Assumptions People Make about Arab Men

6 Assumptions People Make When They Hear Your Husband is Arab

In Expat by Amanda Mouttaki114 Comments


There is a lot of baggage that comes with marrying an Arab man.  The American reference point for this part of the world is limited to what they see in movies and what is on the news.  Sure there are some Americans who have been to this part of the world but they are few and far between.  The media view of Arab men is less then stellar so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that there is a lot of negativity linked to their perceptions. I really wish I would have kept a notebook with all of the comments I have received over the years. One of the most surprising facts for many Americans I’ve spoken with is the fact that there are Muslim and Christian Arabs, and that Christian Arabs (shock) use Arabic for their services and in fact use the word Allah for God.  Most assume all Arabs are Muslim. These are a few of the other assumptions people have had about my husband (not him as a person but him as an Arab man).

1. He Must/Will/Does Physically abuse you because that’s normal for them.  You can insert any of those words at various times in our relationship.  This was a comment regularly made by people who heard about our relationship. It was interesting to me that the us vs them mentality always existed in this example. Never mind that most people lumped everyone who is of Arabic descent into the same category and culture.  My husband has never abused me in any way.  Are there men who are abusive and happen to be Arab? Yes.  Are there men who are abuse and are of every other nationality in the world? Yes. One’s culture does not single them out for behavioral traits.

2. He Will Expect You To Be His Slave.  Yes, really.  There are a host of things that there was an expectation I would do but the idea that somehow I was subjugated to serve him was a notion that blew me out of the water. I’ve wrestled with what this assumption meant as a reflection of me and my ability to judge character and remove myself from a bad situation.  I’ve never been a slave to anyone and I certainly have never been beholden to serve my husband.

3. He Will Make You Wear “That Thing” On Your Head.  People have assumed that marrying an Arab man means he will force you to wear “that thing” (a hijab) all the time. Hijab is a choice that Muslim women make.  I won’t disagree that there are many Arab/Muslim men who would hope that their wives would wear a hijab but there are also men who could care less.

4. He and/or His Family Will Sell You Into The White Slave Trade. I couldn’t believe someone actually assumed this and verbalized the idea to me. I guess it just goes to show how far fetched some people’s ideas can be.   If this doesn’t sound like a plot straight out of the movies I’m not sure what is.  I’m not downplaying human trafficking.  I know this is a real issue but to assume this based on ethnicity is absurd.

5. He Will Kidnap Your Children. This is a very real concern for some people, and I don’t disagree that it’s important to be vigilant.  However, child abductions occur by men (and women) of every race and ethnicity.  Being Arabic does not predispose someone to engaging in this type of behavior. That being said, I know my husband would be calling me for backup after about two days of having the kids on his own.

6. He Will Make You One of His Many Wives.  Oh really?  I’m pretty sure he’s got his hands full with just me. Arab Muslim men are permitted to have up to four wives in many countries.  The US is not one of them.  In most other countries, including Morocco, the permission of the first wife must be in place before a second marriage can occur, not to mention he must prove he can financially provide for two homes.  If I ever had an inkling this were a remote possibility I would file for divorce. There is a reason for having multiple wives and it works for some people. Couples should talk about this prior to and during their marriage if it’s a concern.

There are so many other smaller things that people have assumed from the “dirtiness” of Arabs to riding camels. It’s difficult to hear how little knowledge many people have of this part of the world.  It also makes me sad that there is such fear and hostility in most people towards Arabs. Education is the only way to start changing attitudes!

What assumptions have people made about your partner based on their ethnicity? How did you handle it?

Amanda Mouttaki6 Assumptions People Make When They Hear Your Husband is Arab


  1. Malak

    I dont normally respond to anything online but really felt compelled to say something regarding this. I am married (14 years) to an arab Moroccan and I thank Allah subhana wa ta ala for the gift of him in my life. Really, if there is anyone ‘iffy’ in the relationship, it would be me lol. I live in Morocco now and I have a front row seat to the lives of average people. I am happy to say that in our close community we have amazing examples of humanity and Islamic principles of family life. Outside of our community I have unfortunately seen things that I would consider abusive. Being American, I also have the other vantage point and can confirm that domestic violence is epidemic in the USA. In any continent or country or culture it all boils down to the same thing and that is education and upbringing. If a person comes from an impoverished and under educated background then chances are higher for him/her lacking proper social skills and aggression. When contemplating a marriage to an arab, Id suggest a thorough investigation into his background to confirm that his fundamental education was appropriate.

  2. Joanna

    Even though my husband is not Arab, but a Pakistani, I can totally relate! When we got together I heard lot of concerned voices saying that he’ll force me to convert to Islam, make me cover up, keep me at home as unhappy stay-at-home wife, that he’ll want to take me and future kids to Pakistan and keep us there forever… The list goes on and on ;) Oh yes, and the “dirty” thing, just because his skin is darker than mine – I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand this one ;)

    I think it’s not even about where he is from, but about him being Muslim, and people basing their opinions on the prejudices and stereotypes regarding Islam. It’s the way people think that Muslim women are oppressed, have no rights, and men basically rule.

  3. Dawn

    My boyfriend is Palenstinian. After a year and a half together, it has ended today because his family wants him to marry someone from “back home”. We live in the United States. He was born here, not there so wouldn’t back home be here anyways? All he hears from them is not to marry a white girl, that it will bring shame to his family. I love this man dearly. He’s never treated me bad. Always with respect. But in the end, love doesn’t matter for some of them as culture is soo strong.

  4. L.L.

    I feel like i shud chime in. Forgive me as I am on my phone and there will prob be spelling mistakes.
    I have been married to a man from morocco for 5 years mashAllah. I have “known him” (thru letters) since 2001. We were penpals for years. Yes even tho we are divorcing wallahi it has NOTHING to do w/ papers. It has to do financial reasons. He has been in US 10 years and still has no money to his name, not for lack of trying. He still is underemployed. I live in a college town w/ 2 colleges and a uni
    W/ at least 30,000 undergrads in the town. Hence they the students take all the jobs… My DH is the first in his family to graduate hs and the first to go to college. I did not bring him to US he came on a student visa for masters. I did not even know he was movi g to US! We love each other very much, we are just not compatible. B/c i don’t know how to cook he does all the cooking and enjoys it….. I have aspergers so it is hard forme to be in a yes I have heard all these stereotypes too. I just laugh. Obv not every single man i a culture/country are going to be the same. Everyone iss diff, even w/ in the same culture. Obv as westerm women we don’t think american/western men are all the same. They are just that….. Stereotypes. I actually find it offensive that ppl stereotype others. Why was my bil who is from australia not seen as after papers but my hubby is by my family? I think it is b/c he is from a non white christian country. People will always villify “others”. Look at how Muslims and Islam is villified in the west even tho’ Islam is totally the opposite Alhamdulillah. Ppl will always be afraid of those who are diff. My great grandparent came thru ellis island from Italy. As both Italians AND catholics they were villified. Ppl will always nned someone to fear….. It is has politicians and tv makes money. Remember in the US history polish, italians, irish, catholics, jews, blacks, etc. have all been villified. Now it is the arabs and muslims and Islam. I believe this too will pass. Fear makes money.

  5. Gail Rao

    It seems to persist the assumptions from women who made bad choices of marrying a man and then allowed abuse to boot. To blame it on culture of the man. Bad choices and domineering man are in every culture. Women who allow abuse is too.Every culture has this factor.
    There is also sexism happening here. Women can be abusive, esp emotionally abusive and manipuative. I hear the same women complaining about bad treatment of husbands, then speak of domineering mother in laws!

  6. Belle (Nisareen)

    I remember HATING all the assumptions people had about my ex husband.

    Mostly because they were right.

    Shortly after Ibrahim, our son, was born, he began treating me terribly. It was like he was a completely different person.

    It took a few years, but eventually I was stuck wearing Hijab and Abaya, I gave up exercising with my friends, my gardening club, and pretty much anything social because my friends and family were “disbelievers” and therefore “bad influences”.

