Customs & Traditions in Saudi Arabia
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Men should not stare at women or offer compliments
Maintain eye contact with people of the same sex.
Men should show courtesy and respect for women.
Members of the opposite sex do not embrace or kiss in public.
Do not discuss religion or criticize Islam or Saudi cultural practices.
It’s illegal to take photos of women, in addition to military and government facilities.
Punctuality depends on the priority of the occasion. People are tolerant of lateness when meeting with friends. However, punctuality is expected and adhered to in professional meetings.
It is considered rude to check the time whilst in conversation with someone or at a social gathering. Time spent with friends is considered time well spent.
Show interest in the well-being of a Saudi’s family whenever you see them (e.g. “How are your children?”).
Do not ask about a man’s wife or personal matters unless they open up to you first.
Criticism must be indirect. If you need to correct someone, take an indirect approach to the comment and include praise of any of their good points.
Avoid sitting in any position that allows one’s shoe to face another person. This is considered insulting.
Pay respect to the elderly in all situations.
It is polite to avoid blowing one’s nose or spitting in public.
Avoid mentioning issues relating to women’s rights, or drawing assumptions about a Saudi woman’s freedom or happiness based on her hijab, abaya, or niqab. Wearing a hijab is a woman’s personal decision and does not necessarily indicate that she holds conservative ideologies or is oppressed.
It is polite to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in front of a Muslim during the daylight hours of the fasting month of Ramadan. In Saudi Arabia, it is considered disrespectful to engage in these activities in public.
Acknowledge Saudi Arabia’s modern advancements and achievements where appropriate. The country is currently in a state of cultural and social transition, and most Saudis are likely to appreciate it when foreigners recognize them as progressive people.
The family and tribe are the basis of the social structure.
Saudis take their responsibilities to their family quite seriously.
Families tend to be large and the extended family is very close.
The individual receives a social network and assistance in times of need from the family.
Nepotism is considered a good thing since it indicates that employing people one knows and trusts is of primary importance.
Family provides financial and emotional support.