|Understanding Arabs: A westerner's guide
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On conversation, it is important to know that Arabs do not find periods of silence, whilst sitting with friends or business colleagues, at all awkward. This is in direct contrast to the average Westerner who finds it embarrassing and will make every effort to keep conversation going. It has been said that many a canny Arab businessman will use this to his advantage in his dealing with Westerners.
Arabs are extremely proud of their appearance and careful about what they wear in public. They will always want to appear to look their best and will take time to achieve this. The Western habit of looking scruffy is surprising to them: why would you wear worn out jeans if you can afford and look a lot better? Femininity is prized with jewellery and perfumes being the most popular gifts. Thobes (traditional robes) worn by the men are always spotless; individuality is expressed by choice of watch or cufflinks.
This article is intended only to be an introduction into understanding the wide, deep and rich Arab culture as to explain fully would take very many more pages than this.
I have tried to illustrate Arab patterns of behaviour, rather than generalising about Arabs in general or Bahrainis in particular. An understanding of the people only really comes from meeting and mixing with the local people; if you show interest, you will be invited warmly and unreservedly into homes and families. This will add a previously unknown dimension to your life causing you to fully appreciate the wonderful Arab proverb:
“Paradise without people should not be entered because it is hell.”