Bowling Venues in Riyadh


It’s always a fun evening Ten Pin Bowling with friends in Riyadh and, surprisingly, there are a number of bowling venues available that women are able to use.  (It’s been almost four years since I arrived and still the emotions get a little rattled when I have to add the phrase ‘available for women’.  But moving on….)

The other night Hubster and I went back to UBC, the Universal Bowling Center on al-Ma’adhar St, for a couple of games with a lovely Canadian couple.  This time there was no issue with a segregated car park and we had a good time.  And Hubster was on fire – damn it!
UBC is not the only bowling center in Riyadh but I like it.  The Family Section is spacious – you don’t feel closed in – it has a relaxed atmosphere, there are plenty of lanes plus, there’s a well equipped games arcade for the kids if they get bored with the bowling.  What they lack in phone etiquette they more than make up for in delivery of a good night out.  What do I mean?

Expats jest that Saudi’s are clueless when it comes to customer service and the following scenario is a classic example of why.  To ensure we had our lane pre-booked the UBC website was Googled one morning and the advertised phone number dialed   The soothing sounds of Koranic verse were playing over the line – obviously, no-one was at the office yet so I hung up.  

Sometime later my phone rings and, at the end of the conversation, I couldn’t help but think that whoever returns inquiring calls at UBC could benefit from some phone training, learning something along the lines of, ‘Good afternoon, it’s So’n’So from the UBC bowling center.  I’m returning your call’, instead of this conversation:

Ring, ring:
Me: Hello
Him: Hello
(Oh buggar!  Don’t tell me this is another Male-In-Saudi fruitcake randomly dialing numbers looking for love!).
Me: Can I help you?
Him:  You rang
Me:  Errr, I did.
Him:  Yes.
Me:  Ummm, when?
Him: Today.
Me: (racking my brain, who did I call?).  Are you the bowling guy?
Him:  Yes.
Me:  From UBC?
Him: Yes
Me:  Ohhhh.  OK….

Mystery Man identified!

 It turns out, reservations are not required at UBC Family Section if you’re going bowling early in the evening, though peak times after last salat and weekends may be a different matter.  The UBC number, in case you’re wondering, is +966 505 269 788.

If you’d like to go elsewhere for your bowling, then here a some other options –


Ten Pin Bowling is available at the Intercontinental Hotel, also on al-Ma’adhar St.  They re-opened a couple of lanes to women fairly recently, however to bowl there women have to be happy being stuck behind a wooden screen which, in my mind, is not conducive to fun and relaxation.  According to the bloke at the counter, the Intercontinental venue is often used for bowling tournaments or booked out for groups so it always pays to phone first to check availability. (The Intercon number is 014655000).

Al Khozarma Hotel also has a bowling alley within its bowels though I hear (because I’ve never been) that it is very small – only 4 lanes. However, if you get a group together you can book the whole place out and enjoy your own private bowling party, which does sound like fun. The front desk at Al Khozarma can be reached on +966 11 465 8576.

The Ritz Carlton houses Strike Alley which, as one friend told me, is just like being back in the States.  But it only opens it’s doors to women on a Saturday or Tuesday.  All other times are men only.  Strike Alley operates on a ‘first come first served basis’. For further information call The Ritz +966 1 802 8020.

The other bowling location in Riyadh is at Marina Mall.  It’s a small, seven lane alley right next to the food court upstairs which means it’s for men only.  (Woop-de-doo!  Nuff said about that place).
Women are expected to remain ‘appropriately dressed’ at all bowling locations (possibly with the exception of the Al Khozarma).  And, yes, that means leave the abayas’ on.  Does this impede your bowling style? Well, I guess that would depend on what your style is.  The ‘toddle up to the line and throw’ style probably wouldn’t be terribly affected by an abaya.

However, if your style is anything like the guys in this vid, which, by the way, is quite informative re: how to bowl properly, then no, an abaya is not the best gear for bowling.  I can tell you from personal experience…
Yeah right!)
…that a fast moving, swinging arm easily gets hung up in a loose, robe-like over garment; and the ground hugging nature of said garment often causes one to stumble mid-slide on the way to the foul line; and you can imagine how difficult it is to get height and/or width on your follow through leg wearing an abaya.

As a completely different issue I ought to mention this ‘thing’ that has happened every time we’ve gone bowling in Riyadh.  We use house balls when we bowl and, for some reason, other people who turn up for an evening of bowling think it’s OK to walk up to your ball rack, assess the balls sitting in it and then pick up, and walk off with, whichever ball has taken their fancy without asking if your group is using said balls, which they are, which is why they are in the ball rack at the start of our bowling lane!  What’s with that?

 Anyway, if you do decide to go bowling at one of the bowling venues in Riyadh, the centers don’t open till 4pm, which is a bummer because I reckon a Ten Pin bowling coffee morning every now and then in Riyadh would be a lot of fun for we female types.

Location of UBC Bowling Center

View Kiwi In Saudi: Tiki Tour in a larger map

Ka Kite,

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