Riyadh Local Customs

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Most Recent Local Customs in Riyadh

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    EID Celebrations

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Feb 10, 2007

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    Muslims celebrate 2 EID's in a year.

    First: EID AL FITR - This is celebrated after completion of Ramadan
    They celebrate by giving gifts & visiting relatives.

    Second: EID AL ADHA - This is celebrated after completion of Hajj
    They celebrate by slaughtering a sheep as a tradition carried from the time of Prophet Abraham. They also visit relatives and give gifts.

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    Hajj (Pilgrimage)

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Feb 10, 2007

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    HAJJ is the 5th pillar of Islam and is obligatory to all Muslims to perform this pilgrimage once in their lifetime.

    It is being performed on a specific time of the year. According to the Hijra Calendar (Arabic Calendar), it is during the 12th month namely Dhul Hijjah.

    It is performed from 9th until the 13th of the Dhul Hijjah month wherein the most important day is the 2nd day where Muslims stand on the Mt. Arafa.

    Conditions of Hajj:

    a. Must be an adult - Over 14 yrs of age
    b. Must be able to afford the cost to perform Hajj. Borrowing of money to perform Hajj is not allowed.

    Footnote:

    a. Special White clothes has to be worn when performing the pilgrimage. It is made up of 2 pieces of white cloth: (FOR MEN)

    Upper part: Ihram
    Lower part: Izar

    ***No other undergarments or any clothes should be worn underneath for men.
    As for women, they have to uncover their faces and wear an ordinary dress***

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    Umrah

    by Cielo_Algaeed Written Feb 10, 2007

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    UMRAH means visiting the Holy Mosque in Mecca at any time of the year.
    It inlcudes 7 complete turns around the Kaaba (House of God) as well as 7 laps between Mt. Safa and Mt. Merwah. One lap is approximately 500m.

    Performing Umrah can last for a short period of time (approximately 1 hr for a fit person).

    Footnote:

    a. There is no age limit when performing Umrah
    b. Special white cloth has to be worn with no undergarments for men
    c. Women must uncover their faces and wear an ordinary dress.

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    Tribes

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Feb 10, 2007

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    Until the present time, the Saudi society consists of many TRIBES like Shammar, Anaza, Otayba and Motair just to name a few.

    If you belong to a tribe means you're a pure Saudi (by birth and by blood) A non-Tribal are the ones who just migrated from other countries long time ago and settled after Hajj in Mecca and Medina.

    Footnote:
    It is very common to see someone tribal who cannot marry or deprived the right of marrying a non tribal individual.

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    Greetings

    by Cielo_Algaeed Written Feb 7, 2007

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    The classic Saudi way of greetng is to give 4 kisses.One on the left cheek and 3 on the right cheek. This apply to both sexes (male to male; female to female)

    As for the elders, one way of showing respect is to kiss the right hand and the forehead aside from the kisses on the cheeks.

    It is very common for male friends to hold hands in public but this doesn't necessarily mean they have special relationship :-)

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    Segregation of Sexes

    by Cielo_Algaeed Written Feb 7, 2007

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    It is part of the Saudi culture that men and women are not seated together during functions unless they are related to each other (brother and sister, nephew and nieces, mother and children )

    So if ever you are invited to a Saudi family expect that women will go to the women sitting room while men go to the male sitting room.

    It is a tradition being carried for many years and still being practice upto this time.

    Our Home- Ladies Sitting Room Our Home - Men's Sitting Room

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    Oud (Incense / Oil)

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Feb 7, 2007

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    Another gesture of Saudi hospitality is the burning of incense (oud) to welcome guests. It has a very distinct Arab smell.

    Oud came from a bark of a 100year old tree either from Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.

    A gram or kilo of this will make a hole in your pocket. From 100USD up per kilo.

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    Ladies in Black

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Feb 5, 2007

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    All ladies both foreign and locals who will visit or work in Saudi Arabia are required to wear an ABAYA (a black dress incl of the veil) when going to public places like malls, souk (market), grocery stores etc.

    Although expats are allowed not to cover their faces like the local Saudi's do...wearing the veil is a must. In some public areas you can find Muttawa's (Religious Police) who will ask you to cover (put on your veil) if your not wearing such.

    It is part of the Arab's traditions,culture and beliefs particularly Saudi's that a woman's beauty is exclusive to their husband's or husband's to be so they have to be covered and not be seen by any other men.

    For first timers in Saudi...abaya is not compulsary to wear the first time they arrive but expected to get one for themselves the following day.

    Many souk's (market) are selling Abaya's...prices differs on the material and designs of the abaya.

    Generally, abaya's are in color black but as per my hubby :-) abaya can be in different colors too..

