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The light of his faith emanates from out of his body like a warm radiance. They look carefree, joyous and connected. The reverse is also true. The Saudi men who ignore the prayer offerings I notice usually have a dull, lifeless aspect to their being. Their eyes seem dead and they are confused, nervous and prone to smoking and other useless distractions. To a Saudi man, the family is number one. This includes his wife, children AND all the members of his extended family, all members of his tribe and all the family who passed away long before.

The strict hierarchy in the family means that he greatly respects his parents and grandparents. He serves, is obedient to them and does not speak out of turn in the presence of his father or grandfather. This behavior spills over into the classroom. My Saudi students relate to me as an older father figure and show great deference to my age and status. It makes my life much easier! Contrast that to the treatment of old people in the West. The pressures of modern living and the fact that married couples do not possess the beliefs nor even the financial luxury of being able to personally take care of their parents or grandparents, old people in the West are often left to age and fester in hospitals, nursing homes, and care institutions.

In Saudi Arabia, like much of the Arab world, the old and infirm family members are cared for at home. They are highly valued and respected by younger Saudi men for the fact that in their younger days they too raised their children, grandchildren and worked hard and suffered all their lives to provide for them. Young Saudi men feel a natural obligation to be there for their sick and infirm fathers or grandparents.

If he or she is unable to attend to the ailing family member, then they will employ an Asian caretaker usually from India or the Philippines. In Saudi Arabia, you mostly see old men at the mosque attending the Friday Jummah prayers. When I am in the mosque, my heart melts when I see them. I sympathize as they struggle to simply get in and out of their wheelchairs assisted by a son or Asian caretaker.

I remember that they were once young and active and that now they are nearing the end of their lives. I ask Allah SAW to protect me and to keep me healthy and it causes me to remember the wonderful health that I currently enjoy. Today, the modern world is catching up with Saudi traditions. Outside observers are critical of Saudi male workers. They argue that they are lazy, uninterested in work, have poor skills, give little and ask for too much.

The money came easily through royal patronage. Wealth and abundance of cash were being generated by the oil industries and it easily filtered down to the people. However, oil prices fell in the 90s and the cost of living rose and after , the Saudi population exploded. Saudi Arabia eventually fell into debt and the free wealth stopped flowing.

Life began to get difficult for Saudis. Today because of Saudization, there are many more national employed in government and the private sector industries. However, I have noticed a different attitude to work in Saudis compared to other foreign nationals. It is not that Saudis are lazy! It is simply that they do not appear to have developed an especially strong work ethos.

I know that for generations in the UK, people were raised with the protestant work ethic. This is a national belief or attitude that makes work and productivity central to their lives. It was the basis of the industrial revolution and the reason why Britain created an empire and strongly prevailed throughout the two world wars. It must also be true that out of economic necessity, Americans and Asian nationals work very hard in much the same way.

This is not something you readily find in the character of Saudi men. The focus of their work is not especially about productivity, rather achieving it and at the same time keeping social and establishing good relations. Also, Saudi men prefer to be business owners and recipients of wealth.

If he has to be an employee, then he prefers office-based, managerial type jobs where he can delegate and organize workers. Like most Arabs, Saudi men are not raised to be self-sufficient and resourceful. They are indulged at home as their mothers, sisters or maids cook and clean around them.

Perhaps, this is a little unfair. And I know it is not true in every instance. I have personally seen a number of very hardworking and helpful Saudi employees who are equal too if not better than any foreign counterpart. However, I have experienced this attitude over and over and very similar observations have been made by foreign workers in companies that are obliged to employ Saudi nationals through Saudization and Nitiqaat. To read more about the issue of attitudes to employment, Saudization and Nitaqaat Program click through to the following in-depth article.

I have taught students in a number of Arab countries and generally, they are hungry learners. However, when I came to the Gulf, I was surprised by the attitude in the classroom of Saudi and Gulf students as a whole. Apart from a few exceptions, most young Saudi men want the results but unfortunately are not always prepared to make the effort to achieve them. Fortunately, I work in a college where the administration demands a level of hard work from students and does not reward them readily for any lack of productivity.

