Legal Practice Shaped by Loyalty to Tradition: The Case of Saudi Arabia

This note employs Saudi Arabia as an example of an Islamic country that has retained its religious traditions while being forced by economic necessity to adopt some Western commercial practices. Part I reviews the legal system of Saudi Arabia, highlighting the major differences and similarities between it and Western commercial law. Part II considers the legal requirements and cultural norms which Western attorneys should be prepared to observe while practicing in a traditional Islamic society. It suggests that strict adherence to custom and the Saudi Government’s recent attempts to strengthen restrictions on both the professional and personal lives of expatriates in the Kingdom may be interpreted as a defense against the increasing penetration of Western materialism which has accompanied economic internationalization.