Ms. Cuddihy lived in the Kingdom for decades, and with her acquired knowledge has compiled an excellent, factually accurate, and common sense guide to the country. With the various "tabloid" novels and movies that claim to "rip the veil off Saudi society," this guide is an essential one that cuts through the fantasy, and presents the real facts for the first time visitors. Even an expatriate who has lived in the country for a few years might find needed explanations in the book; it would also be most useful for any journalist who writes about the country.
The core of the book is divided into 15 chapters, wisely starting with "Hospitality." It is normal that a visitor will be well received, per the customs of the country, and therefore the appropriate ways of reciprocating are outlined. The additional chapters cover a spectrum of issues: incense, health and beauty, dress, social conventions, bargaining, doing business, family, courtship and marriage, divorce, death, Islam, law, government and the Muslim year. In these chapters she manages to introduce around 100 useful Arabic words. The chapters are illustrated with useful drawings. The 16th chapter is a handy compilation of do's and don'ts. She even managed to work in the old canard about not showing the soles of your feet in this section. There is a glossary at the end, with perhaps 200 Arabic words, though perhaps the most useful is missing: "Lau Samat" ( If you please ), a term that will cover many a gaffe.
It is a shame that this wonderful guide appears out of print, but if you really want to learn more about the true customs and etiquette of the country, it is worthwhile to "chase the book down" from a secondary seller.
(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on August 08, 2008)