19 Saudi Decency Law Violations and How Much Fines Offenders Pay

The government of Saudi Arabia has implemented a new set of regulations centered on public decency as the country welcomes foreign tourists.

A list of offenses and their corresponding fines on first and repeated violations have been made known publicly. This includes fines of SAR50 for skipping lines to SAR6,000 for indecent behavior.

“The regulations are meant to ensure that visitors and tourists in the Kingdom are aware of the law relating to public behavior so that they comply with it,” said a government media statement.

The Saudi police authorities have the sole responsibility in implementing the law, monitoring offenses and imposing fines.

Indecent behavior that includes an act of sexual nature. Each participant will be penalized.

First-time violation: SAR3,000
Repeated violation: SAR6,000

In a country that strictly upholds laws against immorality, it is not surprising to see this violation carries the heaviest fine. Tourists exposed to societies that have liberal views on public display of affection must, therefore, be aware of this.

Playing loud music inside a residential area without prior approval and a complaint is made by one or more residents.

First-time violation: SAR500
Repeated violation: SAR1,000

The new set of ‘decency’ laws is not just about decency but also respect for other people. This aims to maintain peace and order, so playing loud music may be a source of entertainment for a group of people, but for others who find them a nuisance, they can utilize this law to their advantage.

Playing music during prayer times.

First-time violation: SAR1,000
Repeated violation: SAR2,000

Visitors are welcome to visit Saudi Arabia but they also need to understand the country’s deeply-rooted Islamic identity. In the Islamic world’s only mandatory prayer-time shutdown, religious police wielded unbridled powers to enforce strict prayer-time compliance among believers. Tourists are exempt but also need to show respect. Playing music during any of the designated daily prayer times is a sign of disrespect and will be dealt with accordingly.

Non-removal of pet excrement by owner.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200
This law is more commonly imposed in many other places, so tourists and newcomers should be familiar with this. But then again, tourists are not likely going to bring their pets when they visit Saudi Arabia.

Littering in non-designated areas and spitting.

First-time violation: SAR500
Repeated violation: SAR1,000

Occupying the seats and facilities designated for the elderly and the disabled.

First-time violation: SAR200
Repeated violation: SAR400
While it is understood in many other countries that a physically fit person can sit and use facilities designated for the elderly, pregnant women or disabled person but offer it to anybody in need. In Saudi Arabia, it’s better to play it safe and avoid using such facilities.

Bypassing barriers to access public places.

First-time violation: SAR500
Repeated violation: SAR1,000
If you’ve seen signs that said “no trespassing” this law should be similar to it. But even if there’s no sign that says so, entering a facility by bypassing barriers, such as getting inside a train station without passing through the designated gates.

Wearing improper clothing in public places. Dress code for visitors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shall be under the standards for such purpose.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200
Improper clothing may be subjective, but in the Saudi Arabian context, this refers to short sleeve dresses or any clothing that exposes certain body parts. Under Saudi law, women are required to wear an abaya but niqab and hijab are optional.

Image by Abdullah Shakoor from Pixabay

Wearing only underwear or sleepwear

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200
Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative laws require certain dress code — women must wear a loose black garment called an abaya and headscarf, for example. If failure to cover certain parts of the body is already frowned upon and violate the law, let alone wearing only underwear or sleepwear in public.

Wearing in public places clothing that bears profane language or obscene images or symbols.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200

Wearing in public places clothing that bear language, images or symbols that encourage discrimination or racism, or promote porn or drug use.

First-time violation: SAR500
Repeated violation: SAR1,000
Some people may be used to wearing clothing that contains provocative images, or expletives as a personal expression would find themselves in hot water should they wear such clothing in Saudi Arabia.

Writing or drawing, or any other similar act, without authorization. on public vehicles and public walls.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200

Placing slogans or images on public transportation vehicles that encourage racism or promote porn or drug use.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200

Placing commercial labels and distributing flyers in public places without permission.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200

Igniting fires in non-designated areas in parks and public places.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200

As Saudi Arabia also has no smoking laws, this extends the ban on igniting fires in public spaces.

Any act, whether physical or verbal, that may harm, frighten or endanger any individual in a public place.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200
Physical or verbal abuse that may harm or frighten an individual is certainly not tolerated in Saudi Arabia.

Skipping waiting lines in public places, unless permitted

First-time violation: SAR50
Repeated violation: SAR100
Some tourists may be used to skipping the lines in public such as riding public transport should not bring the same behavior into Saudi Arabia.

Exposing people in public places to harmful lighting, such as laser beams, that may harm, frighten or endanger such people.

First-time violation: SAR100
Repeated violation: SAR200

Taking pictures or videos of people, traffic accidents, crimes or other incidents without permission. The images shall be deleted.

First-time violation: SAR1,000
Repeated violation: SAR2,000
Tourists are bound to take photos as they visit Saudi Arabia. But be warned that unauthorized photography of certain installations is prohibited. This also applies to taking photos of people without getting prior permission.

Additional Notes

  1. Members of Saudi police are authorized for the identification and recording of violations and imposition of fines as provided for in these regulations.
  2. Penalties shall not be imposed on any behavior not provided for in the violations table.
  3. Each violator shall bear the costs of rectifying the violation.
  4. Any person harmed by the violation shall have the right to file a lawsuit.
  5. In the case of multiple violators in a single violation, the prescribed fine shall be imposed on each violator.
  6. In the case of multiple violations, the violator shall be subject to the fines prescribed for each violation, in accordance with these regulations.
  7. Any person against whom a penalty decision is issued, in accordance with these regulations, may file a grievance before the Public Decency Circuit at the Special Administrative Court (Board of Grievances).
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