Don't Be 'Aibe! 15 Inappropriate Behaviors Arabs Won't Stand For.
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Arabs have copious customs and traditions making up our wonderful, yet stressful, culture. Here are 15 behaviors that you definitely cannot do while in the presence of other Arabs or else you’ll get yelled at for being ‘aibe (the Arabic word meaning “forbidden”, which is often used to refer to something that is rude or inappropriate).
1. Don’t eat any food in front of others without sharing
An Arab can’t even chew a piece of gum in front of someone without first offering half the stick. If it can be consumed, then it can be shared.
2. Don’t get caught with an empty fridge, or pantry, or fruit bowl
Arabs are perhaps best known for eating and feeding. A good Arab keeps up the appearance of being able to feed you, your family, your neighbors, their neighbors, and the neighbor’s cat.
3. Don’t receive guests at home while barefooted
No one wants to see your feet! Put them away while guests are around. Shoes are best, but socks will work, too.
4. Don’t sit back while everyone fights over the check at a restaurant
This custom is also related to the need to feed everyone. Splitting the check looks tacky to Arabs, so we fight. Whoever wins is seen as a generous person worthy of great respect.
5. Don’t leave anyone off the guest list
Do you know why Arab weddings are so big? It’s not just because we have big families – it’s because we have to invite every person we’ve ever known, and their families, in this life and past lives.
6. Don’t get up first while guests are visiting, even if it’s 2 am and you’re exhausted
Arabs are basically owls without the night vision. Guests typically arrive late and stay even later, forcing you to stay up with them.
7. Don’t speak to parents and any other elder with disrespect
Unless you want a slap in the face and the scariest look you’ve ever seen on your mother’s face, don’t dare speak to anyone with disrespect!
8. Don’t open your gifts from guests in front of them
Arabs like to wait until guests are gone to open gifts for two reasons. One: to show humility and courteousness to other guests who didn’t get gifts. And two: to hide your shocked face and plans to return the gift as soon as possible.
9. Don’t hesitate to give the person who complimented you whatever they liked
Be prepared to give away any item you own at a moment’s notice! Your shirt, your scarf, your wedding ring, your cutest kid… Anything.
10. Don’t eat everything on your plate
If you eat everything on your plate, be prepared to take a second serving, which is far more massive than the first. Leave a few bites to let your host know that you’re not interested in entering a food coma today.
11. Don’t get caught with an unmade bed or messy house
It’s very important to look like you have your life together, even if you just shoved all your clothes under the bed and hid your dirty dishes in the closest cabinet.
12. Don’t respond to an invitation right away, wait for persistence
Arabs like to be courted and valued before accepting an invitation – it makes us feel like we’re wanted, modest people who don’t party too much (even though we’re totally over-confident and party all the time).
13. Don’t leave anyone in the room without a kiss and a hug when you enter, as well as those who enter after you
Either you do it yourself or mama pulls you by the ear to each person – whichever option you choose, this custom is happening!
14. Don’t forget to offer your seat to your parents or elderly family members
If you’re in a room with limited seating, you need to give your seat up to those who are older than you. It’s much better standing than watching Jiddo scold you in front of everyone.
15. Don’t turn down a cup of coffee offered by the lady of the house you’re visiting
Arab women are not to be trifled with! Declining coffee can be seen as very insulting to a lady of the house, so don’t even bother declining unless you have serious health problems preventing you from drinking coffee.