The G.A.A and Saudi Arabia

The above is a common enough sight in Ireland, especially on a Sunday. But, it’s not really something you would expect to see in the warm, sunny, exotic location of Saudi Arabia. And while in the past that may have been true, that’s no longer the case. The G.A.A is now something of a stable for the thousands of Irish living there and for the many Irish nurses, engineers, architects etc moving over there in search of jobs and adventure; it provides a small link home.

The G.A.A is now a part of the culture of Irish ex-pats in Saudi especially in Riyadh, where Naomh Alee Riyadh Gaels are located. While they have had to conform to the cultural and religious practices and policies of the country, they have not let that stop them from enjoying a piece of home. Within a Muslim society, it is not permitted for men and women to mix in public. As a result, training takes place inside a western residential compound on an artificial pitch, with no uprights.

Nevertheless, the lack of perfect training grounds does nothing to damper the enthusiasm of its members; not all of which are Irish. The provinces are widely represented on the men’s team but they also claim members from Germany, France, UK, Australia, New Zealand to name but a few. While on the women’s team half of the members are not Irish, instead hailing from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Britainand Continental Europe. (

As a nation, the Irish are used to leaving the homeland in search of a brighter tomorrow or a grand adventure. We have spread our wings across the globle, bringing our culture with us and carrying a piece of home with us.  So perhaps it’s not so surprising among people searching for jobs and adventures that the G.A.A is springing up in unexpected places, places that over 120 odd years ago Michael Cusack would never imagined. Yet, they are in the most unexpected places but continue to do the most important job, creating a united group of Irish, of people, a family and a home away from home.

If you are a healthcare worker, engineer and the thought of sampling the exotic delights of the UAE, Dubaior Abu Dhabi, or jumping across the pond to the UKis something, that tickles your fancy visit or find us on facebook

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