Sharing Meals With Arabs

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Sharing Meals With Arabs Arabs enjoy inviting guests to their homes for meals; you could be a guest at meals any time. Meals provide the host and hostess with a perfect opportunity to display their generosity and demonstrate their personal regard for you. Arabs usually invite guests through an oral invitation and by sending a written invitation. If you plan to visit a family in Bethlehem, for example, you must know the time of the invitation and how to act during and after the meal. Most of the Arab families have specific times for lunch and dinner, so it is very important to be on time. Lunch is at 12:00 p.m., and dinner is at 6:00 p.m. To be on time is very important if the dinner is formal and official. If the guests arrive early, there is plenty of time for conversation before the meal. Conversation does not generally take place after the meal for an everyday invitation. Most of the members of the family will be waiting for the guests; they all have helped in preparing the meal. Separation between the men and women while eating is very important in the Arab society. Many families prefer to let the women eat alone; therefore, if the meal were for men only, you would not find any women sitting at the table. In some cases, if the guests are both men and women, women can sit at the table. At wedding parties, for example, the men sit alone and the women sit alone. This separation of men and women is very important at wedding parties. When the guests sit at the table, they find many kinds of food that the host and hostess have prepared. Arabs serve a great quantity of food when they entertain. They are famous for their munificence, or great generosity, and are very proud of it. They usually prepare two or three times more food than the guests can eat. In fact, they do not try to calculate the amount of food actually needed; on the contrary, the intention is to present abundant food that shows generosity and esteem for the guests. The food does not go to waste; it is consumed by the family afterwards. Encouraging guests to eat is a part of the Arab custom and is also required for good manners. You can expect to be offered second and third helpings of food, and you should make the gesture at least once for accepting.
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