Important Notice

It is not my intention to denigrate Saudi Arabia or its people. It’s like everywhere else, there is good and there is bad. I would rather focus on the unusual and the humourous. Offence is not intended.

“The country is not perfect. The media cannot be trusted, mistreatment of religious minorities is common and there are some that live in fear.” You can decide for yourself whether that statement is about Saudi Arabia, the UK, or any country for that matter.

To quote the Joker, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

That is all I will say about either subject.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Western Myths #8: There Is No Crime In Saudi Arabia

Some of these are so stupid they don’t need stating, but it is a common belief that because of the harshness of the law, there is (practically) no crime in KSA. "No one steals, because if they do they get their hands cut off, innit?!"
So far I’ve had a friend who has been the victim of a car-jacking and friends who have been victims of theft. It seems that the car-jacking was carried out by bored Saudi kids who had nothing better to do than drive a stolen car out to the desert and trash it. As every Saudi car beeps at you when you go over 120 km/h they had even ripped the dashboard out (presumably to stop the noise).

Someone I know who used to live in KSA in the 70s was forced at gunpoint to watch someone have their hand cut off in "Chop Chop square". Thankfully this is not something I have had to witness. I've been told that the frequency of such punishments has declined and at the same time the frequency of crimes committed has increased, but I cannot verify this.
The bottom line is that there is crime here, but on the whole the level of crime feels far lower than the level I am used to in Western countries.
Saudi Arabia and Singapore are the only places I can think of where you feel so protected from crime. Because of the security and the close knit nature of the environment, I can honestly think of no safer place to bring up young children than on a compound in Saudi Arabia


sarah said...

If you want to talk safety, have a visit to Japan! We are so sheltered from any sort of crime here that when I make visits back to the states I'm often afraid to walk around the neighborhood alone.

A complete lack of crime has a downside: once you become used to it you lose a lot of common sense in regard to safety. All those street smarts my mother invested so much time drilling into my head!

nonnie11 said...

I absolutely agree. I feel comfortable going for a walk in the compound after dark whereas I would definitely think twice about going for a walk after dark in the U.S. as a woman. But even if I were to live outside the compound, I still do not feel as threatened as I do in the U.S. I don't know if my paranoia is due to a real threat or if it is a result of scare tactics.

There is definitely crime here (in KSA) but not to the extent as some other countries. The other thing I notice is that the crimes are not as premeditated or as vile in comparsion to crimes in the U.S. In my hometown in the U.S., a man was accused of kidnapping, raping, murdering and mutilating a female college student. Before he cut her into pieces he put bleach in all of her crevices in order to destroy his DNA. And that isn't the worst of it...he plead insanity and wasn't even given a day in prison. He currently is roaming the streets of my hometown.

Margrave said...

Thanks for the posts.
I do wonder how much of it is perception. As Michael Moore and others have pointed out, on US TV you see nothing but murders and the weather. It's bound to make us all paranoid.
Obviously bad things do happen in KSA and there are places in Riyadh I would rather my wife not go alone (Batha / Deira etc) but it absolutely feels far safer than the US and even the UK.

Alwan said...

If you think KSA is safe now, you should come and see it 15 years ago. It was even safer!

The crime rate has increased recently with the incease of the population and young kids without jobs or any other entertainment facilities that consumes thier excess energy.

Any way, I think it is not the safest! I've been in the western shores of Canada. It's very safe there.

Margrave said...

An English guy that lived in Jeddah in the 70s claims that when he'd drive to the supermarket, not only would he not lock his car but he'd also leave the keys in the ignition.
He would certainly agree with you Alwan that crime has increased significantly still then. Fortunately for Saudis its still a lot lower than what we put up with in most of the rest of the world!

Al-Khobar expat said...

You are right about a compound being a great place to bring up kids. We have been here for 2 1/2 years (KSA) and our kids have freedom on compound that Aussie kids can only dream about. They come home, do their homework and then go out and play with their friends until dinner time. We don't have to worry about where they are or who they're with because we know everybody here and the can't leave the compound so we know they are safe. In Australia, kids who leave their backyards are in danger of all sorts of horrible things happening to them so they are cossetted and protected and supervised. Our kids can go where they like with their friends for hours at a time and we don't have to worry about them at all. The worst thing that can happen is that they might fall off their bikes and break an arm. The traffic is so slow on compound that it poses no threat either. Good for us, but also good for them. The downside of this, of course, is that they have completely lost their 'stranger danger' sense and have no idea how to cross a road safely!

blagger said...