Thankfully, it insists that students work for their results. In the classroom, I am exigent and demand that students make a proper effort to develop and advance. If I teach them well, there is a good chance that they will rise to the challenge and succeed in their studies. Some are motivated but they are perhaps fewer in number. I think the reason is that in Saudi schools, students are rewarded for simply having attended the classroom and exam results are more a matter of rote learning.

Students get rewarded with high marks for very little output and ultimately for the convenience and reputation of the classroom teacher. This is a hangover from the Saudi school education where due to social pressure, teachers are expected to pass students with outstandingly high exam results. I never discussed sex and marriage with Saudi men. They are shy to talk about these matters. However, they often do tell me that they wish to marry after the age of Before then, they first want to get established in a job, save some money and perhaps do a bit of traveling.

They tell me that it is their mothers who fix them up with potential brides through family friends. Also, in the past, it was the case that men and women married only from the same tribe. However, this attitude is relaxing. Some more traditional Saudis still insist on cousin marriages even in spite of the fact that it can result in Type 2 diabetes and diseases of the blood such as thalassemia, sickle cell, and spinal atrophy.

To that end, Saudi couples are legally obliged to take compatibility blood tests and genetic counseling in order to anticipate possible problems before any marriage takes place and. Today, because of the internet and social changes in Saudi Arabia regarding women in the workplace, romances are happening without the knowledge of parents.

However, secret romances create broken hearts. I have comforted and consoled a number of young Saudi men who have fallen in love with a girl after secret meetings with her, but for one reason or another is unable to marry the girl due to parental opposition to the union. Arab men and Saudis, in particular, want to marry a virgin girl. During the first meeting, Shoofa , if there is some doubt, the issue will be raised and considered in the decision to marry or otherwise.

I do not know if the same expectation exists in quite the same way for Saudi men, but I doubt it. These days, most younger Saudi men have only one wife. However, I know a number of older men in polygamous relationships.

Saudi men first like to take a Saudi wife and later take another wife from a foreign usually Arab country like Syria, Egypt or Morocco. In the past, the Bedouin tribes were known for polygamous relationships and having lots of children. Today, due to financial constraints, I see the younger generations with two or three children only! In Saudi Arabia as in the Arab world as a whole, marriage is a huge financial commitment and a burden that will stay with them for years long after the wedding has taken place.

Wedding expenses are huge. There are two wedding halls to pay for, men and women food for hundreds of guests, a newly furnished house, gold jewelry, clothes and a dowry Mahr. All told only the marriage and wedding can cost , SR. Young Saudi men have to save up money for years, take out bank loans or else rely on their fathers for financial support. Saudi men love to dress in the traditional white thobe and sport the red or whitehead with a head ring agal.

The thobe is a beautiful, white cotton tube-like shirt which reaches to the feet. A tailor in Saudi Arabia is either an Asian or Yemeni national. The headdress has three parts. On his head, he wears a skull cap Taagheya or Kufi.

It costs SR. The headdress is held in place using a black corded ring Igal. It fits loosely on the crown of the head is a little weighty so as to keep the headgear in place. They cost SR. On his feet, he wears soft shoes SR or open leather sandals SR. The best models of sandals are Turkish or Italian.

Saudi men prefer open-backed sandals that he can slip on and off as he enters and exits the home or the mosque. I like them too, but personally, I prefer sandals with back straps. Normal shoes are hot and cumbersome and tend to confine the feel except in an environment cooled by AC. Sandals allow the feet to breathe and stay cool.

Most Saudi kids go about the home, the yard and in the car in bare feet, especially in the sandy, desert environments. They also put on insulated undergarments, warmer socks, and shoes. At night and for the early morning prayer, it is common for Saudi men to put on a brown or blue-colored Bisht that is a thick wholly cloak that is furry on the inside.

It is open and does not zip up. They also use it to cover the head especially if it is a large fit. It costs about SR. It can be used for many years since it is only used for the coldest two or three months of the year. There is a lighter version made of muslin type material trimmed in gold thread that is used for weddings and formal occasions.

