Saudi Arabia: Expats and the First Impression


When I entered the professional world it was with the mantra “you only have one chance to make that first good impression.”  I still believe in this mantra and believes it applies to everyone and especially expatriates.

While an expat is likely focused on details of the new job, living conditions and settling in, equally important is that the expat whether he or she wanted to be or not, is also a de-facto ambassador of his or her country.

As a result, it’s important to take a moment and think about what that responsibility truly signifies.  If you are the first expat from your country to whom a Saudi is exposed, you have a great power, for you will be the one influencing the Saudi about your country and its people.  You will be viewed as an example.

Maybe a female expat does not want to come to the Kingdom wearing an abaya and perhaps a loose scarf draped around her head.  But at least for the first time when she arrives and is meeting her sponsor, it’s not a bad idea.  Wait until getting to know the sponsor and the work environment before making a quick decision on whether either is necessary.

It is very true that as expats, we are guests in the host country.  This is quite relevant in Saudi Arabia where every expat has a sponsor. Even though an expat may not agree with all in Saudi’s traditions, customs or cultures, as an expat there is an expectation to respect the Saudis and the cultural environment in which one lives and works.

Saudi Arabia is very much like its own shifting sands and can change from one situation to another.  But the first impression that is made generally lasts for the duration of an expats journey in the country.


3 Responses

  1. Hi AB,

    How are you doing?

    I completely agree with you!

    I reckon many Saudis were put off by the “guests” behavior and that’s how many stereotypical images were either flying around or even worse used to judge people.

    It hasn’t happened to me, but I have seen it in action.

    The sword doth cut both ways though, if you can say that without a lisp, proverbially speaking anyway I’ll buy you a Marocchino!

  2. That’s the espresso in a biscuit BTW!

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