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19 'You Know You're an Arab When...' Items You May Find Relatable

posted on: Nov 6, 2020

By: Yasmina Hage/Arab America Contributing Writer       

Stereotypes related to the Arab world are numerous, and they are filled with good and bad ones. We Arabs find ways to laugh at our circumstances, even when the world seems a bit harsh at times. For example, one Arab mother introduces her three son. Their names are A, B and C. When she is asked about the origin of their names, she sarcastically states that she and her husband chose them off of the terrorist watchlist. And while we can laugh at this mother’s joke, we also understand that negative and false stereotypes can be harmful. In fact, they can lead to discrimination, racism, and a sense of frustration when stereotypes get in the way of trying to live their lives.

Having said that, we also know that stereotypes typically come from a slither of truth, one that is overly exaggerated. And while we can all agree that most stereotypes perpetuate negative thoughts, we can also agree that some things we do as Arabs are funny, and there is a reason they are over-exaggerated – hence, bringing them into a life of their own. And because we enjoy an occasional laugh, we’ve put together a list for you to read and see if you can relate: 

You know you’re an Arab when…


1. You hear someone say they are Palestinian and you immediately smile and say, “We are all Palestinian!”

2. Instead of an apology, your parents say, “Come and eat.”

3. You wake up early – not because you have your alarm set – but because your mother is already talking on the phone with her sisters – really loud, for hours. 

4. You have one of these blankets at home.

5. Your family is naturally loud. They are not mad, not angry, not yelling – they are just talking normally… loud.

6. Whenever you have guests at home, your parents will always serve tea, orange juice, fruit, nuts, and then have a finale of the ever popular qahwa (coffee.)

7. When people come to eat at your house, even if they are family members, your mother will make a dinner for a whole continent. The only thing that is missing would be the Ferrero pyramid in the middle of the table!

8. Your parents pronounce “p” as “b.” For example:

Dad – “Blease” bring me a “bebsi.”

You – You mean “Pepsi.”

Dad – That’s what I said.

9. The guests are leaving, so you say goodbye inside the house, at the door, outside the door, on the way to the car, at the car, and when they are finally in the car. 

10. You seem to always have an obligation to visit with people who you may have never met before. This leaves you with the dilemma: “Do I just say hi, shake their hands, kiss them? And If I kiss them, how many kisses? One cheek, two cheeks, multiple times on each cheek?”

11. People never know which member of your family you’re talking about because you have a lot of aunties and cousins.

12. You always call older Arab people “uncles” and “aunts,” even if they are not members of your family.

13. Being 18 or 21 means nothing for your parents. You’re always their little baby.

14. Your parents insult themselves when they are mad at you.

15. You’re always late – leaving your close friends who aren’t Arab to change the time you should meet because they know you. Example: Party starts at 8pm. Jane tells Jamila the party starts at 6pm. Jane knows Jamila needs this lie to be there on time.

16. The box that initially contains cookies ends up as a sewing storage. Every. single. house.

17. Your parents always compares you to your cousin closest to your age. Example:

Mom – Look at your cousin Amal. She is only 13 and already learned how to make kanafa all by herself.

You – Amal is 34, married to a baker. Meanwhile, you complain every time I spill a drop of water on the kitchen floor.

18. Your mother calls you “mama,” and your father calls you “baba.”

19. During a gathering with other Arabs at your favorite restaurant, your regular server throws the bill on the table and runs to watch you and your friends fight over the bill. The server secretly hopes the best tipper wins. 

So, how many does your family do? What else does your family do? Let us know in the comments!

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