Hospitality plays an important role in Arabic life and indeed the Arabic word for a meal, wajba, relates not simply to food, as in French (repas) or German (Mahlzeit), but to the idea of ‘performing one’s duty to a guest’. The word wajba has the same root as the Arabic word for ‘duty, obligation’, waajib.
You might be invited for dinner or for tea. Here are a few things to remember …
Remember to take off your shoes before you enter a house or a room.
If you are a man, you should wait outside the house or rooms until the women of the house have dressed and put on their veils or scarfs.
Be careful when admiring and praising things you’ll find in a household. Your host may feel obliged to give it to you as a present.
If you find a portrait of the current ruler in the household, you should avoid saying anything about him or even his policy.
Prayer time is very important for Muslims, so don’t feel confused if your host leaves you to say prayers in the mosque.
If your host prays at home, make sure you do not pass in front of him / her because this will interrupt their connection to God (Allah).
The house is your house
Or, as we would say, please feel at home.
نحن سعداء أن نكون معكم
naHnu su3adaa’ an nakuun ma3akum.
We are very happy to be with you.
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