    I worked like a SLAVE to keep him off my back, and still, it got worse and worse.

    He was horrible. I hate him from the bottom of my soul.

    It was hell trying to break away from him. But I did, and now my kids and I are safe.

    There is no use pretending cheauvanism and misogyny aren’t a part of Middle Eastern Cultures. For every 25 Arabs I have ever met, maybe 1 was a genuine feminist (meaning, they truly believed in gender equality) but this almost always comes with atheism. The religious ones are still held back by social structure.

    The stereotypes are there for a reason, just look at the laws in Arab countries.

    But rude questions don’t help, especially if you are in some sort of abusive relationship.

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      Of course you’re welcome to your opinion and it sounds like you had a really bad experience. That being said this exists in every culture. It exists in African cultures, it exists in North American cultures. I’ve met plenty of American/European men who have similar attitudes and are misogynistic and domineering.

  7. Sarah

    Hello Marocmama!
    I stumbled by your blog and have to say I was more interested in these 6 stereotypical assumptions people make when you tell them your husband is Arab!

    I cannot agree even more. I have heard of many ugly situations and stories of non_arabs females with arab males. However, NOT all are this.

    I have met with a Saudi woman who wears quite freely and her husband lets her wear jeans and put on make up, and even lets her drive and be educated studying in uni!
    I have seen Arab women screaming and humiliating their husbands when they the husband would sigh or complain any minor action they do.

    Now the surpriding part is, the majority of these situations are normal. And having to live surrounded by Arabs, the females are treated as queens.

    I’m a non Arab Muslim and met my fiance who is Saudi born and bred in uni, he is a wonderful kind person who lets me further my studies and supports my career! I have met with his family and he and his family are thank GOD the generous kind and open minded ones (rare to find, if you do, you’re in luck!! you don’t get that often!)

    Often when I see an Arab especially a Saudi with a non-Arab female, I would be concern as I fully know the Arab/Saudi culture since most of them would fly back to their home country and their parents has already booked a girl (probably his cousin) for their marriage.

    This does not mean all of them. If he lets you meet his family, and have respects for you as a person and lets you wear jeans put on make up and drives, you’ve landed on a rare luck! Keep it!

    1. ya bint


      I first met my husband two years ago in college , he’s Palestinian, he was caring, loving, and did everything a girl would want in in a husband, he just seemed perfect and respected his parents and others, he asked me for marriage but my parents refused because he was not from the same culture, (I’M AFRICAN) my parents started to say Arabs are abusive they hit their wife’s they will treat you like dirt especially cause your not Arab they’ll kidnap your children an take them to their country, I was really stubborn and said I wouldn’t marry any other guy, cause my parents started to look for a spouse from the same culture , after sometime my mum agreed I could get married to him. but then his dad was getting him engaged to his cousin, I still went along with it and got married around the beginning of this year, he kept it a secret cause he doesn’t want his parents finding out, he still lives with his parents and visits me occasionally, and says once he finish’s his studies he’ll move out of the country with me,

      getting to the point

      a few days ago he started to shout at me and hit me, this was a shock for me because I’ve never seen him like this, in public he would shout at me and people would stare, and then grab my arm hardly and drag me out, and when I see him texting his fiancé he would shout and say what you looking at what do you want! I’ve thought of getting a divorce because what im living in is not normal , when I see him walk with his parents around London city he would act like he doesn’t know me, and then starts to give me evils like watch what I’ll do to you when I get home. he always swears at me in Arabic, I’ve not done a divorce yet because I know my parents will say I told you so , but you don’t listen to what I say. and I just got married recently so it’ll bring shame to the family. I don’t know what to do.I’m thinking of booking a ticket and running away, I just cant handle the controlling and disrespect anymore, I’ve had enough

      1. Author
        Amanda Mouttaki

        I truly don’t believe this type of behavior is because of anyone’s heritage – it could be anyone. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable then you should do whatever you can do distance yourself from the situation – shame or no shame.

        1. Gail R

          The abuse is not due to his heritage. I married two white good ole Canada farm boys.BOTH highly abusive and almost killed me. Heritage has nothing to do with a man being terrible.

          1. Lisa

            @ GailR…ME too! I married whom I thought was my best friend. I actually knew him for years. I didn’t realize he had an underlying mental illness and the threatennd to kill me also. We’re both white and Canadian. Just goes to prove it’s not one specific culture or religion.

        2. Belle (Nisareen)

          Religion(s), Culture and deeply ingrained social structure is to blame.

          It wasn’t women who voted on the law that prevents them from driving or not wearing hijab in public over in Saudi Arabia…

      2. fifi

        I am sorry yabint, he should not have treated you that way. A lot of arab men are under intense family pressure to marry who their parents choose, and if they are not resolute they end up doing what their family wants. people like that make me ashamed of being part arab but not all of them (arab men) are that way, but still you deserve better than your current situation. my father was also palestinian and it took A LOT of strength for him to stand up for my mother, however his brothers(my uncles) all succumbed to family pressure and married others instead of whom they loved. and this is a very common story amongst arabs. it’s wrong of your husband to have kept your marriage secret and he knows this (because that is unacceptable in arab culture, and you deserve nothing less than the best) and he should be a man about it. also, if you did not meet his mother then you are saved from a very very very tough mother in law. God bless you and may He keep you safe and strong.
        A lot of love from a half-palestinian girl.

        1. Rana

          I really loved what you wrote and you seem to have great common sense. I’m also half-palestinian and it’s beautiful to know people like you and I do exist in the world, and are not afraid or ashamed to mention it, but rather recognize and rejoice.

    2. Jo

      Hi Sarah,

      Im am also soon to marry a man from Saudi but will meet the in laws at the end of this year. Just wondering if you have any advice or would even just like to know how everything went….. as would love to hear if you have any advice.
      Hehe I know its probably not funny but I know what you mean about the mother having a girl picked out, have some experience with that.

      What country do you live? Im from Australia.

      Not sure if maybe we could swap details and chat (not sure if the Morocmama can give you my email) because all I have heard from people giving me advice as soon as I mention Im marrying a man from Saudi is horror story after horror story that apparently happened to a friend of a friend of a friend.

      Funny how it never seems to of been first hand experience :p

      Thank you for this website, have only just come across it but think I might be spending the next couple of hours searching through it.
      Wish your family all the best :) :) :) :)

    3. Belle (Nisareen)

      What worries me, is the *let* component of your comment.

      He *lets* you do these things? I’m sure you mean he doesn’t try to *prevent* you, right?

      Because if you mean *let* in the way that you need his permission first, then I’m worried for you :/

      My ex started out small like that, slowly making me feel that I needed his approval before I did things, and feeling greatly when he granted it…until eventually, I couldn’t get dressed without him picking out my clothes, or leave the house without his permission….

      And it all started with him saying, “You should never leave the house without texting me first so I know you are safe! Every married person I know does that!”…

  8. Yaya


    I have never posted any comment before any where, but I have so much related to this topic so here it goes.
    I am an American and met my Arab husband while in my undergrad in a small Southern town. He is from Kuwait and Muslim. We were both young and obviously love struck from the get go. We faced so much drama and I have heard every single warning listed above from my society and family. Coming from a small southern town and from a deeply devout Christian family and I do mean DEEP! They do not even marry outside of the denomination! So I was really breaking barriers. He was my first boyfriend and well may first “everything” so my family was upset that I was too blinded by love to see what he really was. Looking back now I can understand, but thankfully I judged correctly with him and over time he has proven all stereotypes wrong.
    Religion wise, we both came from strict backgrounds and honestly we had had enough of it all. We confided in one another and made our own belief and we hold true to that. Turns out this was our true selves that we could not even show to our families for fear of rejection.
    Not to say our marriage is perfect, but who has that anyway! Lol we still live in the South just in a bigger town now :) and we visit Kuwait and many other Arab countries often. I’m extremely close to his family and he is to mine.

