Cultural Differences Between the USA vs Saudi Arabia

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

When traveling to a new country it is important to be aware of the cultural differences between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are two completely different countries with contrasting cultures and traditions that should not be taken lightly when visiting or living in either country. Being familiar with both cultures will help you avoid any major mishaps while traveling abroad, especially if this is your first time leaving your home country.

The people of the USA enjoy the freedom to do many things, such as drink alcohol, drive cars, and vote in elections. The Saudi Arabian people are not allowed to drink alcohol or drive cars – they must rely on public transportation like buses and taxis. In addition, they have a king who is head of state, unlike the US who has a president. It’s easy to see how these two cultures differ from one another.

Comparison between the USA and Saudi Arabia

Parameters of Comparison  USA culture Saudi Arabia culture
SystemThe USA is a democratic countrySaudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy
Government3 branch1 branch
FreedomAmericans enjoy the freedom of speechdo not exist in Saudi Arabia
AlcoholOpen in the USAProhibited in Arab
ReligiousLess religiousMore religious

What is the USA?

US citizens often refer to the United States of America as simply “USA.” This country has a population of about 325 million people and it’s one of the largest countries in the world. It’s bordered by Canada on its north, Mexico on its south, and Cuba on its southeast. The nation was founded by thirteen colonies that turned into fifty states after independence from British rule in 1776. Today, these states are grouped into four regions: Northeast Region (New York), Midwest Region (Ohio), South Region (Georgia), and West Coast Region (California). 

The USA is an abbreviation for the United States of America. It is the 4th largest country in terms of population and has a landmass that spans across three time zones. The USA’s economy ranks first in the world, with its GDP valued at $19 trillion. The nation has 8 states which are ranked among the top 10 most populous countries in the world, with California being number one followed by Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois among others. 

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What is Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is a country in the Middle East that occupies about three million square miles of land. It has been occupied by humans for thousands of years, as archaeologists have found evidence of settlements dating back to 7000 b.c. The geography and climate are harsh, with temperatures reaching up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months and dropping below freezing during winter nights. The population is currently 30 million people strong and growing rapidly. Saudi Arabia is governed under Sharia law, a religious legal system derived from Islamic tradition and the Quran which dictates not only laws but also social customs such as dress code, diet restrictions, etc., though many regions still follow tribal customs instead. 

Saudi Arabia is a country in the Middle East that occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy and it exports petroleum, which accounts for 90% of its export earnings and more than 50% of budget revenues. As such, Saudi Arabia’s government plays a large role in its economy and it is classified as a middle-income country with strong social indicators. 

Saudi Arabia is governed by an absolute monarchy under King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who succeeded his brother King Abdullah upon his death on January 23, 2015. The current Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister are Muhammad bin Nayef, while Khalid bin Salman serves as Ambassador to the United States until he was appointed Foreign Minister on April 28th, 2017. 

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10 Cultural Differences Between the USA and Saudi Arabia

1. The USA is a democratic country while Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy.

2. In the USA, there are three branches of government while in Saudi Arabia power rests with one person – the king.

3. Americans enjoy the freedom of speech and assembly which do not exist in Saudi Arabia.

4. more women work outside of their homes in the USA than in Saudi Arabia.

5. Women have to wear headscarves or cover themselves up when they go out into public places like malls or restaurants in Saudi Arabia but this isn’t true for American women.

6. Alcohol is legal for people over 21 years old but it’s banned completely from sale anywhere within the borders of Saudi Arabia.

7. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country.

8. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

9. There is no such thing as an “Arab Spring” in Saudi Arabia.

10. The national anthem of the United States of America is “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of USA culture

1. The average American spends an hour and a half on their phone each day.

2. More than 10 million people are living below the poverty line in America.

3. More than 50% of Americans live within 100 miles of where they were born

4. New York City is home to over 8 million people, making it the most populous city in the USA.

5. One out of every four children lives with someone who has served time for a felony conviction. 

6. Every year, about 400 billion pounds (or roughly $640 billion) worth of goods across the Mexican border into the United States.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Saudi Arabia culture?

1. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to the two holiest mosques in Islam.

2. The country has a population of 29 million people.

3. Women are not allowed to drive cars, but they can ride bikes.

4. There are over 30 million Facebook users in Saudi Arabia.

5. 90% of homes have air conditioners installed for the summer months.

6. In Saudi Arabia, it’s customary for women to wear a hijab or headscarf when out in public; however, many fashion designers now offer hijabs as an accessory.


The difference between Saudi Arabia and the USA is that in Saudi Arabia they have a lot of oil so their main source of income comes from it. In contrast, America’s economy relies on many different sources including manufacturing, trade with other countries, tourism etcetera. Another thing about American law is how there are more rights for women than in Saudi Arabians because under Sharia Lawmen get to choose who she marries or divorce her without any input from her at all while an American woman has to say over things like marriage or custody decisions.

The differences between the USA and Saudi Arabia are vast. These two countries have very different cultures, religions, and histories which shape their current social norms and expectations of each other. Americans need to be aware that there is a lot more than just oil in this country as we try to understand it better both culturally and politically. For Saudis trying to understand America’s culture or history, it can feel like you’re looking at an entirely new world from thousands of miles away. As long as these two countries continue to interact with one another, understanding how they operate will be crucial for all parties involved because after all “When ignorance prevails knowledge lives only in books.” -Edward Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1 (1776).


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