money, especially for stay at home moms.

  2. “…many of them had wished to join the workforce earlier than what they had but some were constrained by having to wait until their children entered school”

    Assuming they aren’t working out of necessity, why did they bother to have children in the first place? I mean, why have them when they are so eager to dispense with the duties of motherhood? Surely a mother shouldn’t give them up to someone else for care and love as soon as she delivers?

    “They believed that daycare offered additional opportunities for a child’s growth and development than a solitary housemaid or family member could provide.”

    Sorry, a solitary house member? That is such a lame excuse for shirking their responsibilities. Is it not possible for them to interact with other children while having a mother that cares enough to look after them?

    This is the abolition of the family, a sort of ‘community of children’ a la Marx.

  3. Eep- that is provocative. But before anyone accuses me of thinking that women who marry and have kids are worth more than those who don’t- my aunt is (one of the latter) and I love her to bits.

  4. I had a daycare in my home (which I ran with a friend and her two kids) when our children were small and it was such an enjoyable experience. The children learned how to cope with the other children, and I was happy to bring out the paper, paints, books, playdough, and scissors because it was also my job. The money was great and everyone had a good time. No regrets.

  5. A few of my friends in other cities have opened up “nurseries” in their homes and do quite well. However, these women are not like me. Although I love my own kids, I’m not the “more the merrier” type. I’ll have to find another way to make money at home (you’ll be hearing from me on that topic soon enough I’m sure)

    For myself, as long as I’m not destitute and my husband is able to provide for our family, I will stay at home until my children are all in school. Since there were 7 years between kid2 and kid3, i got to go back to work and stretch my mind pocketbook for a few years until I had my baby last year. Now, I’m back to paying my mom-dues and playing with my baby but going squirrelly from lack of independence, lack of mental/social stimulation, and sheer tedium. Blogging’s helped, but I need a bit more. Can’t/won’t leave the house because I don’t want to dump my baby on others to raise, that’s my privilege.
    From what I’ve noticed, most of my Saudi contemporaries don’t have this guilt from leaving their kids with others. I have several friends who work far away and leave their babies and their other kids with their moms and come home only on the weekends, and one friend only comes home once a month and on school breaks!

  6. On a related note, I can understand (maybe) the foreign male workers coming to the Kingdom leaving their family behind because they see that sacrifice of being away from the family as ultimately helping the family get ahead faster in a financial sense. I do not however see how the foreign women doing the same can cope easily. There are so many foreign women working in the Kingdom in various positions to learn that many of them have such young children (2 years old and on) in their home countries, yet they have chosen to leave them for one year, two years or more.

  7. I feel sorry for those women who are considering leaving small children in the care of others while they work unless faced with strong financial need or a total aversion to raising small children. First of all, the early years are extremely important in the development of a child and also a special joy as each milestone is a unique experience to the child.
    My sister has had my mother take care of her only daughter since birth, coming in part time until the baby was a year old and then taking over full-time all the time my sister was at work until my darling niece entered kindergarten. Even now my mother picks up her granddaughter every day after school although it’s a half-an-hour drive to get there and she comes home to her own house frequently at 8 PM. Mom also has my niece frequently one or both days a weekend. My sister has missed nearly every milestone this way including baby’s first step. At least her daughter is in the care of a close and devoted relative but it’s really sad that my sister has missed out on so much.
    I contrast this with my being a stay-at-home mother with my three children until the youngest was 5. I started back into the work force part-time and switched to full-time when my youngest was 7. My children were and are my first priority. I always tried to be with them when home from school to have meals with them, supervise their homework and read to them at night until they were old enough to read on their own. It very often meant having to sacrifice time with friends and attending social events but absolutely my children came first.

    Even if you stay home with your children until you are 35 or 40 there are enough productive years left to work another 20-odd years. Why can’t a woman have it both ways being there for a child’s formative years and then immersing herself in work when the children are launched on their way? My own mother followed this example as she hadn’t started her college education until I was 10. She started working part-time and going to college part-time. We both obtained our Master’s degrees within a year of each other. She worked for around 30 years productively in education before she took early retirement to become a full-time grandmother.

