Gestures and Speaking in Saudi Arabia
“Their use of hand signs is different than ours, ‘It is not a problem, not a problem. They’ll do this.’ They talk a lot with their hands. One of the things that's kind of difficult to understand until you really get to know someone, is when a Saudi raises his voice, especially a man, it isn’t necessarily out of anger, I don't think. I think it's they’re trying to make their point. I’ve been in, not necessarily in a conversation with someone, I've seen conversations between a couple Saudis, and it's like, ‘My gosh, that guy’s all upset.’ And after the whole conversation, I'll ask somebody who speaks English and Arabic, ‘What was he all bent out of shape about?’ ’Oh, nothing.’ I guess if they feel very strongly about a point, they’ll want to make their point, and they’ll use, or raise their voice. And to a Westerner you may get the impression that they’re very, very upset, very angry. When in reality they’re not. But it takes a while to figure that out. You think, the first time you see it, it’s like, ‘Gosh, that guy’s upset,’ but no. The next minute the guy may be joking and laughing. They don’t typically hold a grudge, either. Or they don’t stay mad very long, I guess.”
In this video, a Saudi Arabia expert discusses hand gestures and tone of voice in Saudi conversations.