Two words will likely come to mind when you think of Arabic culture: history and richness. Indeed, Middle Eastern culture and traditions are mix of diverse people and groups. Thus, it’s doubtful in the understanding of Middle Eastern culture to write about Arabs without fitting them into one group. Likewise, it also seems doubtful that one can write about Arab culture without forcing it into one group as well. However, be assured each example draws upon specific instances taken from Arab culture and their lifestyle to avoid typecasting. Nevertheless, we hope you enjoy these few words about the general Arab culture facts below.
Arab countries range from the Kingdom of Morocco in the west to the countries that lie on the western shores of the Arabian Gulf in the east. Many people sometimes refer to the area as the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. MENA consists of 22 Arabic speaking countries hosting many different faiths. They also include people from many different ethnic groups who speak varied Arabic dialects
There are over 200 million Arabs around the world. So what makes them an Arab? Well, this is wholly due to their Arab culture traditions and Arab culture values. Thus, in spite of wide-held beliefs, it’s not based on race, religion or language.
In most Arab countries, Islam dictates both day-to-day life and that includes holidays as well. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar where, much like Western calendars, a year consists of 12 months. However, since it’s a lunar calendar there are only 353 or 354 days in the Islamic year. The holy day for Muslims is Friday. Although the holidays of Arabic countries vary across countries, the most common holidays are, of course, Ramadan, Eid al Fijr and Eid Al Adha. Keep in mind, these dates will change each year because of the lunar calendar.
Because the Arab culture and the custom of Islam are often one and the same, it’s important to know that Islam forbids the eating of certain things. For example, Arabs do not eat pork. Likewise, Islam takes many meat eating creatures and sea creatures lacking scales off the menu, as well. What’s more, any meat that is to be eaten and cooked must be slaughtered in strict accord with the Islamic rules.
You’ll find that mutton and chicken are the most popular types of meat. Arab chefs and mothers alike cook them with lots of tasty spices, serving them with vegetables, breads and rice.
Many conservative countries have also banned alcohol altogether, though you can find it in places like Beirut, Amman, and Cairo, as examples. However, even if the country does allow alcohol, by no means does this mean you can present it as a gift to a Muslim family if they invite you to dinner. Your new friend may see it as an insult. It’s better to be safe and stick to chocolates.
Finally, in Arab culture, you should always use your right hand when the host hands you anything and when you are offering anything. This is because in Arabic and Islamic culture regard the left hand as unclean. Likewise, Arabs eat many dishes with their right hand only.
An average Arab house is a diverse as the Arabs themselves. They can consist of just one room or many rooms. If it’s a one-room house, curtains divide the sleeping area is the rest of the living space. What’s more, most Arabic houses have flat roofs and thick walls that are light in color.
You’ll find that Arab men usually wear anything from traditional Arab thobes to Western suits, jeans and tees. They may also wear wear a keffiyeh or shemagh to protect their heads from the harsh desert sun. This is a traditional square cotton scarf, which they put on their heads and then hold it in place it with strong cord, known as agal. Indeed, what Arab men Arabic wear is shaped by the rules of Islam, but perhaps even more, they are shaped by where they live and the climate in which they live.
Likewise, what Arabic women wear depends on both Islam and the country in which they live. That is, Arabic clothing for women varies from country to country. For example, the more strict Islamic ways of Saudi Arabia depend more on sticking to what Islam dictates. This includes wearing clothes that cover the whole body. On the other hand, Egypt takes a more liberal view. Women there wear less restrictive, lighter and looser clothes.
In truth, however, if you’re a male or female who’s planning on traveling to any of the countries of the Middle East, dressing modestly is your best bet.
If you’d like to know more about Arab culture and how you can start speaking Arabic today, then head on over to our website. There, you can download the Kaleela Arabic Language App and start learning Arabic anytime, anywhere at your own pace. Visit kaleela.com to find out how.