Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why Arab Men Rub Noses, Kiss Cheeks, and Hold Hands

Don't let your thoughts go very far if you see Arab men greeting each other by nose-rubbing or cheek-kissing or hand-holding as these are very usual customs between close friends in the Arab world.

In the Arab world, as we all know, men are separated from women and usually men spend a lot of time together --so emotions and feelings are conveyed to the same sex.

Rubbing noses is a tribal custom and way of greeting that represents the values of respect, pride and Bedounism mostly practiced by Arabs in the Gulf region. The nose has a valuable symbol for the Arabs because it is in the center of the face -- it is the place where they greet someone with respect (or hit someone when they mean disrespect). Arab men inherited this tradition as a way of greeting generations from the past.

Holding hands is the warmest expression of affection between Arab men and not only a sign of friendship but of solidarity and kinship. In fact, if an Arab man does not touch the other Arab man, it can be interpreted as he is keeping his distance from him and he despises him.

Kissing cheeks, in the Arab world, considered normal and common amongst male friends and does not linked to homosexuality. It is meant to reflect amity, devotion and most important, equality in status.
Therefore the above are gestures of friendship and respect among Arab men and without any sexual connotation or meaning. Also please note that  nose-rubbing, cheek-kissing and hand-holding between men and women are usually considered inappropriate in the Arab world (unless with the same family e.g. brothers and sisters). ✿


  1. I see this all the time here in egyt that man are holding hands.
    If they did that in germany people would actually call them gay. But i think its an act that shows real friendship ( though rubbing noses is a bit strange for me still :D)

  2. Arabs greet eachohter by rubbing noses? Weird! The Maoris (New Zealand natives) do that too! It's called "Hongi". See :

    That's very, very interesting! Thanks!

  3. @Mimisha
    Thank you for your comment. It's very common in the UAE. Emirati men mostly rub noses when they meet someone they know. I think it's an Emirati thing :)

    @Maori Muslimah
    Thanks for dropping by and for the additional info. Eskimos rub noses too and they called it "kunik" :)

  4. I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?

  5. Haha first time i went to saudi arabia we were visited by some family and family friends so people were greeting eachother and this man comes and does the nose thing to my brother all i see is theyre getting clloser and closer and i unknowingly shout OMG HES GAY, i got me in to big trouble :P
    nose thing is only done by the gulf arabs nd thank god nt men on women or women on women lol

    1. OMG Naz, didn't notice this comment before. LOL.

      Yeah, I've same OMG-HES-GAY-reaction, first time I saw them doing it, I even thought they gonna kiss lips-to-lips, LOL

  6. i think that nose act not arab way


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  8. it's just a matter of perspective, really. when the Bedouins began rubbing noses to greet each other centuries ago, there were no such things as "homosexuality" or "gay men" among them. so this form was greeting was natural and completely acceptable.
    i think it shows true friendship and a strong relationship between two people.
    it's only now that people in other cultures--who have homosexual men in their societies--have begun to look at the Arab culture and think that these customs are strange.

  9. "Arab " is a broad word, the nose rubbing is mainly done in the gulf region, KSA, UAE, QATAR...etc

  10. Sorry but you mix up things here, in your blog in general you don't make a difference between Arabs of the gulf and the others, you're describing cultures and habits that's a good thing but it's very wise to do it right, This is most like calling every Asian person a Chinese


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