15 Basic Etiquette and Rules Followed in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, a land rich in culture and tradition, presents a unique blend of ancient customs and modern advancements. As the heart of the Islamic world, it holds a special place in the hearts of Muslims globally. Understanding and respecting the local customs and etiquette is not just a sign of respect, but also an essential aspect of experiencing the true essence of Saudi Arabian life.

Basic Etiquette and Rules Followed in Saudi Arabia

Whether you’re a traveler eager to explore the kingdom’s vast deserts and lively cities, or a new resident adjusting to life in this dynamic country, knowing the basic rules and etiquette is key to enriching your experience.

In Saudi Arabia, certain fundamental etiquettes and rules are expected to be observed by everyone, be they residents or visitors.

A few of them are:

1. Only use the right hand to shake hands. In Islam, the use of the left hand for these gestures is considered rude.

2. Saudis generally adhere to a distinction between the roles of hands. This is a custom based on Islamic guidelines that state that the left hand is used for removing dirt as well as for cleaning. It is not recommended to use it to conduct functions like waving, eating, or passing items. Therefore, one should gesture, touch people or offer items using both hands together. Using one hand alone can seem too informal, but if doing so, use the right.

3. Avoid sitting in any position that allows one’s shoe to face another person. This can be considered to be offensive. In the same way, it’s not appropriate crossing your legs while looking at people.

4. Be respectful of the elderly at all times. For example, you can stand to greet them as they enter a space or offer them your chair.

5. Do not wear tight clothes that emphasize the shape of your legs or body. The majority of Saudis are used to seeing Western clothes. However, it is recommended to make sure your shoulders, legs, and arms are protected. The women should wear an abaya at all times when in public.

6. The act of holding hands in public or other public displays of affection isn’t permitted.

7. Get permission before taking someone’s photograph or posting it on the internet particularly if they’re female.

8. Avoid situations in where you are isolated with a person of a different gender (e.g. elevators, cars). If a woman is in a car alone with a male driver, she may sit in the backseat behind the driver’s seat out of his view.

9. Tipping is common in Saudi Arabia, but it is not a regular practice. It is also not required if a service charge is already included in the bill. Saudis typically tip expatriate service individuals and for individual services in hotels, despite the total service fee. For example, it is appropriate to leave $1-2USD for a porter or housekeeper.

10. Males without a companion aren’t allowed to enter the family section of cafes and restaurants.

11. It is considered to be rude to look up the time when having a conversation with someone, or in a social gathering. The time spent with friends is considered to be time well spent.

12. The degree of punctuality is contingent on the importance of the event. Saudi Arabians generally have a more relaxed approach to time-keeping in casual settings. People don’t adhere to strict schedules and are at ease with lateness in meetings with their friends. However, punctuality is expected and adhered to in professional settings

13. Alcohol is banned, and its consumption and sale are strictly prohibited and illegal.

14. Consuming food or drinks in public places during Ramadan is forbidden.

15. Gambling is completely prohibited in the country.

Adhering to these 15 basic rules and etiquette in Saudi Arabia goes beyond mere compliance; it’s a demonstration of respect for a culture deeply rooted in history and tradition. By following these guidelines, you not only facilitate smooth and respectful interactions with locals but also deepen your understanding of the societal norms of this captivating country. Whether you’re exploring the majestic landmarks or participating in the daily life of Saudi people, respecting these customs will not only enrich your experience but also leave you with a profound appreciation of Saudi Arabian culture.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *