In Saudi Arabia, gift giving etiquette is more rigid than most other countries. You want to make sure what that you know what their etiquette is before you purchase or give a gift. Being aware of any gift giving etiquette in Saudi Arabia will help you avoid offending someone or dealing with possible repercussions.
Read more in our gift giving etiquette series:
Saudi Arabia Gift Giving Customs
- Gifts are only given to people who are really close friends.
- The person receiving the gift will open and meticulously examine the gift in front of you, or anyone else that is around at the time. It is a gesture of respect.
- Always give or receive your gifts with your right hand.
- It’s acceptable to open gifts when they are received.
Giving Gifts to Saudi Arabians
- Silver is an acceptable gift in Saudi Arabia.
- While a man giving flowers to a woman is not recommended, a woman giving flowers to her hostess is accepted.
- Not accepting a gift from someone would be seen as offensive and impolite.
Business Gift Giving Customs & Etiquette in Saudi Arabia
- Instead of giving a material gift, you may want to consider taking business associates out to eat.
- If you are in a lesser position, giving a gift to someone in a higher position may not be taken well, especially if you do not know them very well. It is best to avoid giving a gift in that situation.
- Small thank you gifts are good choices if you choose to give a gift.
- Gift giving in business settings is not common practice.
Gift Giving Occasions in Saudi Arabia
- Eid ul-Fitr- final day of Ramadan
Gift Giving Tips in Saudi Arabia
- Make sure your gift is high quality and include a card.
- Since gift giving is of a very personal nature in Saudi Arabia, a good gift would be a perfume. Scent is very important in Saudi Arabia. The most prominent scent is an expensive scent called oud, which is a distilled form of aloes wood. Use the scent first to make sure it is good quality and only give it to someone who admires your taste.
Gift Giving Don’ts in Saudi Arabia
- Avoid giving gifts to people who are in higher positions or ranks than you are.
- Don’t show admiration for the possession of someone else’s, because it may make them feel obliged to give you a gift.
- If you do buy a gift for someone in Saudi Arabia, never buy gold jewelry or silk clothing for men.
- The most prominent scent, as mentioned in the tips, is oud. Do not give a synthetic version of it, as they will be able to tell.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and drugs altogether, as they are prohibited in the Islamic law.