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Focus: Behaving badly: 10 dos and don'ts when abroad

3 - Waiting in the Middle East

Behaving badly: 10 dos and don'ts when abroad © Copyright

The Arab countries are no less capable of springing a surprise when it comes to their alternative interpretations of gestures which may be familiar to us. For example, you may well be aware of the Italian gesture by which the fingers are held together towards the sky when asking someone what the hell they want or what the hell they mean! Well, the very same gesture exists in the Middle East but has a very different meaning. While you won't offend anyone by using it, in this part of the world the gesture actually means "Wait!" Don't be surprised, therefore, if a traffic policeman at a junction looks or speaks to you strangely if you use that gesture to ask him what his own gestures mean when directing traffic! Otherwise, using an open hand to indicate to someone to stop is considered quite strange and should be avoided.

Something else to be aware of is that two men walking hand in hand along the road in Arab countries is not at all a sign of homosexuality, but merely of friendship.

The presence of presents Look them in the eye