Ministry issues guidelines on behavior abroad

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JEDDAH. October 23. KAZINFORM The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has produced guidelines on how Saudis should behave when abroad. One of the guidelines deals with how servants must be treated in accordance with the laws of the country they are in. Another is not to use corporal punishment on their children. They are also advised not to kiss them on the lips in public places or talk to children they do not know, which could lead to accusation of child molesting. Other advice is to avoid physical gestures to the opposite sex, which could be misinterpreted, Kazinform refers to Arab News.

The guidelines follow a series of high profile incidents involving Saudis in a number of countries.

One case that took the world by storm was that of Homaidan Al-Turki, convicted in a Colorado court for sexually assaulting his Indonesian housekeeper and keeping her a virtual slave for four years. On Aug. 31, 2006, Al-Turki was sentenced to 28 years in prison on 12 felony counts of false imprisonment, unlawful sexual contact, theft and criminal extortion.

Such cases are an embarrassment even if they do not reflect the behavior of the vast majority of Saudis living or traveling abroad.

However, in certain Arab countries, such as Egypt and Morocco, the behavior of the few has damaged the reputation of the many. The response to the publication appears positive.

Anwar S. Ahmed, an Egyptian mediaperson, who lives in the Kingdom, said some Arabs do not acknowledge the concept of human rights elsewhere and they too often travel unaware of the law in foreign countries.

Rana Hussein, a 28-year-old Saudi student in Nashville, Tennessee in the US, pointed out that while in Saudi Arabia there is no law whatsoever on car seats for children, she found out the hard way the extent to which things are different in the US, and rules rigidly enforced.

She also recalled how her husband once forgot to pay the rent. "We found a letter on our door saying that if we didn't pay the next day, then we would be sued in court," Rana said laughing on how laws make a difference.

Another Saudi family, with a second home in London, said that after hearing so many stories about maids and children, they decided not to take their maids with them in order to avoid any complications or legal problems there.

"My son and daughter study in London so I spend most of the year in London with them. We have a big house and I need help with housekeeping. I used to take maids with me but I have stopped because of visa complications," said Noor Abdul Rahman, 53.

"Since we spend a lot of time in London, we decided to deal with housekeeping agencies," she added.

The ministry guidelines end with the government informing Saudi citizens that the embassies of Saudi Arabia abroad are there to help and serve its people at all times, Kazinform cites Arab News. See www.arabnews.com for full version.

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