The left arm is inserted in the sleeve while the right arm simply holds the Bisht across the body in a semi-formal pose. At work, especially in industrial environments, traditional clothes cannot be worn. Practically, Saudi workers must wear a rugged cotton shirt, slacks, and requisite safety shoes. I have to stress that the Saudi thobe and headgear is still very clearly the preferred dress style for Saudi men.

More and more, however, I see young men wearing casual, fashionable brand clothing styles. Young men in Saudi Arabia are very highly fashion conscious and love to follow the fashion trends as in any other country. On the whole, Saudi men are shy in public.

In groups, they play and banter loudly! They can be noisy, but never aggressive or threatening. When walking by a group of Saudis two or three or more be sure to say Salam Allekum in acknowledgment as you walk by. By using this term, you are indicating you are not a threat, rather its a friendly greeting and that you wish them well.

Be sure to greet Saudi men with a handshake and a cheek kiss or two. This will really get you accepted and established. Start all interactions with a cup of coffee, friendly social chat, and banter. Take your time and chill out before doing any kind of business or social activity. Remember, you are not in your own country. Guests too must follow certain protocols. When you make plans or express hopes, wishes or future desires with a Saudi man always use the term Inshallah If God Wills frequently!

Inshallah means God Willing. Desires, plans, future projects are more likely to have better outcomes if this term is uttered at the same time the intention is being expressed. At first, I used to find Muslims using this term quite annoying. However, I came to understand that by using Inshallah in this way, I was in effect evoking a strong blessing and establishing certainty in their minds at least that the project or plans would be at some point be successfully realized.

There is a custom amongst Saudi men and in GCC countries that if you like something they own, they insist to physically give it to you. I have gotten to such a point that today, I try to stop complimenting others on beautiful items they possess such as clothing or expensive accessories. If I do, I know that Saudi men will try to give it to me as a gift. By that point, I usually feel very awkward and embarrassed.

Then, I have an endless fight on my hands to NOT accept it. So, each time you say something nice or add a compliment about personal items say something to the effect of:. It will have the effect of putting everyone at ease and canceling out any evil intention that Muslims believe comes with every such utterance, said positively or negatively.

Do not do the following when keeping company in Saudi Arabia. It is considered very dirty indeed. Try tucking your legs in a bit under your body as you sit on the floor or in the very least point your feet well away from others.

Remember, the Iraqui reporter who in a press conference threw his shoes at Ex-President George W Bush and how Iraqui people slapped the fallen statues with sandals and shoes of the dictator Saddam Hussein on the fall of Iraq? In Saudi Arabia and in the Muslim world, the left hand is used for washing the genitals with water after peeing and the anus after defecation. It is the ultimate insult to use the left hand to shake hands with others or to eat and drink with the left hand.

Farting and toilet humor are a complete no-no in Saudi Arabia. This is a peculiarly western habit that is NOT at all accepted or appreciated by Saudi people-that is in public at least! The bum and genitals are part of the awrah an area of the body prohibited to show in public. Click to read more about the awrah and ways non-muslim visitors to Saudi Arabia should dress.

Leave your guitar, musical instruments or ghetto blasters at home or at the very least be discreet about playing them in public areas. Various Fatwas condemn it and it is the police can fine you up to 3, SR for doing so. The form of dress for men anywhere in the Islamic world must conform to this norm for it to be either legally or socially acceptable.

Watch Saudi men when you are on a beach, you will see that they are almost completely covered from the neck down to the feet when they swim in the sea. Men wear teeshirts and very long shorts or swimming trunks. There are very strict laws in place concerning how to dress in public. The laws apply very strictly to both men and women.

Going skinny dipping, displays of nakedness and being even partially uncovered nudity will not be tolerated. You will get arrested, fined and deported. Click and read this article to get familiar with how men should dress in Saudi Arabia and the penalties. I walk arm in arm with my wife when we are out in public. Such displays are completely prohibited, will greatly offend and draw undue attention to yourself by the police.

