Understanding Arabs: A Contemporary Guide to Arab Society / Edition 5

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Perhaps now more than ever, Margaret Nydell's Understanding Arabs is a must-read. The fifth edition of this classic introduction to Arab culture has been completely revised and updated to help readers understand the complex issues playing out on the world stage such as the Arab Spring. Understanding Arabs: A Contemporary Guide to Arab Society is a handbook accessible to everyone. Written by the highly esteemed linguist, Margaret Nydell, the book promotes understanding between modern-day Arabs and Westerners without pushing a political agenda.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Margaret Nydell blends her informed understanding of Arab history and contemporary politics with deep and thoughtful insight into Arab culture and psychology. Many authors know much about the former, and a few know much about the latter, but only Understanding Arabs conveys a deep understanding of the synergies of both. This is essential reading for those working in - or with - Arab countries, or seeking to understand Arab society."- Lawrence R Velte Associate Professor of Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University, and Associate, Washington Center for Protocol, Inc.

"This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to comprehend the Middle East. The writing is fluid, full of examples, and updated to include the Arab Spring. Dr. Nydell, a world renowned linguist, with decade of practical experience in the field, is an authoritative voice. She provides profound insights into Arabs' perceptions underlying political events, and our interactions with each other."- Elizabeth McKune, Executive Director, Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, and former US Ambassador to the State of Qatar

"For her understanding of the Arab mind, her expertise in teaching, and her skill in crafting this book, Dr. Nydell is truly a national treasure. Understanding Arabs should be required reading for any professional or policy maker who is involved in any way with working with Arabs or on matters impacting the Middle East."- F.L. Rusty Capps, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, and President of Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence Training Partners, LLC.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780983955801
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/16/2012
  • Edition description: 5th Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 134,366
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret K. Nydell has directed Arabic language training at the Foreign Service Institute and School of Arabic Language and Area Studies in Tunis, and lectured on Arabic language and Arab cultural orientation since 1969 for numerous government agencies and private organizations. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.
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Table of Contents

A Message from the Author xi

The Arab Spring xii

Terrorism xiv

Looking to the Future xx

Map of the Arab World xxii

Preface xxiii

Introduction: Patterns of Change xxix

Modernization xxix

The Arab Human Development Reports xxxiv

The Effects of Change xxxiv

The Muslim View xxxvi

Islamic Education xxxvii

Facing the Future xxxviii

Chapter 1 Beliefs and Values 1

Basic Arab Values and Attitudes 3

Basic Arab Self-Perceptions 4

Chapter 2 Friends and Strangers 5

The Concept of Friendship 5

Reciprocal Favors 5

Introductions 7

Visiting Patterns 8

Business Friendships 10

Office Relations 11

Criticism 12

Intermediaries 13

Private and Public Manners 14

Chapter 3 Emotion and Logic 17

Objectivity and Subjectivity 17

Fatalism 18

What Is Reality? 18

The Human Dimension 20

Persuasion 21

Chapter 4 Getting Personal 23

Personal Questions 23

Sensitive Subjects 24

Social Distance 25

Gestures 27

Names 28

Chapter 5 Men and Women 33

Social Interaction 33

Displaying Intimacy 35

The Status of Women 35

Women's Right to Vote 38

Women in Government Positions 39

Women's Power in the Family 39

The Headscarf and the Veil 40

Polygamy 43

Traditional Gender Roles 44

Western Women 45

Looking Toward the Future 46

Chapter 6 Social Formalities and Etiquette 47

Hospitality 47

Time and Appointments 49

Discussing Business 50

Sharing Meals 51

Smoking 54

Rules of Etiquette 55

Chapter 7 The Social Structure 59

Social Classes 59

Image and Upper-Class Behavior 60

Dealing with Service People 61

Chapter 8 The Role of the Family 63

Family Loyalty and Obligations 63

Relations Among Family Members 65

Marriage 67

Divorce 68

Child-Rearing Practices 69

Talking About Your Family 70

Chapter 9 Religion and Society 73

Religious Affiliation 73

Religious Practices 73

The Religion of Islam 75

Sunni and Shia 79

The Sharia, Islamic Law 79

The Qur'an and the Bible 81

Passages from the Qur'an 84

Chapter 10 Communicating with Arabs 87

Varieties of Arabic 88

The Superiority of Arabic 89

The Prestige of Classical Arabic 90

Eloquence of Speech 91

Speech Mannerisms 93

Pleasant and Indirect Responses 94

The Power of Words 94

Euphemisms 95

The Written Word 96

Proverbs 97

Chapter 11 Islamic Fundamentalism (Islamism) 99

Definitions and Numbers 99

Jihad 104

Islamists and Muslim Society 105

Mainstream Muslims 108

Chapter 12 Anti-Americanism 111

Reasons for Arab Anger 113

Arab/Muslim and Some Western Views 113

Some American Views 116

They Hate Our Freedom, Values, Way of Life 116

They Hate Our Success 117

They Don't Know Enough About Us 117

Anti-Americanism Is an Excuse 119

We Share a Long History of Hatred 119

Arab/Muslim Views on American Culture 121

Views on Western-Style Democracy 122

Islam 124

Anti-Islam Comments 124

Defense-of-Islam Comments 125

Chapter 13 Arabs and Muslims in the West 127

Arabs in the United States 127

Muslims in the United States and Canada 128

Muslims in Europe 130

The Image of Arabs and Muslims 134

In America 134

In Europe 138

The Future of Islam in the West 142

Chapter 14 The Arab Countries, Similarities and Differences: The Arab Countries in Africa 145

The Maghrib 148

Morocco 149

Algeria 152

Tunisia 154

Libya 157

The Nile Valley 160

Egypt 160

Sudan 164

Chapter 15 The Arab Countries in the Center 169

The Levant 169

Lebanon 170

Syria 173

Palestinian Territories 176

Jordan 181

Iraq 184

Chapter 16 The Arab Countries in the Arabian Peninsula 189

Saudi Arabia 190

Yemen 194

The Arabian Gulf States (Persian Gulf) 198

Kuwait 199

Bahrain 201

Qatar 203

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) 205

Oman 207

Conclusion 211

Appendix: The Arabic Language 213

Colloquial Arabic Dialects 213

Attitudes Toward Dialects 215

The Structure of Arabic 216

Transcription 217

Arabic Writing 218

Calligraphy As an Art Form 220

Social Greetings 220

Notes 223

Bibliography 247

Index 265

About the Author 277

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