Libmonster ID: UZ-753
Author(s) of the publication: HAIFA TRABELSI



Post-graduate student of the Pushkin State Institute of Russian Language

Etiquette Keywords:Arab and Muslim countriesofficial business relationsdiplomatic protocol

A professional diplomat tries to avoid displaying personal traits of his character and cultural affiliation during official communication. However, when preparing for negotiations or a meal on a particular occasion, he can not ignore the cultural characteristics of another country.

In this article, the author will try to reveal a number of issues related to the peculiarities of Muslim etiquette, rules of conduct that may arise among diplomats, foreign businessmen, representatives of the business community during official negotiations with partners, meetings at the highest level or in everyday situations, when directly contacting representatives of Muslim ethnic groups.

Special attention will be paid to the diplomatic etiquette of Arab-Muslim countries and the main specific elements of Arab behavior that need to be paid attention to during official communication and in informal settings.


When getting acquainted, Arabs show themselves to be open to communication, cordial and sincere, they can easily talk to a stranger on the street, in transport, in public places and at official meetings. Although Arab etiquette and rules of conduct are based on the values and principles of Islam, which affects almost all spheres of human life and activity, however, an educated Muslim Arab is usually not interested in the religion of his interlocutor and does not consider a non-Muslim a second-class person, as some researchers write.

The Muslim world includes a large number of countries that can be roughly divided into "Arab" and "non-Arab". However, even within these groups, each country has its own specific characteristics that distinguish it from other neighboring States. Therefore, it is a mistake, for example, to assume that all countries of the Arab world have exactly the same traditions and customs, the manner of behavior of Arabs, including the features of building business relations with foreign partners at the international level. Let's give the following example: during the state visit of the leader of one of the Gulf states to Russia, representatives of his embassy had to explain to the Russian side why it is not customary in their country to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as is traditionally customary under Russian protocol. But this does not mean that this country does not honor the memory of fallen soldiers: the tradition of honoring the heroically dead in these countries is somewhat different. This applies mainly to some countries of the Persian Gulf.

However, such a ceremony exists in the protocol of Tunisia, Algeria and other Muslim countries, including non-Arab ones, such as Pakistan. Thus, the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a press release for the media about the official visit of Pakistan's Foreign Minister H. R. Khar to Russia, said: "The Foreign Minister of Pakistan laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin Wall." 1

In business contacts, it is more difficult to tell whether the other person is a Muslim Arab or a Christian Arab until they indicate their religious affiliation, such as by attending a mosque or church.


There are a number of general principles that should guide communication in Muslim countries. The ritual of dating, particularly in Arab-Muslim society, is strictly defined. In an official setting, a man introduces himself to a woman first. Introducing a female partner to others

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If you are a member of the business community, you should definitely name her position or the position she holds.

It is customary to shake hands during a business meeting. The first hand is extended by a woman or a senior in status or official position. There remains a small but very important subtlety. A handshake from a Muslim woman is just a tribute to the fashion that came from the West, so it is still recommended to wait for the initiative on her part. In Iran, it is generally not customary for a man to shake hands with a woman.

In some Muslim countries, women are still prohibited from touching men unless they are among her closest relatives. For example, how do women pay a taxi driver? They put the money in a special spoon, and from the spoon they transfer it to the driver's hands...

The traditions of Arab-Muslim countries categorically prohibit a man from kissing a woman's hand or giving her a kiss on the cheek (as is customary in Western business circles). This sign of greeting and respect, and sometimes admiration, can cause a scandal and controversy. To avoid this situation, former Egyptian Ambassador Abdel Fattah Shabbana advises an Arab woman not to extend her hand, but only to nod her head, and to make sure that "there is always a purse or handkerchief in her hand" 2.

In Arabic etiquette, it is permissible to express your joy when meeting an acquaintance. Male interlocutors can hold each other's hands for a while without breaking up the handshake during a short conversation and exchange of compliments, and the left hand is placed on the already clasped right hands. The Arabic greeting, unlike the short European greeting, is a ritual. When meeting in Arab countries, men embrace, lightly touch each other's cheeks, pat each other on the back and shoulder, but such signs of attention are possible only between "friends" and do not apply to foreigners (usually non - Muslims), if they are not close friends. During the greeting, questions are asked about your health and personal affairs. The answer should be formal and short: the point of the question is not to find out details from the guest's life, but just an expression of politeness.

Personal contacts play an essential role in resolving business issues. When maintaining contact with an Arab, it is necessary to take into account both speech and non-speech (non-verbal) forms of communication, and to show the highest degree of respect and courtesy. For Arabs, the words and context of the utterance, accompanied by correct gestures and facial expressions, are of great importance. You need to think carefully about your speech before the meeting, even if it is informal.

