Arabic unleavened bread, or khobz, is eaten with almost all meals. Other staples include
lamb, grilled chicken, falafel (deep-fried chickpea balls), shawarma (spit-cooked sliced
lamb), and hummus (a paste of fava beans, garlic and lemon). Traditional coffeehouses
used to be ubiquitous, but are now being displaced by food-hall style cafes. Arabic tea is
also a famous custom, which is used in both casual and formal meetings between friends,
family and even strangers. The tea is black (without milk) and has herbal flavoring that
comes in many variations. Islamic dietary laws forbid the eating of pork and the drinking
of alcohol, and this law is enforced strictly throughout Saudi Arabia
Local food is often strongly flavored and spicy. The most common meats are lamb and
chicken, beef is rare and pork is proscribed under Islamic law. The main meat meal of the
day is lunch. Foreign cooking is on offer in larger towns and the whole range of
international cuisine, including fast food, is available in the oil-producing Eastern
Province and in Jeddah.
Things to know: Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the fasting hours of
Ramadan will incur strict penalties. Restaurants have table service. There are no bars.
Alcohol is forbidden by law, and there are severe penalties
for infringement; it is important to note that this applies to all nationals regardless of
• Pitta bread (flat, unleavened bread) accompanies every dish.
• Rice, lentils, chick peas (hummus) and cracked wheat (burghul) are also common.
• Kultra (chicken or lamb on skewers) is popular for lunch.
• Kebabs served with soup and vegetables.
• Mezze, the equivalent of hors d’oeuvres, may include up to 40 dishes.
• Arabic coffee and fruit drinks are popular alternatives to alcohol.
• Alcohol-free beers and cocktails are served in hotel bars.
Tipping: The practice of tipping is becoming much more common and waiters should be
Visitors should not expect to find clubs and bars but evening entertainment is offered at
restaurants and hotels
Eating is one of the greater pleasures in Saudi Arabia, and the obesity statistics show that
most Saudis indulge as much as they can.
 Fast food
Fast food is a huge business in Saudi Arabia, with all the usual suspects (McDonalds,
Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway) and not a few chains that rarely venture outside
America elsewhere (e.g. Hardee's, Little Caesars). Meals invariably served with fries and
Coke cost SR10-20. Some local imitators worth checking out include:
• Al-Baik - fried chicken- in Jeddah, Mecca and Medina, but not Riyadh
• Baak - Pizza (thin crust and quite good), fried chicken, lasagna, sandwiches
• Kudu - Saudi sandwich chain 
• Herfy Burger  - biggest fast food chain in the country, 100% Saudi owned
• House of Donuts - "The Finest American Pastries" - a chain started by Saudi
students who studied in America
Cheaper yet are the countless curry shops run by and for Saudi Arabia's large
Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi community, which serve up large thali platters of
subcontinental fare for under SR10. Just don't expect frills like air-conditioning.
 Local cuisine
The Middle Eastern staple of shwarma (doner kebab) is widely available in dedicated
little joints, with SR 3-4 being the standard price for a sandwich. The Egyptian mashed
fava bean stew foul is another cheap staple, and these shops usually also offer felafel
(chickpea balls) and a range of salads and dips like hummus (chickpea paste) and
tabbouleh (parsley salad).
Finding restaurants that serve actual Saudi cuisine is surprisingly difficult, although many
larger hotels have "Arabian" (usually Lebanese) restaurants. Your local Saudi or
expatriate host may be able to show you some places or, if you're really lucky, an
invitation to dinner at home.
• Mandi — Chicken or mutton cooked with rice in a pot suspended above a fire.
[add listing] Drink
With alcohol, nightclubs, playing music in public and mingling with unrelated women all
banned, it's fair to say that nobody comes to Saudi Arabia for the nightlife.
 Coffee shops
Pretty much the only form of entertainment for bachelors is the ubiquitous coffee shop,
which serve not only coffee and tea, but water pipes (shisha) with flavoured tobacco.
