7 Misconceptions About Saudi Arabia – Busted

When Western and other people think of Saudi Arabia, they imagine oppression, terrorism, desert living, camels, and other misconceptions far from reality.

Western news stories present events in Saudi Arabia in a poor light. Reports are biased, and fake news and criticism of the country run rampant.

By Eliane Maroun (Reading Time: 2 min 34 sec)

1st Misconception -People Travel About On Camels

Greetings Camels In Saudi Arabia


In days gone by, Saudi people travelled about on camels, the main form of transport for centuries.

Today, like every other country, Saudis routinely use motorised vehicles, cars, buses, and motorbikes with an excellent road system.

People still keep and enjoy riding camels but only at the weekends and in desert camps.

Many camels wander about the towns and cities, even in urban areas.

Also, visitors enjoy taking camel rides in main tourist areas. Desert life is a cherished heritage.

2nd Misconception – Saudis Tribes Live In The Desert

Desert Life Is No Longer

This misconception arises because Hollywood and western media love to portray Saudi desert life, tents, and hot sand. These images stay in our minds.

However, Saudi Arabia cities are stunning and built with state-of-the-art engineering.

For example, Riyadh has the Kingdom Tower, a 302.3-meter-high skyscraper. It is one of the best buildings on the planet.

Get insight into the character, customs and ways of Saudi Arabian men by clicking Inside Saudi‘s post What Are Saudi Men Are Really LikeOpens in a new tab.?- Essential travel advice!

3rd Misconception – Saudis Are Terrorists

Saudi Police Drive Black And White Cars

All Saudis are Muslims. The religion of Islam is peaceful and promotes love and forgiveness. Some Saudis commit terrorist acts, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

As in any other religion, some followers misunderstand the religious tenets and try to impose misunderstandings on others.

Saudi Arabia deals strictly with terrorist acts and works hard to prevent terrorist activities and punish violators.

4th Misconception – Saudi People Oppose Music

Visit to Al Murabba Palace and National History Museum.

Social meet-ups with music are a big part of Saudi day-to-day life. The Saudi people are fun-loving and appreciate all musical tastes.

The country has national singers of both genders who sing catchy songs, including like Mohammed Abdu, Rashid Al-Majed, Etab, and Sawsan Al-Bahiti.

5th Misconception – Saudi Arabia Is Unsafe

Saudi Arabia Is VERY Safe

The Saudi government strictly controls the use of firearms. Unlike in some US states, people here do not have the right to bear arms. They prefer it that way.

You will never hear of public school shootings or news of citizens shooting up people in public places.

Aside from the government’s anti-violence policy, the Saudi people reject violence in all its forms and always preach peace.

Expatriate workers and tourists fear coming to Saudi Arabia.

Actually, there is nothing to fear. Inside Saudi explains why the kingdom is completely safe for foreign workers and visitors in How Safe Is Saudi Arabia For Expats And Tourists? Opens in a new tab.

6th Misconception – Saudis Have Unlimited Wealth

Oil production has created much wealth for the nation. Indeed, it also provides jobs and massive business opportunities.

However, there are many poor Saudis not connected to oil production. They do not appear in the Western media.

Like other nations, Saudi Arabia has different social classes, people with a lot of wealth, many others with modest incomes, and poor people.

The towns and cities have many luxury houses and fast cars such as Lamborghini and Ferraris. However, you will also see smaller homes, apartments, and Saudis driving standard models such as Honda and Toyota.

Saudis appear to be rich, but they are not. Most, in fact, are heavily indebted. To learn how, read Inside Saudi‘s article entitled, Are All Saudi Arabians Very Rich?Opens in a new tab.

7th Misconception – Foreign Nationals Must Stay On Compounds

The Marjan Compound, Jubail

Foreign nationals are everywhere, and the majority do not live on compounds. They feel free to go anywhere they choose in the kingdom.

Some Western and Arab nationals employed by big companies live in gated compounds. However, they are only a minority.

On the street, Saudi people are courteous and welcoming of foreigners. They love chatting and making friends with non-Saudis, no matter their background or nationality.

Mosques are the only places forbidden for non-Muslims. However, no one objects if a non-Muslim (male or female) enters a mosque.

To learn about life of expat dependent (sponsored) women in Saudi life on compounds, click through to Inside Saudi’s Are Dependent Women Allowed To Work In Saudi Arabia?Opens in a new tab.

In Conclusion

Like people in any country, Saudi Arabia has its traditions, customs, and breathtaking sights. The people are friendly and hospitable. The Western media should stop producing biased news and misrepresenting the kingdom. If you visit Saudi Arabia one time, I guarantee you will want to return again and again.

Hello, my name is Eliane Maroun. I am a translator, editor, and copywriter with over 10 years of experience. My work with many Arab countries has given me a vast view of the area. I’m trilingual, with Arabic as my native language, and English and French as my second and third languages respectively. 
Connect with me at Linked InOpens in a new tab.

Salam Allekum! Hi there! Thanks for reading. Didn't find the answer (s)? Then, message me, Mohammed Francis at insidesaudia@gmail.com or WhatsApp 00966 591 319 538. If I can't give you the answer, I will find the resources for you or someone who can. Sharing really helps the site to grow, so the links below are for you to gift this article.