Book Review: The Bro Code of Saudi Culture

The Bro Code of Saudi Culture is a book written by Abdul Al Lily and is available on Amazon.

Living in the GCC for about 12 years and being married to a man from Kuwait for the past 6 years has allowed me a very intimate insight into the bedoin culture still embraced by many. It was my belief I had a firm grasp of the ‘ins and outs’ of the culture and was even well versed enough to answer the numerous questions I get about being married to a man from that region. Therefore, when I was asked to read and review ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’ by the Author I was flattered but didn’t expect I would learn anything new. I was wrong.

The first thing I noticed about the book was the way it’s written. Abdul Al Lily has taken incredibly interesting information and put it out to the reader in ‘tweet like’ format. In today’s society, social media demands that we read, and read often. We’ve all learned to read for specific content, seeking out the most important keywords. We skim over material subconsciously avoiding every conjunction and adjective as if they’re inconsequential. And, for the most part, that’s true.

In ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’, Abdul Al Lily has managed to turn an expansive topic into an ‘in your face’ type of book while maintaining organization. It answers questions everyone in the region (especially expats) might have, but without unnecessary backstories and explanations. It’s an easy read filled with great information and lots of laughs along the way.

As for me, the woman who thought she knew it all, I found myself educated and entertained. I would read a few sentences and suddenly have questions for my husband. His response was often a smile or laugh and sometimes even a look of, “Yes! I remember that”.

With all the division our country (and the world) is currently facing, ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’ is a good start to bridging gaps. With all the misconceptions and misunderstandings, this book offers answers to questions everyone has, but very few would ask. And, due to cultural etiquette, couldn’t ask. So, if you’re living in the region or plan to visit there for work or vacation, definitely grab a copy of this book and spend some time reading it on your flight. You won’t regret it.

Finally, I would like to personally thank Abdul Al Lily for giving me the honor of reading and offering my honest opinions of his work. I have a great deal of respect for him as a professional in his field and admire him as someone who truly makes a difference.


Dr. Al Lily is a Saudi international consultant on Saudi culture, a bestseller, an Oxford graduate and an assistant professor of education, technology, and sociology at King Faisal University. He has worked with impact-factor journals and the largest academic publishers: Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, Sage and Oxford University Press. He has written in different languages, for academic magazines (Australasian Science, Italian Journal of Geopolitics and openDemocracy) and non-academic magazines (Your Middle East, Green Prophet, and Vocativ). He has pioneered an innovative approach in academic research, called crowd-authoring. He is the initiator and first author of an article by 99 authors; the first article in the social sciences to be written by such a large number. He was a top-0.5% researcher on in 2016. Whatsapp: +447946674377. Twitter: @abdulallily. Email: Website:


8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bro Code of Saudi Culture

  1. American Girl! Thank you so much for the time and effort that you have put into reading the book and writing such a generous review that is well crafted indeed. I very much appreciate your enthusiasm, support and kind words. I very much enjoyed reading your feedback, which I actually read over and over again!
    Warmest wishes,

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  4. Salam Alaykom Sisters.

    I have been searching and searching for some place that I could connect with someone else and express my thoughts on a situation that I am currently going through. So I guess I’ll give you a little background as to explain what lead me here.

    A little over three months ago I met this very sweet handsome young man in the middle of the big New York City. Not being from the city, I called an Uber ride to get to my destination and low and behold this young man picked me up from the airport. We spent a decent hour in traffic just talking, like normal taxi riders would do. As we arrived to my destination, I proceeded to give him a tip and in return he gave me his phone number on the back of a business card. He claims that he only gave it to me for business purposes, however, he seemed interesting and interested so I decided to text him a few hour later.

    Needless to say, we ended up talking via text for the entire week that I was away on vacation. Half way through my vacation I asked if he would be willing to give me a ride back to the airport; which of course he was delighted to. However, it was at this time that he informed me that he doesn’t make any physical contact with females because of his religion. Not understanding, I continued to ask questions and he explained that he was Muslim and it was against his religion and his culture to touch, speak, or even look at women unless under acceptable circumstances. Although this was very abnormal to the relationships that I’ve been use to, I actually found some comfort in it all and was very accepting of the fact that we would not even hold hands until we were engaged. In addition to this he also informed me later in our conversations that he had never spoken to a woman based on personal interest, as this is Haram, and he’s never dated anyone before.

