Every country has its own culture and customs. These norms become part of their everyday life. One is expected to follow the values inherited by its nation. The culture of a nation is its identity, which all the nations want to preserve to its fullest.
The nationals of a country do not have any problem while following the traditions, but it is the expats who face difficulties. They are unaware of the norms of their residing country and thereby find it difficult to settle.
Saudi Arabia is a land of diversity; you will find people belonging to different nations here. The Saudi culture is unique, one of its own kinds. There are norms which shall be followed by all of its citizens. There are rules designated for males and females respectively.
Expat females find it more difficult to settle here. The Saudi culture has set norms for females which shall be followed by expat females as well. So here is a guide towards those etiquettes that expat females shall consider while interacting with others in the kingdom.
1-How to start a meeting: Either you are holding a formal meeting or an informal meeting; greet others with the phrase “Assalam-O-Alaikum”. This is an Islamic greeting which means May God’s blessing be with you. Try to be warm and hospitable.
Greet others with a smile. Make sure you comfort others with you by starting with regular talks and then reaching the actual matter. Do not start off the meeting directly: first, hold certain off the topic discussions.
2-Do’s and Don’ts of greetings: Expat women can greet their female counterparts with a handshake, hugs or kiss on checks. But do not greet men even with a handshake.
It is considered unethical to greet opposite sex physically. During your meeting avoid physical contact with males. Do not pose High-fives and shoulder tapping with males.
3-How to dress up yourself? Females are encouraged to wear traditional and conservative dresses. Wear a dress which covers maximum parts of the body and in which minimum flesh can be seen. Make sure you get yourself an Abaya; a gown that is worn by Muslim females.
It would be appreciated if you cover up your head, but if you don’t it is certainly okay. There is no harm is having a Hijab i.e. covering your face. Choose to wear an Abaya while going for an interview or for a business meeting. Head covering is not compulsory.
4-How to conduct meetings? If you are to invite Saudis to meet over, there are certain rules you should follow. The places of dining shall be separate for males and females.
Do not serve them with pork and alcohol. Use right hand for eating and other purposes. Offering anything with the left hand is considered rude in Saudi Arabia.
5-Momentum of the Meeting: Timing is of great importance. Don’t rush in a meeting in Saudi Arabia. As the tradition meetings take place at a slow pace and are prolonged. Also, try holding meetings at daytime. Late night meetings are considered unethical.
6-Respect the religion: The non-Muslims expats should respect Islam. They should avoid talking against Islam and avoid getting into an argument which would be against Islamic rules. Do not push Saudis to divert from Islamic teachings. For instance, if a Saudi dismisses a meeting to offer a prayer: don’t tell him/her that he is misbehaving.