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Capital and largest city Riyadh
Official languages Arabic
Religion Islam (official)
Government Absolute monarchy until 1992
- King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
- Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz
- Total 870,000 sq m
- Water (%) 0.7
- 2012 estimate 29,195,895 (43rd)
- Density 12.3/km
Currency Saudi riyal (SR) (SAR)
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Present king: Abdullah National animal:
National food : National emblem :
Saudi Arabia officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the largest Arab
state in Western Asia.
It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast.
Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdulaziz bin Saud in 1932.
Saudi Arabia is sometimes called "the Land of the Two Holy Mosques”
With the world's second largest oil reserves and the world's sixth largest natural gas
reserves, the Kingdom is categorized as a high income economy with 19th highest
GDP in the world.
CULTURE OF SAUDI ARABIA
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
The weekend was Thursday and Friday.
Only two religious holidays are publicly recognized.
The left hand is considered unclean and reserved for hygiene.
Do not point at another person and do not eat with the left hand.
Men walking hand in hand is a sign a friendship.
Try not to cross your legs when sitting. Never show the bottom of your feet.
The "thumbs up" gesture is offensive.
Avoid admiring an item too much, you host may feel obligated to give it to
you. When offered a gift, it is impolite to refuse.
Public expression of opinion about domestic , political or social matters is
The limitations on behavior and dress are strictly enforced both legally and
Almost all restaurants have a separate entrance and eating area for families,
and another entrance and eating area for men who are unaccompanied by
Saudi Arabian dress strictly follows the principles of hijab .
The predominantly loose and flowing, but covering, garments
are suited to Saudi Arabia's desert climate.
Traditionally, men usually wear an ankle length garment woven
from wool or cotton, with a keffiyeh or a ghutra worn on the
Women's clothes are decorated with tribal motifs, coins,
sequins, metallic thread, and appliques.
Women are required to wear an abaya when in public.
Business women should make certain that their collarbones and
knees are covered and that their clothes are not form-fitting.
POLITICS OF SAUDI ARABIA
The Quran and the Sunnah are declared to be the country's constitution.
No written modern constitution.
Only Arab nation with no elections.
No political parties nor elections are permitted.
On 25 September 2011, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has announced that
women will have the right to stand and vote in future local elections.
EDUCATION IN SAUDI ARABIA
Education is free at all levels. A large part of the curriculum at all levels is
devoted to Islam.
As few girls attend school, this disproportion is reflected in the rate of
Women typically receive college instruction in segregated institutions.
The study of Islam dominates the Saudi educational system.
LEGAL SYSTEM OF SAUDI ARABIA
The primary source of law is the Islamic Sharia.
Capital and physical punishments are imposed by Saudi courts.
Lashings are a common form of punishment.
Homosexual rights are not recognized.
Retaliatory punishments are practised.
Families of someone unlawfully killed can choose between demanding the death
penalty or granting clemency in return for a payment of diyya, or blood money, by
ENTERTAINMENT, ARTS, SPORTS AND CUISINE
Music and dance have always been part of Saudi life.
Bedouin poetry, known as nabaṭī, is still very popular. Censorship has limited the
development of Saudi literature.
Football is the national sport in Saudi Arabia.
Pork is not consumed and other animals are slaughtered in accordance with halal.
Coffee, served in the Turkish style, is the traditional beverage.
Cinemas are numerous in 1970s.
WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN SAUDI ARABIA
In Saudi Arabia the women have few political rights due to the government's
Under Saudi law, every adult female must have a male relative as her "guardian.
Women are also said to have faced discrimination in the courts, where the
testimony of one man equals that of two women.
Polygamy is permitted for men.
The average age at first marriage among Saudi females is 25 years in Saudi Arabia.
Child marriage exists in Saudi Arabia, however it is not common.
The religious police, known as the mutawa impose many restrictions on women in
public in Saudi Arabia.
There is also effectively a ban on women driving.
Saudis are cognizant (aware) of their heritage, their clan, and their extended family, as
well as their nuclear family.
Saudis take their responsibilities to their family quite seriously.
Families tend to be large and the extended family is quite close.
The individual derives a social network and assistance in times of need from the family.
Men shake hands. Good friends may greet each other with a handshake and a kiss on
Women generally hug and kiss close friends.
Men and women would not greet each other in public If from outside the family.
When Saudis greet each other they take their time and converse about general things
GIFT GIVING ETIQUETTE
Gifts are not the norm as in many other countries.
If you are invited to a Saudi's house bring something small as a thank you.
Flowers do not make good gifts from a man, although a woman could give them to her
Never give alcohol unless you are positive they partake.
Gifts are not opened when received
Saudis socialize primarily in restaurants and international hotels whom they do not
know well. After some time you will be invited to the home.
Entertainment will generally be same-sex only. If both sexes are included, they will be
in separate rooms.
If you are invited to a Saudi's house:
You would usually remove your shoes.
Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctuality is appreciated but not crucial.
