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Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Saudi Arabia

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Saudi Arabia can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Saudi Arabia?

What are the most common clichés about life in Saudi Arabia in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,

Priscilla

its been more than 14 years and since then all I have is respect for this great country, SAUDI ARABIA. I believe in GIVE RESPECT then expect RESPECT. any one who follow this rule will have no complains. each and every expat who comes here, its his / her primary responsibility to respect locals, local laws, local traditions and obey law, its that simple. Yes, locals will be preferred because its their country, they have 1st right. Good and Bad are every where and its in every person. We have to learn to see the bright side and learn from the dark side.

You see guys every country in the world are having thier own set of laws, their do's and their don'ts

Now when an expat decides to be in that country, be it any country in that world, he has to follow the rules and principals of that country.

If he can't do that then he should return back without complaints

Having said that life in Saudi Arabia is peaceful
for every one.

Cliches die hard indeed and with Saudi Arabia the list in endless. I believe the charm in KSA is these contradictions that you face in your every day life. The charm has ended now and we face trying times ahead.

Apart from all the news and bad media coverage this country usually gets, there still was a laid back feel to the country. We had lots of unseen benefits and life was simple enough. You work, spend time with your family or save well enough for family back home.....................There is a transition happening now and with this shift in the way income is generated, a lot of changes are going to happen.  Change is good and often will push people out from their comfort zones and hopefully will be better for all.

More than a decade ago when I arrived in this country life was not as easy as it was now. You needed your sponsors permission to travel to a different region, you ended up paying more than SAR.2 for an SMS, call cabins, the long wait for ERE, Passports with sponsors, Muttawa's, price of shawerma......... :D  :D .things surely has changed some for good and some for worse.

With all the new changes and regulations that are now in place the future for an expat in KSA today looks bleak. If you are doing business or employed here, chances are that life just got a bit more difficult now more than before. New fees, impending taxation, nationalization, budget cuts..etc  will impact everyone until we readjust to the new way of things.  It is going to get difficult at least for the coming year while we absorb all the changes and the new way of life here.

I can only pray and ask for patience for myself and all fellow expats during this transition period and hope all will get for the better soon.

Most individuals would probably think Saudi is not a safe country to work for. Lately there are news where in house workers were abused by employers. Saudi is a country where in the Gov. are really taking care of their own, as a result some nationals are misusing their this privilege. Some expats are avoiding encounters with nationals due to fear. But for my own experienced I have encountered respectful nationals and bad one's. Most good guys are the one's who are educated.

FIRST, LET ME KNOW THAT WHERE R U FROM..........

Thaha1990 :

FIRST, LET ME KNOW THAT WHERE R U FROM..........

Or else ............ :D  :D  Seriously off topic, if you need any assistance ....please feel free to ask.

Yes , off course i think its most difficult to live and work in saudi Arabia because here alot of sanction for expact .You can not go to parks, you can not go to public place even if you are not saudi you are not allowed go any where for enjoyment.

i believe Saudi is most believable country. means mecca and madiana. here Rule is very strong . i interested frienship all people
paulbenny

Hi,

life in saudi arabia seems very attractive when u r not here in the country but reality is totally opposite. Here life is very difficult, beside other restrictions has to face much problems when want to work extra hours. language problems can be tackled within few months but understanding people here is challenging.

market downfall has created difficult job scenaios, if you are stuck in critical job situation any where, no one is their to help. rules regarding exapts are rarely abide by.

this is all.

Yes I agree with you (HRguru) the best times are gone now for expats, but it is still a remarkable country.

Hi dear,
I live here since 2009 Saudi arabia is like any country in the world just recpecting the roles. it's very hot and closed but there are some activities in the compounds and desert.
If you have or want any activity please share it with me.

just love it

I don't understand dear what you want say???

These are the most common misconceptions:        like everyone thinks Saudi Arabia is hot at all times but no there's also winter which is really very cold. We think we live in a dessert and that we ride in the camels.but no I've seen a lot of amazing cars here.

My brain was saturated by stories from ppl saying in Saudi no matter what happen local will always be protected by their law. As an outsider expat will always bear the blame. For instance when u get involved in the car accident, the police will always back the local regardless your strong strory. well..i am never got myself into trouble with the local so far thus i am not sure how true the story was.

lots of thing I would like to discover the truthfulness of rumors about Saudi. But unfortunately it is hard to get a female saudi to talk to. Or perhaps I dont go places they always hang out.

