I’ve been meaning to write about this for a week now. And whenever I think about it or see someone do it, it never ceased to make me laugh. It - being the body language of Abu Dhabi. And what makes it funnier is that it is practically rubbing on my husband. I have to generalize it as Abu Dhabi because some of the gestures are made by non-Arabic nationality but still very rampant in this city.
The first body language is the kissing-five-fingers. How do I describe this? This gesture is made using all five fingers meet in the middle like a kiss but pointing upward. The Arabs call this “shwei-shwei.” It means “for a while” or “wait a minute” or “please wait.” The first time I saw this gesture I was a bit taken aback. I thought it was something negative like I was given the finger (*grin*). Sorry. Good this it was explained. The funny thing about this is it was used as traffic sign. On a congested road going to the church one time, a bus wanted to cut in line with the flow, so instead of the usual traffic manual sign of raising your arm his hand showed the “shwei-shwei” sign. So much for the traditional traffic hand signs.
The second body language is the semi-raised arm with the closed palm. And I thought this hand language is for those who are doing declamation or doing debates in the senate. I was wrong. Still with the traffic issues, a time when a huge car stopped in the middle of the road and causing traffic congestion. This hand gesture is courtesy of my husband which he, as he insisted, got it from other Arab drivers. The action was just like semi-raising his arm and looking at the driver who went out of the car blocking the way. The driver’s reply was the “shwei-shwei” sign. Then my husband continued to show his palm. It was like they were shouting/talking with hand gestures. For me, it was very funny.
This third body language is often used by non-Arabs. This one is courtesy of the Indians. I call this the sideways head bobbing. I don’t actually know how to describe it, the movement is similar with those toys you put on your dashboards of your car with bobbing heads, but in sideways motion. This head motion means “yes” or “its ok” or “no problem.” But there are still some times that I don’t understand what it means, but basically it means yes.
Another body language, still used by non –Arabs is the hand raised with one twist movement. It is like moving your hand in a left-right movement but with one swift motion. Per my husband it means, “What?” This completely baffles me. I can’t believe that this hand movement could actually mean a thing.
Despite the peculiarity of these movements, people here in Abu Dhabi are able to communicate. I don’t’ know how they could come up with this language but it sure does deliver the message.