Saudi Arabia: Some Questions Saudis Ask

Westerners (and particularly Americans) in and outside of Saudi Arabia are viewed to be very open and friendly.  They can also be seen as approachable.  However this post is oriented for the expatriate woman who may be new to Saudi Arabia and is getting to know some Saudi women.

Saudis will be very friendly and hospitable yet will retain privacy when it comes to family and home.  Even members within a Saudi family such as siblings will not know personal details of each other such as salaries, for example.

Yet for some reason, when a Western woman is with Saudi women, she may be asked questions she would not be expecting.  Some of these questions may include:

If she is the one working, how much does she make.

If her husband is the one working, how much does he make.

How often does her husband travel?

How much is the rent where she lives?

How much does she pay her housemaid?

How much does she pay her driver?

How much do different items inside the home cost?

How much did her abaya cost?

Of course she will likely be asked if she or her husband is Muslim.

The responses can either be straightforward and direct or she can politely decline to answer such personal questions.  Surprisingly a lot of Western women have answered such personal questions for fear of offending.  I think that is part of what has encouraged these kind of questions to continue to be asked of expatriate women.

Saudi women will typically not gossip of such details about each other but if an expatriate woman responds to such questions, then that is fair game for discussion.

If unsure how to respond to such personal questions, an expatriate woman can smile kindly and say, “I’m sorry but I don’t reveal such personal information.  Do you?”  Of course the Saudi woman will agree with the expatriate woman and the topic is dropped.


13 Responses

  1. I remember in Syria when a new acquaintance (a young 20-something female college student) asked: “Who did you vote for?”

    I found it rather funny since here we are taught not to discuss religion and politics in polite company. 🙂

  2. The most asked question I got at work was “are you married”
    when I wasn’t yet they were shocked and amazed and looked to feel sorry for me, asking why, and how old I am 🙂

    So when I started replying I’m married to a Saudi the first thing they asked “are there other wives” or “are you the second wife”.

    So by default they assume the western woman that married Saudi must have been a second or third wife!
    They would not believe there wasn’t others haha

    Another very common one Saudi women like to know is how many babies do you have. It’s polite to ask them back how many they have because they like to reply stuff like 8! It’s good to follow with a mashallah 🙂

  3. I don’t know how it is there now, with internet and access to more info, but when i wasin a group of saudi ladies , asked me how many kids i had and wheni said 2 , she smiled and guess felt bad for me,till i opened my mouth and jokingly said the 2nd was not a planned one,and i didn’t think my career would survive more than 1 kid. her jaw dropped in horror and then the real questions began.
    which wife? you want only 1 kid? etc., etc., guess in those days i was a freak to them. but it was all asked innocently with no bad intentions…

    I’ve always wanted to be a fly on the wall adn listen to what they said after i left 🙂

  4. Interesting but not surprising questions are so heavily focused on: marital status, children and money/cost of things.

  5. I wish I had known about them before I became Muslim. Muslim women in general are snakes. Ignore Surah 49. They ate me alive until I left. Even when I was Muslim, my best friends were Christians. If you are single as a Muslim woman, you are dead.

  6. @Gwendolyn…tad dramatic lol ?

  7. I’ve been asked many question regarding costs of things and where I bought certain items, as well as many personal questions. Sometimes even from people I’ve just met.

    The women who usually ask these type of questions are being nosy and fishing for info to talk about. Like Carol said the best response is to say that it’s personal, or you can always tell them straight forward to mind their own business.

  8. Dunno why it is so personal when women ask women ,, but what can one expect from such conservative socities that are soo closed to the world ,,, where they have very less interaction with other humans and there are many less ways of getting info on other things ..

  9. hmm…i haven’t been asked these things by saudis, but i have been asked some very forward questions by syrians. never about money. i think that maybe culturally they are just more direct, and not meaning any harm by it. i have found saudi women to be more friendly and polite than other cultures.

  10. some arab men and women (including saudis) have asked me straight foward if i’m single so i answer “yes” and then they ask if i am a virgin (i swear they ask you that just like that) or how many boyfriends i’ve had…

  11. I am looking forward to getting to know some (Arab) women from my significant other’s country. I’ve gotten to meet a couple, and the ones I’ve met are very friendly and nice! I want to learn as much about the culture and the language as possible! 🙂

    @Gwendolyn: I think the issue with being a single woman isn’t so much religious as it is cultural.

    Many of my (college-educated) friends from different countries and religions think that if a woman isn’t married by the age of 30, then she may not be able to keep up with future children. One of my (Christian) friends from Nigeria once told me that If I wasn’t married when I was 30, then we would come find me and take me back to Nigeria with him! LOL

  12. *then he would come find me

  13. i have a question im mexican and this arabian got me pregnant and i had the bqby and its a boy doesnt the means the arabian guy has to marry me because its a boy i had

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