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Article Details

Its Christmas! Can I Celebrate in Saudi Arabia?

by Carol Fleming - 12/06/2010

"This article describes celebrating Christmas in a country where the only religion recognized or practiced is Islam. So how do Christians celebrate Christmas in Saudi Arabia? What can they do?"

Demographics are difficult to find in Saudi Arabia and especially when it comes to Christianity in a country where no other religion is recognized or tolerated other than Islam. Yet it is estimated that there are at least 1.2 million Christian expatriates who live, work and make Saudi Arabia their home.

Although Christians are legally prohibited from openly practicing their faith in Saudi Arabia, they are allowed to come into the Kingdom carrying one Bible within their personal effects. They are also allowed to practice and worship their faith privately behind the closed doors of their home.

Yet now that this is the month of December and Christians around the world are having Christmas activities and festivities the same as Muslims had a series of activities during Ramadan, can the Christians in Saudi Arabia celebrate? Can a Christian have a small tree in his or her office? Can a Christian have a gift or cookie exchange with colleagues?

Christmas in Saudi Arabia is best described as low keyed. If one lives on a western compound, the joy and festivity of Christmas is everywhere with trees twinkling behind windows and colored lights and other decorations hung up around a villa. Yet at compounds provided by a Saudi employer the decorative touch of Christmas may be more subdued. Similar with prayer, nothing may seen on the exterior to indicate Christmas but once the doors are open to the privacy inside, the senses may be assailed with Christmas decorations and the joyous smell of Christmas.

There will be few signs of Christmas at places of work unless one happens to have a very private office and a very accommodating supervisor. Most Saudis, while not believing in the celebration of Christmas, are tolerant and want expatriates to have an enjoyable holiday. Some Saudis, although they will not partake themselves, may present an expat with a Christmas gift or cake. Some employers may allow Christian expatriates to have a private Christmas party at work but in a private and enclosed area which does not disturb others.

A Saudi may give an expatriate a Christmas gift. The expatriate should express sincere thanks but do not reciprocate with a gift in turn. Instead, it is better to give the Saudi a gift during Ramadan. This is part of the true spirit of recognizing each others holidays.

Carol Fleming

(14 Votes)

Views: 46278

21 comment(s)

Friday 17 December 2010, 1:46 am
saudi are the best nation and tolrate many nonmuslems in there contry bt no christ countries tolarate muslems and just blame muslems communities in their countries look united states and all eroup wt they do wid muslems muslem can celebrate ramadan or eid in chirtian relegious palces.saudi arab is great give oppertunities to all non muslems 2 live and earn in saudi this is the most holy place 4 all muslems and hv humanity look is there any oppertunity 4 muslems in eroup and states?

Thursday 26 December 2013, 6:39 am
what planet are you on?! go on youtube and you will see many videos of muslims giving dawah on the streets of london, women wearing hijab and muslims having mosques and beards! in many muslim countries non-muslims can't preach their religion openly! you need to look carefully and LEARN before speaking!!

Kevin Galbraith
Sunday 21 December 2014, 10:32 pm
Where did you learn to spell?

Edward Rodgers
Sunday 16 January 2011, 5:26 am
There are people of a Christian background, including myself, who aim to be inclusive with all religions which believe in peace. I would like to work in Saudi Arabia in the future so I would like to hear more information about this area of the world.

Thursday 21 July 2011, 5:35 am
To be honest there just doing a good job inorder to stop you doing something that even the bible does not recommend anyway. book of jeramiah: "He who cuts down the tree and decorates it is a pagan,evildoer" so I guess there helping you understand your own religion because its actully against the bible to have christmas tree. Secondaly it doesnt mention to celebrate his supposed "birthday" when the christiandom perfectly knows well and its not secret that the birth of jesus is unknown, and I am not going to really go into who was really was born on the 25th december i think people know that already.. If you want to live in saudi Arabia as I do you just have to observe the rules before entering i remember when i went to thailand to work on a project for a month i remember at the airport and before i got my visa from thier embassy in my country the thailand embassy made my sign a piece of paper and they had all sorts of rules and punishments for that rule, and if I didnt sign i was not allowed to enter that country and one of the main things was it said "death to the drug traficker" so I had to sign it and agree that if i was doing such things i would be killed. similary if you want to live and work in saudi you have to abide with thier rules weather you agree to them or not, wheather the laws a binded my religion or not the law is the law. And these articles such as the one written above is ridiculous because it is encourging you to break the law in saudi? if drugs are illegal in a country you woudnt find a person writting an article on how to do it behind closed doors would you? well not from a perfessional who seems to know. Thirdly I would strongly advise not to read articles that may encourge you to secreatly party or have christmas parties, or sermons behind close doors this is not true at all because if caught having sermons and christmas parties even behind close door it will lead to one being arrested and facing jail.

