Arabs: The Most Welcoming People In the World

On our travels around the Globe we have gotten help from many people from many places. We have experienced the hospitality and generosity of Hawaiians, Australians, Englishmen, Americans, Thais, Canadians and Swiss. But by far the most welcoming during our trip were our friends of Arab descent. From Ali and his family in Australia who helped us buy (and sell) a car to Nader in Alexandrya and Mohammed and Khalid in the Western Desert, we had friends who would go well out of their way to make sure we were taken care of at every step.
Although Cairo was difficult because of the touts that took advantage of us, we were amazed at the friendliness of the average Egyptian on the street. We were treated like family whenever we interacted with Arabians. The big smiles and cries of “Welcome to Egypt!” seemed heartfelt and genuine. Most asked where we were from and when when we said, “America”, they replied, “Amerika! Great People” (although, understandably, a few did mutter something about Bush afterwards). Children in Alexandrya would chase after us shouting “Hello! Hi! Hello! Fantastic!” and college-aged kids would greet us with a smile and a handshake.
Everywhere we went in Egypt we were treated with warmth and welcome. This is one of the reasons that the touts in touristy areas are so annoying: they take advantage of that Egyptian hospitality and can leave you with the impression that Egyptians are always out to get something. In our experience 99% of the Arabs/Egyptians we ran into were genuine in their hospitality.
Some of the lengths our Arab hosts went to in helping us bordered on ridiculousness. Ali (originally from Lebanon) in Australia spent the better part of two days helping us buy a car and then later organized its sale when we left the country. He is a VERY busy developer and the only connection we had to him was remote: our friend Brad was a college-buddy of his brother’s.
Nader in Egypt, who knew us only through his brother in Portland, Hassan (whose restaurant we frequent), wanted to drive 3 hours to pick us up at the Cairo airport for a 6 AM flight! We managed to talk him out of that, but he spent 3 days showing us around in Alexandrya and was disappointed because we did not stay for a whole week. He tried to pay for everything while we were together and we did manage to pay he made sure we got the lowest price possible.
Perhaps it is unfair to generalize based on our limited experience. There certainly are places in the Middle East that would not be as friendly to Americans as in Egypt. But as far as Ali and Nader (and others) were concerned we were part of their extended family, and we were treated as such. It is hard to imagine than an Arab visiting the US would receive such a warm welcome from the average American. But they would from us now, that’s for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *