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Culture Awareness: The Culture of Saudi Arabians

Ian is a teacher and an experienced social worker. My role as a man in the society.

A Saudi Arabian man portrait

A Saudi Arabian man portrait


This paper focuses on Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has a vast culture, and Arabic is the official language. However, English is also spoken, especially in business environments. English is also taught in schools as a second language. The Arabic language is dramatic, and the words' loudness is vital in delivering the intended meaning (Swihart & Martin, 2020).


Communication in Saudi Arabia is unique such that feelings and emotions are not expressed explicitly. This means that an individual might be required to make many assumptions on what the other person intends to say. Consequently, the clarity of the message is mostly inclined to the knowledge of the person speaking, the situation, or both. It is also worth noting that it is common to go off-topic for Saudi Arabians (Swihart & Martin, 2020). For instance, two people could be talking about finance, and one of them suddenly switches to sports. Besides, Saudi Arabians can go-rounds before saying what exactly they need.

The indirect communication is a means of being polite and avoiding embarrassment or offense. The idea is to present some pleasantries before getting to the actual motive of the conversation. Ultimately, the socialization process is vital in Saudi communication.

To achieve prime socialization, communication involves getting close to the people involved in the conversation. Therefore, the people involved in a conversation stay close together and touch more often (Swihart & Martin, 2020). However, touching is restricted to persons of the same gender only; men can hold hands to show friendship, but a man and woman should not touch each other in public areas. The idea is to show respect by not touching between genders.

Further on, direct eye contact is preferred for the same gender. The reverse is true for people of a different gender. However, sometimes indirect eye contact can be mistaken for ignorance; hence there has to be some form of direct eye contact at times. It is also worth noting that the left hand is considered dirty; hence, greetings are done using the right hand (Swihart & Martin, 2020). Gifts are also received using the right hand.


In the health sector, the normal social setting applies in most, if not all, situations. The father is given priority in cases that require consent (Reinhard et al., 2008). Mothers can assume this role if the father is not available. However, some instances require the patient's consent if they are old enough and in a state to make appropriate decisions. This is regardless of the father's or mother's consent. For instance, when the patient has cancer and is too weak, such a patient cannot be put in a position of making decisions for themselves; thus, the father or mother decides in that order.

Bedouin woman nomad (Jerusalem)

Bedouin woman nomad (Jerusalem)


As specified earlier, people of the same gender interact more freely while those of different gender have certain limits to which they can interact. Also, women in Saudi Arabia are expected to dress in Abayas, which are long loose robes covering their bodies when they are in places that might have men who are not related to them (Reinhard et al., 2008).

Consequently, shopping stalls have specific women places where they can walk without wearing abayas. Other than such places, they are subject to being chastised by religious police. Besides, women are expected to cover their heads in public places using hijabs. Hijabs are special pieces of headscarves that women use to cover their heads, particularly their hair. These expectations and requirements result from Saudi Arabia being governed using strict Islamic law called Wahhabism (Reinhard et al., 2008).

Ultimately, the system provides a guardianship form of society where women require permission from the men in their lives to make certain decisions. For instance, a woman who wants cosmetic surgeries requires to ask for permission from their guardian.

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Organ transplants are common in Saudi Arabia. However, there are shortages of organ donors. The main reason for the shortage is the belief that organ donation is against the Islamic religion (Almohsen et al., 2016). Apart from that, some people are unaware of the importance of organ donation.


Further on, Saudi Arabia, being guided by Islamic law, is a conservative country and only allows some sexual and reproductive resources (Almohsen et al., 2016). It is prohibited for a woman to get pregnant if she is not married. Therefore, dedicated emergency pills have been banned by the government. Women also need to present their prescription of marriage proof to get birth control pills of contraceptives ("Saudi Arabia - Gynopedia," 2019). Conversely, this is not the case at the ground as pharmacists rarely ask for prescriptions or marriage certificates; hence anyone can walk into a pharmacy and purchase contraceptives regardless of being married or not ("Saudi Arabia - Gynopedia," 2019).

On the other hand, abortion is illegal and can only be carried out in very rare and necessary circumstances ("Saudi Arabia - Gynopedia," 2019). These circumstances include situations where the pregnant woman's overall health is at risk or the pregnancy results from incest or rape. Still, the idea of abortion is greatly downplayed and condemned. Besides, Islamic law only allows abortion before ensoulment that is up to 120 days after conception. After this stage, the idea is that the fetus is already grown, and that is murder (Sheeha, 2010). Consequently, the situation is more complicated for younger girls as pregnancy before marriage is forbidden in the first place.


Islamic laws govern Saudi Arabia, earlier described as Wahhabism (Sheeha, 2010). Everything is done according to these Islamic laws and are gravely followed. Better yet, even though Islamic culture is incorporated, the social aspects of contraceptives use and abortion is still accounted for in one way or the other.


Currently, most Saudi Arabia births are conducted by skilled, professional, and well trained medical personnel. This shift from the earlier, traditional, and rather ceremonious childbirth at home (Sheeha, 2010). Normally, the pregnant mothers were attended by other women or traditional midwives, namely Dayas or Qabalah. Today, the situation is quite different, and pregnant women get great attention ranging from antenatal, prenatal, and postnatal care (Sheeha, 2010).

Mecca Islam Religion (kaaba)

Mecca Islam Religion (kaaba)


On the other hand, no ceremony is held for death or burials. According to Islamic law, the deceased's body should be buried before sundown on the day of death. The body of the dead person is first cleansed in lukewarm water and then wrapped in a shroud. Once the dead person is wrapped, they are buried lying on their right side facing Mecca (Sheeha, 2010). Also, no markings should be made on the graveside since it is prohibited. All people are equal after death, and the same rules apply even for kings. The notion is that a person should not be remembered in any other way except by words.

King Abdullah I mosque

King Abdullah I mosque

Closing Remarks: Governance

Finally, it is worth noting that the Monarch is the supreme religious leader. He is in charge of the two holiest mosques at Mecca and Medina (Obaid, 1999). Saudi Arabia also celebrates National days when the kingdom was unified and holy days like Eid Al Fitr to mark Ramadhan's end (Obaid, 1999).


Almohsen, S., Alobaishy, S., Alghammas, N., Albulayhi, S., Alrashid, S., & Aljamal, R. et al. (2016). Attitudes and beliefs on organ donation among students in a university in Central Saudi Arabia. Saudi Medical Journal, 37(5), 591-591.

Obaid, N. (1999). The Power of Saudi Arabia's Islamic Leaders. Middle East Forum. Retrieved 22 September 2020, from

Reinhard, S., Given, B., Petlick, N., & Bemis, A. (2008). Supporting Family Caregivers in Providing Care. Retrieved 21 September 2020, from

Saudi Arabia - Gynopedia. Gynopedia. (, 2019). Retrieved 22 September 2020, from,been%20banned%20from%20the%20country.

Sheeha, M. (2010). Awareness and Use of Contraceptives Among Saudi Women Attending Primary Care Centers in Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia. PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved 22 September 2020, from

Swihart, D., & Martin, R. (2020). Cultural Religious Competence In Clinical Practice. Retrieved 21 September 2020, from

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Ian Muiruri

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