    I do always tell my husband that I found a rarity by finding him. After meeting various Arabs through him and other friends throughout my life, I can honestly say that the majority for at least one or two the stereotypes. :( even to my husband’s brothers fit some of them. My husband even agrees with me. So when a non-Arab girl or an Arab man tells me that they meet someone, I am always skeptical at first and have to dig a little deeper to know if it is genuine or not. I hate that but it is the truth in so many cases. But I so want to recognize that there are Arab men out there like my husband that do not fit any of these stereotypes. We have had a long happy relationship and marriage so far and use every opportunity I can to show the world, even if it is one person at a time, that stereotypes were meant to be broken. It is all about education and just listening and talking to people. You can be the one person that changed someone’s narrow minded view and they will carry that change to more people.

    But while I encourage breaking stereotypes, I also advise non-Arab girls to be careful and do not rush into a serious relationship too quickly. Get to know them first and time will show their true colors. I have seen too many women go down the wrong path because they got married too quickly and did not really “know” their partner.

    Peace, Love, and Happiness to All :)

    1. Belle (Nisareen)

      Bingo. My ex was pretty much everything on this list, as are most people in his family. Except ONE cousin of his, who helped me out when I broke away from that marriage.

      The stereotypes exist for a reason, and even lots of the women are perpetrators.

      I can’t tell you how harshly some of them criticized me for my “western ways and entitled thinking” (forgive ME for believing I have a right in what I do and say…) I think they’d been conditioned to accept being treated like crap, and thought I should too.

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  10. Emily

    Oh I got a lot of these things when I married my Arab husband.

    Most arabic men ARE close minded, I believe if they tell you otherwise they are telling a small fib. I’ve dated a few Arab guys, I’ve dated the Christian who drinks and likes to party, he dosent ask you to change anything because he dosent care he won’t be marrying you anyways ( he has a wife already lined up for him back home)

    I’ve dated the so called ” religious Muslim” who prays and claims he is a good man and feels strongly about his morals and religion yet, he has slept with quite a few women in his years and does it on the sly. But never mind.. He will pray and that’s makes him ” clean” again

    Then I married one if them ones that claims he is so open minded not like other people from his village. He dreams to be not like arabic people and always reminds you he is not. He will tell you, because you are a westerner your different and he likes that not like an arab wife and that’s what he dreams to do, marry a beautiful blonde white girl. First he woos you with his charm ( which he has!) promises and talks about a great future with you. He always notes how he is a proud virgin and saving for his beloved wife.

    All these good things are appealing so you go for it…. :)

    In return you get a man who arrives in your country who changes almost immediately. He asks you not to wear clothing that shows your legs, cover more, he is insanely jealous, he forbids you to eat pork, ever. He preaches his religious beliefs constantly and tell you how much your culture is ” wrong and disgusting ” he always puts his family first, yes they are most important!!

    He won’t ever help you with house chores, he expects you to cook like his mum, even he tells you he wants to try ” new food” as he is so open and ” different”. he will try and not like it and reach straight for the labneh and flat bread, how many times can you eat koofta in a week? ! Really?

    He will kindly tell you that your girl friends you have had your whole life arnt really good girls, their a bad influence because they date, have boyfriends, not married or wear something that gives a ” peek” of breast tissue or even some of her back.

    He will forbid you to have male friends or even do business with them. He will even be suspect about your cousins or male relatives as all men have sexual urges even if it’s your long lost uncle.

    Throw your bathers out the window it’s a scandal for other arabic people to see his wife wearing a bikini.

    You will cook clean and take care of him regardless if your sick, working full time ( which is probably the case as they not all like to find jobs, back home they don’t they sit smoke and drink coffee and hang in university areas, because he is cool and higher than anyone else) He has no real education and just barely completed High school because he spent his years smoking sitting in the internet chatting to girls from all over the world and dreams of another life.

    He won’t ever treat you as an arabic women either, hence why you still have to work full time and when you have a problem with his narcisst ass , argue he will always say ” arabic women don’t speak to their husband like that!”

    God forbid if you ever have children, it’s already in his plan they will be Muslim. You won’t be able to feed them non halal baby food and pork, no never! He will always differ in parenting options and not trust your moves with his children always he will call mum back home. No one can ever say your child is beautiful because that means the person will envy them and they will become sick.

    And that’s it… I am happily married with my husband we balance it all out , to be successful together but these are the issues that came about and I try to say in an honest way without being racist as I do have much experience with Arab men but it’s hard work!! Really u have to stand your ground, be strong and don’t be controlled.
    Good luck everyone

    1. Adel

      I feel really sorry for all Moroccans in America for been treated as Green Card hunters or whatsoever. First of all, what’s a green card, is it something that’s gonna make you rich or provide you a better life? I don’t think so. Maybe for some people from some other countries but not morocco, because Moroccans don’t go to America to beg for a green card. They even hate to give up their citizenship. As a Moroccan who lives in America and married to an American Christian woman, I believe that women who talk about their international husband this way are the ones who don’t know much about other cultures and who cannot handle it. For a man to leave his country and family to come live with a woman in this country is a very important choice. Moroccans like respect and values and principles with which you can build a family. Most women don’t like that, they want to feel free even after marriage. Once you are committed to that person and he is committed to you. It’s not a green card that a man wants, a man wants a wife that cares about changing her lifestyle and become a good woman. If your Moroccan husband does not feel you are trying to live with values and principles, then there is no point in him sacrificing his time and energy. I have never met any Moroccan here in America who treats his wife as a slave, or abuse her, or treat her different than an Arab woman. When people say that Moroccans are closed minded, that kind of makes me laugh. There is no such thing as closed minded in Morocco. The people are certain lovely and welcoming and treat everybody equally as if they are family. If you think that a citizenship is what they want, then tell me what did those drunk fathers and husbands in this country do with it? Did they provide their wives with better love and care, or did they pay child support? I don’t think so. A green card or citizenship is nothing but another mean how you can keep him in the country. But their hardwork and sacrifices is what brings you better results. If you can’t handle his culture or background why would he handle yours. Is it fair? No.
      What I read and hear about what people say to internationals like me, makes me feel like I shouldn’t have come here. But I am married and I have kids. The only reason why I’m commenting on this is because my wife mentioned this website. Now I don’t feel like I’m welcome in this country and I don’t feel like I’m been appreciated. I was raised to respect the values I live with, and especially the family values. If eating pork is more important than your husbands feelings, then don’t waste his time. If cooking for him is too much for you to handle, then don’t waste his time. If you think Moroccans are not educated and they just sit there smoking and drinking coffee, then why couldn’t you find a better man? If you think that you are happily married, why would you say stuff like that about your husband? If you think you can do better than just take care of your husband and kids, then why do you want a family? My advice to you, open your eyes and be thankful that you have a husband who is at least jealous, because they are few in this country.

      1. Author
        Amanda Mouttaki

        I’m not sure exactly who your comment is directed at so I’m struggling to answer appropriately. I don’t disagree with most of what you said but – there are A LOT of Moroccan men – and men and women from all over the world – who enter into relationships only to get their papers. They then divorce their American spouse and remarry from back home. I know personally of no fewer than 10 Moroccan men who have done this. I know even more often living in Morocco now of people who assume that when a man marries an American or European it’s solely for papers and then he’ll divorce, and come back to marry “the real wife”. Stereotypes and assumptions go both ways. Mashallah that you’ve married someone you love and are building a life with. It happens in every country. It happens here in Morocco. I hate the way Moroccan girls look at me, what they say when they think I don’t understand. I didn’t steal “their man”. There’s loads of Moroccan women who assume no one but them can “take care of” a Moroccan man. Well, he doesn’t need to be taken care of, he’s not a pet! What I’m trying to say is the sword cuts both ways.

      2. lmj


        Thank you so much for your insight. I will be going to meet someone from Morocco that I met online. Of course, when I read these types of posts on here it makes me very sad. Many of them are so negative. Basically, everything you have mentioned in your comments is correct. It is very sad people are so judgmental. It is poison to the rest of us who love someone regardless of racial background or religion. I could only hope to become a wife and mother of this man’s children. It is natural that if you love someone, the desire to form a bond is there. We both could care less what geographical plain we live on. Take care.

