Saturday, October 24, 2015

What we expatriates are doing culturally wrong while living in Saudi Arabia?

Expatriates living in the Kingdom often come across several differences in culture, especially from the western world. There are numerous customs of the Kingdom which the expatriates are completely unaware of despite the fact that they have lived here for a few years. Here are a few pointers to help you out.

  1. One should be aware that it is not acceptable for women to be shaking hands with other men. There are several ways in which people greet one other in the Kingdom, it may be perfectly acceptable for women to shake hands with other women, and however it can become very inappropriate if a man shakes hands with a woman especially if they are not closely related. Hence it is advisable to keep your hands to yourself.

  2. If you feel compelled to ask about the health of another person’s family, make sure you make it sound general and do not go into any names, especially of the female relatives such as wife or mother. This should also be avoided.
  3. Most of the residences have been designed to accommodate segregated events according to gender, hence if you have been invited to a new friend’s house for tea or for a meal, do not expect to be sitting with your wife.

  4. On weekends, groups of single men are generally not allowed into malls, as the weekends are reserved for families only. Women may go shopping on weekends as it means less single men at the malls.
  5. If the sole of your feet is facing another individual it is considered as offensive and they may actually be offended by it.
  6. There are numerous singles sections across the Kingdom, however the singles section is not meant for single women. The singles area is reserved for single men, while single women can enjoy the family area which is usually better decorated and caters better service to the customers.
  7. The Authorities are always coming up with new ways in which to improve the traffic situation, however until the issues are completely resolved, you must be aware of the driving patterns. Sometimes you may witness heated arguments taking place, however they rarely turn in to full blown brawls.
  8. If a car behind is flashing you, in the west it means that it is giving you permission to pass, however here it is a warning sign rather than allowing another to pass. Over here it can be roughly translated to “watch out, here I come”
  9. Eating or pointing with the left hand is a big no no, due to the fact that the left hand is considered unclean.
  10. Many people wonder why men walk hand in hand, this is just a sign of friendship and a cultural thing more than anything else.
  11. Gifts are not a necessity, however they are widely appreciated. If you admire an item too much, the host will give it to you. If you do come across such a situation, avoid accepting the gift too readily, however if the giver in insisting, then declining the gift is considered to be rude.

Saudi Culture
  1. 6 things, Saudi residents are in love with!
  2. Why do Arabs make fun of other people?
  3. Has Saudi Society changed enough to allow women to Travel alone?
  4. Where do you see the Arab World after 15 Years?
  5. Families thrown away 400 Patients to Taif Mental Hospital


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