The only crime I tend to see is on the compound itself.....and its the kids that cause it. Lack of control from parents due to the "safe" nature of the compound results in delinquency, vandalism, abuse and terrorising of the TCN workers.
Maybe if parents took a bit more interest in what their kids were doing on the compound we wouldn't even have to put up with the annoyance of these reprobates.

Joe King Gas-Eyed said...

Crime is definitely on the rise, and at an alarming rate. No, it's not your perception; the numbers are very real. There was a reason Saddam ruled Iraq the way he did. That wasn't so evident when he was still in power; people then were calling for the removal of his 'nightmarish' regime so that his people can be 'safe' and 'free'. Today, that nightmarish past is what Iraqis can only dream of. Before someone starts theorizing how the Saudis should rule themselves, let’s not forget the law of unintended consequences.

AHMAD From Saudi Arabia said...

I know that my comment is an excessively late. However, I think the T.V and movies are contributing to violence. We had a case 15 or 20 years ago, where three teenagers broke into a house belongs to European family, broke things inside the house, and wrote some words on the walls like "we are coming again to rip your hearts out."
After police investigation, they discovered that those kids are 11 up 14 years old and they were imitating a Scene they have seen in some movie.

Anonymous said...

The statistics pretty much speak for themselves.
i live in the UK and having had crime ALL around me since i was born, i wanted to check the statistics in Saudi. over 7 million crimes are committed every year in the UK, although i think its ABSOLOUTELY more. and 84,000 in saudi arabia. now thats saying something. compare the size of the two countries also!!

Charlie said...

Safer in the compound eh? Does any freedom-loving person, anyone who respects the sacrifices our ancestors made to rid us from tyranny and oppression, want to consider that living safely, like a beast in a zoo in some cage is comparable to living in a free and open, albeit slightly more risky society. Why not commit a white collar crime and go to a minimum security prison: the atmosphere will be much the same. I cannot believe that and self-respecting western democrat could sell his freedom so cheaply, to live like a dog in a kennel.

Charlie said...

I've been reading the posts and it would seem that you people have little in the way of principle apart from security and profit. The Enlightenment, the Rights of Man and the Revolution seem to have passed you all by. Enjoy your electric fences and your flat-screen HDTVs, cattle.

Anonymous said...


You really are a fuckin dick. People come here to saudi, so they can earn money and have a more secure future for there family. The education for kids out here is also excellent. You've probley stayed in your hometown all your life and get a nose bleed when you travel out for the weekend, thats if you ever do?

Kevin11 said...


If you're still out there I agree with the last comment directed at you. If you have that attitude and you have got time to be trolling around on harmelss blogs like this one then you really have a lot of time to waste. Get a job, take up a sport, get a decent hobby, find a girlfriend, get a second job. But most importantly....get a life !

Anonymous said...

Saudi is one of the countries with lowest crime cases along with New Zealand, Singapore, and Iceland. The only problem is Saudi's civilization depends on Western technologies. They even made a contract with an American company to manage Zam-Zam water. Also in Saudi, there are no Haram things but what makes the people still commit crimes ? and unline Singapore, Iceland, and New Zealand, Saudi is considered "Holy Spiritual Land". :( Angels should prevent crimes from happening.

Patrick Elliott-Brennan said...

Unfortunately it's difficult to determine crime rates in a country when there is no evidence there is an independent authority to collate and report the incidents.

The abuse of immigrant workers physically, sexually and psychologically is well know and reported on in the West but hidden in the Kingdom. There are frequent reports of people being sold into sexual slavery or being held in slave-like servitude.

Additionally, the manner by which some crimes are defined and allowed to be reported also affects the statistics. Women are loath to report sexual abuse because they too will be punished.

I'm afraid that people living in compounds talking about how safe a place is is frankly bizarre. The level of naivety in relation to these discussions of safety is also frankly just that: naive.

The abuse of foreign workers and women and 'victim blaming' in Saudi Arabia is well documented by the outside world.

Only those people living in compounds who've done no reading other than the local papers would imagine Saudi Arabia has a lower rate of a whole collection of crimes merely because they and their privileged friends haven't experienced it.