Cultural Sensitivity: Things You Shouldn’t Do In An Arab Country

Arab countries are often some of the most interesting places to visit from die-hard travelers. That is because the culture is so different that it can feel like you’re on another planet. However, local people are often kind and inviting if you don’t cause offense. With that in mind, it’s sensible for anyone visiting Saudi Arabia or the UAE to think ahead. While you won’t upset anyone on purpose, your lack of understanding could cause issues. Read the tips on this page to ensure you educate yourself about the situation. That way, you should have an amazing and eye-opening experience.

Don’t talk to someone without greeting them properly

In most Arab countries, talking to someone without offering a standard greeting is considered rude. Many travel experts like those at myconcierge will tell you that. As most nations in that part of the world are Muslim, you should say “assalamu alaykum.” The moment you do that, the other person will reply with “walaikum salaam,” and you can begin your conversation. Both phrases mean “peace be upon you,” and they are used by Islamists all over the world. Failing to use that greeting shows a lack of consideration for local culture, and many people will get upset with you.


Don’t invite someone for dinner unless you mean it

When someone invites you to their home for a meal in Arab countries, it’s a gesture of friendship. Going back on their word is considered an insult. So, anyone you meet who makes that offer will see it through. You need to follow suit if you want to gain respect. It could happen at any time. You might be taking a historical trip or pottering about in the local market. Just bear in mind that invites of that nature automatically extend to the entire family. So, make sure you have lots of cash in your pocket if you said you would buy someone dinner. The chances are that they will bring their wives, children and other relatives to meet you. That’s not taking advantage in their culture; it’s polite.

Don’t try to purchase drugs or alcohol

Here is the most important piece of advice on this page by far, so you need to pay attention. Alcohol and drugs are illegal in most Arab countries. Some hotels that cater for western guests will have a bar you can use. Outside of the compound, you should never even speak of illicit substances. Being a foreigner is no excuse in the justice system, and you could go to prison for a long time if people think you were trying to buy. So, do yourself a favor and make sure you leave your urges at home. If you do that, you should have a brilliant time and make lots of exciting memories.

Make sure you remember all those tips if you want a hassle-free experience in the Arab world. Being culturally sensitive shows local people you’ve bothered to research their traditions. They will instantly feel more inclined to chat to you if you make an effort. Of course, you also need to stop your eyes from wandering as much as possible. Staring at women is considered bad taste, and so you don’t want to do that either.

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