    As I’m sure it can be understood, that although talking to me was against his beliefs, for the most part he was a very devout Muslim and came from a very strict family. I unfortunately didn’t understand much of the culture and religion until well after we fell for each other. It was then that things started to get complicated. The more that we started to feel for each other, the more concerned we were about how his family might react to him wanted to get engaged to an American girl who is also not Muslim. Although I was raised Christian, these factors along with others made me not fit the “standards” for a wife.

    As our relationship progressed, still not having any physical contact and such, we decided to talk about having a halal relationship and he wanted to talk to his mom and see if she was open to the idea of him getting engaged to someone from the U.S. At first she seemed okay with the idea until he started to share more information about how he found some (me) and that I was not a virgin or Muslim. From that point everything started to go downhill.

    We talked and talked for several days, just the two of us, trying to figure out what we should do. Should we continue trying to work things out and see if this is something they would eventually move past, or should we break up? After our decision to break up, he went and tried talking to his dad about it and things got much worse. Although I am very appreciative that he was fighting for our love, it hurts me to think about what he had to go through and is still going through because of how we feel about each other. His parents threatened to take all of his siblings back to Jordan and never speak to him again if he continued to have a relationship with me.

    Both of us are completely heartbroken with the thought that we will never have a chance to see what we could have had and created together. We are trying to remain friends (although this is also Haram) but it’s been very difficult because we still feel very strongly for one another.

    The biggest problem that I am having with all of this is really understanding the thinking behind the culture and why it is that I would not be fit to be his wife just because I am not Muslim, Arab, or a virgin. There was also a lot of discussion about how our family would be raised and what challenges we would face, as well as a million other reason why we should not be together. I know and understand the virgin piece, but the others I do not. I know that I will someday make a great wife and mother but it does break my heart to think that someone that I connect so well with and want to spend my life with, I can’t because I’m deemed “not fit. ” I’ve heard a lot of people tell me not to take this personally, however, this is a very personal matter because it is about me and who I am as a person. It’s very difficult to hear someone say that you are not good enough when they haven’t even gotten the chance to know me as a person. I feel as if I am being judge based on the fact that I was raised in America and that somehow this is defining me as a person when it shouldn’t. Just as being Arab or Muslim or African American should define any person; every person is their very own individual.

    I just bought the book that was recommended earlier in this post; I can’t wait to start reading it and learn some new things about the culture and hopefully answer some questions that I have.

    I am open to any thoughts or questions or concerns. It would be really nice to talk to get some thoughts on this situation or maybe some advice on what to do now.

    Thank you!

    • I’m so glad you decided to purchase the book. I think you’re really going to enjoy it… and definitely going to learn a LOT! I know I did.

      I totally agree that it just sucks two people can’t be together because of difference in culture, religions, etc. But, more than religion, culture is VERY important to those on the other side of the world. Here in America I feel we have more ‘traditions’ (hanging stockings on the mantle at Christmas, turkey for Thanksgiving, etc), while in the Middle East they have very deep rooted cultural behaviors that dictate a lot of their decision making. Now, I will say, I highly doubt they’re going to pack up the family and move back to Jordan if he continues to date you. It was costly and time consuming for them to get here… they’re not leaving. They may, however, stop speaking to him for a period of time. But doubtful it will be forever.

      The most concerning part is that he made you feel ‘unfit’ and not good enough. Being different doesn’t mean a person isn’t suitable, it just means they’re different. Perhaps your family would despise him because he’s brown, or Muslim, or an immigrant which would be equally as wrong as him judging you for not being a virgin.

      The fact that he’s here working and his entire family is here tells me they either have green cards or citizenship. They’re not just here on a tourist visa. Therefore, their intention is to settle and make a permanent life here in America. That also means accepting their children are more than likely going to marry Americans. Perhaps he’s the oldest and/or the first to approach the family with this topic, but they need to relax and accept it. And if he really wants to marry you, he might need to stand up to them and explain “hey, we live in America now and I’m marrying an American”. They may think twice about making it so difficult.

      Best of luck to you. I do hope it all works out.

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