Do you Want to Make Your Guests Feel Comfortable? Learn from the Arabs
By: Ala Abed-Rabbo/Arab America Contributing Writer
Arabs and their Home Guests
The Arab householders express a generous welcome through their efforts to make sure that guests feel comfortable and “at home.” Lavish hospitality is one that is not only commendable but also believed as a sacred obligation to Arabs and Arab Americans. Arab kindness and tradition are one of the most pleasant and loved in the world.
It is not uncommon for visitors to receive an invitation to eat in someone’s house while passing or traveling through the region. As the guests enter an Arab home, the door opens widely, all of the house lights get turned on, and guests get seated at the best chairs or couches.
Moreover, as the guests arrive at the homes of Arabs or Arab Americans, the household members welcome them with warmth. They make sure that everyone is greeted at the door. According to the Arabs, their visitors always come first. The hosts welcome their people with the friendliest Marhaba, (Hello), and the biggest smile. They also make sure that all receive the most excellent treatment.
The Arab Hosts will Continue to Entertain
If the guests’ cup of Qahwa, (Coffee), empties up, the house members keep refilling it and offer fruits, dry fruits, dates, and Arab sweets until one’s had enough. Arabs cherish their times, inviting the visitors over for lunch or dinner. When people sit at the table, they find many types of prepared food. Arabs provide a considerable quantity of food when they welcome.
Besides, Arabs are known for their generosity and are very proud of it. They typically cook two or three times more food than the guests can consume. They do not calculate the amount of food needed.
Moreover, they intend to present plentiful food that shows munificence and respect for the guests. The hosts insist and pile the visitor’s plates and always say “Tfaddalu,” and “Ahlan wa Sahlan” (Welcome). If they drink, the householders keep saying “Kaas” and refill their drinks.
Reassuring guests to eat is a part of the Arab ritual and is also essential for good manners. This encouragement is called “Azooma” (Feast), and Arab guests often start with the traditional refusal and wait for the householder’s assertion.
The Arab Welcome
The guests usually sit farthest from the door or “Fi al-Sadr,” which means “At the Top of the Room.” Another place of respect that is preserved for them which is at the right of the host, while walking or sitting at a table.
In addition, before a person leaves, the house members insist on them to stay longer and that it is “too early to leave.” However, if the guests leave, they are accompanied out and not only to the home entrance but regularly to their cars or beyond.
The host continues to thank their visitors for the stay and say their farewell until they are out of sight. They also ask visitors to greet and kiss their extended families. The householders will not close their front door until the minute the guests leave.
The Guests’ Treatment in an Arab Household
Admiration for the guest also presents in the manner the host receives him or her and sits in their presence. It is unacceptable for the Arabs to disrespect their guests in any way possible. For example, the hosts will never raise their feet and place them up in their guests’ attendance or point them towards’ one’s face.
Also, when dining at a table, guests are spontaneously served first and offered the finest cuts, like the meats and sweets. Most presenters are so observant that they will not eat until their guests have completed their plates and will wait for them personally to make sure that they are full.
Arabs (including Arab Americans) and their Home Gatherings
Waiting for people to ring the doorbell is not well-mannered in Arab society. The Arab household members usually wait for someone either at the front door or outside of the home. In some cases, the host leaves the front door open for anticipated guest(s). Such gestures show a great sign of respect towards their guests.
In fact, all the qualities mentioned above towards guests get practiced also outside the home, whether in a restaurant or outside entertainment areas.
Arab culture is amiable and hospitable, so whenever someone walks in and depending on the relationship’s levels, the people greet, kiss on the cheeks, shake hands, and hug, or wave and say hello. The household members then begin to ask and answer any questions about one’s well-being, family, and fresh news happening with them. This is a way of demonstrating courtesy, honesty, and admiration for the family.
The objective of Arab hospitality is to pay tribute to a guest. It does not matter what one’s age, religion, or origin; he or she will always be taken in as a part of the Arab family they visit. “All your preferences are always taken into consideration to make sure guests are comfortable.”