Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hospitality in the Middle East (Good & Bad)

I know this because I've experienced it myself, Arabs are generous and value generosity in others. Hospitality toward guests is essential for a good reputation. Arab hospitality requires that refreshments must always be offered to guests. When anything is offered, it is considered polite for the guest to decline at least twice before accepting, and for the host to offer at least three times before finally accepting a guest’s negative response. Arabs are generous people.

Is there anybody out there that would like to comment on this or has had an experience with Arab hospitality? Yes I was in the military and in the desert so I know about hospitality and non-hospitable situations. For my blog I will take both the good and the bad experiences of hospitality in the Middle-East. I would love to here from you.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Islam and Muslims The Kabaa

Did you know (I know most of you do) that Muslims throughout the world face the Kaaba during prayers, which are five times a day. For most places around the world, coordinates for Mecca in Saudi Arabia suffice.

But did you know that a significant feature of the Kaaba is the Black Stone, also called al-Hajar-ul-Aswad, which is believed by some Muslims to date back to the time of Adam and Eve. It is about 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter, is located on the Eastern corner of the Kaaba, and is surrounded by a silver frame. When Muslims come to Mecca to perform the Hajj, one of the tasks which they try to accomplish is to kiss the Black Stone, as Muhammad once kissed it.

Tradition has it that the Black Stone is a meteor that was white when it came to earth, but it black under the burden of peoples' sins. (Smokeybones)

Monday, January 21, 2008


I am hoping people that have been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq or both can help me out here. I am looking for any information you may have on proper meeting etiquette. If you've been involved in mid to high level meetings and have an understanding of proper conduct during the meetings please leave me a post. Thank you very, very much.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Hi Everyone...Iraqi Etiquette

Sorry I've been busy and out. Please take the time to add my blog to your site if you wish. Also if you have any examples of proper etiquette please leave a comment.

Right now I am looking for updated information on proper IRAQI meeting etiquette. Say between mid-level to senior officers and Iraqi Sheiks or government officials. If you just got back from Iraq and have some examples, please let me know. Thank you

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saudi Arabia So What Do You Think About...

I wish I had thousands of trusty readers... because I would love to ask each and everyone of you... what do you think about the story in the news lately about that poor woman that was punished after she had been raped. Punished because she was with a man other than her husband!

Crazy! no excuse! inexcusable ! but can anyone tell me why this happens and why the men will get such light sentences after what they did? I know why, I just want to get some conversation going here. Smokeybones....

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Saudi Arabia

Between Muslims, the most common greeting is a handshake and the phrase As-Salaamu 'Alaykum (Peace be upon you). Frequently, males will follow up by extending the left hand to each other's right shoulder and kissing the right and left cheeks. The greeting used depends on the individuals' relationship and status in society. When accompanied by a woman wearing a veil, a man normally will not introduce her, and one does not expect to shake hands with her. The term for “Good morning” is Sabah al-Khair, and for “Good evening” it is Mesah al-Khair.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a beautiful and at time perplexing country to talk about. I really would like to provide you as much information as possible while trying to stay away from the more delicate subjects of Sharia Law which to Westerners seems harsh especially to women. Lets take some time discussing other subjects before we get to that.

Various social customs are well known in the Kingdom. Arabs traditionally use the right hand for all public functions — including shaking hands, eating, drinking, and passing objects to another person. Talking with one’s hands, or gesticulating wildly, may be considered impolite. It is also impolite to point the sole of the foot at the person to whom you are speaking. It is discourteous to ask about a man’s wife and daughters. One should ask after his "family and children." When tea and coffee are served, it could be considered impolite not to take at least one cup. When one is finished drinking, one should oscillate the cup to signal that a refill is not desired. If one is doing business in the Kingdom during Ramadan, it is best to refrain from drinking and eating when in the company of someone observing the fast.

Doing business in Saudi Arabia is somewhat more challenging for women. There is gender separation in the Kingdom. Many public places, like hotels and restaurants, will have family rooms where women are served with their husbands. Women are expected to dress conservatively, with long skirts most appropriate, sleeves at elbow length or longer, and necklines that are unrevealing. It is generally uncommon for a Muslim man to shake hands with a woman or engage in the conversational body contact that is common when speaking to another man, although Saudis who have experience with Western culture may be inclined to do so.

