Memo for Saudi Arabia Culture

The culture of Saudi Arabia claims to be unique, extraordinary and controversial.

Its controversy relates to the fact that Saudi Arabia is Muslim country. Actually Saudi Arabia consists of two societies: of men society and of women society. They are told to have little interaction and women society is dependent from men society. Saudis are taught about sex differences since early childhood. Social restrictions are awful and immense in the country and government proclaims such restriction as the part of Islam.

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(Ani 1959)The culture of Saudi Arabia is based entirely on the religion of Islam and tow holiest sites Medina and Mecca located in the country. It is known that five times per day Muslims have to visit minaret in order to pray. The prayer from minaret of mosques appeared to dot the country.

Saudi’s weekends consists of two days: Thursday and Friday. It is apparent that Saudi culture strongly prohibits practicing religions other than Islam such as Christianity and Judaism. The presence of Christian churches is also oppressed and Christian materials are even outlawed in the country. The holy book of Muslims is called Qur’an and it is the foundation for the Islamic legal system.

(Ani 1959)The most compelling folk ritual in Saudi Arabia is the Ardha – national dance. It is a sword dance based on the ancient Bedouin tradition with the drummers beating out a rhythm and poet chanting versus. Men carrying swords are dancing shoulder to shoulder. According to the traditional customs drum is a very important instrument in culture.

  Traditional music in the country is quite limited. It is characterized by simple rhythms, the beat of clapping and striking together. Instruments involved are double-reeded ney or so-called stringed rababa. Some Muslims consider music sinful promoting the idea that music and art are approved by the God.

Nevertheless, religious authorities quickly repressed music and other rhythmic percussions still dominating the contemporary music in the country. Actually radios, tapes, CD players, satellite TV and musical channels are very popular nowadays. It is necessary to admit that public cinemas and theatres are strongly prohibited, because according to Islam such institutions are incompatible with religion traditions and values. However public theaters can be found in private compounds. (Ani 1959)Concerning traditional dress it is necessary to note that dress is rather symbolic and represents the population’s ties to the land, Islam religion and the past. Dressing is predominantly flowing and loose whereas covering garments are really important as they reflect the practicalities of life in a desert Saudi Arabia.

Actually it is Islam that supports conservative dress. Usually men wear thwab, an ankle-length shirt that is woven from either cotton or wool, and ghutra, a large square of cotton that is held by a cord coil. If the weather is chilly, men wear cloak made from camel hair. Traditionally women have to wear a long cloak covering their body and a veil if they leave house protecting in such a way their modesty. Nevertheless such law isn’t applied so strictly to foreign visitors. (Ani 1959)Muslims are forbidden by Islam to eat pork and drink alcohol. Men are prohibited to wear gold as it is not suitable for them whereas the status of Saudi woman can be defined by gold adornments presented by husband. The most commonly cooked staples are cooked lamb, deep-fried chickpea balls, frilled chicken, cooked sliced lamb, paste of garlic, lemon and beans, etc.

Drinking Arabic coffee and tea is a famous custom in the country. (Ani 1959)Marriages are arranged by parents and sometimes future spouses can be not acquainted with each other. In Islam a man is allowed to have four wives providing them with equal living conditions. Nevertheless, the first wife has more rights in the house such as house adorning, cooking, sleeping with husband, etc. Men have complete influence on his sisters, daughters and wives. Imen’s authority in the country is completely unlimited.

It means that women and children can survive only if men desire that it is right. Saudi Arabia practices rigid sexual segregation: women can’t drive, they are not allowed to marry and they will be never allowed to marry men who are not Muslims. (Ani 1959)ReferencesAni, Moukhtar. (1959).

Saudi Arabia: Its People Its Society, Its Culture. New Haven, CT: HRAF Press   

Author: Allison Harris


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