    2. Ichi

      Hello Emily! :)
      I am with Palestinian Muslim right now.
      We met last December 2013 and planning to get married December 2015.
      Like you, I experienced those things too.
      Can I ask for advise?
      May I know your e-mail address?
      It means a lot to me.

  11. Broken Hearted

    My daughter got involved with a an Arab Muslim and he fits every stereotype there is! He is extremely verbally abusive. He treats her as if she is a piece of property. He cant even pack his own suitcase or figure out what to feed his on child. He is a very poor excuse for a man or a husband. He will not let her see her family because she has “chosen him”.

    We recently found out that he literately married someone else and the very next day was bringing flowers to our daughter after she had a break down and was admitted into the psychiatric ward to get help. He saw her weaknesses and prayed upon her. As her parents we are heartbroken and trying to help her get away. She has gone to court to get a restraining order. He continues to threaten that she will not be able to every see her son again if she divorces him.

    So I have to say I have not seen any good in this relationship with a muslim arabic man!

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      I am sorry to hear that your daughter is having this issue. Sounds like he isn’t a very good person. But, he could also be a bad person no matter what his ethnicity is. I hope you will be able to help her but also not see every other Arabic/Muslim person as bad because of this experience.

    2. Ayman from jordan

      its really broke my heart that you women suffers from arab men. im so sorry about what happend to you girls and i feel your pain but you have to know that your fingers arent the same (arab saying) truth to be told you have to blame your self like tiny tiny blame its like 1% blame . why did you marry him at the first place . still i hope you luck change and it will and evry thing happend happend for a reson . forgive me about my funny english its really hard to me .

      1. Author
        Amanda Mouttaki

        Ayman it’s nice to hear a man’s point of view. I also think it’s important to know most of these men appear one way in the beginning and change once the marriage is done. Physical and emotional abuse is never the fault of the victim, though I know in many Middle Eastern cultures the view is still “well my wife made me hit her, or made me do xyz” which is a way for the man to excuse his bad behavior.

  12. fatima majid

    Omg my family is Mexican, and we have always heard of how smelly some people’s body odors can get but in my ignorance and there’s we use to walk by people with strong body odors and say omg they must be “camel’s” (Arab) is what we ment. Now I’m married to an Arab man he’s the love of my life and I’ve learned that almost ALL Arabs are the most cleanest people in the world I love the way they take care of there personal hygiene its amazing the detail they do it with. I’ve swallowed all of my words hands up my biggest apology I’m even learning from my hubby

  13. Kayla A

    I do not usually comment on blogs or websites, and I know this is way after this post was written. I just wanted to take the time and first of all say that I just discovered your site, and it is beautiful! As a mother who believes that it is important for your children to be culturally aware and educated, I have found so much inspiration! Thank you for that. Secondly, I would like to extend my apologies for all the people that are negative about your relationship. I find multicultural relationships to be a wonderful and beautiful thing. It helps restore my faith in humanity and show that just because we may be “different” from one another, it is LOVE that makes the world go round! I find it disturbing when people judge based on race, religion, culture, etc. Every race and religion has extremists, and it is far too often that people forget of the extremists in their own race and religion. I am a Caucasian woman, and from my own experiences, have found far too many fellow Caucasians to be hypocritical and extremely racist. I think if people looked at history they would realize that not too long ago women had no rights in America! It was normal for men to “put their women in place”. Not saying that every man did, but it wasn’t looked down upon like it is today. These things come from a belief in the roles that a man and woman play in a marriage. Many people have taken it to the extreme, both in history and currently. These things have happened all across every piece of land on earth, every race, every religion! It makes my heart hurt for you and others in multicultural relationships that have to deal with people’s ignorance!

    Sorry for my rant, it’s just that this post and the comments from others really hit my heart! I wish nothing but the best for you and your family, and hope that other peoples ignorance doesn’t put you down! I look forward to reading more posts of yours!

    Sending my love

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      I appreciate you taking the time to leave your heartfelt comment. I think one thing I’ve learned is that most people are negative because they just don’t know. It’s been really amazing to me to be able to share our life both online and in real life with others who have then gone on to say their attitudes changed. For all the negativity I know there are just as many people like you raising open-minded tolerant children that will make the world better. All the best to you and your family and thank you for being who you are!

  14. AMoroccanswife

    I have been married to my Moroccan husband for over 7yrs now. I have been listening to people say all those things you listed and more. I am older than him so “he just married me for citizenship” “why doesn’t he make you wear the “hijab” etc. etc. Funny thing is, he has been a citizen for a few years now and I still hear all the same comments. I think that people may be scared of what they don’t know. Sure there are a lot of marriage scammers and abusive men out there. But not all of them! This is my second marriage (first to an American) and we have all the same struggles as in any marriage. I am Christian and he is Muslim and there has not been a problem yet. His family treats me better than they do him. Very warm and loving.

  15. Um Khalil

    I have been married to a Palestinian Christian for three years and am, myself, English. We live in America and have one son. My husband was the kindest, most solicitous man I dated. That is why I agreed to marry him and have his children. Things CHANGE after marriage. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned here is the way the arab women in your new family will treat you. My mother-in-law is kindness embodied- she’s a delight! She was married at thirteen so remains a bit childlike. I am married to her youngest child so his older sisters bully me and the family gives me no respect even though my family and I tower over them with education and financial means. I have learned to speak and read/write Arabic but that is not enough. If we divorce, my husband’s family will either kidnap my son or abandon him. I suppose I am trying to warn that a boyfriend or fiance is NOT a husband in arab terms and you mustn’t believe what they say. Marriage is complicated and though my husband loves me, he is given daily advice by his mates and family that is supposed to ‘make her behave’. I will not elaborate on that. My husband comes from one of the founding families of Ramallah. He is ‘not a person from the road’ as he says. I thought if we were married he would respect me, especially as the mother of his son, but it happens that non-arabs are not considered real people so his promises to me are not real either. My family and I do not believe in divorce so this is a distressing situation.

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      I think that there’s a lot of different cultural issues that come into place. It’s impossible to say “all Arabs do this” or “all Arab families think xyz” There’s just so much variation. It’s important to always be aware no matter what the culture of your partner/mate is. Thank you for sharing your experience so that others can be aware.

      1. Stella

        Something very similar happened to me in what turned out to be a brutal marriage and included the kidnapping of my then-3-year-old daughter so I can empathise with your situation……. however, my ex-husband was white, British and Christian. Sorry but what happened to you can’t really be pinned down to Arabs or Muslims. There’s 7 billion people on this planet and unfortunately, it’s just the way some people are regardless of religion, family or culture. I’m sorry you are having a troubled time. Insha’Allah you will find a peaceful resolution. Also, the (Arab and Muslim) women in my new husband’s family are delightful, wonderful, warm and welcoming.

      2. Um Khalil

        Thanks for your comment. I didn’t say ‘all arabs’ do anything. I did generalize and say ‘arabs’. I live in the largest American arab community and feel my experience is not unique.

    2. some girl

      Hi Um K,

      I have a similar experience, although we broke up before the wedding. It is a good thing the red flags exposed themselves before the wedding or else I would’ve had a troublesome marriage, he too is an Arab Christian. I know one size does not fit all, this is just my experience with one Arab man and his family. Although I do think some of the things that happened could happen from someone in any culture, I also do believe that certain cultures have a certain mindset/ traditions that differ from other cultures that can be troublesome if BOTH partners are not open minded and open for compromising. For example, arabs tend to be collectivists, while westerners tend to be individualists. This difference, from my experience, can cause a lot of issues if both partners are not willing to compromise and put themselves in the other person’s shoes, have understanding and empathy.

      You can say I was in love and had those pink rosy glasses on the whole time. He was born and raised in the states, very educated, lived on his own, I had no idea his parents had such control over him until the engagement. After the engagement he changed and became very critical, controlling, hypocritical and lying. He cared to much about his families opinion of me, telling me I needed to change and act certain ways around them. He would complain about the most ridiculous things. I never seemed to be good enough for their son no matter how hard I tried to make him happy. I never seemed to please him. Do you think he stood up for me? No! Did he try as much as I did to make me happy – NO! I was the one who had to do all the compromising in the relationship. I was the one who was going to have to cross the cultural bridge, he did not meet me halfway, not even close.

      While I was open to learning and embracing his culture, there comes to a point where they needed to realize that I am not Arab and I will never be. They should’ve been happy about me being so open minded about their culture. However, I am not always going to follow their cultural “rules” 100% as I was not brought up that way and plus, we live in the States. Most importantly, I cannot change most of who I am to be who they want me to be, especially if it is being forced! The more I’m forced, the more resentment I will have. There came to a point where I was starting to lose my identity and my self esteem. I was having doubts about our marriage and our engagement ultimately ended.

      I am now dating an American as well who compromises and cares about my feelings and knows my worth. I feel so much better about myself. I do not feel like I have to appease his family, I can be myself and they do not judge me. I have built my self esteem back up and have come to the conclusion that it was his loss. He had a girl who would have done almost anything to make him happy.

      I wish him good luck in finding a girl who meets his family’s criteria but I doubt any other American girl with a backbone will actually stay in this kind of relationship. No American girl would be o.k with having their feelings always second best. I ended up telling him that he should just marry an arab girl, that’s what his mom wants. He said that he doesn’t want that.. He will probably be single for the rest of his life, but hey, at least he has his mom. BTW, I do love my parents. Don’t think that American’s don’t listen to their parents.. we just do not let them control our lives and our relationships. Parents are supposed to love and guide, not own and control!

      Like I said before, this is just one Arab guy. Any man, regardless of culture, who tries to change you, control you and does not acknowledge your feelings is not worthy of you.

      1. Author
        Amanda Mouttaki

        Thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. It sounds like you made the best choice for you. I think it’s so important for people to realize there really are cultural differences but every person is different and stereotyping an entire ethnicity does not make sense. Wishing you lots of happiness!

      2. Um Khalil

        So well said about the collectivist v. individualist mindset. And no arab boy will put his wife equal or over his mama. :) Happy you have done so well!

  16. Abdou

    Hi ladies :) an Arab is here :)
    I don’t know when this nice article was published, but does not make any harm to comment on it.

    I read all the comments above, I do agree with some and not with others, simply because people have a lack of experience or have not lived in such environment and culture ( Arab )

    First if all I would like to stress two things here: not all Arab are Muslim, especially in Egypt, Lebanon , they are Christians also, second is that in the Islam, a man can only marry Jewish, Christian and of course a Muslim. But a Muslim women Can’t.

    Marrying 4 women at same time is allowed in Islam, but it is not an open choice, meaning is not a privilege, it’s a responsibility, marrying four must fill up conditions which some were told above.

    Faithfulness and shearing exist in all races. For different reasons and excuses.

    It is true that some marriages are based on personal interests, and can see this obvious when the gap of age is too huge.

    The list mentioned in the article apply for some people and countries depends of their culture. An Arab man is a human like any other race, and anywhere in this world there are good and bad people.

    Nowadays , people in Arab world changed a lot, and most are educated enough to know what are the responsibilities and obligations,

    Never assume or believe what is said, due to different background, culture and believes.

    I am actually marrying an Asian woman for ten years now. And alhamdu Lilliah ( thanks God ) we are living without any problems, we have no kids, happy married couple. We are both Muslim but different race and culture :)

    Wish everybody all the best

  17. Pingback: World Citizen Wednesdays #42: The Best Posts of 2013 | All Done Monkey

  18. Putri

    I’m a Singaporean married to a man who shares the same nationality like my father – Indonesian. People from very developed Singapore generally place Indonesians into two categories – super rich and downright poor. Since my husband is from a lower to middle class family, the assumption is that he’s marrying me for a better passport, privileges and the chance to use me as an ATM. Nevermind that MY plan is to one day retire in Indonesian and NOT Singapore. Any big ticket item we invest in including our wedding is assumed to have been paid for by me. Any loans that I make is assumed to have been made because he can’t support me. It’s as if financially independent women in developed cities don’t have their own financial commitments before getting married. It’s very frustrating because even those closest to you who appear to be fully supportive of your union always seem to quietly assume that he doesn’t ever make enough to support us both. That the basis of marriage in Islam has nothing to do with money has simply escaped many. It’s frustrating for me and I feel bad for my husband who works very hard, and whom I’m sure as a Master degree holder from the UK will be have better career prospects in the future.

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s always good to know there are others experiencing the same/similar issues. In some ways it makes me wonder if there are couples that don’t face any outside problems like this!

  19. Gail

    Indeed people can be cruel. It says much more about them then yourself. Hopefully you find the higher minded people in Australia. I am married to an Indian man. Delightful. I started working with an Arab man in Canada here. Accounting. Wonderful, gentle smart man whose aim is to work in peace and harmony. He is a delight to work with.

  20. mohamed

    Thank you my lady for this post.
    Iam an Egyptian man who unluckily migrated to Australia.
    I realised from day one a huge and unjustified resentment for my ethnicity and religion.
    I have never ever in my life understood how it feels to be racist at, not denying that I always heard of it but witnessing it and having to go through it on daily basis is something unbearable.
    Unfortunately, the taboos that westerners have about us seem to prevail. No one is bothered to stop for a moment and ask him/her self what are my believes or views of life.
    Any way, god bless u and ur family.
    People like you make a difference in our lives.

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      I am so sorry to hear what you’ve gone through. It really is a different experience when you are the target. Please keep your head up, wear a smile and take every chance to show people kindness, even if they refuse you the same. It will get better friends.

  21. Monique Torres

    i came upon this post because I’ve been dating a Palestinian man. i wanted too educate myself with his culture & boy have i mostly read negative thing’s about Palestinian men. i kind of got alittle scared & bothered by what I’ve read about the Palestinian culture & expectations. I’m of Puerto rican descent as well a born again Christian. I’ve come too realize people can be ignorant & stereotype men who are arab or middle eastern from my experience with an arab man he has treated me better than any American man I’ve been with in my past & has made many efforts too let me know he cares for me & is interested in me. i did worry alittle about the stereotypes & rudeness we might get in public due too him being Arab & me of course looking middle eastern myself despite being Puerto rican but i could careless now what Americans might think about us or anyone else because he’s the man who one my heart & makes me happy. so I’m ready for the cruel & disrespectful comments heading our way due too some individuals shallowness. I’m his habibty & he’s my habibty & that’s all that matter’s too me.

  22. MidosQueen913

    He is Egyptian. People have asked if his family owns or rides on camels. They also have mentioned he will make me wear a hijab. His mom didn’t wear one until she was in her 40’s and his sister decided to at 23. It was their choice. His father NEVER imposed that on either of them. That he wants me only for a green card. His father bought and owns an apartment for him when he lived in Egypt. It is still his. He doesn’t want to renounce his citizenship. He also wants to marry me, but only an Islamic wedding for now. To prove that he isn’t using me (but also because he doesn’t want to have zina

  23. Pingback: 9 Myths You’ve Heard about Muslims (The Truth From A Muslim Mom) « GoodNCrazy

  24. Kristin

    Just stumbled upon this via Twitter. I feel your pain! Have been going strong with my Arab man with both our families’ blessings! I hear this nonsense all the time. People have such little minds sometimes.

