Translating Arabic Speaking Countries: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

March 8, 2017 Sakina Sultanova

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a country in Western Asia, located in the Arabian Peninsula. It shares borders with Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman and Yemen. It is the birthplace of Islam.

In this blog, I will cover some brief, but important facts about Saudi Arabia for anyone planning to do business with Saudi companies or market to Saudi consumers.

Saudi Arabian Demographics

  • Riyadh is the capital city with approximately eight million people.

  • The population is over 28 million people.

  • Immigrants make up more than 30% of the total population.

  • Median age is 27.

  • The government type is an absolute monarchy.

Saudi Arabian Languages

  • The official languages are Najdi Spoken Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic.

  • The top languages spoken by immigrants are: Tagalog, Rohingya, Urdu, Egyptian Spoken Arabic and Persian.

  • English is widely spoken; it is used in business and schools.

Saudi Arabian Culture

  • Islam is the religion that all Saudis (85-90% Sunni Muslims and 10-15% Shia Muslims) practice.

  • Saudi Arabia follows Islamic (sharia) law with some elements of Egyptian, French and customary law.

  • Saudi Arabia is a very traditional and conservative country and Islam provides guidance for Saudi’s personal, economic, political, legal and social lives.

  • Meeting etiquette is a bit different than in western countries. Men can shake hands and kiss on the cheek if they are good friends. Woman never shake hands with men, even in business. There is strict separation between men and women.

  • If you are invited to a Saudi’s home, you need to remove your shoes, show respect to elders, dress conservatively and you must drink Arabic coffee and eat dates.

Saudi Arabian Consumers

  • You should make business appointments a couple of weeks, or even a month, in advance. If you are meeting with government officials, you have to be physically in the country to confirm a meeting date. It is best to schedule meetings in the morning.

  • Business card are given to anyone you meet and one side of your card should be translated into Arabic.

  • As modern retail takes hold in the country, some shopping habits are evolving to mimic those in western countries.

  • Saudi Arabia has over 20 million internet users and recently launched the ecommerce platform,

Future of Saudi Arabia

According to Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has put the following programs in place to achieve their economic goals by 2030:

  • Government Restructuring program

  • Strategic Directions program

  • Fiscal Balance program

  • Project Management program

  • Regulations Review program

  • Performance Measurement program

  • Saudi Aramco Strategic Transformation program

  • Public Investment Fund Restructuring program

  • National Transformation program

  • Strategic Partnerships program

  • Privatization program

  • Strengthening Public Sector Governance program

Saudi Arabia is continuously developing and working hard to become better day by day. We will see in years to come if they can achieve their goals for economic advancement and increase the equality of their citizens.


Further Resources on Arabic Culture, Language and Translation

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has extensive experience localizing marketing materials, technical documents, and large, scalable websites into the Arabic language. We have previously posted a number of useful guides for best practices in this area. Feel free to review our blogs that are particularly relevant:

Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs. 

About the Author

Sakina Sultanova

Global Account Services Manager. Sakina is originally from Azerbaijan and is now living and working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She fluently speaks 5 languages including Azeri, Russian, Turkish, English and Chinese. In high school, she was an exchange student in Alabama, United States of America. She graduated from Baku State University, faculty of Oriental Studies (China). She has 8 years’ experience in different fields of Business Development, Office Management, Translation and Teaching. She has worked in international companies owned by Chinese, Turkish and British firms, providing her diverse experience with different cultures and business protocols and customs. She has solid experience as well in sales, researching, customer relations and business planning. She is a proud mother of 2 year old baby-girl. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and playing outdoors.

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