Etiquette Middle East

Being an English teacher in a foreign country enables you to share aspects of your own culture with your students while they are learning English from you. This helps to broaden their minds as well as develop a better understanding of the culture behind the language they are learning.

Equally important is the need for the English teacher to develop an understanding of, and show an interest in, the cultural and social practices of their adopted home. Simple, innocent gestures from your home country could cause great offense to your hosts, while every day interactions in a new country can make a foreigner feel awkward and uncomfortable. A little consideration and understanding of how things are done in your new home can go a long way to making your experience a truly positive one. The Middle East is a popular destination with experienced EFL teachers as it offers some of the best paying teaching jobs in the world. However, it does have a reputation for modest conservatism which some may find intimidating but this needn’t be the case and any visitor who takes the time to understand and see the differences between the countries is in for a rewarding experience. In the region in general, as with many non-Western countries, the left hand is seen as unclean and should not used for eating. In Saudi Arabia, if you are invited to someone’s house it is polite to bring a gift but bear in mind that if you are given a gift, it should be opened later. At meals it is considered polite to try everything that you are offered. In the United Arab Emirates it is impolite to show the soles of your feet and you would usually remove your shoes before entering a house. In Bahrain, you should use a person’s title with their first name when greeting each other and you should avoid using their first name only unless you have been invited to do so. Discussing Islam and the King is best avoided in Jordan and public shows of affection should also be avoided.

 

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