Saudi Arabia has been introducing a lot of changes lately, especially when it comes to the rights and roles of women. However, there are still quite a number of things that may seem acceptable in other countries, but could land you in prison if you did these in the Kingdom.
If you have just arrived in Saudi Arabia or if you are planning to work here, then it helps to know the things that could get you trouble with the law. Keep on reading to find out…
Things that Could Get You in Trouble in KSA
When you’re in Saudi Arabia, be sure to avoid:
#1 – Being inappropriately dressed
While it is common knowledge that women should wear an abaya when going out, they should also make sure that they are dressed appropriately at all times. Avoid wearing spaghetti-strapped tops, skimpy shorts, and basically any apparel that reveals too much skin. Likewise, men should wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees. They should also avoid wearing skinny jeans and clothing with images that may be offensive to Islam.
#2 – Dancing in a public place
Dancing and playing loud music is banned in most public places. It would be better to dance and play music inside your home, but not too loud or else you might disrupt the neighbors!
#3 – Drinking (and brewing) alcohol
Drinking, importing, and selling alcohol is completely banned in the Kingdom. And don’t even consider brewing your own alcohol at home, because this is illegal as well!
#4 – Taking pictures of buildings and people
Because of privacy and security concerns, it is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, palaces, and military sites in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, taking pictures of people (especially women) without their permission is not allowed.
#5 – Practicing a religion other than Islam in public
As a Muslim country, the Kingdom forbids the practice of religions other than Islam in public. However, everyone can still practice their religious beliefs — in the privacy of their homes.
#6 – Celebrating Valentine’s Day and Halloween
Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and other “Western” celebrations are not part of Islam. Hence, they are also banned in Saudi Arabia. So set aside your heart-shaped trinkets, spooky costumes, and other related items while living here!
#7 – Celebrating your birthday
Public birthday celebrations are also considered as a “Western” tradition in Saudi Arabia, and are therefore banned. Of course, you can still enjoy a simple celebration at home, albeit quietly and without drawing attention.
#8 – Eating in a restaurant’s family section (when you’re a bachelor)
Listen up, bachelors! Be sure to have your meal in the “men only” section of a restaurant, and not in the family section. As for women who are alone, it is best to order food as take-away because dining by your lonesome — even in the family section — is often frowned upon.
#9 – Mixing of men and women who aren’t married
Unlike in most Western countries, men and women who are not married are forbidden to mix freely in Saudi Arabia. Do keep this in mind!
#10 – Public displays of affection
Public displays of affection, such as kissing, hugging, and even holding of hands — is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. This applies to both married and unmarried couples, so be careful whenever you’re out in public!
Some of these things may seem too strict, especially if you come from a different culture. Still, as foreigners, we should be respectful of the local beliefs and customs of Saudi Arabia. That being said, we should also be aware of these do’s and don’ts in the Kingdom.