Six ways to master the art of Emirati etiquette

From advice on how to be a respectful guest to making sure coffee is brewed just right, Emirati etiquette expert Fatima Al Mughani is a trusted guardian of UAE traditions

Dubai, UAE.

The art of Emirati etiquette is safe in the hands of community champion Fatima Al Mughani.

Brought up to respect and uphold the country's traditions, she is now passing on her extensive knowledge to young Emiratis and expatriates alike.

Ms Al Mughani, 61, describes Emirati etiquette as the rules that regulate the behaviour of individuals, which reflect the inherent values of UAE society.

Here is Fatima's step-by-step guide to making the right impression in important social situations.

Observe customs of coffee

In a male gathering, after welcoming the guest, the host will serve Emirati coffee, from the right to the left, unless there were an elderly or an important person in the majlis then he should serve them first.

The person should hold the coffee cups in his right hand and the coffee pot in his left hand and lean forward while serving the coffee while keeping a slight distance between him and the guest.

The coffee should be hot which indicates that the coffee has been specially made to the guest which also shows respect and generosity.

Less than half of the cup should be filled with coffee and the guest should shake the cup after drinking the coffee if he does not want a refill.

The person who offers the coffee should not interrupt any ongoing conversation and he should keep standing while serving coffee.

In a female gathering, the woman who serves coffee is allowed to sit while offering coffee to others.

In any gathering, guests should take the cup using their right hand and give it back once they are done using the same hand.

Dates will be also offered at the majlis along with other traditional sweets and snacks.

The guest should avoid refusing any food or drinks offered and should show respect and appreciation.

The handshake

When entering a majlis, the person should start shaking the hands of guests from the right to the left, unless there is a well-known figure among them or an elderly person, who would take priority.

Besides the handshake, nose-to-nose greeting and kissing the top of a person’s head are other Emirati ways to greet others and show respect.

Respecting the House

Guests and visitors should take off their shoes before entering an Emirati house.

How to sit in a majlis

Avoid crossing knees while sitting up in a majlis as it can be a sign of arrogance. When sat on a floor, do not squat.

Lunch invitation

In many situations, the guest would be invited to have lunch and when the food is served, the host should wait until the guest starts eating in order to eat and should not leave the table before the guest.

Leaving a house or a majlis

When leaving the guests should shake hands with the host and others and show appreciation for their hospitality and kindness.