Desert culture: greetings

Desert conversations begin with a long, warmhearted exchange of good wishes, blessings and words of gratitude. Saying all these words is a principal rule of the desert culture.

Desert culture:

Desert culture: how to say “hello”

Every conversation in the Sahara starts with a long exchange of greetings, good wishes and words of gratitude. This beginning of each talk can be seen as something between assuring one another that everything is alright and wishing the other person all the best, to later express gratitude for all this good fortune. Here are some words to express that everything is alright:

  • Salamat
  • Labas
  • Beher
  • Mzyan
  • Hanya

Words that may follow after such a heartwarm exchange mean gratitude, and these are most often words “hambullah”, or “hamdulillah”. Their direct meaning is “thank God”.

On the other hand, in case someone has some bad news to pass, compassion words follow quickly along with best wishes and hope for bringing good fortune back.

Culture of the desert: power of gestures

Apart from traditional greetings, an important part of an etiquette are gestures. Saharawi people not necessarily look into others’ eyes while exchanging greetings. Often they just look into space somewhere next to their companion.

What’s important though – and contagious – is that after shaking hands, each person places their right hand on their chest and slightly bows. This shows deep respect and good wishes coming from their hearts.

Read more about it in an article about kindness.