Saturday, March 15, 2008

Observations Of The Arab Culture

After a year living in the Arab culture, here are some things that I’ve noticed. I’m not claiming that I understand them, nor am I making any sort of judgment. These are just observations from a western point of view.
  • The men are “babied” in the western sense of the word. They’re coddled by their mothers, and soon after by their wives. There’s very little sense of male self-reliance.
  • Lying does not carry the same social or cultural stigma as it does in the west.
  • Many things are left to chance. I attribute that to the ever-popular “inshala attitude”. I’m not talking about simple things either, but rather the safety of your children walking to school in the morning, or crossing a busy street with no regard for on-coming traffic.
  • Traffic laws are non-existent. There's little regard for the written rules of the road nor for any of your fellow travelers. Given an inch, an Arab driver will come up our right-hand side, half-way up onto a busy sidewalk and cut in front of you. Not so much as a wave.
  • If you get run over by the above mentioned vehicle that was driving on the sidewalk it’s God’s will, and not the driver’s fault. Wrap your head around that!
  • The Arab sense of décor can only be described in English as “gaudy”; bright, ostentatious, shinny things everywhere.
  • Religion dictates almost everything. The entire culture rises, eats, works, and sleeps according to religious customs and traditions, most dating back thousands of years. Some, however, are derived by recent decrees of recognized “holy men” or mullahs, many of who are illiterate. The mullahs can rule on anything from music and movies, to sporting events and manners of dress.
  • Arab countries function better when foreigners are running things. Take a look at Saudi Arabia or the Emirates, the later often called “the best run Indian country outside of India”.
  • There are all sorts of physical contact between men, who view each other as “brothers”, a term used a lot in the culture. Physical contact between men and women outside of marriage is punishable by death in many places. So is homosexuality for that matter.
  • You can get a temporary “marriage” from a mullah that lasts only a couple of hours or days in order to “test drive” a perspective wife.
  • You can commit grievous sins in your lifetime and all is forgiven if you build a big mosque. I guess it’s the same in the west on that one ☺

2 comments:

LT Nixon said...

The inshallah attitude within the confines of central planning of the Iraqi Government certainly isn't doing a good job of providing its citizens with the services they need. Interesting list!

Anonymous said...

Ouch. A little harsh. Especially the one about Arab countries working better when run by foreigners - because Saudi Arabia is such a shining example of freedom, democracy and brotherly love! And as for the Emirates being the best Indian-run country outside of India... well... they didn't exactly do so well with India in the first place.
But I'm with you on style. You know I always say we'll be seeing "Babylon Peasant Chic" on the catwalks of Paris any day now...