Show respect for the elders by greeting them first.
Accept the offer of Arabian coffee and dates even if you do not normally drink coffee.
If the meal is on the floor, sit cross-legged or kneel on one knee..
Eat only with the right hand.
Try a bit of everything that is served.
Honoured guests are often offered the most prized pieces such as a sheep's head so be
There is often more food than you can eat. Part of Saudi hospitality and generosity is to
shower guests with abundance.
BUSINESS ETIQUETTE AND PROTOCOL
Relationships & Communication
You will need a Saudi sponsor (wakeel) to enter the country.
Saudis do not require as much personal space as most western cultures.
Saudis prefer to work with people they know and trust and will spend a great
deal of time.
You must be patient.
Saudis will most likely judge you on appearances, dress and present yourself
Do not discuss the subject of women.
The topic of Israel should also be avoided. Sports is an appropriate topic.
Names are often confusing. It’s best to get the names. Find out both their full
names and how they are to be addressed in person.
Communications occur at a slow pace. Do not feel obligated to speak during
periods of silence. "Yes" usually means "possibly".
At a meeting, the person who asks the most questions is likely to be the least
important. The decision maker is likely a silent observer.
BUSINESS MEETING ETIQUETTE
Appointments are necessary and should be made several weeks to one month in
When meeting with government officials, a firm date will not be settled upon until you
are physically in the country.
Try to schedule meetings in the morning.
You should arrive at meetings on time, although it is an accepted custom to keep
It is not uncommon to have a meeting cancelled once you arrive.
Meetings are generally not private until after a relationship of trust has been developed.
This means you may expect frequent interruptions. Others may wander into the room
and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to
the original discussion until the new person leaves.
Business meetings start after prolonged inquiries about health, family, etc.
Decisions are made slowly. Do not try to rush the process.
The society is extremely bureaucratic. Most decisions require several layers of approval.
It takes several visits to accomplish simple tasks.
Saudis are tough negotiators.
Business is hierarchical. Decisions are made by the highest-ranking person.
Repeat your main points since it will be interpreted as meaning you are telling the truth.
Do not use high-pressure tactics.
Decisions are easily overturned.
There is a tendency to avoid giving bad news and to give effusive acceptances, which
may only mean 'perhaps'.
Business cards are given to everyone you meet, although it may be an idea to be
selective if you have few in your possession.
Have one side of your card translated into Arabic. Be sure to check the translation
carefully as there is often confusion with the order of western names.
SAUDI ARABIA FUN FACT
If you are not a Muslim, you may not enter Saudi Arabia without an invitation and
you may not leave without an exit permit.
It is not uncommon for Westerners to be imprisoned for possessing illegal
substances such as alcohol, pork or narcotics.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS
Irrespective of market conditions, one us dollar would fetch 3.75 riyals.
1 Saudi Riyal equals 16.59 Indian Rupee.
Summers are extremely uncomfortable with humidity reaching up to 99%.
Propagation and public practice of any other religion is strictly prohibited.
However, non-Muslim expats are allowed to practice their religion inside their
homes, as long as nothing is heard or noticed outside.
All shops and business establishments must necessarily be closed during times of
prayer (5 times a day).
All women (including expats) are required to cover themselves with a black robe
called abaya when stepping out of their homes.
Non-Muslim women generally do not cover their heads, but are advised to do so
during prayer times when going out of their homes.
Taking photographs out of your home is also prohibited.
Saudi Arabia has the highest percentage of military expenditure in the whole world,
spending more than 10% of its GDP in its military.
Saudi Arabia is one of only a few fast-growing countries in the world with a
relatively high per capita income.
Saudi Arabia is said to be the world's largest source of funds for Salafi
jihadist terrorist militant groups, such as al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban,
and Lashkar-e-Taiba in South Asia.
Saudi Arabia has a large power distance.
This is partly due to the monarchy in power.
The citizens do not have a strong political voice, and the rules of the land are
decided by the king and the Quran.
Within the family, the elders are at the top of the hierarchy, while the children and
youth are at the bottom.
INDIVIDUALISM VS. COLLECTIVISM:
Saudi Arabia is a collectivist society.
They place great value in not only their physical family, but also their spiritual
Members act for the good of the group, not for any individual goals.
MASCULINITY VS. FEMININITY:
Saudi Arabia has one of the largest male/female gaps.
The life of a woman is very restricted, with laws concerning leaving the house,
dress code, and servitude to the male.
Consequences for breaking out of these sex-based roles are strongly punished.
Saudi Arabia has a high level of uncertainty avoidance.
They are very conservative, and have many rules, laws, and policies that restrict
freedoms, which prohibits change.
Many outside influences counter to their own are not only persecuted, but often
LONG- AND SHORT-TERM ORIENTATION:
Saudi Arabia ranks high in long-term orientation due to their emphasis on social
order, seen in their strong respect for their elders, and the emphasis they place on
long-range goals as opposed to short-term results.