One of the Russian researchers of etiquette and behavior V. Birkenbil gives in his book "The language of intonation, facial expressions, gestures" a very interesting example about the features of the Arabic style of negotiation and the role of successful and unsuccessful choice of verbal expressions, facial expressions, looks, gestures or intonation:

"A few years ago, the following incident occurred in London: three Arabs and three Englishmen met in one of the hotels to hold preliminary talks. During the negotiations, one of the Arabs touched a lighter belonging to one of the Englishmen, and in order not to interrupt the speaker, he asked his permission to use it with a glance. The man nodded his head in permission without interrupting. A few moments later, a colleague of the owner of the lighter looked for it, and, not finding it in the right place, interrupted the speaker with the question: "Where is your lighter?". The latter, annoyed at being distracted, said with an aggressive, irritated intonation, pointing at the Arab: "He has my lighter,"and continued the interrupted thought, or rather, wanted to continue. Stunned, he saw that the Arabs, after exchanging glances with each other, simultaneously got up and left the room."

Why? The fact is that the Arabs interpreted the irritated intonation of the Englishman as dissatisfaction and disagreement with the fact that one of the members of the Arab delegation borrowed a lighter from him. Accordingly, it turns out that there was a misunderstanding between the members of the communication and something happened that the British did not expect at all. It would be better to say: "My lighter is with him" or "My lighter is there"3.


In the diplomatic environment, Arab and Muslim leaders try to limit themselves as much as possible to the missile defense schedule-

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programs and an agenda. However, it should be borne in mind that Muslims do not like too short a daily schedule and any changes in the business program. This fact can be explained by the fact that the Arabs belong to the representatives of the "polyactive type of cultures". Professor N. M. Gromova writes that "the peoples representing this type of culture largely rely on oral information obtained by them in the course of numerous interviews, negotiations, business conversations, etc." 4

Among Arabs, the order of cases is determined by the degree of relative attractiveness and significance. An Arab doesn't like to make promises when he's not in full control of the situation. There is even an old Arabic proverb that says: "I gave my word, I gave my neck" (meaning "life"), and this means that there is no turning back.

A promise from an Arab has always meant and means his honor and dignity as a respected man. Therefore, "in sha' Allah "(lit: "if God wills"; "if it is the will of Allah") it became one of the most popular Arabic expressions after greeting " as-Salamu alaikum "(literally:"peace be upon you"). Here is an example from the same book by W. Birkenbil-a dialogue between an Arab and his business partner from Germany:

German: So, Mohammed, we meet tomorrow at ten?

Arab: If it is the will of Allah! (in sha ' allah)

German: Or are you more comfortable at eleven?

Arab: Eleven, so eleven is OK.

German: So, eleven o'clock then, right?

Arab: If it is the will of Allah! (in sha ' allah)

The author says that " many Germans said that from these eternal "If it is the will of Allah!" or evasive answers ("Yes, it is possible", etc.), they get the impression that the partner is not satisfied with the proposed option"5. Of course, it is necessary to take into account the religious factor, which significantly affects the life of any Muslim, regardless of the degree of his piety. This should be understood as follows: "I will try to ensure that everything is as agreed. If something went wrong or the agreement was broken, it's not my fault anymore. So Allah willed.".. In diplomatic relations, however, this expression is used less often than in everyday life or in other areas of communication.


One of the most important rituals of diplomatic protocol is the exchange of gifts, which are mostly souvenirs. Business gifts are exchanged at official meetings, before or after negotiations, by agreement or custom of these countries. This question must be clarified during the preparation of the visit. In many Arab countries, it is not customary for the head of delegation to receive gifts in person, especially if he holds a high position (minister or higher). Usually, gifts should be sent through the accompanying persons of the delegation. All conditions are stipulated in advance: who, to whom, when and where will present the gift.

Arabs appreciate being treated with attention and a warm welcome. The Arabs and Muslims themselves are very hospitable, and their cordiality is addressed to everyone equally, whether a friend has come to them or a stranger: an atmosphere of warm hospitality will be created for everyone.

The norms of diplomatic protocol and etiquette are also based on the unconditional observance of customs and rules of conduct in the host country, although, at times, they can be very unusual for foreigners. Thus, in preparation for an official visit to a number of Persian Gulf countries, a Russian energy company developed its own internal regulations for relations with Arab partners. It states that the rules of Islam dictate almost completely closed, opaque clothing. This document describes a possible form of clothing for a man, which involves covering the entire part of his body, up to the knees in dense opaque clothing.

In the Muslim code, the clothing of men and women differs even in the types of fabric: a man, for example, cannot wear silk clothing in some countries. For a woman, if possible, the most closed clothes, low-key makeup, very light perfume and styled hair, especially if they are long. It is recommended to cover your head with a headscarf. This is considered a sign of respect, on the one hand, for oneself and the members of the delegation with whom it came, and on the other hand, for the country that hosts the delegation.

It is important to note that women are increasingly present in negotiations with representatives of Arab and Muslim countries, even in countries with strict canons themselves. Business women try very hard to adhere to all the norms of politeness and traditions. Visitors from other countries, especially to Saudi Arabia or Iran, should take into account these religious and national traditions, and they should be dressed modestly.

