8 Traditions you must know in Saudi Arabia

Every country has a different culture and culture of Saudis or to be a more appropriate Arab World is a bit different from western culture. Here are 8 Saudi traditions every expat should know;

Warm Handshake

Saudis are very hospitable and they also expect the same from the other person. If your handshake with them in a lousy way, it is treated as disrespect to the person with whom you are shaking hands.

  • Never ever use your left hand.
  • If your right hand is dirty or even wet, never ever shake hands with anyone before cleaning it thoroughly.
  • If you are caught in such a situation that you must shake hands, offer your wrist instead.


If you have been living in Saudi Arabia for some time, you might have noticed that when they meet each other, they exchange a series of kisses.

Each kiss has a separate meaning and I have already elaborated it in this article. “Types of Kisses in Arab World”.

Start from Right

If you are entering a room where a group of Saudis is seated, start always from the person on your right-hand side and move towards your left anti-clockwise.

Do not forget to greet each person with “Assalam Alaikum” with a slight bow of your head and a genuine smile. It goes down well with your hosts.

Never Refuse the Qahwa

You must be offered a traditional drink of Saudis called Arabic Qahwa. You should not refuse it in any way. Even if you don’t like it, just take a sip of it and put the cup on the table.

If you will drink it fully, Saudi sitting near the kettle will refill it. 

Don’t Wear Gold

In case you are wearing a gold chain around your neck, try not to make it too obvious. Also, try to avoid wearing gold bracelets. Men are not allowed to wear gold in Islam and therefore, it is considered bad in Saudi culture.

Never discuss Politics and Religion

Never ever discuss religious politics, monarchy, terrorism, security, and such controversial issues with anyone in open. Don’t even discuss with your Saudi friends in isolation.

These are extremely sensitive issues and you may have to face severe consequences due to your ignorance. Politics means politics involving Saudi Arabia.

Yes, you can discuss the politics of your country if it does not have any relationship with Saudi Arabia. They love football so it can be a good topic to discuss.

Have Patience – Insha Allah

The First lesson you should learn while entering Saudi Arabia is to have patience. In Saudi Arabia, everything takes time to process. 

Saudis normally say, Insha Allah, if you ask about the expected date of completion of the task. It means “God’s will”. Recommended: 7 things Arabs say but don’t really mean it

Sitting in Chair

While seated in a chair, avoid sitting cross-legged such that one of your shoes points at your hosts.

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Steve has vast experience in writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures.