How Easily do Saudi Men Show Affection

If a foreign woman meets a Saudi man outside of Saudi Arabia she will likely meet a man who is openly affectionate who will want to hold her hand in public or not be shy to give her a hug in full view of others eyes.  But once inside of the Kingdom these traits in the man will likely change due to the conservative nature of the culture and customs of Saudi Arabia.  Even within their own home a Saudi man is less likely to hug or kiss his wife if others are present to possibly include children.  Many Saudis are taught that among husband and wives affection is to take place behind closed doors.  Now with children on the other hand, it is acceptable and expected to hug them, kiss them and coddle them not only in the privacy of a home but in public places as well.


Foreign women in particular will remark that their husband changes when coming to Saudi Arabia and how he shows or not shows affection is among those traits.  This is pretty typical but again is part of the ingrained culture and traditions.  And most Saudi men are pretty sensitive in not wanting any actions on their part to be interpreted by other Saudis as disrespectful or casting shame upon their family.


The showing (or lack thereof) of affection can be one aspect of culture shock for the foreign and particularly western wife.  The western culture in general is much more open and spontaneous.  It is not unusual for a husband or wife to sit in one another’s lap even if others are present or to share a quick kiss of affection in a natural gesture.  However such gestures and actions will likely be frowned upon in the more conservative culture of Saudi Arabia.  A foreign wife should not take offense or feel rejected if she unthinkingly reaches out for her husband’s hand and he unceremoniously shakes it away.  Not all men may be this way but the foreign wife who may have been accustomed to giving and receiving affection at any time should be prepared and expect changes due to the new environs and culture.


The husband is probably not “rejecting” the wife to hurt her but rather to respect her.  Innocent gestures can too easily be misinterpreted in a conservative society.  A couple seen holding hands, let alone sharing a kiss, and the girls reputation (even though she is a wife) can be damaged.  Saving face and maintaining respect are key elements of the Saudi culture.


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