Kevin Galbraith
Sunday 21 December 2014, 10:40 pm
This silly book, called the bible, was apparently written long, long, long before the christmas tree came along. Who writes this crap and then thinks it is all fact? Learn to think for yourself.

Saturday 27 December 2014, 4:19 pm
@Kevin:I can see that you are very ignorant for calling the Holy Bible a silly book. The God of the Christians will fight you and your end will be much miserable if you don't repent and sought after the truth. I wish I could jihad you.

Saturday 27 December 2014, 4:35 pm
@ Salman: I can see that you know nothing about that portion of the Bible, Jeremiah. What that portion meant against cutting down a tree was and is that a tree should not be cut down for use as an idol. Hence cutting down a tree and carving it into an image for worship is what the Holy Bible was and is against, for this is great sin against Jehovah, the God of the Christians.

Mohammad Ja'ar
Friday 16 December 2011, 9:07 am
@Salmaan, this question u ask makes me ask u "are u a christain or a muslim?", i think christain are more peaceful than us (muslims). Yes, we pratice our religion peacefully in there countries and y not our?, infact im thinking of becoming a christain and if i do my parent will kill me. Can u now see we are not peaceful? Im tired of following my namesake

Monday 30 April 2012, 11:43 am
Well, let me interfare in this matter, Muslims are different all over the world even in the days of the Prophet very stubborn set of people lived with him but because of his intelligent he was able to move on with them. Islam is a religion that allows all but reject hypocrisy though we have them amongst us. If you agree with me this is one of the reasons why we have to observe 5 solid prayers everyday in other to control ourselves even in the time of anger. Anybody can humilliate anybody but we should know quite well that the world is not meant for us only. Wherever you are it is mandated that you abide with there laws that is it.

Dennis Williams
Sunday 12 August 2012, 7:02 am
It is really true that you need to respect everybody's laws and rule. Also, every religion ha its own rules and regulation which people follow. Some follow strictly and some don't. essay outline format

Thursday 20 December 2012, 7:56 am
lovly jubbly

Thursday 20 December 2012, 8:00 am

Friday 28 December 2012, 6:16 pm
Just a say about honey's comment: Im not sure how USA is but my experience of both Croatia and Australia allow muslims to openly practice their faith. In Australia they have special rooms dedicated "reflection room" for worship mainly only for muslims. we participate in celebration of ramadan and promote and practice Equal Employment opportunity at government level let alone at the private sector. you are able to openly practice your faith at work, in public and at home. Both Australia and Croatia are predominantly Christian countries. If i go to Saudi Arabia I am only allowed practice to behind closed doors of my own home. Please honey do some more research before of generalising for all Christian countries. Im not sure how USA is. Instead of focusing on our differences we should concertrate on our simililarities, peace brother.

Matthew Ahmad
Wednesday 25 December 2013, 6:46 am
I too left Islam and embraced Christ after living in the dreadful intolerant, hate promoting land of Saudi Arabia. Merry Christmas to all Christians around the world, and hoping that all Muslims wake up and embrace their savior... the Lord Jesus Christ!

Saturday 27 December 2014, 4:26 pm
Thanks Mat. And merry Christmas to you & all the Christians world wide.

Kevin Galbraith
Sunday 21 December 2014, 10:45 pm
I found it best to nonreligious. My life is fine without it. No hangups, no guilt, no religious discrimination. How many wars have been and still backed by religion? No one religion is any better or worse than the other.

Kevin Galbraith
Sunday 21 December 2014, 10:45 pm
I found it best to nonreligious. My life is fine without it. No hangups, no guilt, no religious discrimination. How many wars have been and still backed by religion? No one religion is any better or worse than the other.

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