Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
In one sentence, I’m in Saudi Arabia for work for 5 weeks, alone and if you haven’t already read my previous post, you can read it here.
I don’t get to interact with many women in the Arab world but I do interact in a work context with a lot of men on a daily basis. I find that almost all Arab men treat me with courtesy and kindness. I’ve only had a couple of uncomfortable experiences, which is less than I’ve had in Australia! In one instance a man in a position of authority chastised me unrelentingly for the way that I greeted him in Arabic (I used the greeting that my Arabic teacher insisted I should use). Another time (on my first trip to an Arab country), I first checked with my colleague if I should offer to shake hands in a business meeting; he insisted that I should. So, I walked up to a young Arab man dressed immaculately in a brilliant white thobe and extended my hand while introducing myself. He took a step backwards, lifted his hand to his chest and explained that Arab men are not allowed to touch the hand of a woman. I was mortified and so was he. Since then I keep my hand by my side and only shake hands if the man offers his hand first. About 70% of men greet me with a handshake and the majority of others will still greet me with a smile and kind words. So, my lesson from those two experiences is to trust my instincts and not simply follow the assurances of others.
I had a really good day with lots of positive interactions and here are a couple of vignettes from today: