Features of Saudi Arabia

Features of Saudi Arabia

25. They can also easily scribble in your documents (for example in the passport) and it will be accepted as a document. Even without a stamp. Checked it myself.

26. In the Saudis there is a “right hand” rule – you can’t eat or pass anything with your left hand, because the left hand is considered unclean (yes, they wash with it). A friend of mine who works with Arabs in the field says that they hit their hands when they forget to take food with their left hand. As a joke, of course, but still. I also try to submit documents only with my right hand, it does not cost me anything, they are pleased.

27. Not every Saudi toilet has toilet paper, but every toilet, even the most shabby one, has a douche bag. It’s a little shower on a hose. It’s a great gadget, I think.

28. Very little Western music. Mostly Arabic, all around. Even the young people in the car mostly listen to their native dull tunes. Of all the many radio stations I found only 3 with Western music: one Radio Bahrain and two from the Saudi Aramco (one has Western pops, the other has American nostalgia).

29. Saudi-Aramco (Saudi-American Company) is the world’s largest mining company. Organized by the Americans in the 1930s, at first they were 50/50 with the Saudis, then the Saudis snatched everything away, now the company is 100% locally owned. Produces a quarter of all oil on earth. Lots of people from all over the world work for Aramco. The average salary of a specialist with experience (and they don’t take inexperienced people there) is fifteen hundred bucks.

30. Entertainment is officially banned in Saudi Arabia. There are no movie theaters in the kingdom (according to some reports, the first movie theater was recently opened in Jeddah, a college town, but I don’t know how true that is).

31. Education in schools is separate: boys separately, girls separately.

32. Every restaurant has two sections: for single men and for families. Because it’s not nice to see other people’s women. Of course, if you are alone, they won’t let you into the family section. But even if you came with your wife, you still won’t look at strange women, because even in the family section the tables are separated by screens, so a woman can undress and eat in peace.

33. Even in fast-food restaurants (McDonald’s, for example) there will be two lines to the cash register: for women and for others. Food courts are also divided into zones, for singles and families. There women are not unbuttoned, they eat in the curtains. They lift the curtain with one hand and put the fork in their mouths with the other. In shopping malls at the cashier’s desk there is also a division. Women (or families) separately, singles separately.

34. Okay, you can’t see someone else’s face, very often the brothers don’t know what the brothers’ wives look like. This is a normal phenomenon.

35. Alcohol is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. It is strictly forbidden. Punishable by imprisonment and sticks. But the locals somehow smuggle it in, they make moonshine on dates and so on. You can buy it, but it’s very expensive. Whiskey will cost about 300 bucks a bottle.

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

36. Sticks are a pain. Not everyone can take stick punishment. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but after 100 strokes a person can die. That’s why a doctor is always there to stop the punishment if anything happens. A person will get the rest when he is healed. If the punishment is, for example, 200 sticks, they divide it up into several months.

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37. Pork is forbidden.

38. Death penalty for drugs.

39. For homosexuality, too, by the way! But there are a lot of gays here anyway. Guys are separate from girls since childhood, at school there are guys, at university there are guys, in cafes you can only sit in a single section where there are only guys. And so on. Falling in love with each other.

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

40. Executions are usually on Fridays, in squares. They cut off the head. People stand around and watch. I’ve seen videos, it’s not a pretty sight, I’ll tell you that. But lately it’s less and less.

41. There is censorship in Saudi Arabia. It’s pretty tough. Even the kissing scenes are cut out in all movies, not to mention the bed scenes. They just stupidly cut it out, not caring that it might confuse the plot. Even on the radio they cut the words out of songs. Remember Psy with his gangnam style? The chorus goes, “Eeeeee, sexy lady.” So in Saudi Arabia, he just sings, “Eeeee, sexy lady.” All right sex, I get it, but here’s a great Sia song – Chandelier, where in the chorus “one two three one two three drink”, the drink is stupidly cut out.

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

42. But the thing that amazes me the most is the censorship in the stores. There are specially trained people who paint over the exposed body parts not only of women, but of men as well, on the boxes and packages. They sell men’s underwear, for example, with the legs and arms painted over. An inflatable pool is sold, on the packaging of a satisfied family – the male children are left as is, the aunt is covered completely with black marker.In fashion magazines, girls in short-sleeved T-shirts are neatly painted with long sleeves. It’s a laugh and a sin.

43. Of the religions, only Islam is allowed. All other religions are strictly forbidden. I certainly wear a cross, but I try not to shine it.

44. In addition to the regular police in Saudi Arabia, there is a religious police force that enforces all of the above bans. It is called the “virtue promotion commission” or simply mutawa. They can come up and reprimand you if something is wrong. They can arrest you for a serious offense. A friend of mine was once stopped on Friday before lunchtime (the time of the main prayer) and was questioned about why he wasn’t at prayer at that time. The fact that he wasn’t a Muslim didn’t satisfy them much. He sat in their car until prayer time was over, then they let him go.

45. 45. They pray here five times a day (six times during the holy month of Ramadan). During the prayer the whole kingdom is silent. Stores are closed for half an hour, all institutions, gas stations. NOTHING works. There are so many mosques. There are several in each district. Every mall, every institution has a prayer room. Every hotel room has a prayer rug, a Koran, and an indication of which way is Mecca.

46. The toilets are all flooded with water before prayer. Since you have to pray clean, the locals wash very carefully, the usual pattern – you go to the toilet, and there their feet in the sinks.

47. Friday is a holy day! No one works. Everything is closed until lunchtime, the streets are empty, everyone is praying.

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48. The holy Koran is the most necessary book. It is the official constitution of the kingdom, and it teaches the faithful Muslims what they can and can’t do.

49. As in all Arab countries, there is a cult of the family. Every Friday they gather in large families, in restaurants, for picnics, etc. They are very respectful of their elders.

50. 50. Petrol is very cheap in the Saudis. A liter of 91 is 0.45 real, 95 – 0.6 (7 and 10 rubles respectively).

51. Most Saudi men have long fingernails for some reason. I don’t know what it has to do with it, but I’m still not used to it, I shudder every time.

52. Summer in Saudi Arabia is very hot. Often, the temperature in the shade can reach +50C.

53. That’s why on weekends in summer all the malls are full of Arabs and expats. They walk in the malls, socialize, eat. Personally, I always feel cold in these malls because they turn on the air conditioners to +18C, and the Arabs are wrapped up, but I feel cold.

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

54. In general, a lot of expats live in compounds, this is an area separated from all the high wall, with guards. Inside the compound, white women don’t have to wear the black abaya, they wear whatever they want. How expats live in Saudi Arabia: http://finniken.livejournal.com/189886.html

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

55. Arab women wear a lot of dye. Eyebrows as thick as a finger, brightly colored eyes, henna drawings on their brushes. Everything that can be shown, everything is decorated.

56. Despite the fact that women can only appear on the street covered, stores of modern women’s clothing do not lack customers. Arab women actively buy all this to show off at home in front of their husbands.

57. There are no dressing rooms in Saudi malls. Women usually buy clothes, try them on at home, and if they don’t like them, bring them back. Or in the bathroom of the mall they try on clothes without a mirror and also return them if they don’t like them.

58. There is crime. If you leave your laptop in the car, they can break the window and take it away. In the evening they can take away your money-phone.

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

59. Saudis swim in the sea mostly in their clothes. Especially women. Men in shorts and T-shirts, the woman is completely covered. Most do not know how to swim.

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

60. The beaches, by the way, are also separate. Once, out of ignorance, came for a swim at a family beach, for a long time I did not understand why I was looked at condemningly. But no one said anything. People usually come to the beach with their families, from children to the elderly. With food, barbecues, hookahs.

100 Facts about Saudi Arabia

61. The country is very dirty. Where a person is, it’s dirty. Paper, bags, packages. The family came for a picnic, ate and drank, and left all the crap behind. The usual picture – driving, a bag of trash falls out the window from the car in front. Or stood at a traffic light, from the neighboring car thrown napkins, food scraps.

62. The Saudis usually get very dirty inside their cars. Very dirty. The interior of the car can get dirty in a couple of months. It’s a mess. That’s why a lot of people don’t take the polythene off the seats for years.

63. They usually have Indians picking up trash off the streets. What do they do? They pretend. He goes with a bag, picks up one piece of paper, ten are left lying around, goes on.

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64. Almost every company has a tea boy. A guy who delivers tea and coffee to the offices. He drops by, asks what you’d like to drink today, leaves, brings it over.

65. In general, to get to Saudi Arabia is not easy, it’s not a tourist country. They will give a visa if you 1) for work, 2) if you go to close relatives (daughter, son, mother, father) 3) if you are a Muslim and make the holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

66. Mecca is the cradle of Islam and is located in the west of the kingdom. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world visit Mecca every year. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this shrine.

67. When you come to Saudi Arabia to work, usually HR takes away your passport (not always, not all of them, mine was not) and gives you an ikama (residence permit). Ikama is considered an official document in the kingdom. In order to open a bank account or buy a car, you need the ikama. No one asks for a passport. By the way, everyone has an ugly picture on their Ikama. The photo is taken from the system, the one taken at the first passport control. Usually the picture is taken somehow from below and the people are nerdy. When leaving the Saudis, the ikama is surrendered, the passport is given back.

68.After getting the ikama you need to get a Saudi driver’s license. Russians (and many others) are simply issued on the basis of the Russian license, and Indonesians, for example, need to pass the exam from scratch to get a license. The driver’s license number is exactly the same as the ikama’s. Picture too, yyyy.

Features of Saudi Arabia

On the shores of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf stretches the majestic kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This monarchical country occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula and encompasses the two holy sites of Muslim pilgrimage, the cities of Mecca and Medina. The national characteristics of the “country of two shrines” are determined by the profound religiosity of its indigenous inhabitants.

The power in the country has not changed since its founding, and the name is derived from the surname of the ruling family – Al Saud, where “Al” means family.

Religion in Saudi Arabia

The state religion of the kingdom is Sunni Islam, there are about 10-15% of Shiites in the country other denominations are officially banned. The authorities allow people of other faiths to enter the country, but prohibit visits to Mecca and Medina.

Al abrar mecca

A religious police force, the Muttawa, also known as the Sharia Guard, has been established to prevent violations of the holy canon. Members of the religious police are constantly on patrol in the streets and public establishments and ensure the observance of religious norms and manners. Foreigners may be subjected to punitive measures, which are usually lenient, so the religious sensitivities of the local population must be respected.

Traditional dress

The appearance of the inhabitants of Saudi Arabia must comply with the norms of Islamic morality. Women in particular are subject to strict clothing rules. When they leave the house, they must cover their body with an abaya, a traditional long dress with sleeves, and their head with a hijab.

Women in Sauidi Arabia

Men wear loose cotton shirts – dishdashu and the national headdress in the form of a scarf – gutra. Such clothing is simply necessary in a hot and dry climate.

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man woman sauidi arabia

Foreign guests are not required to adhere to Islamic traditions regarding choice of clothing, but while in the country, it is recommended to dress modestly. The religious police may charge tourists for dressing too short or revealing.

National Cuisine

The gastronomic traditions of the inhabitants of Saudi Arabia are also subject to religious laws. In the first place, the eating of pork is prohibited, so in the meat dishes they use beef, lamb, poultry, cooked on coals and generously seasoned with a variety of spices.

Traditional meat dishes include shawarma, shish kebab, kebab, baked lamb meat – meshui.

camel meat

Among desserts are wide spread rakhat-lukum, baklava, candied fruits.

Alcohol consumption is strictly forbidden in the country. Among drinks the most popular are strong coffee with cardamom and black tea with aromatic herbs. The culture of preparation and drinking of these drinks in the country is extremely high. Coffee ceremonies during which unhurried conversations are held are widespread.

Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Until 2013, there was no inbound tourism in Saudi Arabia. Only in 2013 they thought about issuing tourist visas. Previously, there were only pilgrimage tours to Mecca and Medina. Now you can enter Saudi Arabia as a group, individual tourists are still not allowed to enter!

mecca saudi arabia

Family Traditions

Traditions are still strong in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Young men and women are married without their consent by agreement between their parents, but no one forbids divorce either. The divorce rate in the country is very high. If previously a divorced woman was looked upon with contempt, but now a second or even third marriage is considered the norm, in this respect, the residents of the kingdom is no different from the Europeans.

Women are allowed to receive higher education, work and drive a car.

Women in Arabia and cars

Of course, all this can still be done with the permission of the husband. Since 2019, there is an app Absher in the Apple Store, in which men register their wives and children to track their movements.

By law, a man can marry four times, but in order to marry a second time, the consent of the first wife must be obtained. In order to marry a third time, the consent of the previous two wives must be obtained. As you understand, no woman with a sense of dignity would ever allow such a thing. Moreover, even if consent is obtained, the man is obliged to support all the wives equally and to give each a separate dwelling, since they cannot all live in the same territory together! These rules apply mainly in large cities and to women from wealthy, influential families. No one monitors the lives of the poor, let alone the Bedouins.

Saudi Arabia

It is now officially forbidden to marry girls under the age of majority. Despite the ban, in many poor provinces families are forced to marry off their daughters at puberty.

Since 2011, women have been allowed to vote and run for various public offices.

In shopping malls you can often hear the “ringing of the armor” of women who wear all the gold given by their husbands. If a man wants a divorce, tradition dictates that a wife has the right to carry only what she is wearing at the time. Of course, this custom is slowly dying out and even the children are increasingly left with the women after divorce.

If a foreign woman marries a Saudi, she must give up her country’s passport, since Saudi Arabia does not recognize dual citizenship. Thus, the woman is at the complete mercy of her husband and the laws of that country. As attractive as the Arabian tale is, it is still worth thinking carefully. After all, a characteristic feature of the kingdom is that without a male guardian a woman has no right to leave the country.

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Women are not allowed to walk the streets alone, especially at night. It is obligatory to have a male companion, even if he is only 8 years old. This is more due to security rules than religion. Since Saudi Arabia prohibits movies, theaters, discos, and alcohol, young people have nowhere to vent their energy.

ksa saudi arabia

There have been cases where men have kidnapped a woman, raped her, and then dumped her in the desert. By the way, rape is punishable by death in the kingdom!

Foreigners in Saudi Arabia

There are many foreigners in the kingdom who are employed in science, education, medicine, oil and other fields. Especially for those who come here for work, were built mini-cities, in which the order does not differ from the European. Here you don’t have to wear abaya, headscarves, go to prayers and sit separately from men in restaurants. Only foreigners live in such towns and they are all behind high fences. When leaving the city, general rules of conduct are included.

Saudi Arabia has many workers from Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines. Women come here to look after houses, clean, cook, and babysit children, while men drive cars, tend gardens, and work on construction sites. Unfortunately, Filipino laborers do not always fare well. Behind the high fences of wealthy families, foreigners, especially women, are almost deprived of their rights. Legislation is primarily aimed at protecting the interests of its citizens.

Public transport in Saudi Arabia

As such, there is no public transport in the country. The roads are good, but people mostly travel by cab, their own car or motorcycle. In Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam, they run buses, there are only 6 routes in each city, although they are million-dollar cities. The interval is 10-15 minutes, you can buy a bus pass (just like in our country!), it will be valid in all cities, as both the city and intercity buses are managed by 1 company! The Saudis believe that since everyone has cars, they don’t need public transportation.

riyadh saudi arabia

The intercity routes are operated by Saptco, but not much of either.

Saudi Arabia in Film and Literature

If you want to know more about this closed country, watch the movies:

  • Black Gold (available publicly on YouTube);
  • Saudi Arabia Uncovered (filmed with a hidden camera, a documentary) on Netflix;
  • The book Diaries of a Saudi Princess . There is much controversy surrounding this book, they say that it is just a work of fiction and has nothing to do with reality. Anyway, the book is very interesting, the plot is gripping from the beginning and keeps you in suspense like a detective;
  • Sand Storm on Netflix . Not really about Saudi Arabia, but it shows very clearly the life of the Bedouins unvarnished, their difficulties in the modern world and their attitude towards women.

Now Saudi Arabia is slowly beginning to open up to the world. We really hope that in the coming years we will be able to go to the oil kingdom on our own and see all its features with our own eyes!

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