Things to know when working in Saudi Arabia

You just got that offer to work in Saudi Arabia, here are a few things you need to know:

  • Modesty is a must when in public.
  • Men should not wear shorts and women are expected to wear an Abaya – a black robe dress, at all times outside. While Muslim women are required to cover their head, it is not for most foreign women. However, it is best practice to carry a headscarf in case asked.
  • Muslims pray 5 times a day and during prayer times, establishments are closed for around 30 minutes and you will be asked to leave. One is urged to check the prayer times before heading off.
  • All pork products are illegal in Saudi Arabia and can mean jail time for those who are caught with it.
  • Unless you are married, you are not to mingle with the opposite sex and any violation can mean arrest. In fact, segregation of the sexes is highly enforced. Restaurants have a “Singles” section for men and “Family” sections for women and families. Sexes are rarely seen together in the same work place. Women have their own areas.
  • Saudi Arabia also has strict Adultery Laws for which the penalty is death. The simple act of socializing with men can earn a woman many lashes. Public show of affection is strictly prohibited.
  • Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia; therefore they must have a driver.
  • Alcohol is Illegal is Saudi Arabia and penalties for having alcohol are stiff, often a time in jail.
  • Drugs are highly illegal in Saudi Arabia. The penalty for trafficking drugs is death.
  • While meeting people and socializing may seem quite limited, community centers offer recreational activities, allowing one to de-stress and unwind from work.

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