Please if you have more information about Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries please share with us... Smokeybones

Time in the Philippines

The pace of doing business in the Philippines is casual and leisurely, to say the least. Things usually unfold at a snail's pace that can be downright excruciating for the results-oriented Westerner. However, it has been like that here for centuries and current trends toward Westernized modes of business interaction have yet to make a significant dent in long-established custom. If you aren't a patient person, it might be a good idea to practice deep breathing and mental imagery; getting upset about it is probably going to be counterproductive.
The pace and content of meetings is different than Westerners are used to. There may be several minutes of small talk before getting down to business (about the stock market, basketball, the latest flap at MalacaƱang, whatever). People like to hang around afterwards for more of the same, even if the meeting itself has been tense. It would be impolite to hop up and immediately take your leave, even if you're running late for another meeting or you've just lost a difficult negotiation. Mend fences, leave with a smile and hearty farewell, and return to do battle another day.
I guess we Americans must understand that taking your time with small talk and such during business meetings in the Philippines is much the same as in Arab and other countries. I guess we just need to learn to slow down a bit. If anyone has more information please let us know. Thank you :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here are some Do's and Don't while traveling in Thailand:
- Thais DO NOT normally shake hands when they greet one another, but instead press the palms together. In a prayer-like gesture called a wai. Generally, a younger person wais an elder, who returns it. Watch how the Thais do it, and you will soon learn.

Like many (usually Muslim countries) It is considered rude to point your foot at a person, so try to avoid doing so when sitting opposite anyone, and following the conception that the foot is a low limb; DO NOT point your foot to show anything to anyone, but use your finger instead.

Like other cultures Thai's regard the head as the highest part of the body both literally and figuratively. As a result they DO NOT approve of touching anyone on the head, even in a friendly gesture. Similarly, if you watch Thai's in a social gathering, you will notice that young people go to considerable lengths to keep their heads lower than those of the elder ones, to avoid giving the impression of "looking down" on them. This is not always possible, of course, but it is the effort that counts.

Like other cultures, public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon. You may see some very Westernised young Thai couples holding hands, but that is the extent of the displaying of affection in this polite society.

Losing your temper, especially in public, will more than likely get you nowhere. The Thais think such displays denote poor manners, and you are more apt to get what you want by keeping a cool head and concealing your emotions.

DO NOT be surprised if you are addressed by your first name; for instance, Mr. Bob or Miss Mary instead of by your surname. This is because Thai's refer to one another in this manner, usually with the title "Khun" (Mr., Mrs., or Miss) in front. Follow the customs of any country as far as possible, and you will make more friends during your stay. The more friends you make, the more you will want to return to Thailand.

Please if you have more information do not hesitate to pass it on. Thailand is a beautiful country...knowing some of the local customs and some simple phrases will go a long way to making friends.... Thanks Smokeybones

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I had to put this comment out front its about Balut (something I ate while I was in the PI) Thanks Rammel Lex

Balut is a duck embryo, boiled and eaten with a pinch of salt or vinegar with chili to compliment its taste, is a famous delicacy here in the Philippines. An exotic food, a delicacy a foreigner should not miss.

Hand movement is not excessive in conversation, but Filipinos do use various hand and body gestures to communicate. Raising the eyebrows can mean “hello” or “yes.” To call someone over, one waves all fingers with the palm facing down. A quick head nod can mean “I don't know.” Filipinos often point by puckering the lips. A shoulder shrug with open palms facing up means Bahala na, a common expression meaning, “Accept what comes and bear it with hope and patience.” A widely opened mouth means “I don't understand.”
Men offer bus seats to women. Younger people kiss the hand of older relatives or place that hand on their forehead to show respect. Women commonly walk arm in arm or hand in hand, and men may put an arm around each other's shoulders, but displays of affection between men and women are considered inappropriate.

If anyone has more information on the Philippines please post it. I know we can get some good information on do's and don'ts and travel information. Smokeybones

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spain, Rota Spain

It's common courtesy to greet people with an 'hola' on entering a shop, restaurant or hotel – impress with an 'hasta luego' when you leave. If unsure when meeting someone for the first time, play it safe with a handshake, or reciprocate with a kiss if a cheek is offered.

