dining

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Dining

The full scale of Arabian hospitality is best experienced over a meal at an Emirati’s home, where visitors invited to such an occasion can expect to be overwhelmed by generosity. It is customary to remove shoes on entering a house, although you should follow your host's lead in this regard. Arabic coffee will usually be served on arrival. 

The western practice of bringing a gift is not expected. In the Arab world, you are honouring the host with your presence. At the meal itself, besides urging you to help yourself to different dishes, the host will likely heap your plate with portions of various foods. It is polite to try a bit of everything, but not necessary to eat it all – a clean plate indicates to your host that you may still be hungry, so leave something uneaten.

There's no great formality at mealtimes and you should not be overly concerned about western-style table manners. Your host will be happier to see you digging in with gusto rather than holding back. After the meal, Arabic coffee and fruit may be served before departure. Guests do not generally linger.

One tradition that remains largely unchanged is the separation of men and women, with mixed dining still being quite rare in private homes. An Emirati hosting a group that includes women will decide whether he or she will host at their house, but they might be more likely to host in a restaurant. 

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