In all my years, I NEVER even heard Saudi men discuss matters of sex or the physical aspects of their relationship with their wives, etc. Since Dec , it is a punishable offense to take photos or videos of people in public without their permission. Fine can reach up to 3, SR if caught! Take care of what you printed items you wear. For example, vinyl prints of cannabis leaves, naked women, rude, controversial slogans and idioms are prohibited and illegal.

Fines can also reach up to 3, SR for violations. I have personally known some foreigners who were unable to keep their mouths shut and expressed criticisms of aspects of Saudi Arabia online or in public spaces. They were immediately deported. Such criticism is normal and acceptable in western democratic nations but illegal and punishable in an Islamic state. Such behavior will get you arrested, fined and deported.

Saudi men openly discuss political and social issues but are very careful to avoid harsh criticism of their government, the royal family and especially Islam. Over the years, I have met thousands of Saudi men and it is fair to say that like every other nationality on earth their personalities differ in so many ways. Some Saudis are outgoing, effusive, loud and pushy.

Others are quiet and shy. Others are kind and love to get to know you. Some are very religious. Others can be outright rude and could not care a toss about you and they simply ignore you. It really all depends. However, without trying to generalize too much, I have noticed that there are some distinct types of men in the Saudi population. Knowing who they are and what they think and believe will help you to quickly get to know them and learn how to deal with them.

The following types are all made up of my general impressions that over time I have formed based on my years of close contact with many Saudi men and of my understanding of the culture and the Islamic religion. They are descriptive and deliberately general.

They are NOT based on scientific or sociological interpretations of the personalities of Saudi men. Simply, they are based on my own understanding and interpretation of how I have witnessed Saudi men personally over the years. In reality, of course, people are not one type rather an interesting hotchpot of individual characteristics and human complexes. He distinguishes himself from other city types of Saudis in that he lives and maintains the old ways of doing things.

He often refers back to his grandfathers and feels pride as he holds on tight to old standards and practices. For example, a Bedouin will spend his free time in desert camps, rearing and keeping camels, lauding over his tribe, telling stories of old, using desert vocabulary and naming his children with Arabic Bedouin words that are often used to describe the desert, the weather, and the natural elements. He loves desert music, Islam and has a very strict relationship with his extended family, in matters of marriage and desert customs.

As you might expect, their characters are gruff and rough. They are raucous. Young Bedouin type men love to smoke. They also are casual, friendly and very kind. They will do anything for you. They take you places in their cars, buy your food, help you and show great kindness and generosity. They are amazing actually! Bedouin men often take multiple wives. Often times, they marry without even seeing their prospective wives.

Though some in the deeply conservative country are bothered by it, a growing hookup culture is one of the latest signs of gradual social change. A man would write his phone number on a piece of paper and drop it on the ground near a woman he was interested in. These days, some women are even becoming more assertive in the process, says the woman, a government worker, who will begin a Ph.

Others are unsettled by it, like one young man who spoke to NPR in a different area of Riyadh. He also doesn't want to use his name, saying his family would be angry with him for talking to foreign media.

The year-old man is wearing a thobe , a long white gown. He says he's a traditionalist and has never had a girlfriend. He feels he has one foot in the past, another in the present. His mother wants to find him a young wife, while his friends call him old-fashioned. Women are encouraging him to date, he adds — he never believed that would happen in Riyadh, a famously conservative city. The dating scene is more relaxed in the western port city of Jeddah. The city has a vibrant arts and culture community, and it feels more laid-back than the capital.

Young people will stroll along the corniche at day's end, watching waves roll in from the Red Sea. Khulood, a year-old filmmaker, is active on the dating scene. She asked NPR not to use her last name, in case her parents find out. Khulood says she used Tinder, a mobile app for hooking up. Instead of a photo of herself, she used a picture she painted for her bio image. She's now dating someone she met on Tinder and has taken down her profile.

Deema Najim, a year-old student and budding filmmaker, says she is in no rush to start dating. Even if she was, she's adamant she wouldn't use Tinder. Najim says she doesn't want to offend anyone, but doesn't have high regard for the men using the app.