I saw lots of interesting places in Saudi, but every time i asked the permission to visit those places with my female colleagues my company would not grant the permission. They adamantly stick to their decision, female are not allowed to walk alone (even within a group of female friends) without a male company. I am not sure, is it true or my company is just being paranoid? I hope anyone who has a friend working as mutawa or a mutawa himself could give me the answer. Is it true female is not allowed to walk to the mosque as well? Every movement must with the company of a male friend? If I want to go to mecca for umrah, we have to ensure there is one male in our group. I don’t understand, to have a male company to put in charge in every movement is that a rule imposed by the Saudi or invented by my paranoid company?

nada hayah :

I saw lots of interesting places in Saudi, but every time i asked the permission to visit those places with my female colleagues my company would not grant the permission. They adamantly stick to their decision, female are not allowed to walk alone (even within a group of female friends) without a male company. I am not sure, is it true or my company is just being paranoid? I hope anyone who has a friend working as mutawa or a mutawa himself could give me the answer. Is it true female is not allowed to walk to the mosque as well? Every movement must with the company of a male friend? If I want to go to mecca for umrah, we have to ensure there is one male in our group. I don’t understand, to have a male company to put in charge in every movement is that a rule imposed by the Saudi or invented by my paranoid company?

All I can say is this.

Ibn 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) reported:
I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) delivering a sermon and making this observation:" No person should be alone with a woman except when there is a Mahram with her, and the woman should not undertake journey except with a Mahram." A person stood up and said: Allah's Messenger, my wife has set out for pilgrimage, whereas I am enlisted to fight in such and such battle, whereupon he said:" You go and perform Hajj with your wife."

Reference: Sahih Muslim 1341

Our muftis as well have given out fatwa regarding this matter. as far what i know so long the female is with a group of female friends, the place they are going safe and intention is good then it is allowed for female to travel within female groups without a mahram. then how the Muslim female could further their study and career if they are not allowed to travel without mahram? what is the solution for those who has no mahram e.g father, brother or uncle..perhaps she is an orphan? How do female seek career enhancement if they are not allowed to be working independently?

Some of the things that are not misconceptual are:

1- Life is incredibly boring, if one is used to relying on public entertainment.

2- Lots of locals are very emotional and moody. Avoid conflicts and confrontations, especially if they show aggression. As much as it is tempting to react, nothing will be gained but waste of time and energy doing so.

3- Lots of drivers seem psychopathic or suicidal; they have little regard or concern to the possible consequences if vehicles lost control, or things did not end up as planned, let along to traffic rules. As someone stated, lots of contradictions exist here.


Some misconceptions are:

1- That it is easy to get ones' hand, or head, cut off, in no time. Crimes indeed are taken really seriously, However, if one abides by the law and respect the local norms, life turns mysteriously easier and safer. So, more people have complete sets of hands and heads than expected.

2- That it is unsafe. Following common sense and taking precautions implemented at other big cities, one will get surprised how safe the country becomes once there.

3- That it is small and filled by camels and nomads, it is not 1890's anymore. Big cities are very big, and may take one hour, at least, at big cities, to get from one edge of the city to the other.

4- That there are no photography, no nature appreciation, nor activities to do there on landscapes. There are groups on social media that have different goals and interests. One could seek out common interests to spend some good times having fun.

5- That one would need to carry out a large sum of cash because apparently banks there are primitive. Banks are found almost in every other street. Their services include multiple currencies accounts transactions, ATM cash deposits, online payments, investments and savings accounts, and even financial services. In fact, 95% of services could be done online at home, once online accounts are configured. Some could be done via the ATM, and few must be done in the branch or via phone banking.


The list is huge. I am a local and think that I have some simple background on this country.



Regards,

I guess people's perspectives will be coloured by where they are from, their beliefs, their job, their personal circumstances etc. so in many ways answers will be reflective of this.

For me, I had no hesitation in accepting the role over here. I'd worked in the Middle East before, lived and worked in Asia before, and had an appreciation of different countries, cultures and cultural norms.

As many commentators above have noted, keep your nose clean and you will live peacefully (unless you are very unlucky).

In my country some of the right wing press has a very negative image of KSA, which their readership laps up. It's a bit like reading Arab News online (before they stopped the comments) - the extreme views tend to be reciprocated.

Like most things the truth is somewhere in the middle.

My parents were worried about personal safety. I told them, quite truthfully, I feel safer here than walking around my hometown.

For me personally, it's given me a great opportunity for personal development and career advancement. Whatever I do in the future, I will always have KSA to thank for that (and I will).

News about poor treatment of domestic helpers etc. is sad, but is repeated in other parts of the world (I used to live in Singapore, and it was, and still is, rife there). The recent economic reality has also seen many people not paid for months, and this is unacceptable. Whilst I believe that the majority will eventually get their dues, if some countries did more to defend their foreign workers' rights, it might make the government think twice - despite the gesture politics of countries like Philippines - their economy is dependent on the remittances of OFWs. So they will not rock the boat.

I realise a lot of people don't have the freedom of this choice, but a wise man once said to me that you come into this country with two empty buckets. One is for cash, and one is for crap. As soon as one of them is full, it is time to go.

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