So you want to know the dos and don’ts in Arab culture? You’re in the right place. Here we will be breaking down Arabic culture facts and some weird Arab traditions. By the time you are done reading, you will have basic understanding of hospitality and etiquette in Arabic-speaking countries. Let’s get to it.
When it comes to food, Arabs have their own take on things. First, they never give you a little bit. They will always add enough food on your plate to feed a tribe. OK, maybe not that much. But they will fill your plate up as if they are trying to feed you two or three times over. This is an old Arabic tradition. It is considered to be an act of hospitality for the guest. It is to say that you are so important to us and we are so happy to have you here, so please take all our food. In the old times, this used to make full sense. This is because all they had was food. The tradition didn’t die and continued on for generations. To make sure that you have good etiquette, thank the person who gave you food and do not put it back, to the maximum of your ability of course. When it comes to talking, things like /Shokran/ شكرا meaning thank you, is enough.
Now, if you are the host, then make sure that you add as much as possible to the plate. Things like /Marhaba/ مرحبا meaning hello, but more of a very nice, warm, and welcoming hello. You also have /Ahlan wa sahlan/ أهلا و سهلا which means something along the lines of make yourself at home, and it is also a hello. We have a full article on how to be truly Arab when eating and how to maintain that Arab dining etiquette right here at Kaleela.com.
We have mentioned a few of the Arabic expressions of social etiquette. In general, there aren’t many words or phrases that are said in terms of hospitality. An Arab guest tends to use idioms and flattering comments to show gratitude for the hospitality. On other the hand, the host would flatter him or her back by stating remarks about their importance and/or value to them their life. They would point out that they probably deserve more of a king-like treatment where nothing that is given so far is representing their true value.
In Islam, there is huge value in hospitality. It brings a lot of good in a Muslim’s life and takes out a lot of bad. The more you are hospitable, the better you are as a person. This motivates many Muslims to increase their hospitality literally by adding more whenever they can. For example, instead of offering you one piece of cake, they would offer two. When they notice that you like something in their house, such as a vase or even the dress they are wearing, they would offer it to you. There is a word that is used to offer in such cases which is Moqadam / مقدم meaning it is offered to you, or more like it’s all yours.
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