Anyone who has ever been to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will notice something which is quite evident, even to the first time visitor. In comparison to the expats and people from other countries residing in the Kingdom it seems as if the Saudis are somewhat distant. This is not true in all of the cases as some of the Saudis are extremely social and outgoing. In general though, Saudis appear to keep to themselves and be rather withdrawn or reserved.A lot of non Saudis who have visited the Kingdom have commented on this subject in this light. This is especially felt more by those who have been raised or have been living in a more extrovert culture, like the Europeans or Americans and their liberal way of life. However I have failed to understand why is it that the Saudis do this? Do they not want to meet people of different cultures?
The most vital reason in my opinion is the culture. People of the same culture tend to mix better with the people of their own culture rather than those belonging to other cultures. It is like a safety or comfort zone which people do not want to leave as to avoid any uneasiness. The socialization of people from the same culture will be much more relaxed and informal allowing for an easy feeling.Keeping culture in mind, there are also those cultures which encourage socializing, for instance the Egyptian culture. If you are standing in a queue it is more likely that the Egyptians will be talking to other people while Saudis will stand quietly. Furthermore not every European or western culture has extroverted people, for instance the Germans, who prefer to socialize amongst other Germans while Americans on the other hand would be friendly and talkative with almost people from every culture.
This observation about the Saudis being reserved or distant is something which has become common now. For the early years of my observation of this, I supposed the Saudis probably just thought that they were better than everyone else. However over the years I have realized that it took time to understand the Saudi culture and hence come to the conclusion that my initial opinion was wrong.The Saudi culture does not include constantly mingling and chatting with everyone and being socially active. I personally have seen Saudis not being able to carry on a conversation after just talking about the weather.
Additionally Saudis are a bit reserved and generally do not know much about different cultures from around the world, hence when they do meet someone with a different culture, they usually have an extremely short and generic conversation.Personally I would like the Saudis to become more outgoing and sociable for a change.
It is fun to be around people from different cultures as you get to learn new things and meet new people. You can learn about their culture, food, customs and even dressing. However knowing Saudis, I still believe there is a long way to go.
Source: Arab News
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