Arab culture consists of different communities, groups and cultures. Arab is the cultural and language trait rather than lineage. There is no single Arabic culture, it is vast. That said it varies not only between countries but within communities as well. The Arab region is also called MENA (East and North Africa) region and in this region, countries range from Morocco to North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Kuwait, Yemen, Syria, etc., comes in the list of 22 Arabic countries. According to World Bank Data for 2019, the population of the Arab world is estimated to be 427.9 million. It is vital to note that holidays in Arabic countries vary. Here education is valued and reading or writing is a great achievement for the families.
Let’s dive in to know about middle eastern traditions, religion and culture.
The religion in Arab is Islam and according to the Pew Research Center, around 93% of people in Arab are Muslims and 4% are Christians. Though Islam is majorly followed in Arab, other religious groups are treated with respect. The scripture of Muslims is Koran (Qur’an) and it is believed that the Lord revealed it to Mohammed (a prophet) through the Angel Gabriel.
There are many sects in Islam but Sharia law is the important law in Arab countries. Sharia means ‘the way’ in the Arabic language. This law is divided into 5 sections according to the Islamic Supreme Council. The sections are- education, establishing justice, preventing oppression and hardship on society and individuals, upholding private and public morality. Different Arab countries interpret the law differently. Some follow it strictly and others don’t. In fact, the culture of Saudi Arabia is that they use this law for all areas of jurisprudence.
When it comes to praying, Muslims pray 5 times a day. The worship sites for Muslims are mosques where they follow strict rules, which are-one should never walk in front of someone praying, one cannot take photographs or record videos in the mosque, people must wear decent clothes and women must cover their heads when they visit mosques. Shorts for men and sleeveless or short-sleeved attire for women are prohibited in the holy sites. One must remove shoes before entering the mosques.
Ramadan is the Islamic Holy month, which is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. In this auspicious month, Muslims observe fast from sunrise to sunset and their business hours get changed during this month.
Arabic foods are named differently across the regions and countries but the foundation is pretty the same. Mutton, dough foods and a myriad of spices are common. Bread is also a common food and not sharing it with someone is considered a betrayal. Arabs don’t consume many sea animals and carnivorous animals without scales. Pork is forbidden in Islam and alcohol is also banned in Arabic countries. They only eat food that is prepared by following the teachings of the Koran. They have several varieties of foods such as fish or lamb and appetizers like raisins, nuts and olives.
In Arab culture, guests are offered tea or coffee and snacks. If someone refuses the offer then it is considered rude. However, one can decline the first offer but accept the second one. One must use the right hand when eating, drinking and accepting the food.
In Arab, many people are conservative and their outfits vary from country to country. Further, they have a diverse series of dresses that range from traditional to western styles. Basically, Arabic attire is traditional and shaped by Islamic rules, climatic and geographical conditions. Arabic traditional dress for men and women is long. Women wear hijab, burqa or veil and long robes. Men wear long dresses and cover their heads as well. Modesty is an important part when it comes to clothing.
However, modern women do wear jeans, skirts and short sleeves. Also, sleeveless tops or shorts should only be worn when men or women are at the beach. Such outfits are totally unacceptable in religious places.
In Arabic countries, family is the foremost thing that matters a lot. It is the heart of reputation, honour and loyalty. Here the head of the family is a man. Women are valuable in society and kids are considered jewels. In this culture, families maintain tribal connections in different countries. Privacy is also valued and its basis is from the Koran. Men greet men in the different sections of their houses. Similarly, women guests meet female family members in their own sections. If the house is small then meet-ups are arranged outside. Men take financial responsibility for wife and children. Women maintain a traditional role of staying at home, raising the kids and managing the house. People who are not Arabs may think that females are oppressed but this is not true. Due to the advancement in education and society, women or wives also lend a hand to the family. They are discreet about their profession and work from home or office. They play a vital role in society and do involve in business matters. When it comes to kids, boys from an early age are taught to be men, take responsibility and protect women of the home. Girls are taught to run home and garner compliments for their feminine traits. Elders are also highly respected. All these values come from the Koran. Fathers and sons discuss together the family business and everything that is linked to work and family.
Most Common and Important Arab Customs
- In Islam, piety is considered to be the most admirable characteristic.
- Women are valuable in Arabic society but still they do not have many rights when compared with the rights men have.
- Men need to stand up if a woman enters the room.
- Constructive criticism is considered rude and insulting.
- Women are required to cover their heads even if they are in a western outfit.
Arab Traditions and Etiquettes
In Arab, people are relaxed and socially oriented. They are flexible with the timings, so in case someone gets a little late, it won’t be perceived as a sign of disrespect. They do not have rigid schedules. Men do not shake hands with women unless they extend their hands. People do not point at a person.
One should not ask an Arab man about his wife, daughter or female family member. Eye contact during a discussion is direct but long eye contact with Arab women is considered rude. No is considered as impolite, therefore people use the term ‘As God wills it.’ People do not refuse a request from a friend. They use their right hand to eat or touch the gifts. Arab women will often socialize in rooms separate from men. People take off their shoes at the entrance.
People in Arabic countries are generous, friendly and their hospitality is well-known in the world. All of these are the expression of sacred duties. If someone travels to the Middle Eastern Countries then the person must know about the common customs and traditions so as not to offend anyone. One must not overstay and should leave the place soon after eating. In this culture, people consider it impolite to eat everything on one’s plate.
In Arab nations, piety is the most admirable characteristic and women are valuable in society.
It is known for its generosity, friendliness and hospitality.
People in Arab nations follow Koran (Qur’an) and Sharia law.
For one, people are courteous and family is very important to them.
Arabic is the language used by Arabs. Arab is a cultural trait and Arabs include Muslims, Jews and Christians.