Friday, November 18, 2011

Comparing Life in the USA to Life in Saudi Arabia

I thank Mike a geat photographer for this amazing photo. Find him on Flickr @Inbet_1979

Perhaps the title is a little deceiving, but one of the main cultural differences is how time is valued. Most if not all successful countries and their cultures show a great level of respect to time and timelines. In America we know our paychecks will be in the account on or before the payday. When our neighbor and friends ask us to help them with something we complete the tasks on or before that day. In our culture we always say I will be there on or before time. When we purchase our furniture we expect it to show up on time if not a little before.
In Kingdom of Saudi Arabia time is like oil. There is plenty of it to waste, which people do all the time. In comparison to U.S. in Saudi Arabia everything is after this or that time. For example most organizations will inform their employees their pay will be disbursed after a certain date. If you insist on knowing a date they will simply say you will get paid after the 2nd. It can be a day or weeks after that day. You can expect the same behavior from almost all the service providers. After purchasing office furniture I was told my furniture will arrive after the noon prayers. Not used to Kingdom’s customs I was ready at 12:30. I failed to realize, when I was told after the noon prayers it meant anytime after that and before sunrise the next day. The next day I was told they delivered the furniture around 8:00 Pm.
Maybe one day the market will change, perhaps the younger generation can learn from the foreign cultures and embrace all the good. But till that day Saudi Arabia will always be considered as country of  Bedouins. No skyscraper or modern infrastructure built by expatriates can help a nation become successful, unless they start respecting time amongst other things.

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