Local Customs to Know Before You Go To Saudi Arabia
Half of the worry with travelling is accidentally upsetting the locals. Especially when you're planning to areas that have a recent history of violence in the media. But, a bit of knowledge on local customs and some of their laws can help you know that your actions are safe and respectful.
That's right; you might have heard of the religious dress required throughout Saudi Arabia. For tourists, it isn't as strict as the media portrays it, and it doesn't only affect women.
The best rule of thumb when it comes to the Islamic codes of dress is to dress as if you were going to a church, temple or another religious establishment. Loose-fitting clothing is best, and plan to cover as much of your body as possible.
Many travelling women find that they feel more comfortable in an abaya which is a full cloak, as well as a headscarf. The conservative dress is a sign of respect and a law.
Men should avoid wearing shorts at all costs, even if they cut at the knee. The overall conservative dress is essential, but it also serves a purpose in managing your body temperature. Loose-fitting clothes that cover more of your skin will protect you from the sun, and help prevent dehydration as they keep you cooler.
For many other countries, a bit of public affection towards your significant other isn't a problem. In Saudi Arabia, it's disrespectful and must be avoided. This is common throughout many countries in the area.
It's best to avoid handholding, and other forms of canoodling while on your vacation to Saudi Arabia. For everyone to enjoy themselves, Saudi Arabia travel, or a trip on holiday shouldn't be a plan for a romantic vacation.
In addition to physical interaction, public acts observing any religion other than Islam are illegal. For many people, this is not a problem, as you can take a Bible with you when you travel to Saudi Arabia. However, attempting to interact with the public on these topics may result in some trouble.
Culture Norms and Customs
In Saudi Arabia, the focus of the culture is on the family. Because of this families are usually large and very inclusive of the extended family as well. However, the family setting is the only time you'll see men and women together.
Customs revolving around food are different regarding the time of day you'll eat. Expect to eat dinner around 10 pm, rather than earlier in the evening. Eating is also a slow and social engagement. When on vacation in Saudi Arabia be sure to enjoy your food and company when dining.
Finally, communication customs are far different in Saudi Arabia than throughout most westernized cultures. Don't expect to be shaking many hands, unless on a business trip, and don't plan to short greetings. Many greetings open up dialogue for full conversations rather than a simple "I'm okay, how are you?" response.
When you're planning to visit, Saudi Arabia enjoy the planning as much as the trip. There is a lot to learn and enjoy in Saudi Arabian culture. Many locals understand that foreigners can have difficulty communicating. Expect to see a laid-back approach to conversations. Avoid being rude, and if you see that your statement or question was interpreted rudely, apologize to save face.
Saving face is the act of smiling and offering an apology for the rude action or statement right away. You can apologize for your actions or the actions of someone else.
If in doubt, save face. Many locals are happy to help foreigners understand what qualifies as "rude" if they see that the visitor is attempting to be respectful.