record is a bit better than these two nations, but it has a history of being hard on immigrant workers. Its justice system includes punishments like flogging, stoning, and the death penalty. The average person throughout the Arabian Peninsula is typically friendly and respectful, treating guests very well. They are usually comfortable talking to strangers and random individuals they see throughout their day. The concept of personal space within a gender is very lax, meaning it is not uncommon to see men embracing openly or sitting extremely close to each other. Between genders, the Shariah Law, the law of both Islam and Saudi Arabia, forbids the intermingling of (unrelated) men and women. In 2019, this law was relaxed in public places like restaurants. Friendliness and respect, however, are often given at an emotional distance between new contacts. People throughout the region practice great hospitality but stay guarded emotionally. They rarely open up emotionally to new friends and even among people they’ve known for years. The conversation may focus more on exterior subjects for a long time as an individual gets to know someone new. Culture and Cuisine Through the Years The early history of the Arabian Peninsula was dominated by a series of small-scale wars between various nomadic tribes. However, Saudi Arabia was the home of Mesopotamia, one of the earliest known civilizations and the possible origination point of the Sumerians. Before the introduction of Islam throughout the region in 623 CE, the area had pagan religions, meaning local faiths with multiple gods. Islam gave the area a unifying force. It rapidly spread throughout the peninsula and east toward China and even as far west as Spain with the Umayyad Caliphate. This empire was the largest of its time up to that point and influenced cuisine and development throughout the region. However, between these surges of civilization and the 20th century, when oil was discovered and banking investment flowed in, the region periodically fell into a nomadic and tribal culture.

Chapter 1: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain & Qatar


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