Dos and Don’ts Every Expat Should Know When Moving to Saudi Arabia

Embarking on a new adventure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, expats often find themselves navigating a unique cultural and legal landscape. Moving to Saudi Arabia requires more than just packing bags; it demands an understanding and respect for its rich traditions and customs. This guide serves as a beacon, shedding light on the essential dos and don’ts for anyone planning to make Saudi Arabia their new home. With a focus on helping you integrate smoothly into this fascinating society, our insights aim to equip you with the knowledge needed for a fulfilling expat experience. Here, you’ll discover key pointers to make your transition not just successful, but also enriching.

Section 1: Dos in Saudi Arabia

When it comes to moving to Saudi Arabia, following a strategic set of dos will ensure a respectful and enriching living experience.

Embrace Local Traditions

Relocating to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in rich cultural traditions. As you plan your move, engaging with the local customs not only shows respect but also enriches your expatriate experience. Consider reaching out to local movers in the area who often offer insights into cultural subtleties, aiding in a smoother adaptation to your new surroundings.

Respect Islamic Practices

Saudi Arabia, deeply rooted in Islamic beliefs, shapes daily life around religious practices. For expats, understanding and respecting these practices is crucial. This includes being mindful of prayer times, which occur five times a day, and the observance of religious holidays such as Ramadan. Adjusting your schedule to accommodate these practices demonstrates respect and also helps in building a harmonious relationship with the local community.

A woman standing in front of a rock formation

Dress Modestly

When moving to Saudi Arabia, paying attention to your attire is essential. Men and women should opt for modest clothing in public spaces. For women, this typically means covering shoulders and knees, and in some areas, wearing an abaya or a headscarf. Men should avoid shorts and sleeveless shirts. Dressing modestly not only aligns with local customs but also shows your appreciation for Saudi cultural norms.

Learn Basic Arabic

A few Arabic phrases can go a long way in Saudi Arabia. While English is widely understood, especially in business contexts, learning basic Arabic greetings and phrases helps break the ice and fosters a sense of community. It reflects your willingness to engage with the culture and eases daily interactions, from shopping to socializing.

Build a Support Network

Establishing a network of support is vital when relocating. Connecting with fellow expats and locals can provide valuable guidance and make your transition smoother. Look for community groups, expat forums, and local events where you can meet new people. These connections can offer practical advice, emotional support, and enrich your understanding of life in Saudi Arabia.

Section 2: Don’ts in Saudi Arabia

Embarking on the journey of moving to Saudi Arabia, it’s crucial for expats to know not only what to do, but also what to avoid. This understanding ensures a respectful and trouble-free experience in the Kingdom.

Avoid Public Displays of Affection

In Saudi Arabia, public displays of affection are a cultural taboo. It’s important for expats to respect this aspect of social etiquette. Holding hands may be acceptable for married couples, but hugging, kissing, or other intimate gestures in public can lead to legal issues. Keeping public interactions respectful and conservative is key.

Respect Local Laws and Customs

Adapting to local laws forms a vital part of living in the Kingdom. Observance of laws pertaining to dress code, alcohol consumption, and social behavior is non-negotiable, but notes that newcomers often underestimate the importance of this adaptation. Aligning with these laws not only shows respect for the country’s customs but also ensures personal safety and legal compliance.

People walking on white concrete buildings during daytime

Refrain from Criticizing Government or Religion

In the context of moving to Saudi Arabia, it’s wise to steer clear of political or religious criticism. The Kingdom holds its traditions, leaders, and religious beliefs in high regard. Any negative comments about these sensitive subjects could lead to severe legal consequences. Engage in conversations with a mindset of learning and understanding rather than critiquing.

Adjust Expectations of Western Lifestyle Norms

Expats might find certain Western lifestyle norms absent in the Kingdom. The entertainment scene, social life, and certain freedoms may differ significantly from what expats are used to. Embrace this change as an opportunity to experience the unique Saudi culture and lifestyle.

Be Mindful with Photography

In Saudi Arabia, taking photos of certain buildings, people, or even events without permission is not advisable. Always ask for consent before capturing images, especially when it involves local residents or security-sensitive locations. This respect for privacy and rules ensures a hassle-free experience while exploring the Kingdom’s rich heritage and landscapes.

Is Moving to Saudi Arabia Right for You?

Deciding to move to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requires careful consideration. It’s a significant step, reshaping both professional and personal life aspects. Start by evaluating your reasons for relocation. Are you seeking career growth, a new cultural experience, or perhaps a change of scenery? Research extensively. Gather information about living conditions, work environment, local customs and outdoor activities. Besides, don’t overlook the legal aspects either. Visa requirements and work permits are crucial details. Connect with expats already living there. Their firsthand experiences provide invaluable insights. Consider your family’s needs too. Education, healthcare, and lifestyle changes are important factors. Weigh the pros and cons. Moving to this Arabian land brings unique experiences and opportunities. However, it also involves adapting to a distinct cultural and social environment. Finally, trust your instincts. If the prospect excites you and aligns with your goals, taking this leap could be a rewarding adventure.

Al Qurayyah sea

Closing Thoughts

As you embark on your journey to Saudi Arabia, embrace the unique cultural landscape with respect and open-mindedness. Adapting to local customs and laws is key to a harmonious expat experience. Your time in the Kingdom can be deeply enriching, offering a blend of cultural immersion and personal growth. Besides, your attitude and willingness to adapt play a pivotal role in shaping a positive and memorable stay in Saudi Arabia. Let this adventure be a chapter of learning, understanding, and also respectful cultural exchange, enriching your life as an expat in this distinctive country.