Middle Eastern Culture

by: Victoria Bartell

Common Ethics of Greeting

- When greeting someone from the Middle East it is very common for them to be called by Mr. or Mrs. followed by their first name. For example if someone were named John Smith, they would be called Mr. John. Whenever greeting, serving, etc. you always acknowledge the eldest person in the room first.

- Men shaking hands is very common and can last a very long time. It is recommended to wait for them to withdraw their hand first.

- As a Western (U.S.) man wait to see if a Middle Eastern woman extends her hand (vice versa for U.S. woman and Middle Eastern man)

- The right hand is always used for eating, greeting, touching, etc. because in UAE the left hand is used for bodily hygiene and is viewed as unclean. It is very common for men to hold hands when being led somewhere.

Common Views and Beliefs

- People of Middle Eastern culture tend to view the elderly as 'sacred.'

- Women are also very sacred to men, and cannot always have the same rights as American women. So, in Middle Eastern families it is viewed as polite to ask about a family as a whole, but it is improper to ask about a wife/daughter specifically.

- Men should avoid prolonged eye contact with Muslim women, because it is viewed as sexual interest.

- Always dress modest with full coverage of shoulders, arms, legs and feet.

- At religious sites women must cover their hair, and everyone must remove their shoes.

- Most things in UAE are personal and family-related.

- Most people in UAE are Muslim and follow the Qur'an. Muslims are against (and cannot) eat pork, shellfish or consume alcohol. Non-Muslims in UAW cannot consume alcohol in public. Also, Muslim people pray 5 times a day and they should not be interrupted.

Healthcare Views and Beliefs

- When in need of care, Middle Easterners are usually most comfortable with same-sex caregivers.

- Giving personal information to someone unknown causes them to feel uncomfortable. Along with this, Middle Easterners take longer to develop relationships and feel comfortable with people.

- Decisions are normally made by the family spokesman which would be the father, husband, or even sometimes son.

- Men are used to authority-gender roles, so in the U.S. men may feel uncomfortable with woman doctor.

- Middle Easterners have a lot of respect for Western (U.S.) healthcare but they also believe in common folk beliefs and practices. An example of this would be 'Evil Eye' which is a look that you give/someone gives you that causes suffering, harm or some form of bad luck. Also Middle Easterner's believe in balancing 'hot' and 'cold' foods!

- Hospitals are considered places of misfortune where people go to die.

- Bad news is given in stages in the Middle East. With this, Muslims are very accepting of disease and death because they believe it is in Allah's hands but Muslims are afraid religious practices cannot be done inside a hospital. Also, Muslim/Middle Eastern families do not plan for death, they do not give up hope and they do not show grief while a family member is sick. Although, when a family member does die - mourning can be very loud and obvious.

- It tends to take longer to consult with Muslim/Middle Eastern families after the loss of a loved one.

Middle Eastern Culture!

I hope you learned a little something about the Middle East and their culture today!