Saudi Arabia: Challenges of Small Appliances


I recently participated in a discussion with expatriate women married to Saudis and living in Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia has a culture where many are accustomed to having part or full-time domestic help.  If one chooses to do much traditional Saudi or Arabic style cooking, most dishes require many ingredients which need to be finely chopped.  The chopping of ingredients is usually a task delegated to the domestic help.  The Saudi and Arabic dishes are generally dishes which take time to prepare and cook or bake.  Saudi culture has been that a woman generally did not work outside of the home so she had the time to spend on preparing and serving traditional dishes.

Today in Saudi Arabia more women are working outside of the home.  They may not have the same kind of time to prepare traditional meals.  Many women also do not want to delegate preparation of a complete meal to their domestic help.  As a result, a crock pot is an ideal small appliance.  Many delicious meals can be started in the crock pot before a woman departs for work.  When she comes home, viola, the meal is ready to serve and eat.

For most Western expatriate women a crock pot is considered a standard small appliance in the kitchen.  However, in Saudi Arabia acquiring a crock pot is easier said than done.  The majority of stores which offer a selection of small appliances will seldom have crock pots.  When I was in Riyadh I got lucky.  I was in SACO where I was able to purchase a rice cooker that had a crockery insert.  Even IKEA did not have crock pots! The reason crock pots are scarce is because of either the reliance on domestic help or the assumption the woman is at home and has the time to prepare meals.

Another item that may also be a challenge to locate is a food processor.  Food processors eliminate the need for timely chopping.  Within minutes all the vegetables are finely chopped!  Again, the reliance of domestic help has not created a demand for food processors.

Last but not least when purchasing small appliances in Saudi Arabia be careful of the voltage.  It is not unusual for small appliances in shops to be mixed together to include 110 and 220 voltage.  Residences within the Kingdom are known for having differing voltages.  For example, the villa which my husband and I lived in had both voltages.  In fact, one side of my kitchen was 110 and the other side was 220.

11 Responses

  1. Actually I’ve found that you can find a lot of different appliances here. Stores like Extra, Panda, Carrefour, and like you metioned, Saco too, all sell a wide variety of appliances. But as you mentioned the voltage thing can be a challenge.

    But you can always use those electrical outlet adapters if the electrical cord is different from the outlets at your home.

    For those who plan on moving here, if you are sending a shipment, it’s easier to bring along your small appliances, especially if you will be living on a compound like Aramco.

  2. Definitely bring your own crockpot!!!

  3. The adaptors don’t help with voltage though. You need a converter for that and that’s pretty bulky for a kitchen counter.

    I did get my crockpot at SACO after melting the first one I brought from the US by plugging into a 220 outlet. So they must have them sometimes.

    It seems they use pressure cookers A LOT here, and where we would normally use a crockpot.

    I’ve never had trouble finding a food processor. Maybe Riyadh is different- but there are always some around even large grocery stores usually have some.

    I did hear that in new buildings etc. the Kingdom is moving to 220 entirely- which is just something good to know.

  4. My house is completely 220. But.. some of my appliances are 110. So in my kitchen I have a Staxs. It is a voltage regulator. I have an extention cord plugged into it so I have more htan one outlet.
    My crockpot came from home. My food processor came from a local store here in Tabuk. Food processor, blenders, mixers, toasters, coffee pots, bread machines, grinders can all be found here. Crockpots, not so much. I’ve been here over 9 years and have yet to see one in any of the stores.

  5. I made sure to bring my crock pot with me because it’s a must have! But for anyone already here and looking, I saw them for sale in Centrepoint in Riyadh on King Abdullah road!

  6. I found one at Extra at the Granada Mall. It was over a year ago and it was 110v. I waited over a year with checking all the stores everytime I went in. LOVE my crockpot.!! If the store carries western stuff eventually it will have something from home. Pe patient!!

  7. Our contract did not allow for any baggage with the exception of what I could carry in my luggage so bringing a crockpot was impossible.

  8. It is so good to hear where small appliances and especially crockpots are available!

  9. If they don’t have one after looking through the recipes they will want one!

  10. thanks blooming in the sand I just arrived back in Riyadh for 3 months visiting my husband. I am in need of a few appliances, and a 220 crock-pot would be one of them. Thank goodness I live very close to Granada Mall will head down there for one.

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