There is a HUGE emphasis on families as the fabric of society in KSA, however like everything else the surface words and the reality beneath are different.

Locals tend to entertain mostly within extended families with a rich tradition of visiting and hosting. Having friends over for dinner is not done often- it’s either the men getting together or sometimes the ladies.

One would expect that with all this interaction people would be close to their families- sharing and confiding with them. However families are SO interconnected that confiding would be akin to broadcasting your affairs from the top of your house. So that eliminates the extended family.

One would then assume that the people would confide within the nuclear family. This is not the general case. Except for some well-adjusted households, people live under the same roof without actually sharing a life together. Communication is about mundane details rather than anything meaningful.  Part of this is culture, part habit. The result is dysfunctional households and a breakdown of family structure.

In a bid to preserve family values and preventing domestic violence, the KSA government is emphasizing the need for dialogue within families through The King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue. It would be interesting to see what impact the initiative will have.

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