similarities and differences of arab cultures

Summary: This is a 3-page paper on Arabic Culture. The paper summarizes the article “Children in Modern Egypt” By Catherine C. Harris. The paper further explains the similarities and differences of the cultures of different Arab nations.

Similarities and Differences of Arab Cultures

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Summary of “Children in Modern Egypt” By Catherine C. Harris

The children in Egypt do not differ from the children in the United States. They have to go to school, abide by family traditions and rules as well as they also enjoy popular foods, fashions etc. But the Egyptian children are also different in some aspects. Egyptian children watch special TV shows during Ramadan, they love comedy, while in sports they love to see soccer matches also and popular feature TV program “3rd Rock from the Sun” is also viewed with interest. (Harris, 2005)

            In music most Egyptian teenagers like modern Trance-Teckno music, while the Arabic music has lost its popularity among the teens. There are a variety of popular western restaurants available in the Egypt for the children where they enjoy going and eating but they also like some unique local dishes like Shwwarma an Egyptian version of American hamburger, Kufta long sausage-shaped hamburger. (Harris, 2005)

            Egyptian children are required to wear uniform in the school premises. In the public schools boys wear white shirt and trousers, while girls wear white shirt and skirt with an addition of a jacket of the same color during the winter. But those attending schools administer according to the American system are not required to wear uniform. In that case the most popular dressing is blue jeans, polo shirts and sneakers, while the girls prefer smart tees with blue jeans. Older teenagers are required to cover their shoulders whether they are boys or girls. Girls wearing skirts are required to be of knee-length. In the hotter months girls prefer long skirts over jeans because they are much cooler. Though they are required to wear modestly during the public places they wear very western dresses while going to clubs, but these dresses are often hidden under jackets because they are considered offensive wearing publically. (Harris, 2005)

            The public school system is based on the British system in which unlike the American schools the students stay in the same classroom while the teachers go around to the classes. This is though considered boring by many Egyptian teenagers but results in close ties and friendship among the classmates. Cliques or closed groups are not found among Egyptian students. The educational session starts during the month of September and ends in the month of June. Most students do the preparation of their schoolwork and exams on their own and do not ask for help from their parents. Extracurricular activities like soccer are available for students. (Harris, 2005)

            Most Egyptian children like to go out to eat with family and friends. They love traveling and if possible would go out side the Egypt for a trip every year. The most popular resort where kids like to go with other kids is Sharm El Sheik. At the resort they usually spend their leisure time walking along the Naama Bay or in the water in banana boats. They mostly hang out with their friends enjoying the numerous discos spread along the beach. They like to enjoy deep sea diving and snorkeling also. During the school days most children prefer to go to McDonalds or coffee shop during the break. After school soccer practice, swim teams and softball are popular activities. (Harris, 2005)

            Most children eat their dinner at home, while the high school students are usually forbidden to go outside after midnight. Unlike American children Egyptian children do not hold down part time jobs. On the contrary they help their parents and family in family business or household work. Most children live in a single building with their cousins, uncles and aunts with develop close and intimate relationship with them. Egyptian children are not allowed to drive before 16 year and after that they are required to be supervised by an elder until the age of 18. Teenagers younger than 21 years are not allowed drinking and authorities keep a close watch on under age drinkers. (Harris, 2005)

Similarities and Differences between Arab Cultures

            The people of the Middle East and North Africa are normally regarded as Arabs because most people in these regions speak Arabic as their first language or regard themselves of feel like an Arab. There are certain similarities between the people of these countries but they have their unique characteristics associated with these regions also, which make them distinct with their fellow Arab brothers. Among the similarities of these people the most prominent is their language. They all speak Arabic as their first language, but the regional varieties of this language are quite different with each other and in some cases they are mutually unintelligible for e.g. an Iraqi cannot understand the Tunisian vernacular. Another prominent similarity is their religion. The majority of the people of the Arab countries regard themselves as Muslims, but there are hundreds of thousands of Arabs who are Christian, Communists and liberal humanists. Bedouin culture is also a similar phenomenon found in the rural areas of the Arab countries. Arab communities of different countries share many foods and eating habits also. (Nydell, 2005)

            But there are also certain differences among different Arab countries. Some Arab countries are rich and highly advanced. Some are very poor and backward. For e.g. in countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon and Egypt women have more freedom and opportunities, while countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Algeria have very conservative views regarding women freedom and work. Also regarding the culture the countries in the northern African coastline except Egypt share a unique culture and traditions, which are entirely different from the eastern Arab nations. These traditions and cultures are traced back to the Berber population residing in the region before the Arab conquest in the 7th and 8th centuries. There are also large minorities of Berbers living in this region, which have played an important role in shaping the society and culture of these people. (Nydell, 2005)

            On the whole Arabs though are considered as same by the outsiders are quite different and distinct when given a closer look. So one can conclude that the Arab nations are a part of a homogenous culture with regional distinctions and uniqueness associated with them.


Harris, Catherine C. (2005) Children in Modern Egypt. Tour

Nydell, Margaret K. (2005) The Arab Countries; Similarities and Differences.

Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Modern Times. Intercultural Press

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