Arab Mentality

When we speak of Arab mentality, we are referring to the seven countries of the Arabian Peninsula, which include Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait and Qatar, but also Egypt and the Maghreb states. A distinction between the very conservative Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the Arab world, where interactions are more relaxed, seems useful.

Life in all Arab countries is strongly influenced by Islam. Islam sets the philosophy of life for people. It requires complete devotion, surrender and submission to the will of Allah.

With the discovery of oil, the economy on the Arabian Peninsula has grown vigorously since the 1950s. Bedouin tents and mud huts were replaced with cities of ostentatious mansions and spectacular skyscrapers, and open bazaars became lavish shopping malls. Libya and Tunisia also have oil deposits. Prosperity in these countries, especially on the Arabian Peninsula, has developed rapidly, but culture and customs have not evolved to the same extent.

Traditional dress – the dishdasha and turban, or an often red-and-white checkered cloth, of the men and the abaya of the women – has changed little. Many women wear their traditional capes with pride. Underneath the cloaks, they often wear fancy, Western brand clothing.

The separation of men and women in public places is not directed against the relationship between men and women; rather, this arrangement does justice to the different lifestyles and interests of men and women.

Arabs are very hospitable, but expect respect for their culture and religion. This requires a good knowledge of their culture and a strong sense of tact.

Arabs appreciate the reliability, punctuality, discipline and diligence of Germans. These attributes should not be taken for granted by Arabs.

They greet people who are not yet familiar with them with a question about their well-being, which you should answer only briefly. Only with growing trust do Arabs exchange information about the well-being of the family and personal matters. Hierarchically superior persons and older people are shown special respect in Arab countries by being greeted first. As a rule, the host takes over the order of greeting when you are introduced. Men greet each other with a light handshake. If your business partner then places his right hand on his heart, he proves to you that he is well disposed towards you. Men greet women only by nodding and making brief eye contact.

In Maghreb states, the greeting is more informal than in the states of the Arabian Peninsula.

Arab countries are undergoing a transformation, but it will continue to be based on Islam. The widespread availability of Internet technology makes it easier for people to obtain information and form opinions. Even in the comparatively conservative Arab countries, younger people in particular want to live more self-determined lives.

Look also to the British mentality, the Swiss mentality, the Austrian mentality, the Spanish mentality, the Dutch mentality, the Scandinavian mentality, the French mentality, the Turkish mentality, the US-American mentality, the Italian mentality, the Latin American mentality, the Indian mentality, the Chinese mentality, the Japanese mentality, and the Russian mentality.


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