Managing in Saudi Arabia
Working Successfully in an Islamic Culture
Are you thinking about relocating to Saudi Arabia?
Whether you're considering accepting a new position in the country, or an opportunity has arisen with your present employer, a move like this can be a big step.
Saudi Arabia is a rich, generous and incredibly hospitable nation. However, its culture, laws and expectations differ greatly from those in other parts of the world, so you probably have lots of questions. For example:
Will I be held to the same stringent Islamic laws as local Saudis?
Are women allowed to hold managerial positions?
Will I be allowed to drive a car?
This article explores what you need to know in order to live and work successfully in Saudi Arabia, and to get the best from your Saudi team.
This article is a general guide only. Saudi Arabia has a large population of foreign workers, which means you may be part of a very diverse team. Always use your own best judgment, depending on your situation.
Country and Culture
Saudi Arabia is a kingdom in the Middle East, located between Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is located between Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, and Yemen.
Most of Saudi Arabia is made up of desert and semi-desert shrub land, and, as you might expect from such a region, the climate is hot and dry. In summer, temperatures often exceed 45°C (113°F), while winter temperatures rarely fall below 0°C (32°F). Rainfall is rare or nonexistent in most parts of the country.
The region has been inhabited for thousands of years and is steeped in history and tradition. Saudi Arabian art, street markets and religious buildings are vibrant and stunning, and Saudis take great pride in their historical and cultural heritage.
However, Saudi Arabia itself was only founded as a nation in 1932, and is now an absolute monarchy. This means that there are no political parties or national elections. Laws are based around the Quran and Islamic Sharia law.
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest exporter of oil and petroleum products. Its economy is strong and most Saudis enjoy a high standard of living. Their hospitality is legendary, but visitors are expected to behave in accordance with the country's religious beliefs, rules and traditions.
Saudi Arabia's official language is Arabic, but most Saudi professionals speak at least some English, and those who do business internationally will likely speak it fluently.
Saudi law is extremely strict and, in addition, there are many unwritten rules that visitors are expected to adhere to.
For example, it is against the law to...