    While I realize for some families financial need compels some women to find employment if this is not the case, why not immerse ones self in motherhood, a fleeting and precious time?

    For me I consider myself fortunate that I had the skills to find a job when I wanted one and the blessing to be able to stay at home with my children when I wanted to. Not everyone has this situation I realize but I’m very much a proponent of respecting and supporting the stay-at-home mother.


  8. You’re right, they cannot leave their children easily. But for most of them, they have no choice. One salary can feed, clothe, and educate an entire family. To help their family rise out of poverty, most are more than willing to leave for years to get ahead. Our driver has been supporting his own family and his nephews and cousins back home. Our maid sends her money home each month to help support her sick husband and pay for her six children to go to highschool and college. I think that we in America could use this kind of help at home, and the poor of the world could use the work.

  9. One thing to bear in mind though is let’s say a woman wishes to become a doctor or an attorney, both of which require years of study and usually being pretty costly as well to obain those degrees. I can see where a woman may want to embark on such a career when she is younger to reap a return on the investment and also while she is younger and still has the routine discipline of studying.

    It seems that in the Kingdom the need for women to work is on the rise due to the increasing inflation. Or, some women do prefer to work and have children so they make that choice. Either way, these actions do create a market opportunity for the woman who would prefer for their child to have an option to attend daycare.

  10. I swear to god, I was reading the previous post (the interview with a Saudi), and following the comments goin’ on about the need for long hours daycare, and thinking to myself: I bet you she’s gonna write a post about this bit. It is an area of interest for many, myself included, as I head back home. True my kid has his gramma to see after school, but still, I would like for him to be around other kids, in a disciplined env’t at least up to 4! 😀

  11. Now what I think would be a great compromise between stay-at-home and working mom is for daycare to be co-located at ones place of employment, particularly if a woman is employed by a large enough organization. This way the woman can have her career whether out of necessity or choice to work -and- have the opportunity to regularly check in on her child too.

  12. Hi Kinz, Just saw your post above. I’m glad that you got to stay home with your children as well. The memories we have are priceless, don’t you think?

  13. I was able to stay home with my son for the first 14 months and then circumstances dictated that I join the workforce. I will always be thankful for the fantastic daycare center that my son attended. The individuals first and foremost all showed such love and affection for the children. The daycare center was also well run and had excellent programs which I believe gave my son additional confidence and easy ability to interact with others. And, as a mom who had no choice but to have her son in daycare, I had peace of mind that although I missed being with my son more, I knew that he was in a safe, secure and loving environment while I was at my workplace.

  14. Yes, delhi, daycare in the workplace is a great idea. Did you suggest it yet to the lady doctor you interviewed? : )

  15. I certainly will do so, A2S!

  16. Insh’Allah the women in Saudia who decide to take outside employment and leave their children at a daycare or with a provider in the home will not encounter some of the problems that seem to be arising here in the US. That would be child abuse,neglect,and drugging of the child. Just this last month on the news they reported two different incidents where the family bought a nanny cam and found their children being abused. The first family had 6 month old twins and the second family had a 5 month old daughter. These nannies came with great references and many years of experience. In the case of the twins the sitter was probably about 30 and with the 5 month old the lady was in her 60’s.
    Mosh’Allah I have 5 children that are 19,14,13,3,and 1. In the case of my oldest 3 I really had no choice but to work. Fortunately we had a wonderful sitter. In the case of my two youngest I’ve had the blessing to be at home with them,Alhumdulillah! I just really don’t think I could leave them in this day and age with a sitter or daycare.

  17. I would think that a licensed and registered daycare would be more closely monitored and regulated as compared to engaging a private nanny/sitter?

  18. AA Carol,

    That may be true in Saudia but not here in the States. Also on the news was a situation where a couple had picked their toddler up from a licensed daycare. The toddler was acting dazed and confused and they ended up taking the toddler to the emergency room where a number of tests were done,including a blood test,and cocaine in the system ended up being the problem! Come to find out, there were a number of toddlers at this daycare who were being drugged.

