"If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart." - Arab proverb.
When it comes to hospitality, Arabs are in a league of our own. We take hospitality - a key Arab virtue - very seriously, using every opportunity to honor our guests to the best of our abilities.
We have most probably inherited this outpouring hospitality and generosity from Arab Bedouins, especially those in the Arabian Peninsula, who depended on each other's kindness to survive the desert's harsh climate, particularly during travels.
Hospitality and overall generosity still run deep among most Arabs until this very day:
1. The gates of hell break loose when it's time to pay the check
Splitting the bill is a foreign concept among adults in the Arab world.
Chaos usually erupts whenever it's time for Arabs to pay the check at a restaurant. All adults at the table race to get their hands on it, hoping to be 'the bigger person.'
Things get heated in the battle that features phrases like "3ayb" and"walaw", along with threats like "I'll never go out with you again if you don't let me pay".
2. Three-course meals? Not in Arab 3azeemas
When it comes to Arab 3azeemas (banquets) it's go big or go home. We just love to honor our guests with the most glorious feasts.
You can't possibly go to an Arab 3azeema and eat light. First, you will be met with some pre-meal snacks, featuring bowls of roasted nuts and bizir (dried seeds), plus carrots dressed in lemon juice.
When it's time to feast, you will be treated to 5+ types of appetizers and salads, a couple of main courses with several things on the side to choose from. Then comes coffee, fruits and lots of dessert. Make sure you come hungry, as not eating is a major offense.
3. Hosts leave no stone unturned to honor guests
Whether it's a morning sobhiyya or a family party, Arab hosts put meticulous thought into every 3azeema. They usually take their guests' preferences into consideration and make sure to offer everything their guests usually like.
You smoke shisha? Your host will probably have your favorite flavor ready beforehand. On a diet? Your host will hook you up with some healthy alternatives. Someone asked for orange juice? Your host will call the neighborhood dukkan (mini-market) and have some delivered.
4. Arabs don't take no for an answer
Oh, your will power is strong enough to resist the tempting food you're being offered? Well, too bad ... your Arab host won't take no for an answer.
Honoring one's guests is an Arab virtue, which means that hosts are increasingly worried that their guests are not comfortable and often think that they are too shy to eat more. "La test'hi" (don't be shy) they say, as they scoop you another plateful.
You will see the same persistence when you say that it's time for you to leave, after which they will insist that it's still too early ... five hours later.
5. You get boxes of food to-go after parties
Arab hosts' efforts to put as much food as possible into your system don't actually end when the food is served. They go on until the very end of the 3azeema or party, when hosts take out Tupperwares and fill them with leftovers for you to take home. Again, they won't take no for an answer.
Restaurant service has got nothing on Arab hosts!
6. Teta's mission: leave no mouth un-full
It's a whole new level of generosity when it comes to Arab grandmothers, whose outpouring love is best portrayed with vast amounts of food. You're never nourished enough when teta is around. You will have breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert in a one-hour visit. It's inevitable.