Saudi Arabia’s tipping, gifting and Bargaining

It is always necessary to remain reasonably polite when negotiating or doing business negotiations in Saudi Arabia (Donaldson, 2002). To prevent humiliation and embarrassment, dignity and respect are key values of their business culture. In this respect, because it could be considered insensitive, one should not put pressure on the people with whom they are dealing. Silence may also be used as a show of politeness in the course of negotiation. In addition, the use of polite body language and attractive facial signals enables Saudi Arabians to be more involved in negotiating. Tipping in Saudi Arabia can be a tricky experience. In some restaurants, tipping is considered and included in the cost of the bill. However, an extra tip can be accepted if the customer is willing. Taxi fees are usually negotiated and, therefore, it might be inappropriate to offer tips after the provision of the service. At a beauty salon, tips can be expected by the beauticians. Additionally, after spending a night in a hotel, one can leave a tip on the bedside table or on the bed before leaving (Rice, 2004). Tour guides and those provide personalized services including car cleaning will always expect tips.

Saudi Arabians are a little bit strict with gifting because gifts should be given to the most intimate friends. An employee may be sacked for bringing his boss a gift from home. It is impolite to express admiration for another’s property for he may feel obliged to gift it. If giving a gift, it should be the most affordable. Traditional perfume is always most appreciated as a gift since it is a gesture of respect to open and examine the gift in the presence of the one giving including the others who might be present. Saudi Arabia is deeply rooted in Islam culture and, hence, men should never be given gold jewelry or silk garments as gifts because they are deemed effeminate in Islam (Rice, 2004).


Donaldson, T. (2002).Ethics away from home. Applied Ethics: Critical Concepts in Philosophy, 203.

Rice, G. (2004). Doing business in Saudi Arabia. Thunderbird International Business Review, 46(1), 59-84.

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