The Arab World

Do’s& Don’ts – In An Arab Home or Around Arabs

  1. Do not kiss people of the opposite sex as a hello or a thank you. Do not stay seated when guests or elderly people walk in.
  2. Do not not treat a gift carelessly. Take it with both hands and do not open it in front of the donor.
  3. As a women, do not behave as the person in charge.
  4. Do not serve pork or alcohol in food in your house when entertaining Muslim Arabs.
  5. Do not serve little amounts of food. Arabs are hospitable and expect the same from others.
  6. A man does not enter a household unless the man of the house is present.
  7. At a meal, do not ask for something which has not been offered


Hand and facial gestures are important to an Arab’s way of communication. If you look at an Arab gesture, it will help you understand what he is saying, for Arabs talk not only with their mouth but with their face, eyes, hands and body

1. No

Move the head backwards.Raise the eyebrows. Move the chin upwards.Make a clicking sound with the tongue.

2. Go away

Put your right hand out, palm downwards and move your fingers away from you as if scooping something away from you.

3. Quiet down, slowly

Hold the right hand out, palm facing down and move your hand up and down slowly several times.

4. Calm down, Be Patient, Slowly

Hold your right hand out, palm upwards and put the thumb and the tips of your fingers together, then move your hand up and down slowly.

5. Maybe, Fifty / Fifty chance

Hold your hand out palm downwards. Keep your fingers loose, not together and move your hand from right to left several times.

Admiral amir al Commander of/ruler of
Alchemy al kiymya Transmutation/chemistry
Algebra al jabir Reunification
Amalgam Mulgam To combine
Arsenal dar-aS-Sinaa9a House of manufacture
Caliber qalib Shoemaker’s mould
Check mate Shah /Sheikh maat Shah /Sheikh is dead
Elixir Aliksiyr The exilir
Magazine Makhazin Store house
Masquerade Maskhara Funny or idiotic
Racquet From raq9at Palm of the hand
Tariff Ta9rifa Prices, price list

Culture & Language

The Arabic Language: the difference between Classical and MSA

The language spoken in the Arab world is a simplified form of Classical Arabic. Classical Arabic is recognised in two forms:vowelled and non-vowelled. MSA is a simplified form of Classical Arabic. For daily communication we choose the easier form: non–vowelled, e.g. Classical Arabic: Good morning -SabaaHuil-khayri. MSA:SabaaHil-khayr MSA is the classical Arabic without the Harakaat (short vowels we put on letters that can change meaning, tense or grammatical function of a word depending on its position in a sentence).


Religion is very important to Arabs, whether Muslim or Christian. Most Muslims are Sunni’s and there are more than 14 million Arab Christians. There is also a number of Jews still living in North Africa, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. The Qurann is the holy book of Islam and it lays down the foundations for a good Muslim.


Coffee is a symbol of Arab hospitality. Coffee is served on all occasions. It is rude to refuse a cup of coffee in an Arab house. Gulf coffee is prepared with cardamom seeds and saffron, while Middle East coffee is prepared with cardamom and sugar and is much thicker and known as Turkish coffee. There is also white coffee which is water with rose water.


The mosque is the worship place of Muslims. The Arabic word is either: masjid – to mean place of adoration, prostration, to bend down in worship; or,jaame9 – to mean a place where people get together; get together for prayer.

A Muslim must always wash and do his ablution before praying. Shoes are left outside. Only men are expected to go to pray in the mosque. However, in some societies, women are also allowed to pray in the mosque. Muslims face Mecca and pray five times a day.


Traditionally, marriage is a contract between two families rather than two individuals. Under Shari9a-Islamic law marriage is a simple contract between two willing adults that need only two witnesses. A marriage only happens if both parties consent. In the Quraan a man is allowed four wives, only if he can do justice to each one, if not then only one.

Muslims pay a dowry to the bride’s family to pay for her dress, jewellery, cloth etc. The bride’s dress differs from one region to another. Nowadays, Arab brides tend to choose to wear white Western-style dresses. In the old days, or in more traditional areas, a national costume is worn.


Hospitality and generosity are the two most important virtues of an Arab. At a restaurant, Arabs will always offer to pay – you may insist or if you allow them to pay, you will have to return the favour.


When someone dies, the family of the deceased traditionally have a mourning period of 40 days. Guests are offered coffee without sugar, dates and water and bring with them food to feed the deceased family. Christian Arabs usually arrange the funeral a couple of days after the death with a church service and burial, similar to the West. It is customary for Muslims to conduct the burial as soon after the death as possible – usually after a prayer time on the day, or latest the next day. The decesased is washed and wrapped with a burial shroud and after prayer, is placed in the ground without a coffin, facing Mecca.


In the Arab World, there are Muslim feasts and Christian feasts. Celebrations always include a big feast and family gatherings. In Middle East countries, both Christian and Muslim feasts are national holidays, while in the Arabian Peninsula only Muslim feasts are celebrated. The Muslim feasts are: al mawlidil-nabawiy, al-israawa il-mi9raaj ,Ramadan the month of fasting, laylatil-qadir, eidil-fitir, eidil-aDHa, raasissanail-hijriyya, and aashura. Christians celebrate Christmas, New Year and Easter.

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