SCTNH tells tourists: Tips not a social custom in Saudi Arabia


Saudi Gazette report

There is no social tradition in the Kingdom that makes it imperative on tourists coming from outside to pay extra amount of money (tip) to service providers, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) told foreign tourists.

The commission guidelines for tourists coming from abroad said giving tips is not at all compulsory but. It is discretionary and is left on the personal judgement of the tourists.

The commission, however, said modest dressing for both men and women in public places is compulsory under the social norms of the people of the Kingdom.

It said permission must be obtained from the members of the Saudi society of men, women and children before they are photographed.

In its set of guidlines titled “Behavioral conduct of the tourists coming from outside", the SCTNH asked the tourists to enjoy the Saudi hospitality and the traditional warm welcome.

It asked the tourists to respect the religion of the Saudi society, its norms, customs and traditions and to preserve its resources, historical monuments and its cultural and civilization heritage.

The culture of giving tips varies from one country to another and from one person to other. Some people give out extra large sums of money to the workers in restaurants and service companies so as to be served better and faster while others just leave behind nominal amounts of money.

Some people look at the tips as a humiliation to the workers while in some other countries such as Japan, Iceland and New Zealand it is totally forbidden.

The history of the tip or "Bakhsheesh" dates back to the 18th century where it first appeared in the British entertainment places. The British used to give tips in appreciation to the service provider for his outstanding service to them. From there, it spread in the rest of the European countries.

With the advent of the 20th century, giving tips has become a social custom especially to hotel workers, airport porters, taxi drivers and other people.

These service providers look at the tips as an extra source of income to their monthly wages.