This report aims to examine the way Islam and Saudi Arabian culture affects international business. It looks at Islam and how that has formed the laws and regulations of the country. The day to day culture of Saudi Arabia is also examined as well as how women in business are perceived. Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions have been used to show the vast difference between western culture and the culture in Saudi Arabia and outlines how important it is to know where these differences lie. Finally the report gives some recommendations to a western country coming into Saudi Arabia. It shows what is needed to be known for there to be success.
Saudi Arabia, located in the southwest of Asia, is a country rich in religious culture in which society lives their day to day lives by the rules of Islam. It is here that the religion of Islam was born and is the reason that its tradition and law are strictly enforced. It is also home to two of the holiest shrines in the world, Mecca and Median (Nationmaster. com, 2003). The government has built its legal system according to the Koran and this is called Shariah Law. Sitting just above the government is the Saudi Royal family with the leader being King Abdullah (Cinderella, 2010).
There is an estimated 24 million people with about 6. 5 million expatriates (Information Office of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC, 2010) The national language is Arabic but English is widely spoken (Information Office of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC, 2010). In Saudi Arabia, it is no surprise being the birth place of Islam that Islam is practiced by all (Kwintessential, 2010) and it is this religion that is the grounding to their daily lives. Islam is derived from the prophet Muhammad (Kwintessential, 2010) and with his teachings the Koran was created.
The rules set out by the Koran is what governs Saudi Arabia and their legal and ethical system. This is called Sharia Law. One of the requirements of being a Muslim is that you need to pray five times a day at set times. For businesses this means allowing employees this time to pray. Companies also need to know that Friday is a holy day and no business can be conducted. It is also very common for businesses to be closed on a Thursday. The holy month of Ramadan which is the ninth month of every year (Kotabe et al, 2005, p138), also influences companies. Muslims can only work six hour days and cannot eat from sunrise to sunset.
This also includes all drinking, smoking, chewing gum etc. After sunset, families gather for a feast and this is called Ifta (Kwintessential, 2010). Companies need to give concession to their employees during these unusual working days as it is part of Islamic law. To ensure that all Islamic law is being followed precisely, the Saudi Arabian government has put in place the religious police called the Mutawwa (Rice, 2004). The police ensure that all stores and businesses are closed during prayer time and that women and men are acting modestly and according to law.