We all know that Saudi is strict, but did you know these things can get you into trouble?
8 November 2017| Last updated on 8 November 2017
If you have been reading about Saudi Arabia then you most probably know about some of the things that can get you arrested, deported or even whipped (literally). You are most probably aware of some of the basic rules to follow in Saudi such as don't insult the Royal Family and ladies should cover up before going out.
Overall, it’s not as bad as people think, but we’re sure that a couple on these items on the list will surprise you.
Here are 12 things can land you in very hot water in Saudi Arabia:
1. Mixing of genders if you are not married
Most people have heard about this: men and women aren’t allowed to mix freely with each other if they aren’t married in the fear that the women might seduce the men.
SEE ALSO: Code of Conduct in Saudi Arabia
This one you most probably also guessed – any public display of affection is strictly forbidden and seen as haram (forbidden). Yes, this includes holding hands as well. Even if you are married, although the penalty will be considerably more severe if you are caught holding hands if you aren’t married.
3. Bachelors dining in the Family Section of a food establishment
The family section is only for families. Single men need to eat in the men’s only section of the restaurant. Some restaurants might allow women to eat by themselves in the family section, although this is mostly frowned upon. Most restaurants will only serve food to women ordering alone as take-away and not allow them to eat it by themselves in the restaurant.
4. Brewing (and being in posession of) alcohol
Alcohol is seen as haram in the Kingdom and you will be arrested if caught with it. Even brewing your own beer or wine at home is illegal. There are rumours that numerous people in western compounds do brew their own alcohol within the compound, but these are usually a little less strict than on the outside of the compound. We still wouldn’t chance it.
5. Being inappropriately dressed in public
Most people know that women are required to wear an abaya when out in public but what isn’t focussed on as much is that men also need to be appropriately dressed. Men aren’t allowed to show their knees or shoulders in public and skinny jeans are best avoided. You are also not allowed to openly show any symbols from religions other than Islam.
SEE ALSO: Saudi Arabia Dress Code For Foreigners
6. Practicing any religion other than Islam in public
Somewhat contrary to popular belief, Saudi Arabia does allow people to follow their own belief and there is a big variety of religions in the country. They do however have an issue with it if you practice your religion in public if it isn’t Islam and it is also forbidden to try and convert someone to your religion.
7. Dancing in public
In 2016 a 14-year old boy was arrested in Saudi Arabia for showing off his dance moves at a traffic light. Music is also banned in most public places so best to keep your dance moves for at home when you are by yourself.
8. Celebrating Valentine’s day
Valentine’s day is not part of the Islam religion and might lead people astray, therefore it is banned in Saudi. People are not allowed to wear anything red on Valentine’s day and shops aren’t allowed to sell red flowers or heart shaped objects. The other reason for this is to discourage dating and relationships outside of marriage.
9. And your birthday
Celebrating religious or your own birthdays is banned in Saudi. This is a big debate in Saudi about whether celebrating your birthday is haram or not. Numerous of the princes have been seen celebrating their birthdays as well as many Saudi residents despite a fatwa that decrees that celebrating someone’s birthday is wrong. Birthdays are seen as a western invention in the country.
Prophet Mohammad’s birthday is a public holiday in other Muslim countries but even this ‘religious’ holiday is not celebrated in Saudi.
Supplies are available if you would like to celebrate your birthday, but we recommend keeping it indoors, at home and keeping the volume down during the celebration.
10. Taking pictures of buildings
We’re sorry photographers! Snapping a couple of innocent pictures of all the beautiful government buildings, military installations, and palaces in Saudi will get you in jail. A law has been put in place making it illegal to take pictures of these buildings due to privacy and security concerns.
11. And of people
Maybe it is safer to just leave your camera at home… Street photography, and especially posting the pictures online afterwards can land you in jail. The only way that you are allowed to take photos in Saudi Arabia is if you get a permit from the Ministry of Culture and Information. Even with that, we still advise you to be careful. Taking pictures of women in Saudi is also illegal.
SEE ALSO: 8 Things You Won’t Find in Saudi Arabia
12. Bribing someone, especially the police
Even though this is generally seen as unacceptable all over the world, bribing someone in Saudi can land you in especially hot water. Not to even mention trying to bribe someone with authority. If a police officer is caught accepting a bribe, they'll go to jail with you. So instead of accepting the bribe, they will just arrest you for insulting them and depending on the judge, serve you a side-dish of lashes with your jail sentence. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has recently launched an anti-corruption campaign in the country.