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The Top 4 Things Arab Americans Value Greatly in Their Culture

posted on: Mar 27, 2019

By: May Shabti/Arab America Contributing Writer

Arab Americans share many great values in their culture. Values may include respecting one’s elders and how family roles are distributed in the household. Food is also greatly appreciated and Arab Americans tend to take pride in their delicious dishes. In addition, education and hospitality are greatly appreciated among Arab populations. Overall Arab Americans take pride in their cultures core values, follow them closely, and with intent, pass them future generations.

1. Respecting Elders/Family Roles

In Arab culture, family roles are crucial to understand and follow. Usually, the fathers are the head of an Arab-American household. The men hold the power and are expected to be the main providers for the family, while women still have the option to work as well.  In addition, respect for the elderly is another value that can be traced and passed on. Elderly people are always given the best treatment.  The younger ones do everything in their power for pleasing them, which may range from opening doors for them, greeting them first, and serving them food first and seat them in the most comfortable seats.  If you’re an older person among Arabs, get ready to feel pampered!

2. Food

Arab Americans value their food greatly!

When invited to eat a meal with Arabs, you will most likely notice differences in etiquette.

No matter what, you will always be offered snacks while waiting for other guests to arrive. Snacks may include nuts, fatayer, and/or Hummos. Guests usually decline the persistent invitation to eat but later, they give in and accep.

Arab American women love to feed their guests and provide the best hospitality possible. When food is being served, usually the woman hosting the gathering will not sit down and eat until each and every one of her guests have sat down and have food and a drink.  Women measure the success in the gathering they hosted by analyzing how much food was eaten and left in the pots; the more food is eaten, the higher the success is the gathering. 

In some cases, it is impolite to refuse a beverage.

Always use the right hand when eating, drinking, passing or accepting food and drink.

Try to avoid conversations including topics such as politics, religion, and personal relationships between men and women.

Do not overstay your welcome. Attempt to leave a bit after eating.

3. Education

Education is highly valued; it’s more important than owning a big home or an expensive car.  Parents get so proud of their children accomplishments in school. In a typical Arab-American household, they will begin the conversation by stating the schools and colleges their children attend and their focus of the subjects they are majoring in.

4. Hospitality

Most people have heard of Arab generosity and hospitality. When traveling anywhere in the Arab world it is a matter of honor that you receive a warm welcome. To maintain good relations be aware of the correct behavior.

Stand when someone enters the room.  Smile very big, and be expressive and genuine when welcoming guests with open arms.

The common expression is:  “my home is your home.”

Don’t shake hands with an Arab woman unless she gives you her hand first.

Don’t speak to Arab women before you are introduced. Don’t ask about an Arab’s wife or daughters.