In Arabic, as in all languages, there are different ways to greet people. If you know some Arabic and, especially some Arabic greetings, you should not refrain from using them. Greetings are very important in the Arab world to demonstrate to your host or business partner that you are interested in their language.
Here are some conventions. A man greets an Arab man with a light handshake. Avoid firm handshakes and only lightly press the hand of the other person. As a man it is acceptable to offer your hand to a woman, but let the woman decide whether she wants to grasp the hand or not. If you are traveling as a woman in an Arab country and you meet a man who is not willing to shake hands with a foreign woman, you should accept that. The reason for a man not shaking hands with an unknown woman is usually due the fact that he has made the pilgrimage.
If you are taken to an Arab family, the host determines the order in which the guests are welcomed. If you go to an Arab family alone, you should first greet the host, then the oldest person in the room and then the rest of the people present.
If one does not know the other party, the greeting usually ends with the question of how somebody is. It is best not to talk much and tell one’s whole life story.
Arabic greetings and farewells are:
as-salaamu 3aleykum – wa 3aleykum as-salaam (السلام عليكم – وعليكن السلام) – Peace be with you.
marHaban (مرحباً) – Hallo
nahaarak sa3eed (نهارك سعيد) – Good day
SabaaH al-khair – SabaaH an-nuur (صباح الخير – صباح النور) – Good morning
masaa‘ al-khair – masaa‘ an-nuur (مساء الخير – مساء النور) – Good mvening
tuSbaH 3ala khair – wa anta min ahl-il-khair (تصبح على خير – وأنت من أهل الخير) – Good night
Taab yawmak (طاب يومك) / yawm jameel (يوم جميل) – Have a nice day
ma3a-salaama (مع السلامة) – Goodbye
ila-l-liqaa‘ (إلى اللقاء) – Goodbye
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