In a society where family honor is often tied to female chastity, the revelation would have provoked fury from her family and jeopardized their months-long courtship that began through common friends. Her boyfriend managed to deflect his mother, but the scare prompted the young couple yearning for more freedom to plan a forbidden rendezvous -- a long weekend in Dubai disguised as a business trip.

In scenes unimaginable until just two years ago, women have been seen swaying on the shoulders of men at music concerts as the kingdom tears down the walls of sex segregation. But while the religious police have stepped back, the internal policing within Saudi families and society at large has not stopped, highlighting the limits of a Western-style liberalization drive in a deeply conservative country.

A Saudi woman in her late 20s told AFP she suspected her "control freak" brother, who works in the military, had deployed official spyware to track whether she was meeting men. Just because you are willing to go on a date does not mean you have a loose character. Saudi women also bridle at pervasive sexism in a society that -- despite undergoing change particularly in urban areas -- some say reduces them to their future role as wives and mothers.

Sex outside of marriage remains a criminal offence in most of the Arab world, and the restrictions also fuel the risk of blackmail. What if he tells my father? What if he lands up at home? Modern romance is also perilous for men -- getting a hotel room can cause huge anxiety as couples are often expected to prove they are married at check-in.

Nasser, a year-old advertising professional, said last year one of his friends was caught kissing his girlfriend inside a private booth in a Riyadh restaurant. The restaurant manager threw open the screens and started filming them while shouting: "This is haram! Collective strives to shine the light of truth on Indonesia's tragedy. Crypto art: A solution or a problem for the art community? Ghosting: Is the phenomenon of shutting people out acceptable?

Register here. Long forbidden, dating has arrived in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom with some Saudis meeting and marrying without the help of relatives. Well-heeled millennials meet via Tinder, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. The pair finally met in person in Egypt, where gender mixing is more accepted than in Saudi Arabia, long dominated by a puritanical form of Islam that has been challenged recently by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's push toward a more moderate interpretation of the religion.

Because sex and romantic love remain highly controversial subjects in the kingdom, interviewees spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity, and pseudonyms have been used. While there have been noticeable social changes recently, men and women who are not closely related still traditionally don't mix, and some avoid even looking at an unrelated person of the opposite sex.

Girls and boys are educated separately, and workplaces that employ women are nominally segregated. So meeting, dating and getting married can be a treacherous obstacle course. Secrecy is the norm, particularly when it comes to sex. Lulwa, 27, bridles at a deep-seated sexism in Saudi society that she says reduces women to their reproductive functions, even among some members of her liberal circle in which the genders mix and alcohol is sometimes served at parties.

It is both a blessing and curse that Lulwa is not searching for a partner in her native Riyadh. But the relationship has no future unless Lulwa leaves her country, or he proposes marriage and converts to Islam. Fadila, 29, an accountant, has been looking for love in all the wrong places since she was a teenager.

Early on, her beguiling smile had boys asking for her telephone number. Fadila sometimes complied, but often gave a wrong number to prevent gossip. The two used to sit in his car, where she felt safe. But the couple was, in fact, being watched by the religious police.

They arrested Fadila, but not the prince. She says it later emerged that he had been having affairs with a number of women and drinking regularly. Her mother and brother got her released the next day, and the episode has been kept secret from everybody else except her best friend. Fadila is lucky — experiences like hers have cost other women their lives. Afterward, Fadila decided to focus on academics, where she has excelled. She gained an honors degree in accounting and now has a good career.

And thanks to government efforts at increasing Saudi Arabia's employment rate, more and more women are working and studying near if not alongside men, providing a plethora of romantic possibilities.

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In general, Saudi men are traditional, warm, proud, welcoming and caring. Also, they can be shy, and due to their culture, they love to be very generous with. It is still incredibly rare for Saudis to marry non-Saudis. If you are a woman dating a Saudi man, you should know that stories abound of married Saudi men. In Saudi Arabias rigid past, religious police once swooped down on rose Day, but now a more open -- albeit risky -- dating culture is taking root. ago, women have been seen swaying on the shoulders of men at music.