Lunch is a leisurely affair, with locals lingering over their meal for a couple of hours or more at around 2pm, before snatching an afternoon siesta or some chill-out time. Consequently, dinner is eaten late, usually around 10 or so, and you won't have a problem ordering as late as 1am at weekends. Keep your hands above the table and if service isn't included, leave a 10 percent tip. While tempting with tasty tapas a go-go, never walk around eating sandwiches or the like in public - although ice-cream lovers are an exception to the rule.

While I was in the military, I spent almost 3 years in Spain. Believe me when we say, when you eat dinner, you eat late! If there are other military out their that were station in Rota or elsewhere in Spain, please post some of your experiences. Thanks Smokeybones... by the way, I just had to add in the patch. NSGA Rota was a great place when I was stationed there.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More on Japan

Politeness is extremely important; a direct “no” is seldom given, but a phrase like “I will think about it” can mean “no.” Also out of politeness, a “yes” may be given quickly, even though it only means the person is listening or understands the speaker's request. The Japanese feel an obligation to return favors and gifts. They honor age and tradition. “Losing face,” or being shamed in public, is very undesirable. Gaman (enduring patience) is a respected trait that carries one through personal hardship.What is amazing to me is that these same concepts, the concept of "Losing Face" is almost the same thing as "Shame" in Arab countries. In Arab countries, shame or shaming someone can and often will bring on strong emotions. Unfortunately, if you shame someone in an Arab country they may not react to it then and there but the will get even. What is also almost the same is the idea that out of politeness someone may say "yes" to something but it may not mean they will do it. Please if anyone has more information on this it would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


In Laos your head is 'high', your feet 'low', using your feet for anything other than walking or playing sports is generally considered rude. Do not point with your feet or toes and do not have your feet raised or propped up on tables. Isn't this interesting, it is bascially the same situation found in Arab countries. But a savvy traveler will understand that the method behind the idea is the religion.
Remember most all Muslim countries believe that the head is the closest part of the body to "God" so is therefore sacred while the feet are closest to...well you know where. So in Laos which is a Buddist country, they believe in almost the same idea.


Somali's greet each other by name or, in the case of relatives, by a word that shows their relationship (uncle, cousin, etc.). General greetings vary according to region and situation, but Nabad (Peace) is accepted almost everywhere. The common southern variation is Nabad miya? (Is there peace?). Its equivalent in the north is Ma nabad baa? The Islamic greeting Asalaamu aleikum (Peace be upon you) is a common formal greeting, to which the response is Aleikum ma salaam (And peace be upon you). Such phrases are followed by inquiries about the general health and welfare of the individual and an exchange of information. Iska warran? (What's the news?) and Maha la shegay? (What are people saying?) are used as a “How are you?” in some parts of the country.
Men firmly shake hands with each other three times before putting that hand to their hearts. Putting your hand to your heart is also the normal greeting in Arab countries.

In some southern areas, women shake hands with each other and then kiss the hand they have shaken. Somali of the opposite sex who are not related usually do not touch when meeting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I love the way the simple business card is treated in Japan and some other Asian countries. The business card is received with reverence, looked at closely, and never put in the wallet (a least in front of the person). In the extensive world of business travel, there must be someone out there willing to post a few sentences regarding their business cards in Japan. Thanks Smokeybones...

Cultural Do's and Don'ts

I am really looking for traveling professionals and world travelers to post their stories and pictures on what you've encountered in your travels. I would like this information to be available to other travelers, sort of a help site for knowledge about DO's and DONT's throughout the world.

I looking for people from other countries that are interested in letting people know what to expect when they travel to your country. I want this to be a friendly, helpful and insightful blog. Thank you Smokeybones...


I did not know that the typical American OK sign, you know the thumb and finger in a circle for OK is not a good thing in Brazil. This is the same in Arab countries, I know in most places it has to do with the "evil eye." Does anyone have anymore information on this? Thanks

Monday, November 12, 2007

Arab Culture

I would like to try to get a little more information on not showing the soles of your feet while sitting. I know it has something to do with the Koran. Can anyone go a little more in-depth on this?
I added information about the use or (non-use) of the left hand in Arab society to some of the training I am putting together. Does anyone have more information on this. Thank you