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Sudan Customs & Etiquettes
 
 
 

General

In the north, Arab culture predominates, while the people in the more fertile south belong to many diverse tribes, each with their own lifestyle and beliefs. Because Sudan is largely Muslim and operates Sharia Law, women should not wear revealing clothing, although they are not expected to wear a veil or cover their heads. At official and social functions as well as in some restaurants, formal clothes are expected. Alcohol and pork are forbidden. The Sudanese have a great reputation for hospitality.

Food is an important part of many social interactions. Visits typically include tea, coffee, or soda, if not a full meal. It is customary to eat from a common serving bowl, using the right hand rather than utensils. In Muslim households, people sit on pillows around a low table. Before the meal, towels and a pitcher of water are passed around for hand washing.

If invited to someone's home, wear clean socks as you will be expected to remove your shoes at the door. Treating guests hospitably is a point of personal honour, so expect warmth and generosity. Food is often eaten with the hands, remember always to use your right hand, for eating and passing dishes as the left is considered unclean.

Meeting & Greeting

In the north and in Khartoum, typical Muslim behaviour is the norm and should always be respected. Men shake hands with men but if greeting a woman a man should always wait for her to extend her hand. Public demonstrations of affection between the sexes are frowned upon, even among visitors.

Greetings and leave-takings are interactions with religious overtones; the common expressions all have references to Allah, which are taken not just metaphorically but also literally. "Insha Allah" ("if Allah wills") is often heard, as is "Alhamdu lillah" ("may Allah be praised").

Communication Style

In Sudan, people of the same sex stand closer to each other than you may be used to, especially when in conversation. Try not to back away as this may be seen as rude. Eye contact is important. Don't be confused by Sudanese head nodding. A single nod down indicates ‘yes'. A nod up means ‘no'. Do not cross your legs so that the sole of your foot is pointing directly at anyone as this may be seen as offensive. Pointing directly with the index finger is also rude.

 

 
 

 



 


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