1. Saudis are hospitable.
I don’t think we’ve ever been treated better anywhere in the world. They go out of their way to entertain and make you feel at home. Everyone I’ve met who has come here for various reasons all have the same experience. They are extremely warm people. You almost feel guilty the way they lavish warmth and generosity on you.
2. They are positively, traditional .
They are proud of their culture, their history, their faith, and everything Saudi. Honestly, they may very well be the “Texans” of the Arabs! Whereas Texans have a saying, “Don’t mess with Texas!” They are proud – they are excited to be who they are. Texans are more open than they are given credit for, but traditional people are generally passionate people – they speak with gusto. The same is true of the Saudis.
3. Saudis are adaptable.
If you understood their history, how it was a tribal area and over a 300 year period in 3 different phases the Kingdom was united – and ultimately completed around 1902 or so under King Abdull Aziz you would see how they have to work together just to get along. There are nomads, there are educated, there are the rich and the poor – everything is here and most Saudis can relate to each other really well. Just 50 years ago there was dire poverty, now there is wealth from the oil – their whole life has been a continual adaptation. People who would say that Saudis can’t change along the way – haven’t studied their history.
4. Saudis are open to change and will tell you what they think as they process change.
They will tell you what you want to hear at first, they don’t like conflict – but once they feel comfortable with you, they’ll be very honest with you. Contrary to what some in the West may say, the Saudis are very open minded about many things. If you focus in on 1 or 2 things you may not have that opinion – but if you look at life as more than 1 or 2 issues – you’ll find a massive openness. I think this is why they have conflicts among themselves currently – the world is opening – and so are they. Not everyone experiences the same level of openness all at once. For those who aren’t yet open, it can be perceived as a threat when things begin to change. Saudi Arabia is in a conversation with itself big time right now, and I think they’ll make it. Keeping up with this world is even hard for the west countries like the Americans – why would it be different for anyone else. America has had a pretty uniformed history and experience the past 150 years. Saudi Arabia has been in a continual evolution.
5. Saudis Love Knowledge
Believe it or not, almost everyone here knows English no matter how basic. It’s actually really rare that you’ll come across a Saudi that you cannot communicate with. Actually, all of the schools teach English and even French. Saudi women are some of the most educated women you’ll ever see. And many of them own their own businesses as well. These are not some poor little sheltered women sitting under a mans thumb like the world wants to believe.
Are there issues here, challenges, extremists? Of course – but if that is the basis we use to build our relationship with the Saudis then we are letting a few people determine how we feel about a huge population by painting with a broad stroke. You do not want to let other people judge based on what they’ve seen on TV. The same should be true with how we view the Saudis.