10 Unexpected Facts about Saudi Arabia

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What can you tell me about Saudi Arabia? That it’s a strange and controversial middle-Eastern country? Oh, you don’t know the half of it. While the Western world treats it as an ally, you can see some basic human rights being violated right in front of your nose, especially when it comes to women’s rights. But, either way, it’s their country, their culture and ultimately their decisions, no matter how barbaric and bizarre they may seem to the Western world. So, here are a few curious facts about Saudi Arabia you may have never heard.

1. Did you know that Mecca and Medina are the most holy cities of Islam, and that non-Muslims are not allowed to set their foot on these holy grounds? So much for your summer plans, am I right?

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2. If you carry and drink alcoholic beverages in Saudi Arabia, you’re gonna get whipped. And no, that’s not a euphemism, you’ll get a number of whip lashes. Another bummer for that perfect vacation, I see. But wait, there’s more!

3. Homosexuality and the excessive display of non-Muslim religious beliefs will get you even more lashes and maybe even a swift death in Saudi Arabia.

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4. Sex segregation, while commonplace in Saudi Arabia, is still the most ridiculous of their archaic customs. Also, pro-tip: If you are a guy and you see a woman on the street, you are not allowed to accompany her under any circumstances. Just walk the other way.

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5. Personal privacy is very important in Saudi Arabia, which is why you must never EVER point your camera at women. Men are cool if you take their pics but ask first, or you’ll lose a bit more than an expensive camera.

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6. Now let’s address the elephant in the room – the death penalty is still commonly used in Saudi Arabia. In 2013, for example, 69 people literally lost their heads, but nowadays it seems that being a “swordsman” isn’t as lucrative or prestigious, so they’ve come up with an alternative method of dealing with criminals – firing squad… Seriously?

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7. In Saudi Arabia any form of sorcery or magic is strictly forbidden. Well, first of all, magic isn’t real, SA, welcome to the real world. And two – even if it were real, don’t you think that you’d get more use from the magicians if they were, oh I dunno… ALIVE? What a waste.

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8. Tipping a car onto its side wheels on a public road, driving it that way, and then climbing out and standing on top of the vehicle is what they call “sidewalk skiing”. At the same time, sadly, women are still banned from driving.

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9. A liter of fresh water is more expensive than a liter of oil here. That’s probably because you can’t drink oil, but I’m not entirely sure.

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10. And lastly, guess who’s constructing “World’s Tallest Building”? That title will belong to Kingdom Tower, that will be built on Saudi Arabia’s coast by 2018. It’s said to be the first building reach more than a kilometer (3,280 ft) in height, and will naturally have all sorts of hotels, observatories, and office spaces, as well as some extremely expensive penthouse apartments.

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