Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Egyptian Dating

Each week I spend two grueling hours getting the Arabic language pounded into my head. It’s usually somewhat painful for me because I get so busy doing my all my youth ministry stuff during the week that I rarely find time to practice my Arabic skills. So, about an hour before my Arabic lesson I do all the homework that was assigned to me and relearn the things that were stuffed into my head the previous week. It’s certainly not the prime conditions for learning Arabic. Anyways, during my last Arabic class we somehow got on the topic of dating. Apparently there is no such thing in the Egyptian culture. You are either engaged, or you are acquaintances. After drilling our Arabic teacher with questions about this topic, we came to the conclusion that Egyptian engagements are the closest thing to the Western concept of dating.

When an Egyptian gets engaged, the man gives the woman a ring, and their family has a big engagement party where all their friends are invited. I suppose this is not unlike a Western engagement in this regard. The big difference is that Egyptian engagements are the time where the man and woman decide if they really like each other and want to follow through with marriage. If they decide that they don’t really like each other that much, the woman gives her ring back, and the two part ways. So, I guess Egyptians pretty much just combine the custom of dating and engagement together. Interesting, I know. Unfortunately we didn’t get onto the subject of paying the bride’s father with camels and sheep. Perhaps next week we’ll talk about that. I sort of doubt they do that anymore. Anyways, there’s your Egyptian culture lesson for today.

11 comments:

Ineke said...

I'm not sure about the camels either...I know my dad has been offered a couple for me. But then most Egyptians have a great sense of humour, so who knows that they were serious.
They do however pay in gold... whenever a boy and girl get married, the boy gives the girl all this gold jewelery. The riches of the boys family defines how much gold he gives his wife.

Please lemme know what your Arabic teacher sais about the camels and such... there is this busdriver that really wants to marry me...so far I've dodged him every time I was back, but if there is gold...I might reconsider ;-)

marcel said...

hey i like that... i better marry soon before i get rich.. coz at the moment i don't have any gold (or camels) :P and Ineke: i doubt that the man you're talking about has any gold at all... apart from maybe the ugly gold furniture and picture frames :D

Monson said...

Ok, I asked my Arabic teacher if men still give out camels when they find a wife. She just laughed at me. Apparently that's from the pharonic times or something. The United Emarets still does that, though.

Anonymous said...

well, I am an Egyption gurl studying at the american university in cairo, and I dropped out of laughing when I heared about the Gamel issue, omg of course people doesn't do this nowadays at all this was Acient Egyptian culture; however, the gold issue is ture it's like a gift from the grom to the brid in there new relationship after marring each other. Another thing I want to comment about is the dating issue nowaday almost all egyptian goes on date and it's a very good way to meet new people and engagmet takes place if the two people are sure they wanna get married, but as u said the two somehow are combined together.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I am attending class with an American-Egyptian man. We talked in class and he seemed interested in being friends at the least. He is a funny guy and I thought we had a lot in common. I emailed him explaining that I never get a chance to talk to him and asked if he would like to go out. He did not respond. I took his lack of response as a no. Now, I see him today and he is trying to make opportunities to talk. I am confused. What are the customs? I being too forward?

Monson said...

Ok, I talked to my Egyptian friend about advice on dating an Egyptian male. She said, first of all, it makes a big difference if they've just moved from Egypt and haven't been in a Western country for long. If they've been there for a while, it will be different. Her main advice would be to take it slow. She said she'd give you some personal advice if you email her... If you post your email address on here, I'll pass it on to her and delete it from here right away so you don't get spammed or whatever.

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Lisa32 said...

I have recently been seeing and egyptian man. He has been very sweet but I am unclear on the dating issue. He seems to be in a hurry to be in a committed relationship. I am just concerned about the pace of things. He has only been in the USA for a little over a year and I am just at a loss as to his customs. He only wants one on one time and I would really like to go on a real date but I need some advice about how to approach it the correct way.

Monson said...

Lisa,
I am not an expert on the Egyptian dating culture. From a Western standpoint, the Egyptian methods of 'courting' would seem a bit more rushed than Westerners are used to. Those customs would no doubt carry over when they move to another country, simply because that is what they know. Because of this, it may be prudent for you to have a chat with Mr. Sweet and explain how dating/courting works in North America, and perhaps ask him how it works in Egypt. The open communication will hopefully help you two determine how to proceed in your relationship. Although it is nice to respect people's customs and norms, he should realize that he is no longer in Egypt and must change his ways with regards to certain cultural norms such as dating.

Kiki said...

I like camels

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