Home Saudi Arabia Forum Saudi Arabia Guide Saudi Arabia Resources Real Estate Healthcare in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
Resources
City Guides
Crown Relocations International Moving
Join Sign In
Cigna International Health Insurance

Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Riyadh

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

I've been in Saudia for a year and a half. I had no cross-cultural training but I took it upon myself to lay my hands on everything I could read about KSA and did a lot of honest 'soul-searching' to decide if I could adjust to life here.

Expats living in Saudi Arabia interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

Arabic is the language in KSA. I speak English. I'd planned to learn Arabic but people keep wanting to practice their English with me!!! But, 'inshallah,' I'll eventually learn more :)

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

I've been an avid traveler for years and know that I am a very open and flexible person. I also know that I don't need a lot of external stimulation to survive. In short, I am the perfect candidate to live here.

Moving to Saudi Arabia

Moving to Saudi Arabia soon? Crown Relocations owns and operates over 207 facilities in almost 54 countries. Their global network means they're unique in the relocations business and they're able to use Crown crews and vehicles wherever possible. Get a quote online by May 25, 2019 and you'll be entered to win 1 of 5 Amazon $250* gift cards.

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

They say that Saudi Arabia is one of the most difficult foreign assignments for a single woman, but my 'shock' has been minimal. As I said, I'd done my homework before leaving home so that made it easier. But, I am also blessed with a job I love and a great team of multinational colleagues.

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

No. Surprisingly, I settled in almost immediately, seeing both the pro's and con's, and had little problem adjusting.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

Well, comfort eating here is common because there's so little for women other than shopping (and that's not my thing--I began a personal 'minimization' campaign about 5 years ago!).

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

Probably that it's so totally opposite what I knew and was used to, so I learn something new everyday. I know I've grown a lot since being here, in many ways.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

It's difficult to get around since women can't drive. If this were a western city, I'd have explored it from top to bottom! But here, you're taking cabs everywhere so only really go from point A to point B and don't know what's in between.

Another issue is that men and women can't 'mix' so opportunities to socialize are fairly limited (mostly to expensive embassy events or if you are fortunate enough to live in a 'western' compound--but single women usually must live in a company compound, which often isn't western so the freedom we're used to isn't allowed).

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

Only faux paux I've made was offer my hand in a congratulatory shake to a 'holy man' who I've come to know here. Now, I know these guys aren't allowed to touch women, but I'd gotten caught up in the moment and forgot lol.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Know yourself before you come here. Know your level of tolerance, what you need to survive. Read everything you can. And then make a decision.

Read Next

Retirement-In-Al-KhobarAn Expat Shares What it's Like Retiring in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

A retiree in Al Khobar, who has lived all over the world, talks about retiring abroad.

Moving to Saudi Arabia

Expats who want to move to the Saudi Arabia should fully explore what it means to move and live there. Read a lot of comments from people who live in Saudi Arabia, and have for a number of years.

5 Tips for Living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Expats in Jeddah offer advice about living on compounds vs living out, where to meet other expats, international schools, raising kids in Jeddah and much more.

Cigna International Health Insurance

Write a Comment about this Expat Report

Sign In to post a comment.
Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Saudi Arabia from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Culture-Shock-in-Al-KhobarAn Expat Talks about Culture Shock & Living in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia

An expat in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia appreciates how accepting the locals were of his family and how they live their lives day to day. He found prayer time and the fact that stores are closed during the middle of the day a challenge. He admits that life in Al Khobar was more challenging for expat women, who have to be transported everywhere and have more rules to live by.

An expat in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia appreciates how accepting the locals were of his family and how they live their lives day to day. He found prayer time and the fact that stores are closed during t...

Moving to Saudi Arabia

Expats who want to move to the Saudi Arabia should fully explore what it means to move and live there. Read a lot of comments from people who live in Saudi Arabia, and have for a number of years.

Expats who want to move to the Saudi Arabia should fully explore what it means to move and live there. Read a lot of comments from people who live in Saudi Arabia, and have for a number of years....

5 Tips for Living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Expats in Jeddah offer advice about living on compounds vs living out, where to meet other expats, international schools, raising kids in Jeddah and much more.

Expats in Jeddah offer advice about living on compounds vs living out, where to meet other expats, international schools, raising kids in Jeddah and much more. ...

Saudi Arabia Guide
Other Links
Our Story Our Team Contact Us Submit an Article Advertising Travel Warnings

Copyright 1997-2019 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal