Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Culture Blunder: Meeting Gone Wrong

Three years ago, a friend and I had a chance to meet up with a young Emirati lady for a certain project along with her friend (also an Emirati ). They were very nice and accommodating. And tried they very best to speak in English for our sake.

During the meeting, another young Arabic lady joined us and later two more elderly (an Arabic man and woman) from a local TV station. They started discussing in Arabic, they excused themselves though. The young Emirati lady was kind enough to explain what was going on and being discussed. 

Then the TV peeps said their byes to all of us. When they stood up from the table [non-Arabs, please take note!], everybody else rose for them, well, except me and my friend. See what we did there?

I only realized it later, when my friend mentioned it. When I asked her why she didn't rise for them she said she looked at me but I remain seated so she didn't bother, LOL. But seriously I cringed when I realized what we've done there. It was a total embarrassment. Felt guilty for being ignorante and insensitive. We weren't aware of this gesture. 

In the Philippines or at least from what I know, only the gents get up whenever a lady leaves the table. In which they seldom do it nowadays. LOL.

And that, my friends, was our first and sadly the last meeting.

Lesson learned1 of Emirati etiquettes or prolly in the Arab world — At a meeting or social gathering, everyone stands when an elderly or high-ranking person arrives or leaves the room / table.