These are strictly a male domain, and in some cities like Riyadh establishments that offer
shisha are banished to the outskirts of town.
If, on the other hand, you're looking for a hazelnut frappucino, Starbucks and its legion
competitors have established a firm foothold in the Kingdom's malls. These usually
welcome women, although 2008 saw several arrests of unmarried couples "mingling".
As for the coffee (kahwa) itself, try mirra, made in the Bedouin style. Sometimes spiced
with cardamom, it's strong and tastes great, particularly drunk with fresh dates. Tea (chai)
usually comes with dollops of sugar and perhaps a few mint leaves (na'ana).
Alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden throughout the country, although the police
generally turn a blind eye to goings-on inside compounds for foreign expats, not a few of
which have full-size English pubs serving up homebrew beer and wine on Wednesday
nights. However, if they catch people involved in smuggling or distilling booze in
quantity, then expat or not, Saudi law applies. A foreigner may not get the sentence a
local would, but can expect a few days or weeks jail, public flogging, and deportation.
Do not drink and drive! is good advice anywhere, but especially in Saudi Arabia. If you
have an accident, or otherwise attract police attention, the consequences might be serious
The locally-brewed white lightning called Arak. In addition to being illegal, it's also
extremely potent (anything up to 90-odd percent alcohol), remarkably unpalatable and
may contain dangerous impurities.
 Soft drinks
In Saudi, this non-alcoholic apple-flavored Bud's for you
As elsewhere in the Gulf, Saudis are big fans of various fruit juices, ranging from the
ordinary (apple, orange) to the downright bizarre (banana-lemon-milk-walnut, anyone?).
Non-alcoholic versions of alcoholic drinks are popular. Two of the most common are
Saudi champagne, basically apple juice and Sprite or soda water, and malt beverages,
ie. non-alcoholic beer, always sweet and often strongly flavored with mango, strawberry,
apple, lemon etc essences. You can even get apple-flavored Budweiser!
Good Luck for the Bride In Saudi Arabia, when men and women want to get
married, they prefer to buy new clothes and throw out old ones. They say
this is a new life, so the couple need new clothes. On the wedding night, the
man dresses in white clothes and a long cover called a Bisht, and the woman
dresses in white. At the end of the wedding, the man goes with his father and
relatives to his marriage room and sits to drink some coffee for a few
minutes. Then they leave. Then the woman comes with her mother and
relatives and do the same thing. This removes the stress of the man and the
woman, so they are together to start a new life. The morning after the
wedding, the man gives a gift to his wife. Abdullah Al-Subaiei
The Cutting of the cake
When the bride and groom start walking to the wedding cake, all the
wedding guests move out of the way and look in anticipation at the bride and
groom. Then the groom holds the bride's hand carefully and together they
hold the knife. After they cut a small piece of the cake, the groom holds the
piece of cake and the bride eats a bit of it. After that the bride holds that
piece of cake and lets the groom bite another bit of the piece. Then the
attendants start cheering and clapping for them. The cutting of the cake
symbolizes that the couple have started taking care of each other and looking
after each other. Sulaiman Alquraishi
Who Took The Bridegroom
In my country (Saudi Arabia), after the wedding ceremony, the religious
man says that the bride and the bridegroom are man and wife. Then the
bridegroom goes to a party hall--a special hall for weddings--near his house.
His friends follow him in their cars and honk their horns and flash their
lights, so the people know that there is a wedding party. Our special thing is
the food. At the party, they cook special, traditional food--rice and a whole
sheep on a big plate--and they cook 8-15 plates because usually there are a
lot of people at the party. After dinner, the bridegroom goes out from the
back door and takes his wife to start their honeymoon, but sometimes--or
usually--his friends will play big jokes on him. For example, they may take
him before he leaves with his wife to have a picnic in a place he cannot get
back from (the desert) for about 2-3 days to make him late for his