Today is all about greet and meet. How do people in the UAE greet each other? What is the body language in Arab culture? Keep reading to find out. You are going to learn the Arabic language today, but you will learn about it. So it may seem a bit foreign but a lot of the Arabic rules and Arab etiquette relies on good hospitality. The root of all communication in Arabic, especially with body language in Arabic countries, is all about respect to the other.
The vast majority of Emirati’s are Muslims. This means that their greeting is religious in nature. The words /Assalamu Alaikom/ meaning “Peace be upon you” is the English version of “Hello”. The other person responds with /Wa Alaikom Al Salam/ meaning “and peace be upon you too” or more literally “and upon you be peace”.
Islam is quite a strong religion. Women and men are not to touch even in handshakes. This is where many Arabic learners fall. In Arab etiquette and Arab culture, it is respectful for women to greet each other with kisses on the cheeks. The Italians do something quite similar.
With men, there is something that many people still see weird: the nose. So Emirati men rub each other’s noses. Yes, you read that correctly. It sounds a bit weird, but it is within their customs and traditions. There is a reason behind this. The nose is a symbol. It represents dignity and pride.
As mentioned earlier, Islam is the dominant religion. Due to this, women and men do not touch in any form. However, this is not the only thing. It would be rude or disrespectful to maintain eye contact for a long period of time with a woman.
Another sign of disrespect is turning your back to someone. The face is the blessing that God gave you to show to the world. The back means you don’t get this blissful face. Hand gestures in Arabic hand gestures are quite universal.
An example of common Arab hand gestures is placing all fingers together with the thumb to mean “hold on” or “wait a minute”. If done at the wrong time or too commonly, people will start seeing you as an impatient individual.
When someone enters the room, all individuals would stand up and hand shake with him or her. This is, again, a form of respect for the guest.
Emiratis are agreeable people. They will say “yes” quite frequently. In others words, /N’aam/ is said a lot. This is common so don’t be surprised when you hear a lot of yeses. On the other hand, they avoid the word “no”. Instead, they say no without actually usually the word no. This is part of Arab etiquette.
Another commonly used word is /Wallah/ meaning “I swear to Allah (God)”. To ensure trust and honesty, people would use /Wallah/ a lot. Emirati’s also use it so that you could stay longer or eat more. For example, a common sentence is /Wallah la takil/ meaning “I swear to Allah you will eat”. If you don’t follow, or end up not eating, this person will take sins for swearing to Allah. It will end up with him even having to fast a day as repentance. Quite serious, right?
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