Are Saudi women rude? Maybe I just dont understand the culture yet…


Don’t get  me wrong, I’m used to rude people…hey, I can be really rude myself…but since coming to KSA I’ve calmed down and don’t automatically “expect” people to be rude to me for no reason  (call it being out of the inner-city) and hence I’m  much less prone to being argumentative or rude to people…throw in the language “issue” and well…me having attitude here is kind of pointless…who would understand anyway?

I’ve started to wonder if Saudi women are rude. I really don’t know. My Arabic is fairly nil and they have that “exotic” thing going on but the few “brushes” Ive had with them in places of business here in the Kingdom have made me wonder if they all have an attitude or something.

I say this because half the time when I have gone up to a Saudi woman to ask a question in English (hoping they’d understand) usually I’d get a  harsh look with a “Where are you from? Is your husband Saudi?” question, asked in a accusing questioning tone.  Once I say, “uh, no” they get sweet and chatty with me. So do they maybe get an attitude when I’m around because they think I married someone from their culture? Do non-Saudi women married to Saudi men normally get the cold shoulder? Why do they think I’m married to a Saudi anyway? Because I can’t speak Arabic and have a niqab on?


Anytime I push my son around in a stroller and try to get through a “pack” of women or they walk across where I’m going they DON’T stop and let me pass…they KEEP walking while I try to maneuver through them and then heavens forbid if I run over their dragging abayaat or nip their heels they get a HUGE attitude…like duh women…if a stroller is comin’ towards you…MOVE!  I will never pray salaat in a mall masjid again for this very reason…


I’ll be talking to a salesclerk about something and a Saudi women will come up and start yabbering in Arabic while I am talking to the guy in English. The first few times this occured I  was really shocked by that behavior…hello lady, I’m talking…tonight I was returning a car stroller and asking the guy who ran the kiosk a question and this women comes up, out of no where and starts yabbering away to the guy, while I’m asking him a English. I merely raised my voice, talked louder, drowned her out.

wow! According to American Bedu they also like to go in front of expats in a retail line…I haven’t had this happen yet because I probably “look” like a Saudi and unless I talk no one would know otherwise.

So I donno…ARE Saudi women rude??? I keep hoping that they arent, that maybe because I’m new to the country I just dont understand the culture yet but like Iranians tend to be excessively polite in public, and most Americans have some manners and would atleast let a mom with a stroller pass without walking right infront of them.

Any insight?


11 thoughts on “Are Saudi women rude? Maybe I just dont understand the culture yet…

  1. Wow, I don’t know about insight. It seems like they would treat you as one of them at least until they heard you speak. I think that things will be easier as your Arabic improves (inshaallah). I know that in Egypt were were shocked at how people essentially pushed each other on and off the trains rather than letting the disembarking passengers get off before boarding. I think them not moving for you reflects the same sort of cultural understanding. It has something to do with a lack of “social distance” as we would call in in the U.S. or Europe. You need to find a close lady friend so you can ask her these questions without feeling embarrassed. I hope it gets easier for you 🙂

  2. What you have to realise is that Arabs in general have a very different attitude towards politeness to westerners. A lot of them think they are better than other cultures, even if they don’t admit it, because they are Arab which is totally unislamic but they do it anyway. I don’t think the lady at the shop would have considered talking over you to be rude or unacceptable at all, it’s just how they are: not really fussed about anyone (especially foreigners) except those they think are in a position of high authority. It’s all about your “status” in those countries, unfortunatly, and for a lot of them being Arab makes you a notch above the rest and then goes the job, children, money, contacts and where exactly from the middle east you are etc etc.

    I’m not being racist before anybody bites my head off, I’m Arabic myself and this is just what I have noticed over the years. But obviously they aren’t all the same lol!
    Salam 😀

  3. Salaam,

    I was gonna post on your other comment about the male sales people in the women’s stores. These men are not Saudi typically and thus not “real men” according to the Saudi’s (male and females). Otherwise how would they tolerate such a thing as a men selling women’s lingerie! My ex was from the EP and he told me Saudi’s are wicked arrogant and think they are the best of the best and everyone is beneath them – – I know he thought of himself that way :).

  4. The Emirati women in a public area were much the same, but part of it is simply that standing in line really isn’t part of the culture and personal distance is closer, so people from other cultures with a bigger “bubble” of personal will feel crowded. There can be real attitude against foreign women married to local men, since many local women find it hard to get married. There are also genuinely rude people, too, just like anywhere else!