    Footnotes:

    A. Most Saudi women choose to cover their faces in public and even in private in the presence of males who are not members of their family, but this is not because of their religion. It is simply local custom.

    B. Before, in a harsh desert environment, a thin veil provides protection from constant exposure to the sun, which can damage the skin and eyes. Today, a veil is also a sign of modesty and virtue.

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    Simplest Expression Of Hospitality - COFFEE

    by Cielo_Algaeed Written Feb 5, 2007

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    Arab traditions also play an important role in Saudi life. These age-old traditions have evolved over the past years and are highly regarded. They include generosity and hospitality, which every Saudi family offers to strangers, friends, and family. The simplest expression of hospitality is coffee – its preparation alone is an intricate cultural tradition, and it is often served in small cups along with dates and sweets.

    Arabic Coffee or Gahwa is a special mixture of Arabic Coffee and Cardamom. Cardamon is always added to Saudi coffee, either crushed or whole pods, giving it a distinctive flavour, and aiding digestion. A pinch of saffron may be added on special occasions, or by the wealthy.

    The coffee is poured from a long-spouted pot called a dallah. The greeny-yellow coffee is drunk without milk or sugar from small handleless cups, which are only half filled.

    Guests should accept no more than three cups unless with close friends. It is courteous to accept one cup, although not essential to drink it. Always hold the cup in your right hand.

    To signal that no more coffee is required, wobble the cup from side to side (or in some areas cover it with the palm of the hand).

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    The Saudi House (Villa)

    by Cielo_Algaeed Written Feb 1, 2007

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    A typical Saudi Villa is usually square type with flat roof. A two storey house with male and female sitting area located at the ground floor.

    The second floor is typically allocated for bedrooms & family living room.

    There are more than 2 bathrooms in every floor. Quite common that every bedroom
    has its own bathroom.

    Nowadays, most of the houses are no longer carpeted but ceramic & marble are being used instead.

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    Saudi Head Dress

    by Cielo_Algaeed Written Jan 30, 2007

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    Saudi Men's Head dress are commonly red and white (checkered) while the plain white is the least common to used.

    In the past, Arabs used to wear head dress called SHOMAGH to protect their faces from sand storms and tie it with a robe called (UKAL).

    And as the time past by, it became a distinct mark of Arab men around the globe.

    The White straight dress that they wear is called THOBE. They wear a white thobe during summer while they wear darker colors during winter.

    My hubby wearing the Shomagh and Thobe My hubby wearing the Shomagh and Thobe

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    Saudi names..

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Jan 20, 2007

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    Saudi names usually consist of 3 to 4 names or more.

    It i s part of their tradition that the children carry the name of their father and their grandfather plus their surname.

    Example:

    Fahad Abdulrahman Hamad AlGaeed

    Fahad is the first name given by the parents, Abdulrahman is the name of the father, Hamad is the name of the grand Father while Algaeed is their surname.

    Though the ladies name are constructed on the same manner....however, when they get married...they do not used the surname of their husbands.Their names remain the same, meaning they will still used their maiden names.

    Most of the names consist of 2 words.

    Example:

    Abdulrahman

    ABDUL = fixed prefix, while RAHMAN - is one of the names of GOD, believed to have 99 names.

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    Salah or Prayer Time

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Jan 20, 2007

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    Muslims here in Saudi Arabia have their prayer time called Salah . They pray 5 times a day- before dawn (530 am), noon (12noon), afternoon (330 & 530pm) and evening (730pm).

    NO other religion can be practice in the Kingdom.

    Its usually 10 minutes before the actual prayer, a prayer call is being done. All establishments will be close for about 20-30 minutes to give way to our muslim brothers/sisters enough time to pray.

    Though most of the shops open from 9 and closed before the noon prayer. They open again at 4 in the afternoon.

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    They call it Shahi while others call it TEA

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Jan 20, 2007

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    Arab countries particularly Saudi's are very much into drinking Shahi / Tea . They drink shahi anytime time of the day.before or after meal...by the time they arrive from work...while watching TV...while talking etc....

    It is like theri substitute for water....A usual arabic tea consists of special arabic dried leaves boiled into water with sugar and fresh mint leaves..though halib (milk) is optional.

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    Muslim men on having 4 wives

    by Cielo_Algaeed Updated Jan 20, 2007

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    Its is stated in the Holy Quran (the Holy Book Of Muslims)that men are allowed to marry upto 4 times at the same time provided that they give just and fair treatment to their wives.

    Today, life has changed alot in terms of marrying more than 1 wife. Men having 4 wives rarely exist nowadays.

    Though fixed marriage still exists..the value of family and family ties still hold a very important role in the society.

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Riyadh Local Customs

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