3aib on you! 11 Normal things considered shameful in the Middle East

Published December 4th, 2016 - 09:05 GMT

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Sociologists have long claimed that civilization has used fear, shame and guilt as the social building blocks for societies worldwide.

In the Middle East in particular, leading sociologists describe countries of the region as ‘honor/shame societies’ as opposed to the ‘guilt based’ cultures in their Western counterparts. Continue reading below »

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As with most things, ‘3aib’ comes down harder on women. A woman seen smoking cigarettes in public is 3eeb in a number of MENA countries as it suggests she has loose morals. Some even go as far as to frown on women smoking argeeleh.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11As with most things, ‘3aib’ comes down harder on women. A woman seen smoking cigarettes in public is 3eeb in a number of MENA countries as it suggests she has loose morals. Some even go as far as to frown on women smoking argeeleh.

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When sitting in the company of elders or tribal leaders, both men and women should be wary of getting too comfortable. Crossing one’s legs in front of elders is viewed as disrespectful. 3aib 3aleekum!
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Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11When sitting in the company of elders or tribal leaders, both men and women should be wary of getting too comfortable. Crossing one’s legs in front of elders is viewed as disrespectful. 3aib 3aleekum!

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Another point to keep in mind for the ladies in order to not hang their heads in shame is not to venture out with wet hair! Indeed, wet hair indicates that you just showered, which in turn implies not only that you have good hygiene, but you probably just had sex. The horror!
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Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11Another point to keep in mind for the ladies in order to not hang their heads in shame is not to venture out with wet hair! Indeed, wet hair indicates that you just showered, which in turn implies not only that you have good hygiene, but you probably just had sex. The horror!

Enlarge
As if just being a woman wasn’t shameful enough, women’s voices are also problematic. Women should not speak, sing or laugh too loudly, for fear of being perceived as attention-seeking and thus having poor morals. Sois belle et tais toi!
Reduce

Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11As if just being a woman wasn’t shameful enough, women’s voices are also problematic. Women should not speak, sing or laugh too loudly, for fear of being perceived as attention-seeking and thus having poor morals. Sois belle et tais toi!

Enlarge
Further down the line of dodgy ‘3aib’ things is ...dancing! This concerns both sexes but women more. Men should remain manly and not degrade themselves by dancing, lest they be compared to women. In fact men should avoid being like women in any way. Women are also advised not to bust a move in front of others. We say “boring!”
Reduce

Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11Further down the line of dodgy ‘3aib’ things is ...dancing! This concerns both sexes but women more. Men should remain manly and not degrade themselves by dancing, lest they be compared to women. In fact men should avoid being like women in any way. Women are also advised not to bust a move in front of others. We say “boring!”

Enlarge
There is something about women and mobility which strikes fear into the hearts of shamers everywhere. Women riding bicycles is still a controversial concept in the Middle East, baffling the rest of us. Is it viewed as a threat to a woman’s virginity or just unsettling to see women on the move?
Reduce

Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11There is something about women and mobility which strikes fear into the hearts of shamers everywhere. Women riding bicycles is still a controversial concept in the Middle East, baffling the rest of us. Is it viewed as a threat to a woman’s virginity or just unsettling to see women on the move?

Enlarge
Ah yes, the power of women’s seductive glances could stop traffic, it is known. Mere eye contact with the opposite sex can be misconstrued as a ‘come hither’ look if one is not careful. It is best advised to walk around with our eyes closed, just to be on the safe side.
Reduce

Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Ah yes, the power of women’s seductive glances could stop traffic, it is known. Mere eye contact with the opposite sex can be misconstrued as a ‘come hither’ look if one is not careful. It is best advised to walk around with our eyes closed, just to be on the safe side.

Enlarge
Men beware! To be seen chewing gum is once again viewed as an attempt to copy women and is therefore insulting to your precious manhood. Don’t do it, even if you’ve been eating way too much garlic!
Reduce

Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11Men beware! To be seen chewing gum is once again viewed as an attempt to copy women and is therefore insulting to your precious manhood. Don’t do it, even if you’ve been eating way too much garlic!

