Casual relationships: This is the one where you, the American woman, think you’re dating this really nice Arab guy and it feels like it’s getting serious. He says all the right things but his actions aren’t matching. He still lives with his mom and dad and he’s almost 30. This comes from not wanting to ‘bother’ a woman with things that might upset her… “If you go out with a girl, people will start to ask her questions.But if I have a date upstairs and my family is downstairs, they won’t even come up.” Notorious for its adherence to Wahhabism, a puritanical strain of Islam, and as the birthplace of most of the 9/11 hijackers, Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country that claims sharia, or Islamic law, as its sole legal code.“Oh shit, it’s a checkpoint,” he said, inclining his head toward some traffic cops in brown uniforms. I rummaged through my purse, realizing that I’d left my passport in the hotel for safekeeping. As he resumed his narration, I recalled something he had told me earlier.Yasser looked behind him to see if he could reverse the car, but had no choice except to proceed. “It’s a lot easier to be gay than straight here,” he had said.Yasser is homosexual, or so we would describe him in the West, and the barbershop we visited caters to gay men. Leaving the barbershop, we drove onto Tahlia Street, a broad avenue framed by palm trees, then went past a succession of sleek malls and slowed in front of a glass-and-steel shopping center. Whereas most such establishments have a family section, two of this area’s cafés allow only men; not surprisingly, they are popular among men who prefer one another’s company.
So what are some of the biggest cultural differences you should expect to encounter? So a woman who doesn’t abide by this rule is often seen a a woman who has no respect for herself by an Arab man’s standards. Understanding cultural traditions in Saudi Arabia is mandatory if you plan to visit, do business with or socialize in this ancient kingdom.Dine in Riyadh, the royal capital, and discover food choices on menus that mimic foods eaten centuries ago.Additionally, the centuries-old Hajj takes place every January in Mecca, welcoming millions of pilgrims in town to observe this solemn Islamic ritual.Saudi Arabian women are required, according to Islamic law, to cover their bodies in abaya (black robes and face coverings) as a sign of respect for Muslim modesty laws.