The Guide to the ultimate Arab Greeting: Cheek kissing

Greeting a person in the Arab world might as well be the trickiest thing in our culture. Is it enough to just shake hands? How many cheek kisses is this person expecting anyway? Is it one per cheek or three per cheek? Is he going to embarrass you and put his hand on his chest? Since they’re too far, isn’t a wave just enough? Is it necessary to stand up? What about walking her to the door?

Really. Arab greetings etiquette is just a pain in the ass. There’s afterall always that really high probability of a lip-lock, if your calculations are just a few seconds or centimeters off.

So if you’re as socially inept as I can be, or if you’re planning on visiting Amman, or if you’re a foreigner living in Amman, this little guide might help:

1. The double-kiss on the cheek is mandatory 96% of the time. Yes, some people consider you rude if for not swapping grease and/or slime.

2. When you arrive, you kiss everybody hello, starting with the person nearest to you and going in a circle. When you leave, you kiss everybody goodbye.

3. If you happen to be seated when someone walks in, you stand and wait for the greeting around 30 seconds before the person reaches you.

4. Women kiss women. Women kiss men. Men kiss men. Sorry guys, but you cannot avoid the man kiss.

5. But don’t kiss the other gender unless you are really good friends, really close family, or if you’re totally sure the other person won’t mind.

6. Do not, and I repeat, do not, touch anyone’s cheek with your lips. It’s really just for show, your lips should actually just kiss the air and make the popping sound.

7. Unless you want to get caught in a very uncomfortable lip-lock, kiss the right cheek first.

8. Often, the kissing greeting is compulsory for even people you just met. If you feel reserved about kissing them during the first handshake, you probably should when you’re about to depart.

9. If you want to show that the greeting is particularly heart-felt, lay your palm on the person shoulder as you greet.

A ridde and a love-ode

What is the book that will always be as good as the day you read it first? Although in the past 10 years, you’ve read it at least 8 times, watched the movies at least 35 times, and spent perhaps a 5-months’ worth of hours reading all its legendarium on Wikipedia and all it’s related novels?

The book that bombards your senses with colors, scents and textures of a world so real you can almost feel it. A history so rich you can almost live it. A language so beautiful you feel the urge to learn it. A drawer of characters so well-composed you almost fall in love.

A book that derives the feelings of true joy when being read.

Which book am I talking about?

Jordan rappers take the mic

It’s young, it’s hip, and it’s in Arabic. Yes, the Arab world has recently found a voice beyond romantic crooning and patriotic yelling. Hip hop or rap, historically the sound coming from the ghettos, has been discovered in the past ten years by youngsters anxious for self-expression.

Personally, I am not much a fan of hip-hop and rap, so I’m not very familiar with its musician, especially not the young aspiring locals. So when Mike Al-Naji emailed me wondering why I never mentioned local rap talents on And Far Away, I asked him to write a little post about this, which I am going to share here:

Focusing The Spotlight On The Hip-Hop/Rap Movement
By Mike Al-Naji

“It started first as a hobby,” says local Jordanian rapper, MC Micro, “something I like to do and a way I could express myself, my thoughts, and my feelings”. He first started writing lyrics, and then started recording his music at home and sharing it with friends. Now, he has weekly performances at local coffee shops and has plans for releasing his first mixtape in late 2010. He is also currently working on what he says is a new, exciting project that aims to support all local musical talents.

MC Micro Daydreaming While On Stage
Photo taken by Mais Mhaidat

“I rap about things that everyone goes through everyday,” he continues. “I just sit back, relax say what I want to say, and don’t care how it comes out as long as I’m expressing myself. “I didn’t think I was ever going to take it to this level, I never realized how much people actually liked rap and hip hop. Our youth is actually affected by this genre of music, and people liked what I produced, so it was a circle of forwarding and sending!”

Another local rapper, MC Puck, agrees “The hip hop scene in Jordan is still growing, and luckily, people have started to like it more in the past two years, but still, it needs some time to get to a level where most of the youth actively listen to it.”

Ahmad Al-Khaldi, better known as MC Puck, started writing and rapping in 2000. He later started a band called “Abaddons”. Looking to increase his skill, he took piano lessons and learned how to compose and produce music, after which he met Dan Drill started a project called “Sharq Music”.


“A lot of people say that we imitate the west, but actually music has no limits, if you hear most of my tracks, I try to combine Arabic melodies with hip hop loops to represent the Arabic mentality in music. Also, hip hop started as a way to say what you feel, what you suffer, and tell people more about the life you’re living, so actually we took this genre of music and changed it to what serves our needs, and oh yeah, I never hear people say that Amr Diab or Tamer Hosni for example imitate the west, which if we want to agree on this theory, they do, so it’s just music!”

MC Puck mixtape should be released in 2010, and he is currently working with Iraqi producer E-Qube on two tracks for his album.

For more information:

MC Micro’s Facebook page
MC Micro’s MySpace
MC Puck’s Facebook page
MC Puck’s MySpace

Related on And Far Away:
A night with DAM
Harakat: Hip-Hop in Amman
Otboking Music