Saudi Arabia: Business/trade

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Important: Be sure to check both general and product-based categories for relevant information. Product-based categories include parts and accessories unless otherwise specified. See disclaimer below and use independent care before relying on this information.

Commercial holidays

Eid-al-Fitr holidays (varies); Eid-al-Adha holidays (varies); Saudi National Day: September 23.

The Islamic calendar, based on the Hijra year of 12 lunar months, is followed. Variable holidays include (dates vary annually and also may vary by a day or two): Eid-al-Fitr, celebration breaking the fast of Ramadan: three day festival, customarily a ten day holiday; Eid-al-Adha, festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael; Feast of the Sacrifice: four days, but commonly a ten day holiday; Birth of the Prophet.

Business is taken care of during night and evening hours during the month of Ramadan. Thursday and Friday are the normal weekend days off.

For more information on specific holidays, see Saudi Arabia Public & Bank Holidays.

Public holiday celebrations may cause delays in commercial transport of goods. It is best to check with your agent in the country about the extent of business stoppage during holidays.

For information on holidays worldwide, see: Holidays and Observances around the World.

(Last updated on 2024-01-01)

Major trade agreements

For additional information on trade agreements and rules of origin see: Rules of Origin Facilitator.

(Last updated on 2023-02-04)

Other treaties/conventions

(Last updated on 2024-01-15)

Government trade information

Saudi Government National Portal:

(Last updated on 2023-04-11)

Additional trade information

Refer to updated IMF Country Report.

(Last updated on 2022-04-01)

Traveler requirements (visas, samples, etc.)

Passport must not contain any evidence of prior or intended travel to Israel!

A visa is required for visits to Saudi Arabia. See overview of Saudi Arabia Visa Requirements.

For detailed information contact:

For worldwide visa requirements see: Travel Visa Requirements.

(Last updated on 2020-11-25)

Business customs

The official language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic, but English is widely used in business as many Saudi businessmen have been educated or have traveled extensively in the West.

Modern Saudi Arabia has adopted many of the business methods and styles of the West, but some differences remain. Most importantly, business will be conducted only after a degree of trust and familiarity has been established. Considerable time may be spent exchanging courtesies, and several visits may be required to secure business. Business visitors should arrange their itineraries to allow for long meetings, because traditional Saudis often maintain an "open office" in which they will sign papers, take telephone calls, and converse with friends or colleagues who drop by. Tea, soft drinks, and traditional Saudi coffee are usually offered. One to three cups of Saudi coffee should be taken for politeness, after which the cup should be wiggled between thumb and forefinger when returning it to the server to indicate that no further coffee is requested.

Eat with your right hand and avoid sitting at any time with the sole of the foot pointed at the host or other guest. It may be discourteous to ask about a man's wife or daughters; instead ask about his family. Shoes are sometimes removed before entering a Saudi majlis (living room). If you are invited to the home of a Saudi for a party or reception, a meal is normally served at the end of the evening, and guests will not linger long after finishing. If you invite a Saudi to dine with you, expect to be refused at least once. Customs and manners differ, so be observant and adapt your behavior to that of your host.

Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country that requires strict adherence to Islamic principles. Five times a day Muslims are obliged to pray in the direction of the holy city, Makkah. The prayer times are published in the newspaper and come at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. Stores and restaurants close for approximately half an hour at these times. When staging promotional events or product demonstrations, these prayer breaks should be scheduled.

For business customs check Cultural Guide - Saudi Arabia, and refer to Culture Crossing in Saudi Arabia.

(Last updated on 2019-02-24)

Important: Exercise independent care before relying on information contained herein. Although we strive to ensure all information is correct and current, GISTnet assumes no liability for detrimental reliance on this information. Trade requirements may change with little or no prior notification, de-facto requirements in certain countries vary from official regulations, and particular shipments and/or importers may have special destination customs arrangements. We encourage you to check with the importer or its customs agent in the destination country for specific importation requirements for specific products and circumstances. We ask your help with feedback ( concerning information which may be outdated or incomplete.