I have worked for several companies around the world and as a consultant have had the opportunity to visit and study many more, within this article I will relate to you what I know about how are Expats treated in Saudi Arabia.Firstly my own experiences as a westerner working in Saudi Arabia and then the treatment of expats from other less affluent countries.I would describe many Saudi men as acting very much like petulant teenagers, when things are going their way they are happy and friendly, but as soon as something happens that they don’t like they either sulk or start to shout.
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They will however choose carefully who they shout at like most bullies, they would never shout at someone that may for instance be higher up the social ladder than they are, but they would not hesitate to scream at an Indian clerk in a store.
I have seen Saudi men shouting at and even hitting their own wives (daughters?
) in public but have never seen them do that to anyone outside their own family circle.
I have also several times witnessed Saudi women arguing in stores as vehemently as the men do, but generally the men have either walked away or dragged the women away with them.
The Saudis believe themselves to be the most important people and as such will do their best to never queue for anything, if you go to an airport in Saudi Arabia and wait patiently the clerk at the front of the queue will spend half of his time dealing with Saudis who insist on going straight to the front delaying everyone even further.
Saudi is a very hierarchical society, if you are perceived as being the top of the pile you will be treated accordingly, if however you are seen as being lower in social level then you may be treated with contempt if not out rightly abused.
Most westerners are hired for more senior roles so most western expats in Saudi Arabia are treated fairly respectfully by Saudis, although you still get a few that will look down their noses at you as a “non-Muslim” (even if you are a Muslim.) At first when I was working in Saudi I thought that my requests for action, signatures, in fact everything were being ignored; maybe because I was not a Saudi.
Then I realized that in fact the whole system was just slow and Saudis so un-trusting of each other that no one was able to either make a decision or even empowered to make one that nothing was being done.
They don’t single you out to do nothing for, they just don’t do anything!
The general laziness of Saudis can be very frustrating to a westerner and is often taken personally especially when things that we think of as being important to ourselves are not acted on promptly.
During most of my working time I was treated respectfully, as I already mentioned getting anything done was always a problem but I quickly got used to that and never took it personally.