|Saudi students are seen at a university in Ireland in this file photo. (AN photo)|
By DIANA AL-JASSEM | ARAB NEWS (Also available in Maktoob.com)
JEDDAH: Saudis traveling abroad for summer vacation find it difficult to respect the rules of the country they are visiting.
Saudis studying and living abroad are calling on their compatriots to avoid bad behavior on the road and in public, as not respecting local laws could land them in trouble.
Many Saudis traveling for vacation claimed it had been difficult for them to respect the laws of the countries they visit because they do not respect their own laws in the Kingdom.
There are many laws that Saudis might have heard of for the first time and find difficult to follow.
Some of the rules they might have difficulty dealing with include crossing the roads using pedestrian crossings and avoiding bad behavior while in restaurants.
Ahmad Marzouq, a Saudi student who has been in the UK for the past three years, is an example of a Saudi who eventually respected the law when he traveled abroad but found it an initial struggle.
“I was not taught how to behave in public places and how to respect traffic signs when driving. In the UK, things were different because people obey the law,” said Marzouq.
He was criticized by the British family he stayed with in the UK, especially with regard to his table manners, his driving and organization of his day-to-day activities. He was nearly involved in a traffic accident because he tried to cross the road away from a pedestrian crossing. He said it was a learning experience for him.
Marzouq now sees many Saudis on vacation behaving badly in public. He himself began advising them to obey the laws of the country to avoid trouble. He stopped a group of three Saudis from smoking in a shopping area. They told him that they knew about the law but they thought it would not be enforced.
Abdullah Al-Zahrani, a Saudi teacher and father of two who lives in Jeddah and is planning to spend his summer vacation in a European country, said: “I used to smoke in malls, airports and sometimes inside medical clinics. When I travel abroad, I strictly follow the laws of the countries because of the fines imposed and because I do not want to face trouble in unfamiliar areas. I always ask my friends about the rules of the country I am visiting before I travel. I know I am wrong to say this but I have never respected any law here when it comes to behaving in public and on the road because they are not enforced.”
Rana Maghrabi, a Lebanese teacher married to a Saudi and living in Saudi Arabia, said: “My husband used to eat in Saudi restaurants and cafés using his hands. He never used a fork or spoon. This embarrassed me especially when we sat in open areas. Being a Saudi was an excuse for him to ignore all sense of etiquette,” said Maghrabi.
“Last year, my husband and I were planning to travel to Paris to spend the summer vacation. I told him that I would not travel with him unless he respects the laws and follows my instructions. His answer shocked me because he said, ‘I know that when in Rome, do as the Romans do.'”