The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially announced the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as a pandemic

As cases continue to rise across the globe and in the Arab world, strict measures are being taken by governments to try and stop its spread. 

In the region, there are things we can also do as individuals to help with that including staying at home, implementing proper hygiene, and keeping away from a few Arab traditions that may help spread the virus further. 

Here are a few of them:  

1. Three-kiss greetings

As Arabs, we're known for our traditional warm greetings that involve at least two and sometimes even three kisses. 

These will have to stop if we're going to have any chance to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the region. 

2. Nose-to-nose salams

Nose-to-nose greetings - aka Eskimo kisses - have been part of Arab and Khaleeji traditions for such a long time it's going to be hard to forgo them but it's also extremely necessary. 

Some governments in Gulf countries including the UAE have strictly warned against such greetings amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

3. Shisha

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Even if the hoses are cleaned out, health experts warn that people should stay away from smoking shishas during this outbreak. 

In compliance with that, several Arab cities including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha have issued bans on hookas in hotels, cafés, and restaurants. 

4. Serving coffee in busy streets

This tradition exists across Arab countries and is detrimental to the hygienic rules we're expected to follow during this outbreak. 

Though some Arabic/Turkish coffee street-sellers do serve in disposable cups, the majority use glassware and simply give cups a rinse with water between serves. 

5. Using seb7as

Refraining from using seb7as is a must these days because our hands can carry the illness' germs and transfer them to objects like the seb7a. 

Unless you want to keep sanitizing it all day, it's better to avoid using it altogether. 

6. Dabke

Unfortunately, all it takes to get the virus into your system is to hold an infected person's hand and then touch your face. Therefore, dabke rings are a no-no at this point. 

7. Playing "tawle"

Because this traditional board game involves touching dice and moving wooden fixtures, it's better to avoid it at the time being. 

That's unless you can refrain from touching your face throughout a game. 

8. Games of "wara2 shadde"

Staying away from our favorite traditional card games will do us good in the next few weeks, so will keeping our hands sanitized and avoiding crowds. 

Stay safe, everyone!