    1. Ummefour

      Firstly. I would like to say your work here with your blog and website are greatly appreciated with all the good post tips etc. I wanted to say people who have commented on their experiences have gone through some of the stereotypes you have listed. For these people its not a stereotype for them its more like Truth? If these (stereotypes are geared towards Arabs its not fair. NO. But I wouldn’t call it a stereotype when its someones truth. Alhamdulillah you are happily married and always make dua for it. There are women whom. said the same things of happiness of what you an some others mention until possibly after ten years things turn into those stereotypes. Your post is about stereotypes of Arabs, and people are sharing with you their truths. Not stereotypes more like nightmares they couldn’t imagine . Maybe you can post next time stereotypes of men rather than arabs. Again. those women have defended the same stereotypes you defend only to realize other later on some of it is true. wises. May Allah grant us all patience and understanding. ameen

      1. Author
        Amanda Mouttaki

        A stereotype is a label or description given to an entire group of people based on one person or people’s experience. “A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” It may be the truth for a single person or experience but that doesn’t make it the truth for everyone. All of the things described here are stereotypes that are held of Arab men. Are they sometimes true? Yes. Are they always true? No.

  25. Susan Rahmouni

    I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your website. I’ve been married to my Moroccan husband for 11 months now and it’s been the best months of my life. He is my soulmate. I have run into many of the usual stereotypes that you mention here and my poor husband encounters such stupid ignorance at his work. We are planning on visiting his family in Morocco next summer and I am looking forward to my first trip there. Do you speak Moroccan Arabic? I’m trying to learn but it’s a tough one :)

    1. Stella

      After 4 weeks living with my Moroccan husband’s family, I came away with a few basic words. They were keen to teach me and we had a laugh teaching his Mama some English. There is definitely a lot of stupidness and ignorance around on both sides. People at my home in the UK thought he was after a visa but have seen our relationship develop and I have so much support now but, although he has told his work colleagues he’s married, he didn’t say it was to a foreigner because he would get so much hassle – says it’s down to jealousy. Unfortunately, because of UK immigration, my husband is still in Morocco for now. Hope you have a great time – I’m only back a week and wish I was there again.

    2. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      Thanks Susan! Congratulations on your happy union! It’s just so sad what assumptions and judgements people make. I do speak some Darija, enough to get around and handle myself if I have to, but I’m still a work in progress too. Will be enrolling in some structured classes very soon so that I can pick up more. It is a difficult language to learn – I’ve learned the most by being immersed and hearing it all the time.

      1. Annie

        I just would like to say :)) I live in Australia … Had two relationships with Australian men .. I m separated from both …. I’ve just met a Arab man he has such a loving nature filled with respect understanding and so much more … I’m so intrigued by him :)) I’ve been in controlling relationships were I have been hit abused and treated like a doormat etc it’s just so nice to meet another human being who sees nature and life should be cherished .. All I can say is that it’s doesn’t matter what culture religion skin colour we all bleed have a heart have needs want to be loved accepted understood .. Etc !!! There is good and bad in every race .. Sometimes we get it right and meet the right person that you just adore and want to be with :))

  26. diane

    fun to read from other point of views and had my share of goods and bad comments as well. made me smile to myself . i married arab men twice . one from jordan and other from syria. one bad marriage and another so much better and happier of a marriage. education and communication are so important. also we can not live without a good sense of humor. ill never forget when married first time one of the congrats on my marriage was be a happy bomb jacket bride. instead of being angry so I thanked them.

    1. Gail

      Now that’s the spirit! There is a great Canadian comedien named Russel Peters. You can find him on You Tube. He takes on racism and assumptions in a very funny way!

  27. Erin leary

    Ill be marrying my Syria boyfriend this month.. He recently moved to lebanon to be safer, and that’s where I’ll be flying to be with him, it’s been almost a year since we fell inlove.. I’m so completely happy, and it pains me to hear ppl talk that way about the arabian culture,(as if all Americans are alike) I’ve been treated with the upmost respect by him from the moment we spoke.. I want someone’s blessings for my marriage not their warnings..

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      May you find happiness and peace in your marriage. I’ve found most people who I know well have changed their opinion over time. It’s just dealing with everyone until that point that is tedious.

      1. Gail Rao

        Congrats! Love is a gift. Couples that marry from different cultures embody world peace and harmony.
        May you always have the joy and richness these marriages do bring.I am a Canadian married to an Indian HIndu man. I am allowed in here because there is not the narrow mindedness. And we love the food.
        It does get better with the people who love you. The rest, well have a hearing problem.

  28. Gail Rao

    I love India. I have people who think it is mud huts. They all wear turbans. The largest english speaking population in the world, with many speaking several languages. The list is long. I have people tell me what India is like. All negative of course. When I ask have you been there they say no. It is amazing the limited knowledge. Even more so the assumptions made.

  29. Camc

    I am an American woman married to an Iraqi man, I have even been asked if he knew English and if the language barrier made it difficult for us to communicate? My response has always been he speaks better English then most people who have been born and raised here.

    1. Stella

      Oh same here, Camc. I’m Scottish and my Moroccan fiance has a better grasp of English than many UK nationals.

    2. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      So many people have such limited knowledge of the world and the people in it – never ceases to amaze me.

  30. Gail R

    A wonderful side to the love story here. So we go through all those assumptions. The list is long.Husband and I got married in Bangkok, Thailand in a rooftop Nepalise Hindu Temple. Beautiful and with love. My husband never married, me a widow. The Indian Embassy did ask for a religious ceremony with the offer to place my name as spouse on his passport. There are people purged out of my/our lives now. Ones avoided. The shallow narrow minded ones. The quality of people we are around now are more worldly, usually educated and believe in the magic and power of love. Our marriage acts as a dowser for people to avoid. Those were not good people to be around even if I have never married my wonderful husband.
    So basically the marriage sifted the wheat from the chaff

  31. Els Ben Laghlagh

    So sad all those stories
    The same thing I experienced in Europe. I am a Belgian woman married to a Moroccan husband and we live in the Uk.
    With the assumptions I can laugh : married for papers, I am going to be a “bedslave” ??? forced to wear a hijab,… But I must be honest and admit that also the people in Morocco think that my husband married me to go to Europe, he feels very embarased about that.
    Still worse : all the immigrations laws and paper work to get married : we had to do separate interviews at the Belgium embassy to determine if our relationship was not fake and it is in the hand of the interviewing person whether you get this permission or not. As a kind of retaliation, I guess, afterwords an interview with the Moroccan police to see if you can get married or not (you don`t have to be Muslim).
    Then back in Europe, all the paperwork and money to get an entry : proof of Skype, pictures, plane tickets are asked … pretty stressing for someone like me who likes to throw everything in the bin right away.
    But after months of patience, a lot of money wasted finally living together, cooking together : thank you Amanda for the recipies, this weekend stuffed chicken and msemen on the menu !!!!, a lot of laughing and talking together !!! For us cooking, eating, laughing and talking are the keys to make our differences work out well. I am very happy I have find your site

    1. Gail R

      Canada does the same thing. The snooping doing the god thing of trying to assess if our marriage is not fake. My husband is Hindu so don’t think it is just the Arabs. Preparing here to move to Bombay India. Sorry Canada he did not marry you, He married me. Married couple often give gifts on marriage of lingerie etc. show evidence of gifts. Well the Canada government has on file photos of our underwear. Six months winter, rainy stuff another 3 months. Maybe 3 good month of nice weather. Life so easy in Canada? We work darn hard. Another myth of the easy life.

  32. Nomore

    Gail R; first try to be polite and understanding.
    I’m adult and no need heart breaker advise no need fight because of explained my experience or my opinion. Please empathize with me .This is my experience i wrote just for warning people who still not sure about marry with arab people..

    I have a lot of american and european friends all is very polite. I m shocked cause of your agresive attitude.

    As i understand you are happy (and lucky ) with your arab men; im not. What i wrote %100 ttrue, (not guess )never exaggeration. Im always imagine arab people as a fabulous ,my idea changed

    Well; Muslim men can marry with christian or jewish ; but if they accept that,( i think they are flexible more than my palestinian) they knows jewish or christians have a different life culture and religion so can not force them for something .But dont forget- im muslim and not arab..