    Masalaamah, Farzana

  5. I don’t think its everyone but yes; I experienced this also though people tended to assume I was Syrian or from another Shaami country so I wasn’t seen as a threat so much. I also experienced it in Sudan but to a far lesser extent (overall Sudanese are very friendly; though a lot do naturally have quite a stern look for some reason).

  6. YES, they are

    Don’t forget to mention that they R so “un-eduacated”!!

    and the way to change this is WAY TOOO HARD AND LOND.

  7. salam 3lykom sister, well to me i really think that Saudian ladies are very very conservative, even tho their country is not a third world country, but they have the third world mentality!!! A lot of Saudi men are exposed to the world outside and they have broader mind-set mashallah. For women in UAE (my country) most of them are moving towards education and they are more exposed and open-minded. Even though some of them may look arrogant I guess its their personality though. To me, I think anyone can marry anyone as long as theyre Muslims, we have to let them get married once they fall in love or else they will get involved in premarital sexual activities which is 7araam in Islam!!!! Which my friends from other countries like Canada and Malysia told me that Saudian male students there tend to be in relationships with the non-Saudian there and they fall in love but they couldnt get married as to the Saudi men’s mother extremely forbid that, so most of them did something 7araam. So, who should be blamed?? I think the extreme mother because she is stopping something halal=marriage, imagine how Allah might question her later!!!. In my opinion, Saudian women look down on women from other countries as they think we are not as ‘pure’ as they are, but truth is there is existence of lesbians in Saudia too (my saudian girl friend told me so!!!) shocking yah. I mean COME ON SAUDI WOMEN !!! OPEN YOUR EYES, ALLAH DON’T MAKE YOU ENTER ALJANNAH JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE SAUDIAN, ALLAH MAKE WHOEVER MUSLIMS WHO HAVE FAITH IN ALLAH ENTER ALJANNAH. I am an emarati lady and I respect everyone even if they’re not Muslims or not pretty. I think most khaleejy ladies need to change their attitude and get back to Quraan, no more arrogance, no more materialistic life, no more underestimating people, no more hatred to other countries muslima sisters, no more stereotyping, because all of these prevent the Muslims from all over the world to unite. So, if the women from Saudia find it hard as well to get married, well….open the door ya bent !!!! don’t just live in the nutshell without looking outside, there are many Muslim men out there and mashallah i believe they are respectful too. Time has changed and we cannot create any more boundaries between the Islam world because this is actually creating more and more problems. It is time to unite as one Ummah!!!!

  8. I’ve lived 15 years in the Gulf States and quite familiar with regional attitudes. Saudi women are generally ok if you’re a female and westerners tend to receive better treatment. It’s the poor Asians from the sub-continent and Orient who receive treatment amounting to little better than a guard dog.

    The sole reason is sudden wealth combined with ignorance. Remember, this is a generation that used to draw drinking water out of wells and milk camels for sustenance. Things are slowly changing, as that older generation retires and the newer, more tech-savvy educated Saudis are moving into the work place. With the exception of Kuwait, the Gulf States are much better when it comes to attitudes and behavior.

    • True but not every Saudi was a Bedu! Most of the Saudi’s in the Eastern Province, the far South and the Hejaz are actually not Bedouin background but are either from villages or cities…like in Shaihat or Qatif or Tarut Island, they were all fishermen and farmers…not bedo, the true Jeddawi’s and Hejazi’s are multi-ethnic and most arent even of Arab backlground but maybe originally ancestorally Bosnian, Turkish or persian, etc etc…so no drinking camels milk there! They were urban city dellers and still are, the Saudis in the far south, its very lush down there and they are farmers too. yes, many Saudi’s do have a gruff attitude about them, but just as many dont. There are many variables. I wrote this post right after we went to Saudi, the longer I was there the more I could distinguish between Saudi’s and there behavior. Not to diss on bedu saudi’s…but many of the saudi’s whose ancestors were from villages and farmed or fished could tell if a saudi was bedu background or not dept on there behavior in public. They feel they are very gruff and harsh in there dealings with people. But I also ran into some straight outta a tent, still nomadic bedu women in a abaya shop once and they were very cordial and curious about me and my son! So it depends on the person more or less.

  9. my friend is saudi (but not saudian), and there are some that he calls the badawi (i think he means the bedoins), but he says that they drive around crazy, hanging out of the cars, and ive seen it took they put vids up on youtube of them doing crazy stuff, maybe coz they are bored or something i dunno. but when his older brother was in saudi he almost got kidnapped by a badawi in a truck that followed him home, and also that it is not uncommon for teenage boys to be kidnapped. hes younger than me and i worry about him alot.

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