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Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions
Little analysis of Saudi Arabia using the
cultural dimensions by Geert Hofstede.
English Course 4 – Facultad de Cs. Exactas, UNICEN – Martín Pacheco
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Culture of Saudi Arabia
• Saudi Arabia's economy is petroleum-based; 75% of
budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come
from the oil industry.
• Saudi Arabia is one of the few fastest growing
countries in the world with a high per capita income
• Extreme heat and aridity are characteristic of most
of Saudi Arabia
• The Kingdom occupies about 80 percent of the
Arabian peninsula Islam.
• Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, are
located in the country.
• Public theatres and cinemas are prohibited.
• Saudi Arabian dress follows strictly the principles of
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Culture of Saudi Arabia
• It is common to remove your shoes before entering a building.
• Alcohol and pork are illegal.
• The "thumbs up" gesture is offensive.
• Women in Saudi Arabia are not permitted to drive vehicles.
• Gifts are not necessary, but appreciated. Avoid admiring an item too
much, your host may feel obligated to give it to you. When offered a
gift, it is impolite to refuse.
• Visitors are expected to abide by local standards of modesty however,
they should not adopt native clothing. Traditional clothes on foreigners
may be offensive.
• Despite the heat, most of the body must always remain covered.
• Women should always wear modest clothing in public.
Importance of religion:
• Islam governs everything!
• No civil code of law – Shari’ha (Islamic Law) = law!
• No other religion tolerated
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Cultural Values Dimensions (by Geert Hofstede)
Culture is the sum of the “values, rituals, symbols,
beliefs, and thought processes that are learned,
shared by a group of people, and transmitted
from generation to generation”
1. Power Distance Index (PDI)
2. Individualism/Collective Index (IDV)
3. Masculinity/Femininity Index (MAS)
4. Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)
5. Long Term/Short Term Orientation (LTO)
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High Power Distance (PDI)
• High Power Distance ranking indicates that inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow
within the society. These populations have an expectation and acceptance that leaders will separate
themselves from the group and this condition is not necessarily subverted upon the population, but rather
accepted by the society as their cultural heritage.
• These societies are more likely to follow a caste system that does not allow significant upward mobility of its
• They are also highly rule-oriented with laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to reduce the amount of
uncertainty, while inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the society.
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Low Individualism (IDV)
• Low Individualism ranking typifies societies of a more collectivist nature with close ties between individuals.
These cultures reinforce extended families and collectives where everyone takes responsibility for fellow
members of their group.
• This translates into a Collectivist society as compared to Individualist culture and is manifested in a close
long-term commitment to the member 'group', that being a family, extended family, or extended
relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules.
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High Masculinity (MAS)
• A High Masculinity ranking indicates the country experiences a high degree of gender differentiation. In
these cultures, males dominate a significant portion of the society and power structure, with females being
controlled by male domination.
• The Masculinity index (MAS), the third highest Hofstede Dimension is 60, only slightly higher than the 50.2
average for all the countries included in the Hofstede MAS Dimension. This would indicate that while women
in the Arab World are limited in their rights, it may be due more to Muslim religion rather than a cultural
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High Uncertainity (UAI)
• A High Uncertainty Avoidance ranking indicates the country has a low tolerance for uncertainty and
ambiguity. This creates a rule-oriented society that institutes laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to
reduce the amount of uncertainty.
• The high Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) ranking of 68, indicates the society’s low level of tolerance for
uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and
regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of these populations is to control everything in
order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the
society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.
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High Long Term Orientation (LTO)
• High Long-Term Orientation ranking indicates the country prescribes to the values of long-term
commitments and respect for tradition. This is thought to support a strong work ethic where long-term
rewards are expected as a result of today's hard work. However, business may take longer to develop in this
society, particularly for an "outsider".
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Cultural Values Differences
Country PDI IDV MAS UAI LTO
Saudi Arabia Highest (95) Low (25) High (60) High (80) High (?)
India High (77) Low (48) Average (56) Low (40) High (61)
Germany Lowest (35) High (67) Highest (66) High (65) Low (31)
US Low (40) Highest (91) High (62) Low (46) Lowest (29)
China High (80) Lowest (20) Highest (66) Lowest (30) Highest (118)
• S.A.: PDI:
• High level of inequality of power and wealth within the society.
• Expectation and acceptance that leaders separate themselves from the group
• India: PDI
• Germany: IDV
• Self-reliance; look out for yourself & close family
• US: IDV
• China: LTO
• Importance of persevering
• Overcoming obstacles with time, if not with will and strength
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You can find more information
in The Hofstede Centre
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