  19. Tina,

    All I can say is I am truly amazed and thankful when I was in the States with my son in daycare at the time, thank goodness it was a positive experience. But don’t you think the incidents of abuse and bizarre behavoir are the minority? I recall many daycares requiring background checks and drug tests on employees plus having so many regulations to comply with as well as surprised inspections by various officials and agencies. Where are you located in the States?

  20. I worked at a very forward thinking private school once that included a nursery for the staff’s children. Babies through age 4 went there and this was my oldest daughters first taste of school. I wanted her to go there, not because I wanted to work so badly that I’d just dump her there, but I wanted the social interaction for her. She was all alone at home so I didn’t feel bad and felt it to be a pre-school environment rather than daycare. I’d come downstairs and visit her often in the beginning. Breastfed babies mothers would be called down when they were hungry or fussy. My daughter learned little songs, her numbers, and had a blast.

  21. forgot to mention my daughter was 3 1/2 at the time.

  22. forgot to mention daughter was 3 1/2yrs at the time…preschool age

  23. Carol,

    I’m in Indiana. Fortunately none of the cases I spoke about happened here. I’m sure these stories are few and far between but it sure makes you think when you hear of them. Alhumdulillah, my son goes to a preschool where they have an area that parents can enter any time of the day,unannounced,with a door code and watch the children through a two-way mirror. It’s very comforting to have this and both my husband and myself have stopped by and watched several times.

  24. I am newly in Riyadh & I am searching for a day care center or a nursery but it is very hard to find one here, I am going to work soon insha’allah & I want a place in which I cal leave my kids in it & to be safe, does anybody know any place like this please send back to me.

  25. Rasha,

    I am not aware of any traditional daycare centers. You might try checking with a few of the schools after they open to see if anyone from there could give you a lead. Good luck!

  26. would anyone please recommened daycares to me? it’s kinda urgent

  27. NAD – please visit Aysha’s blog “In the Making” as she also wrote a comprehensive post which included reviews of daycares in Riyadh.

  28. I found some of the comments here intriguing. Well, I’m a mother and I’m not joining a workforce, I’m a full time mom, taking care of my 4 year old boy all by myself. And you know what? It is not enough. I mean, children do need to interact with other children. Not only with their mothers. My son has difficulties in interacting with the other kids, especially now he has been enrolled in one of the kindergartens here in Riyadh. He cries throughout the school hours for almost a month and refuses to mingle with his classmates. We took him to a phsycitrist and after we explained everything he told us that he became an introvert child due to his society. Here we have a closed society and we as mothers can not just go outside and socialize freely like in other countries. Particularly me and my hubby are foreigners, we only depend on our neighbours or close friends, and not all of them have children who are in similar age as our son, and not to mention they don’t have all the time in the world only for our son. The phsycitrist also questioned my relationship with my son, which the answer is very close, and apart from the good side of it, this may sparked his behaviour problems as well. Because he only trusted me in everything and will not allow other people (including his teacher and classmates) to get closer to him, which leads him to introversion. Therefore the phsycitrist advised us to find a daycare, playgroup or extra activities for my son so he could interact with other kids his age in a casual way regularly, without any formal education concerned. So in my point of view, a daycare does not only provide assistance for the working mothers, but also for the regular moms as well. In daycares children learn to socialize with other children their age in a different environment. It will greatly help the children to prepare themselves for their school adjustments. I just wish I’ve done it sooner. Just my share of story and opinion.

  29. Wife & Mother – Thank you so much for your candid sharing of your experience and raising important points any parent should take into consideration on development and well-being of a child. I know that as a single parent I had to enroll my son in a daycare program before he was a year old. I felt so guilty but had no choice yet ultimately in the long run I saw how it did make him more independent, confident and interact with other children easily.

    You are so right in how the closed society and culture of Saudi Arabia does impact on the personalities and traits of children.

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