Saudi Arabia is culturally, politically, and economically different from other countries around the world; this also includes how the family, education, and military systems work. All of these aspects are implemented with strict Islamic laws; these laws are to be respected, but if not they will be punished. Exploring these different customs and practices shows how they live in a completely different strict and harsher mindset from Americans or any other culture in the world. They all must publicly practice the same cultural acts, practice politics under a monarchy, and their economy depends heavily on oil.
All these aspects are strictly controlled by the government. Islam is the dominant religion and it is the only religion allowed to be practiced publicly.
This country does not want other religions practice, but they will accept it if the practice is not publicly. If you do practice in public any other religion than Islam it is seen as trying to convert others to your religion which is illegal.
Islamic leaders are very strict to following this law as their religion is one of the most important aspects; they will seek legal action if they believe you are trying to convert their people. Throughout the country the Sunni branch is deemed the state religion with eighty-five percent practicing and Shia branch is the second major branch with a smaller portion of the countries people practicing (Ochsenwald). These two main practices make up the country’s top religions which are the only ones allowed publicly without legal action.
The Islam religion is very important to Saudi Arabia which is seen with the strict laws emplaced.
Culture in Saudi Arabia does not accept outside concepts to mix with theirs, such as the LGBTQI+ community. Compared to America their opinion is far worst and harsh. They deem being transgender as illegal with severe punishments if it is discovered you are. Saudi Arabia goes as far as not letting you travel to their country if you are any part of the LGBTQI+. The Commonwealth office stated, “Transgender people traveling to Saudi Arabia are likely to face significant difficulties and risks if this is discovered by the authorities” (Commonwealth). The authorities are under government issued orders to not allow or make it difficult for transgender people to come into the country. Although transgender and the LGBTQI+ is new to the American culture it has become greatly excepted all over the country mixing with outside concepts. Most people in America would not agree to bringing legal action to not allow these people into our country, but rather accept them. In this sense these countries are very different in progression from old and new ways.
Family in the Arab culture is most important to the people with a big influence on each other’s day to day lives. It is so important that they considered the loyalty to the family greater than to their nation or self. These families are large with activities revolving around the whole family and determines their reputation. (Arabicare) A normal family is considered patriarchal consisting of a mother, father, and multiple children; each has its own role in the family. The father is the main provider, the mother is to bear children, and the children are to honor the family. The women do not work outside of the home because they look after the household in all aspects as if that’s her job. Even if a woman has money it is not likely she will contribute to the household expenses since that is the fathers job. Each role the family has brings together the family to provide a close-knit, large family.
Education plays a big role in the Saudi Arabia culture. All females and males are required to attend school, but they all get free education. They have over 30,000 schools, fifty public and private universities, and a large number of colleges. (The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia) Islam is a many component of their studies, but they keep the studies diverse to prepare the students for the work in the global economy. They want to meet the needs the children need in the working world along with the religious needs of the country. The diversity in their studies opens up more job opportunities and a greater education. Their education consists of kindergarten, six years of primary school, and three years each of intermediate and high school. (The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia) After they finish their general education most tend to go to college as it has grown to be importance over the years. There are more females attending college than males out of one million students.
The schools provide specialization in different degrees. Education has grown through all levels of schooling and allowing more females to attend higher educational classes. Politically Saudi Arabia follows the 1992 Basis Law which is the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad serve as the constitution. They have a king known as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques as the government. The country had elections in 2005 which were the first elections since 1963. These elections were only open to males twenty-one years of age and nonmilitary citizen to vote on only half the total seats of the municipal advisory councils. The king then completed the formations of seats to fill the other half. (Pike) This shows that the men only have the power to vote, but even then, they do not have full control. Pike expresses that political parties are illegal, but the green party continues to operate illegally.
The reason there are no political parties is because the Basic Law doesn’t provide the freedom of association and its restricted by the government. Women began to get into politics when King Abdallah started the reform movement. This allowed women to be a part of the Shoura council as lawyers, bankers, and salespeople. (Pike) This provide the first jobs in these positions for women and caused many traditionalists to be afraid. Saudi Arabi follows the Basic Law very strictly but is beginning to make changes to allow more women into the political system. The strict government controls in Saudi Arabia are not just politically, but also on the economy. The government controls the major economic activities from this oil-based economy. (The World Factbook: Saudi Arabia) Being an oil-based economy creates an industrial country.
With the oil industry being a natural resource, it becomes a primary industry; this industry provides billions oil all over the world. This leads to be a big role in the worlds market and puts Saudi Arabia on the map. This country is the largest exporter of oil and plays a leading role in OPEC. (The World Factbook: Saudi Arabia) Not only does this put the country on the map as being one of the largest exporters, but it provides thousands of jobs. Men take over this industry, but it provides them with a secure job. This industry will be able to function as long as oil is being found. Since this is a huge job with security the unemployment rate is six percent. The economy plays one of the biggest roles in this country bringing jobs and money.
With the oil industry bringing in a great lump of money the country is able to spend it on the military. They are able to spend over sixty billion dollars on military yearly leading to a bigger military defense. (Iran vs Saudi Arabia | Comparison Military Strength) Even with a larger amount of money being spent on the military, there is not a large amount of active duty in the military. Even with the age of enlistment starting at seventeen and no conscription there is not a huge surplus of people joining. Although there are not many people joining the Saudi Arabia military they play a major role in the Middle Eastern affairs. (Joyner) They are building up the military to create a more powerful impact and become a helping power.
In conclusion, Saudi Arabia has many different aspects to their way of life to their economy. Beginning with their religion. They expect most to almost everyone to practice Islam and only allow this religion to be publicly expressed. All other religions must be in private. In many ways they vary from the American way of life as that the family life and being loyal is most important. They consider every action each family member does as their reputation as a whole. Also, they despise the LGBTQI+ and take a huge legal action to prevent them living or coming into the country. It is even illegal to be transgender. One cultural aspect that has no illegalities is education. Both male and female students are required to go and even can attend college. College is very important as that females dominant the field which lead to more jobs options for females in many different fields. Politically women do not get much say if any at all. They did not get any political involvement until the king started the reform movement.
Men with certain criteria get to vote on half of the council seats appointed, while the king picks the other half to make up the whole council. They king follows the Basic Law and lets it rule as the constitution. The Basic Law provides strict laws that the people must follow, or they will have significant consequences. Strict laws are not just placed on politics but on the economy. Their economy is oil-based, but the government has control over most of the industry. They decided the important business matters. This economy also has brought thousands of jobs to the people of Saudi Arabia along with a great lump of money. They are using this money to spend on building up the military to become a stronger power in the world stand point. Even with a lower amount of active military, they still are a main power in the Middle Eastern Gulf. Saudi Arabia has a great amount of differences in their country, but they are slowly transitioning to be culturally, politically, and economically advanced.