In the Arab world there is a language of hand gestures, which you can have great fun in observing.

Come here

One gesture is associated with the Arabic word ta3aal (Come here, please. Come with me). Whereas Europeans signal for somebody to come with the palm of the hand facing upwards and gesturing towards oneself, Arabs gesture with the hand about chest high and the back of the right hand facing upwards while gesturing towards oneself. 

Other gestures are: 

Thank you

Placing the palm of the right hand on the chest, bowing the head a little and closing one’s eyes indicates ‘Thank You’  After shaking hands, an Arab may place his hand over his heart.

Slow down

If you want to signal to somebody to “slow down”, hold your right arm out at waist height with the palm uppermost and bunch your fingertips together. Then you move your hand up and down. 


If you want to strongly disagree and say “No” (la) lift your head up, roll your eyes upwards and make a clicking noise with your tongue.

Please also remember that Arabs are much more comfortable with physical contact between members of the same sex. If an Arab man tries to hold your hand (as a male Westerner),  this is a sign of friendship and quite normal. 

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