Saudi Arabia is a country that is steeped in culture, history, and tradition. From ancient Islamic sites to modern cities, Saudi Arabia offers a wide range of experiences for visitors from around the world. Recently, this country has seen dramatic changes in tourism and innovative projects which aim to redefine exciting experiences for travelers.
However, before exploring Saudi Arabia, it’s important to learn about the customs of this Middle Eastern country. In this article, we will explore some of the main aspects of Saudi Arabian culture & customs, including traditional clothing, religious beliefs, and general Saudi Arabia rules for tourists.
Saudi Arabian Clothing Customs
Traditional Saudi Arabian clothing is characterized by its modesty, with a long cloak called an abaya and a headscarf, or hijab, for women. For men, the traditional dress consists of a white ankle-length garment known as thawb or dishdasha which is usually worn with a red-checkered scarf. These garments are often decorated with intricate embroidery or colorful designs to reflect the vibrant culture of the country.
It is important to note that visitors should be respectful when it comes to dressing in public areas. Although there may not be strict rules about wearing certain types of clothing, it is best to cover up as much skin as possible and avoid wearing shorts or tight-fitting clothing.
For a more detailed look at what clothing to pack, check out our guide to what to wear in Saudi Arabia.
Religious Practices in Saudi Arabia
Religion plays a vital role in Saudi Arabian culture, with Islam being the main religion. Sharia law serves as the basis for all laws in the country and includes prohibitions on alcohol, gambling, and public worship of religions other than Islam. While these regulations may be different from what you’re used to, minor adjustments should be made in order to respect this way of life. Experiencing new cultures is a great way to immerse yourself in a new country, and Saudi Arabia offers travelers from all walks of life a chance to discover its rich history, archeology, foods, and hidden gems.
Saudi Arabia’s Hospitality Culture
Hospitality is an integral part of Saudi Arabian culture and it is not uncommon for locals to invite guests into their homes. This shows that they are open and welcoming towards visitors, and it also expresses gratitude for the guest’s presence. It is important to note that if you are invited into someone’s home, it is best to follow local customs such as taking your shoes off before entering or avoiding certain topics of conversation that the host could deem offensive.
Additionally, when dining with others, make sure to sample all dishes offered – this shows appreciation for your hosts’ generosity. Bringing a gift, like flowers or chocolates, is also a nice gesture, although it is not required.
Saudi Arabian Cuisine
Saudi Arabian cuisine is famous for its abundance of spices and flavors. Traditional meat and rice dishes include kabsa, maklouba, and mandi – all with distinctive flavors. Many popular snacks, like fatayer (stuffed pies) or sambosak (salty fried turnovers), are also great delicacies visitors should sample.
Desserts are an important part of Saudi culture, ranging from sweet pastries to decadent cakes, often decorated with nuts or honey. One local favorite is Umm Ali – a sweet dish made with puff pastry, milk, and cream. Wash down this dessert and Saudi’s other delectable foods with traditional drinks like tea, Arabic coffee, or fresh juice.
Gender Separation in Saudi Arabia
One of the most important Saudi Arabia rules for women and men is that they avoid contact in most public places. With gender separation laws, men and women are not allowed to interact or mix in a social settings, like restaurants, malls, and even hospitals.
Physical displays of affection, such as hand-holding or kissing between members of the opposite sex, should be avoided in public areas. This doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your vacation! There are plenty of fun activities to engage in, such as shopping, sightseeing, or exploring the local cuisine.
Experience Saudi Arabian Culture with a Tour
The best way to experience Saudi Arabian customs and culture is by taking part in guided tours or activities. These will not only give you insight into local life but also help you become familiar with its diversities.
Our tours provide visitors with rich experiences all over the country, including Taif, Jeddah, Diriyah, Riyadh, and Hegra, as well as travel guides to make sure you have the absolute best experience wherever you go.