    My palestinian never accept marry with other people of book, except of muslim. People have different idea and belief. I spoke about palestinian muslim man. I dont know other arab people, saudi arabian , tunusian ,egyptian or others. Maybe these attitudes and perpective peculiar to palestinian? i cant compare

    I face with many problems with him.Im left-hander.This is related with my brain .Not my choice. I cannot do something with my right hand .This is undesirable in islam. He accused me to be aganist islamic rules..I cant keep fork or spoon with my right hand (what a big sin! )
    How i will eat something front of him? every sip ,every gobbet will be poison to me.
    this is just one example..
    im always guilty, what i did. Im very tired really. In youtube i checked their wedding rituals &life stlye and i didnt like very primitive
    the other reasons, (about honor killings, loyalty, rudeness, fidelty ,compassion ,love, insult other people, overbearing ,dreaming a few wives ) i mentioned before
    Anyway i will not marry with him.
    Chelsea; your saudi arabian friend if raised in america his viewpoint or behaviors can be different..

    which country he grown ,affect his behaviours

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      I’m not moderating comments on this (yet) because I think it is important to have multiple opinions. That being said I don’t agree with the comments you’ve made. In your specific situation maybe things are bad and didn’t work. Cross cultural relationships take a lot of work, no matter what the ethnicity and religion. It also takes a lot of compromise by both people. If they can’t do this then the relationship just won’t work. Again it doesn’t matter what the religion or ethnicity in this situation is. I really don’t think it’s fair to stereotype and judge an entire group of people based on your experience with one person who has obviously hurt you with his words and actions. I’m sorry for that but truthfully it could have happened with anyone. There are plenty of men (and women) in every culture with different opinions and actions. If you were in a relationship with say an Protestant Brit and things went bad, would you then come out and judge all Protestants and say they were barabarian and backward? It can and does happen every day with every group of people. There’s good and bad everywhere.

    2. Gail R

      Just for the record NoMore. I am married to a Hindu man. He is just wonderful because he is him. The cross cultural aspect brings a lot of laughter to us and variety. I love it. I can relate about your situation being in an abusive relationship because I was in one myself. Abusive men are in every culture and country. Kind men are in every culture and country. I hope you find a great man.I did!( finally)

    3. Chelsea

      My boyfriend was raised in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia and he has only been in the United States for two years. The culture he grew up with is completely different from the culture I grew up with so we have a few minor things that we with have to compromise and work on but other than that our relationship is perfect. He treats me like a princess & he loves my 4 year old daughter as if she is his own. He is my best friend and I am his. We tell each other everything and I believe that’s how it should be in a relationship. I know some people may have had bad experiences with Arab men but the same could be said about some American men or some men in general.

  33. Chelsea S

    I am an American and my boyfriend is from Saudi Arabia. I have heard so many crazy assumptions from many people that have seen us together or even found out that my boyfriend was from Saudi Arabia. My boyfriend and I have talked about alot of the assumptions and laughed about them. One comment that I did not find on here that has been made to me was by a coworker of mine. They said that if you talk to another guy or even look at another guy in Saudia Arabia, you would be killed. My boyfriend got a good laugh out of that comment and told me that they dont do that. Honestly, my boyfriend treats me better than any American boy ever has. He has made it very clear to me that in his culture, they like to treat their women like a princess and do what they can to make her happy.

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      Chelsea – thanks for sharing your experience. I think it’s great to hear from all sides and stories on this!

    2. Nikhat

      Hello, I would like to know more about saudi culture please….as I have few things to decide on my life..please help me know me more…as I have heard saudi men’s are dominating and stuff like that

      1. Author
        Amanda Mouttaki

        I’m really sorry but I can’t be of much help. I have experience in Morocco but not Saudi Arabia.

  34. Gail R

    NoMore needs to get away from the television a lot more and go see some things with open eyes. I know MANY European and American women married to Muslim and Arabic men very happily. The husbands cook a lot and love pampering their wives. Of course there are bad ones mixed in.I was married to a gold old born in Canada Anglo Saxon Farmer. Grandson of a Christian minister. He almost killed me! Now does this mean every woman married to a good old Canadian farmer is at risk of being killed? Of course not!

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      This is very true. There are good and bad people everywhere. It’s a lot easier to target someone’s “bad behavior” when you’re inundated with it in the media.

  35. Nomore

    And about beating; yes im sure if i marry with him, he will beat me.. %1000 sure..Dont forget honor killings very common in arabic world; (espacially in palestine )even women not guilty.. I think arabic people not suitable for european and american or girls. They are very weird very primitive.If you want to destroy your life, continue. They can marry with moroccan, egyptian or sryian girls.Not with us.

  36. Nomore

    Hi there, my english not good hope you understand me.. im muslim (non-arab) my boy friend palestinian. He is muslim. I choice him because of his religion, islam important for me. What a pity im very dissapointed with him. He has a very primitive life culture (graduated from univercity ,not untutored ) like he living 8. century ..very overbearing; not loyal , ruthless ,always dreaming a few wives.. Offending jokes; insult (even forbidden in islam ) rudeness.They like rude speeches. I loved arab people before, if all arabs like this i hate really even im muslim. Very sorry ..I will leave from him. Cannot endure anymore. Love- loyalty- compassion- fidelty not important for them.

  37. Vanessa

    I’m dating a Coptic Egyptian man, and I constantly hear from my dad:
    -about being beat up
    -having to walk way behind him
    -having to sit in the back seat of the car, not up front (it’s happened, but only because his cousin was here, and I let him sit up front – my dad won’t listen to my reasoning)
    -the smell -.-
    -about being forced to convert to his Christianity (I’m making the choice myself, I have reasons why, not just for marriage).
    And then “what if he turns Muslim, then he makes you wear that thing, can’t you divorce him?”

    My dad is also stubborn, I try to explain, and he won’t listen and keeps going on about my bfs arabness.

  38. Gail R

    I am married to an Indian man. Hindu. I married my best friend. Questions like does he wear a turban. The assumptions about India and outrageous. I am a Canadian. I am set to relocate to Mumbai a bit later this year. The very worst has been the Canada government. We have a shocking Immigration system. They thought he married them and not me along with all other couple who marry out of country. This can also include Americans!
    I love India for it’s freedoms and culture. I go there to spend time with my gentle loving husband and feel welcomed. I am quite blonde. I don’t get groped, we don;t get stared at etc. So my biggest shock has been how Canada is now.

    1. Nomore

      Sorry, i supposed you married with muslim arab man.. Muslim and hindu very different.. Never not same. because of religion.

  39. Stella

    Well this is going to come in very handy as I am relatively new to this. I should print this list out and keep it in my handbag as I am not quite versed yet in how to field such questions – and yes, I believe I have been asked all 6 during my nearly-2-year relationship. I have a pretty laid back personality so I just answer as best I can without taking too much offence. I’ve already heard that my fiance, who is an Arab and Muslim, is marrying me for a British visa a thousand times. I asked him outright if I was expected to convert to Islam and we had the most beautiful and open conversation I think I have ever had with a partner. He basically said it would make him happy but it was certainly not expected of me. It’s a personal choice and should not be based on our decision to marry.

    I really enjoyed reading other comments. I don’t feel so alone. :D

  40. Danyah

    I also love how because I happen to be a hijab wearing Muslim as well as being married to an Arab Muslim man, that means that I converted for him or he made me convert and cover my hair. Never seems to cross people’s minds that I actually have a mind of my own and am fully capable of making my own choices in life. Incidentally, I converted before I even met another Muslim let alone my husband and he is one of those Arabs who couldn’t care less what I wear. MAJOR pet peeve, it’s incredibly insulting!

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      Totally have heard that before. It is very frustrating.

  41. Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice

    I’ve just stumbled on this post – albeit a bit late – and loved it. In fact I had a deep belly laugh at most of the assumptions, because I understand you 1000%.

    I’m first gen Palestinian-American. My family is Muslim technically (mostly agnostic with the exception of my grandfather and late grandmother), and very forward thinking. Despite having an Arab name people never place me as Arab: 1) I’m not dark enough for their stereotypical liking and 2) I’m too politically liberal, as is my family. I used to take this very personally but now, knowing how ridiculous it is, I laugh and do my part to show people that Arabs are not what they see in the news.