During their visits, the Arabs carefully study all the details, including a detailed discussion of the food menu. Of course, everyone knows about the ban on pork, alcohol, and gelatin in Muslim food (if possible, it is better to use halal food).

Each Muslim country has its own specific features of business communication and etiquette. This specificity is usually determined by the degree of subordination of these countries to the traditions of Islam. Despite this, business etiquette, for example, in Arab countries, still has common features and features.

In the process of making foreign policy decisions, special attention is paid to:

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the influence is undoubtedly exerted by the religious factor. Prominent Russian Arabist A. B. Podtserob explains in his article that "the greatest influence of the Muslim religion on the development of foreign policy positions can be traced to statesmen who adhere to traditionalist or Renaissance views, to a lesser extent - to supporters of reformist views"6. But the Arab-Muslim world is far from homogeneous, and this fact cannot but affect the methods of conducting business negotiations. For example, as Russian diplomats who have worked in Egypt in different periods of time correctly noted, the Egyptians participating in the negotiations are characterized by a sense of national pride and respect for the historical traditions of their country. They are very sensitive to issues related to national independence. Egyptians are characterized by strict and rather well-developed administrative rules of conduct.

The development of etiquette is greatly influenced by the ethical norms of behavior of various strata of society, religious rites, as well as national customs and traditions of the country. The form of refusal in the speech of an Arab, whether he is a diplomat or an ordinary citizen, is always beautifully colored. For Arabs, from the point of view of their mentality, it is indecent to categorically refuse the interlocutor and say "no". A sharp refusal is considered rather rude behavior, so they prefer to soften the denial somewhat with a phrase, for example, " Yes, but...". The refusal of the transaction is accompanied by reservations and praise in favor of the proposal under discussion.

Vladimir Lopato-Zagorsky, the first Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to Syria and Lebanon, said in an interview with one of the Minsk political publications:: "In the East, you need to be able to wait: all decisions are made only after a thorough review of partners. Arabs build cooperation on trust, and trust is earned over the years. This means that you need to "lay down" a long period of time for long-term projects. During negotiations, it is important to carefully monitor the behavior of partners. As a rule, an Arab diplomat will not refuse directly on any issue. You should understand in time: where " Yes "is a positive answer, and where" Yes " is a veiled refusal. This is the main subtlety of Arab diplomacy."

L. N. Latypov, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies and International Relations of Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University, in an interview with the Islam information portal.<url> notes that " Russian foreign institutions prefer to send Muslims as diplomats to Islamic countries, because it is easier for them to establish contacts and conduct diplomatic work... I am convinced that an Oriental diplomat would like to know the opening surah of the Qur'an, Al-Fatiha, for an initial understanding of the Islamic mentality. " 7

Here is an example of the influence of historical events on the establishment of etiquette in one of the Islamic countries.

Why don't Iranian officials wear a tie," black tie "or" white tie"*, and their shirts don't have the usual collar? Kambiz Tavana, a host of Ford's Iranian radio station, explains :" This feature has its roots in the Islamic revolution, when ties-a symbol of Western culture - were opposed not only by Islamists, but also by leftists and socialists. And so the tie was banned. No one talks about it officially, nor is it written in the books, but everyone knows about it. In Iran, men wear suits. A suit is the most formal Western style of clothing. They kept the suit, but refused the tie. However, now people who feel more independent, wear ties. Although at the government level, everything that was introduced by the revolutionary changes has remained " 8.

* * *

The Arab-Muslim world is very heterogeneous. Each country is characterized by its own traditions, customs, level of cultural and spiritual development, which somehow distinguish it from others. During official visits, negotiations, and building business relationships, it is necessary to take into account the national specifics of each country separately. Of course, at the official-business level, participants try not to demonstrate, for example, a national style of negotiation, especially if there is a significant overlap of views and interests, but in conflict situations, national differences still come to the fore.

These are some features of the Arab-Muslim style of communication that cannot be generalized, but which should be paid attention to.

* Note about the dress code on official invitations: "white tie "(white bow tie, formal suit)," black tie " (black bow tie, formal evening suit).


Abdel Fattah Muhammed Shabbana. 'Adab at-ta'amul wa-l-'itikit. (Communication with people and etiquette) Cairo, 2002, p. 38.

Birkenbil V. 3 Language of intonation, facial expressions, gestures - files/kl2.htm

Gromova N. M. 4 Cross-cultural business communication in the sphere of interethnic cooperation - 2523CF40A84DC3256B8E00471DlE/category y.html

Birkenbil V. 5 Yazyk intonatsii [Language of intonation]...

Podtserob A. B. 6 The Islamic factor and the process of making foreign policy decisions - 08 - 12 - 07.htm

Latypov L. N. 7 "It is desirable for every diplomat in an Islamic country to know Fatiha" - 3093

8 transcript/24211335.html


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