Enlarge
Another shameful predicament is for a man to be seen driven around by a woman. Men ‘should’ be the leader and it’s assumed he is a better driver and that women are nervous behind the wheel. So this is must be the issue Saudis are having…
Reduce

Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11Another shameful predicament is for a man to be seen driven around by a woman. Men ‘should’ be the leader and it’s assumed he is a better driver and that women are nervous behind the wheel. So this is must be the issue Saudis are having…

Enlarge
Don’t laze about! Women lying on the ground or lounging in the presence of men is considered ‘3aib’ as it is sexually suggestive. Or maybe you getting too chill is just not okay. No Arab-man-pose for you, ladies!
Reduce

Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11Don’t laze about! Women lying on the ground or lounging in the presence of men is considered ‘3aib’ as it is sexually suggestive. Or maybe you getting too chill is just not okay. No Arab-man-pose for you, ladies!

Enlarge
Should one be riding a donkey (or a bicycle - as these are obviously interchangeable) and come across men seated on the side of the road, one should dismount to greet them with ‘Assalam waleykum.’ If you don’t, it’s 3aib. And if you are too weak to dismount, just don’t say anything at all.
Reduce

Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11Should one be riding a donkey (or a bicycle - as these are obviously interchangeable) and come across men seated on the side of the road, one should dismount to greet them with ‘Assalam waleykum.’ If you don’t, it’s 3aib. And if you are too weak to dismount, just don’t say anything at all.

Enlarge

1

As with most things, ‘3aib’ comes down harder on women. A woman seen smoking cigarettes in public is 3eeb in a number of MENA countries as it suggests she has loose morals. Some even go as far as to frown on women smoking argeeleh.

Image 1 of 11As with most things, ‘3aib’ comes down harder on women. A woman seen smoking cigarettes in public is 3eeb in a number of MENA countries as it suggests she has loose morals. Some even go as far as to frown on women smoking argeeleh.

2

When sitting in the company of elders or tribal leaders, both men and women should be wary of getting too comfortable. Crossing one’s legs in front of elders is viewed as disrespectful. 3aib 3aleekum!

Image 2 of 11When sitting in the company of elders or tribal leaders, both men and women should be wary of getting too comfortable. Crossing one’s legs in front of elders is viewed as disrespectful. 3aib 3aleekum!

3

Another point to keep in mind for the ladies in order to not hang their heads in shame is not to venture out with wet hair! Indeed, wet hair indicates that you just showered, which in turn implies not only that you have good hygiene, but you probably just had sex. The horror!

Image 3 of 11Another point to keep in mind for the ladies in order to not hang their heads in shame is not to venture out with wet hair! Indeed, wet hair indicates that you just showered, which in turn implies not only that you have good hygiene, but you probably just had sex. The horror!

4

As if just being a woman wasn’t shameful enough, women’s voices are also problematic. Women should not speak, sing or laugh too loudly, for fear of being perceived as attention-seeking and thus having poor morals. Sois belle et tais toi!

Image 4 of 11As if just being a woman wasn’t shameful enough, women’s voices are also problematic. Women should not speak, sing or laugh too loudly, for fear of being perceived as attention-seeking and thus having poor morals. Sois belle et tais toi!

5

Further down the line of dodgy ‘3aib’ things is ...dancing! This concerns both sexes but women more. Men should remain manly and not degrade themselves by dancing, lest they be compared to women. In fact men should avoid being like women in any way. Women are also advised not to bust a move in front of others. We say “boring!”

Image 5 of 11Further down the line of dodgy ‘3aib’ things is ...dancing! This concerns both sexes but women more. Men should remain manly and not degrade themselves by dancing, lest they be compared to women. In fact men should avoid being like women in any way. Women are also advised not to bust a move in front of others. We say “boring!”

6

There is something about women and mobility which strikes fear into the hearts of shamers everywhere. Women riding bicycles is still a controversial concept in the Middle East, baffling the rest of us. Is it viewed as a threat to a woman’s virginity or just unsettling to see women on the move?

Image 6 of 11There is something about women and mobility which strikes fear into the hearts of shamers everywhere. Women riding bicycles is still a controversial concept in the Middle East, baffling the rest of us. Is it viewed as a threat to a woman’s virginity or just unsettling to see women on the move?

7

Ah yes, the power of women’s seductive glances could stop traffic, it is known. Mere eye contact with the opposite sex can be misconstrued as a ‘come hither’ look if one is not careful. It is best advised to walk around with our eyes closed, just to be on the safe side.

Image 7 of 11Ah yes, the power of women’s seductive glances could stop traffic, it is known. Mere eye contact with the opposite sex can be misconstrued as a ‘come hither’ look if one is not careful. It is best advised to walk around with our eyes closed, just to be on the safe side.

8

Men beware! To be seen chewing gum is once again viewed as an attempt to copy women and is therefore insulting to your precious manhood. Don’t do it, even if you’ve been eating way too much garlic!

Image 8 of 11Men beware! To be seen chewing gum is once again viewed as an attempt to copy women and is therefore insulting to your precious manhood. Don’t do it, even if you’ve been eating way too much garlic!

9

Another shameful predicament is for a man to be seen driven around by a woman. Men ‘should’ be the leader and it’s assumed he is a better driver and that women are nervous behind the wheel. So this is must be the issue Saudis are having…

Image 9 of 11Another shameful predicament is for a man to be seen driven around by a woman. Men ‘should’ be the leader and it’s assumed he is a better driver and that women are nervous behind the wheel. So this is must be the issue Saudis are having…

10

Don’t laze about! Women lying on the ground or lounging in the presence of men is considered ‘3aib’ as it is sexually suggestive. Or maybe you getting too chill is just not okay. No Arab-man-pose for you, ladies!

Image 10 of 11Don’t laze about! Women lying on the ground or lounging in the presence of men is considered ‘3aib’ as it is sexually suggestive. Or maybe you getting too chill is just not okay. No Arab-man-pose for you, ladies!

11

Should one be riding a donkey (or a bicycle - as these are obviously interchangeable) and come across men seated on the side of the road, one should dismount to greet them with ‘Assalam waleykum.’ If you don’t, it’s 3aib. And if you are too weak to dismount, just don’t say anything at all.

Image 11 of 11Should one be riding a donkey (or a bicycle - as these are obviously interchangeable) and come across men seated on the side of the road, one should dismount to greet them with ‘Assalam waleykum.’ If you don’t, it’s 3aib. And if you are too weak to dismount, just don’t say anything at all.

Reduce

In such social paradigms, behaviour and reputation is everything as it plays a key role in upholding the honor of the family or tribe. On the other hand, not living up to the standards set for maintaining one’s honor is what brings shame on an individual which in turn reflects on his or her family; this is where the concept of ‘3eeb’ comes into to play. Native middle-easterners or foreigners who’ve lived in MENA for awhile know what we’re talking about.

Although often used interchangeably with the infamous ‘haram’ in Arabic, what constitutes ‘3aib’ has nothing to do with religion. Rather, what will cause someone to cry “3aib!” (shame!) or “3aib 3aleek” (shame on you!) is determined entirely by social cues which are mostly rules of obvious courtesy, etiquette and good behaviour. But sometimes the obsession with honor and shame has taken on absolutely ridiculous proportions and its rules can baffle you.

In fact, Arabs take the concept of honor and shame so seriously it has led to some pretty awful consequences. In extreme cases, acts of violence such as revenge, honor killings or suicide are considered the only way to remove shame and have honor restored.

However there are some 3aib do’s and don’ts which can take even the most seasoned foreign veteran by surprise. Here’s Al Bawaba’s foolproof guide to some of the most surprising and downright bizarre things that are considered ‘3aib’ in the Arab world.

 

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