Dress code in Saudi Arabia are plain and simple, which put it simply as Smart and Elegant. For the men, as how the Arabs wear robes or jubaah with a sarban is not required for the non-Arab or expatriate but however, one is expected to don a 5 piece suit and tie with proper shoes to go with it. Do ensure that your shoes are NOT MADE OF PIG SKIN like those sold in the UK such as Marks & Spencers , Burtons and many more as these are Haram or forbidden in the country and will get you in huge problems.
Smart Elegance is the key and of course clean shave is not a must but those who have facial hair are expected to have a great care for their beard and mustache. First impressions counts and a proper greeting of Assalamualaikum or Ahlan with a good firm handshake is a must between men and you must point your feet or shoes AWAY from the other people, as shoes are considered very dirty and an insult to the Arabs alike. Women are NOT ALLOWED to be in the company of men and are not welcomed in corporate meetings. Deals are known to have fallen through when women are brought in the presence of the company. However, dealings as such are usually done between women only or a proxy or representative of the company even though the CEO of the company is a woman. This is such a great deal that men are not allowed to look into the eye of another female who are not related by blood and they take very great presidence over this. However, if you need to attend any shows or conferences, the women should cover up, and I really mean cover EVERYTHING UP. An Abaya or women robe is the norm, where the head to toe is covered except for the hands, face and feet. Though some sort of fashionable Abaya are available, these scarves and sort are to be donned everywhere except in private company. From the meetings, there will be drinks served and coffee is normally served. They will carry on serving you till you stay stop or shukran (Pronounced as Shook – Rand) and Alhamdullilah as it is required in Islam for hospitality and trust. With any business, trust is important, and after a few meetings, then they will conclude the business deal, and they expect that the deal to be fulfilled one way or another without any second chances. In Saudi Arabia, payments are very strict and not paying up will land you in prison. So make sure you can deliver on time or give extra time should anything goes wrong as Arabs tend to have VERY LONG HOLIDAYS especially during the month of Ramadan and Hajj periods. One should also take note and be aware that meetings must be stopped or interrupted during prayers time which is about 1pm, 4pm 7pm and 8pm as they tend to their solat.
As such, avoid meetings during these times and they tend to either have meetings that are very early or late about 5pm onwards till late at night for supper. This is not surprising for them as Arabs tend to bond with each other. Respecting one another is very important and without their respect, you can’t deal with anyone else. Please be mindful when dealing with the Arabs and wish you Good Fortunes. In parting, always say Maa Salam and wish them assalamualaikum or Peace upon you for that would seal the bond. Insyallah or God Willing , you will succeed in the easiest and friendliest place to earn a living, Saudi Arabia.