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In Arab Culture, Your Reputation is Everything

posted on: Feb 28, 2018

By: Randa Necola/Arab America Contributing Writer

Arabs and Arab Americans care about their reputation almost more than anything in life. One of the most important pillars of the Arab culture is to keep a super reputation. Arab Americans bring this facet of importance from home and guard it with all their being. The challenge is caring about what other people would say or think about them and how their reputation might get affected. Most of Arabs and Arab Americans spend their lives trying to have a good reputation and avoid criticism from others.

Elders Respect

It is crucial in the Arab tradition to pay utmost respect to the elders, especially in the family.  Their opinions are taken seriously and are considered as rules for younger generations most of the time. Young Arabs have to call older people Uncle/Ammo and Aunt/Amto/Khalto. They give the elderly the prime seat and best food to show them respect. Arab parents teach their children that older people are not like any other person and that they should be given a special treatment, and that’s why some Arab Americans joke about going back home when they get to the retirement age.  If Arabs don’t show respect to older people, that would hurt their reputation badly and affect their families’ name.

Girls’ Reputation

Arab American girls are in particular must watch their actions and guard their reputation, especially in the Arab American community. There are common rules that all Arab girls know well and most of them follow it. For example, girls should not laugh loudly in public and avoid too much of physical actions to attract males’ attention. Also, staying out for late hours or spending nights at other friends’ homes. This is absolutely unacceptable. Of course, a good girl doesn’t tell a guy that she likes him before a serious relationship and must avoid wearing revealing clothing to protect her reputation.


Arabs brag about their generosity and it is important for any Arab or Arab Americans to show generosity to maintain a good reputation. In general, Arabs are known for their generosity for thousands of years and it is something that they pass to their children. For example, if an Arab family or friends are having a meal out together, they will all try to take care of the bill to show that the others are well-liked and that they are generous In addition, they have to offer people who visit them food and drinks to maintain their good reputation.

Marriage Age

Some Arabs think that when an Arab girl stays single beyond 30 (was 20 earlier) that might affect her reputation.  Others assume that this is due to her negative reputation, or looks, or illness. Fortunately, this stigma of not being married early in life is disappearing due to girls wanting to further their education and careers.

Tidy and Clean Home 

One important matter in keeping a positive reputation is maintaining a clean and tidy home. Its appearance is a reflection of the owners’ character.  Therefore, before hosting anyone, the family must beware of keeping a good looking clean and tidy home.  Additionally, the quality of furniture matter too. Luxurious pieces would affect their reputation positively.

Pride and Dignity

It is important for Arabs and Arab Americans show dignity. It’s important that they don’t show that they are hungry when they get invited for a meal. The host should insist on keeping to offer plenty of food and comfort. Arabs and Arab Americans avoid showing that they are in financial difficulties.  Having pride is a matter of importance in gaining a good reputation.