Expats who plan to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia need to be aware of certain rules and culture. As this is a Muslim country, there are customs one needs to know in order to avoid penalties and disrespecting the country.
Saudi Arabia is a common destination for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) because of the job opportunities, as well as the large base of OFWs working there. However, going to another country (especially a Muslim one), one is bound to experience unfamiliar customs. It is important to take note of them to ensure your safety and convenience during your stay.
Things to Know & How to Behave in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Here are some do’s and don’ts so you will know how to behave in the Kingdom.
1. Always carry your Iqama (Saudi Residence ID).
Your iqama is your proof of legal residence and work in Saudi. It should be paid for by your employer along with your visa. There are checkpoints and sometimes, police will ask to see your iqama. Moreover, you need it for all transactions from getting a visa to applying for a license.
2. Always dress modestly.
As a Muslim country, Saudi Arabia is very keen on dressing respectfully, whether you are male or female. Especially for females, it is prudent to wear clothes of modest length, not going above the knee. If you dress respectfully, you are likely to be treated with respect as well. Women should also cover their head.
3. Males and Females have different cabins in transportation
Check which transportation cabin is applicable for you, because in all modes of transportation, each gender must travel separately. It is not hard to find out which is which. It is better to be respectful of their laws and customs to avoid getting penalties.
4. Food and Beverage Restrictions: NO Pork and No Alcohol
Alcohol and pork are not allowed in Saudi Arabia. Do not bring any with you when traveling there. And absolutely refrain from consuming either, especially in public.
5. During Ramadan, don’t be seen eating or drinking
Muslims fast during Ramadan. Thus, it is absolutely disrespectful to them to be seen eating or drinking during this time. If you absolutely must, it is best to do it in privacy, where no one will see you.
6. PDA is prohibited
Public Display of Affection is a punishable offense in Saudi Arabia. Males and females should not touch each other or even hold hands in public, unless they are married or family members. Males should be especially mindful not to make eye contact with females (especially those wearing abaya or burqa), so as to avoid unnecessary quarrel or penalties.
7. Never help someone unless they ask
Saudi Arabians might not appreciate your trying to help them, especially if it is unsolicited. When you see someone who needs help, it is best to call a help desk number. So save those numbers in case you or someone else might need help.
Respect the Saudi laws and customs and you should have no trouble while living and working there. It is best to be further informed of their laws, especially those with regards to expats to ensure a convenient stay. Religion is very important in the kingdom. If you show respect and reverence to Islam, you are showing respect for the Saudi way of life. Being mindful of their culture should be the first consideration. Following that, it is easy to follow the rest of the rules.