    I’m not married to an Arab man (my husband is Australian) but many of the stereotypes you listed here, I’ve heard about my dad. People have asked me if I was allowed to date, how I married a non-Arab, if I have skewed perception of gender roles, the list goes on.

    I love that you’ve started this conversation. It’s realistic, at times quite funny, and equally frustrating truth that many of us face every day.

  42. Heather

    LOVE this post. My husband is Indian, and I have gotten some of these, too – that I’ll be expected to be obedient and that he’ll steal our kids. I also get a lot of questions about how we handle the religious differences, because people don’t seem to realize that there are religious group in India that aren’t Hindu. My husband belongs to the Mar Thoma church, and our religious “differences” are pretty straightforward, similar to any other Christians who belong to different churches but are still Christian. But my absolute favorite are people who question if he married me for his visa, which is pretty stupid considering he got his citizenship 6 years before we were even married. He’s an American, so maybe he married me for a different reason, like, oh I don’t know, maybe he loves me! You can’t fix stupid (or ignorant).

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      I’m glad this post has transcend the Arab stereotypes! People think they’re so smart..until they realize they’re not! My husband now wants to write a post called 6 assumptions people make when you tell them you married an American.

  43. Lorie

    I’ve found certain other things to be true of Arab men – not necessarily the ones listed here! I’m sure each of us could make our own list!

  44. Laura Zera

    Amanda, great post, all things that need to be said, unfortunately, but at least in this day and age the internet has given us a platform to get the word out!

  45. Trish

    Oh man Amanda I’m so sorry you have had to deal with that type of crap. The multiple wives thing is sorta ironic considering that plural marriage is actually prevalent in the states, they just have to stay secretive. Sister Wives anyone? Glad you are starting the conversation!

  46. Maribel Reyes

    I loved this article! You share so much about the culture and facts. My husband is Mexican and people assume he is “macho” and has me in the kitchen all day cooking and I can’t go against what he says. I laugh because I do speak my mind and I do love to cook, but because I love food. He is sweet and a complete gentleman at all times. That’s why I married him :D

    1. Author

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ve finally realized that stewing about all the things I’ve heard really isn’t productive and that maybe is some little way I can start a conversation with others about topics like this!

  47. Aimee

    Oh and yes, my dad did expect him to beat me. He formed this assumption after meeting two muslim men who were in a court ordered class for men who were accused of spousal abuse. I simply reminded him that he was also in that class.

  48. Aimee

    I was happy to see that you included the last item on your list, because it’s what I got the most. That and myself and the other wives would have to walk four feet behind our husband when in public. It’s a huge point of humor in our house, and like you said, my husband has enough to handle being married to only me.

    Another thing, that doesn’t quite fit on the list, but kind of goes along with a previous posters comments relate to my conversion. I feel like I always have to tell people I didn’t convert for my husband. That I converted before we were married. Before we were engaged even. Regardless of whether they ask or not. When we first met (he’s the first Muslim I ever met), he wouldn’t even answer questions about Islam for me. He said he didn’t want to be accused of trying to influce me, etc. After getting frustrated with him providing ZERO answers, I had to forge my own learning path. After doing so, I made the decision to convert. He never forced, he never even encouraged, hinted, or suggested…

  49. L.L.

    As salamu alaikom Amanda;)

    The only negative comment I had made to me was by one of my sisters (when we first got engaged) was that when we visited morocco he would take away my passport and trap me there. HAHA! We have been married 3 years (mashAllah) and I still have not been to morocco, due to lack of money (at least $1500 on RAM). My other sister just doesn’t like moroccan men b/c of a bad expierence she had when she was in morocco. What I really hate is feeling like I have to choose between him and my parents/sisters/family, but MashAllah once the met him (only my parents and 2 of my sisters met him) love him! LOL

  50. Sarah

    Also, I really can relate to this statement you made here– “I’ve wrestled with what this assumption meant as a reflection of me and my ability to judge character and remove myself from a bad situation.” I felt the same way when people said some of these things to me!! Surely they couldn’t think that I would choose to date or stay with someone who would treat me like that!!

  51. Sarah

    Thank you so much for writing this!! Several people have expressed some of these same stereotypical assumptions to me since I started dating my boyfriend who is from Pakistan. He isn’t even Arab, but people still apply these same assumptions to him because they either assume he is Arab based on his skin color and Muslim beliefs, or they don’t realize Pakistan isn’t in the Middle East. I am continuously shocked at some of the things people think and say. I am sorry you have had to deal with such assumptions, but I commend you for your commitment to educating people about this. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of your travel, culture, and relationship type posts!! : )

  52. Katy

    “Are you sure he didn’t just marry you for a green card?”

    “Does that mean you are going to convert to Islam? He is going to make you convert, right? He’s not ALLOWED to marry a woman who isn’t Muslim!”

    Arab = Muslim and Muslim = Arab and Muslim = Arab = Wahabist or Saudi or Taliban… So many people have little or no concept of the venn diagram of the Arab world vs. Islamic world. And I’ve even had people say “Okay, so I get that you can’t let the terrorists represent Islam but you also are telling me you can’t let Saudi Arabia represent all of Islam? Why?!” without understanding that Saudis make up less than 2% of the world’s Muslims!

    “Your kids have to be Muslim then, when you have kids, right?”

    “Is he independently wealthy?” (Ha! I WISH!)

    “Does he want you to stay home and take care of the kids? He doesn’t help cook or clean, right?”

    Also, a pet peeve of mine that I found in your post: it’s “Arab” men, not “Arabic” men. :) Arabic isn’t usually used as an adjective. (

    1. Author

      I changed that just for you Katy. I think another problem with that word is that I think Arab has a negative connotation. That has nothing to do with grammar just it’s use in colloquial English.

      1. katy

        Aw, thanks! Ha. :) I know, there are bigger things to worry about then semantics, but as you know, words are powerful… and it’s important in my mind to be sensitive to using the right terms.

        That being said, I still struggle with whether to say “Berber” or “Amazigh.” You can’t say the latter easily in English, and it’s more likely people have heard of “Berbers” than Amazigh. I know many people who are Amazigh who call themselves “Berber,” and have never been faulted for it. But the etymology is problematic, and Amazigh– free people– is much more representative. But I still use them interchangeably…

        Agan– just a pet peeve!!

      2. katy

        also- did you see that crazy arabic/arab discussion with the z-guy in vj a few months ago? HA.

    2. Anon

      A muslim man is allowed to marry a non muslim woman if she believes in god (i.e. jewish or christian).

      1. Katy

        Yup. My husband is Muslim; I’m Christian. The list that I posted in response? ALL things I’ve heard. :(

        1. Sarah

          Yes, my Muslim boyfriend said the same thing about who a Muslim man can marry. He said that me being Christian and remaining Christian would not prevent us staying together and/or getting married. I have had to quote him on this to so many people who think he plans to “force” me to convert to Islam.

      2. Nomore

        Dear Anon; i want to add something about your post, muslim man can marry with just muslim; jewish or christian.. Not with deist or other religion people..

  53. Stacy

    Hi, Amanda,

    I am so glad you wrote this! As an American living in Dubai I cringe every time I hear ignorant statements from folks back home who are so insular that they harshly judge all people, especially men, from Middle Eastern and other predominately Muslim countries, by what some radicals have done. The “news” that is shown in the US definitely contributes to that ignorance.

    You are light to the world. Keep on shining!

    Stacy XOXO

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for your kind words – I can’t tell you how much it means to me!

  54. Heather @girlichef

    My husband is Mexican, so people automatically assume a lot of things about him, as well. Of course, first and foremost, people think he married me to get his papers. Um, hello. And yes, there are a lot Mexican men and just as many Mexican women who marry for that reason, but that doesn’t mean that all of them do. (There are more…that’s just the main one.) Ignorance.

    1. Author

      Oh that’s a great one too – I get that a lot but I left if off my list because I have a feeling anyone who marries someone from another country gets that. Really sad.

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