Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dealing with cops - Some tips

One of the most common problems of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia is dealing with the policemen, language being the biggest hurdle. If your vehicle ever meets with an accident, the first thing you should do is to stop the vehicle right there and get out of the car. Do not move the vehicle till a policeman arrives on the spot. Do not be bothered about the traffic behind you, i.e., even if the vehicle is bang in the middle of the road, you must just put on the hazard lights and stop the car right there. This is very important because if you try to move the vehicle to the side of the road, it would amount to tampering with evidence.

If you are taken to the police station, never sign any document unless the Government Relations Officer of your company arrives. This is important because all verbal and written communication would be in Arabic. If it is not practically possible, and the cop on duty forces you to sign some document, sign it but make sure that you write above your signature that you do not understand what is written above. Believe me, this would save you a lot of trouble later, as mentioned earlier.

With the current security situation, there are checkpoints in almost all major towns across the kingdom. As mentioned earlier in my blog, you must always make sure to carry your iqama, istemara, car insurance and your company ID with you all the time. At every checkpoint, make sure that you do the following. A word of caution - these are just tips, not official rules, and are based completely on my own experiences!
  • Completely roll down your car window; never mind if you lose the coolness and comfort of the ac. One of my friends did not roll down his windows and he was simply asked to park his car by the side of the road and made to wait for more than 30 minutes. Remember, the cop is standing in the hot sun and you must do nothing, absolutely nothing, which would irritate him
  • Switch off the music from your radio/CD player
  • Take out the ID in your hands and show it out of the open window. Some people have their IDs hung around their neck. Never make the mistake of showing the cop your ID in this fashion. Take it out of your neck and display it clearly by sticking your hand out of the window.
  • Never chew gum in front of the cop. Some of them consider it as an insult
  • If you are wearing sun goggles, remove them when you cross the checkpost
  • Never ever try to switch lanes. Murphy's law always works here and the other lane would always be faster than yours. But if you try to switch lanes in a checkpost, you had it!
  • Never talk to other passengers or in your mobile phone as you pass a checkpost
  • If a cop speaks something to you in Arabic, just give a friendly smile, apologize and say that you do not know Arabic. In nine out of ten cases, this works and he would simply let you go without bothering you much.
  • Remember that these cops are stressed out standing in the open and your actions must never ever irritate them at any point of time.

These are practical tips for expatriates planning to work in Saudi Arabia, which you wouldn't find in any official dossier. Hope they are of some help to you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,
First of all Hats-off to you.
I want to share my experience with this blog readers. Once we were coming back to abha, my friend who was driving the car shifted the lane because the front car (saudi's) shifted the lane. The policeman did not say anything to that saudi but he caught us and kept us waiting for 0.5 hours and atlast made a heavy penalty. So I request everybody to follow the tips given by the expatguru.
thanks and regards,

Indian friend from ABHA, KSA