If you find yourself in the Middle East, it is part of the local hospitality to be welcomed, especially before more official gatherings, with Arabic coffee and fresh dates.

For those active in the hospitality industry, and particularly for commercial and VIP cabin crew, knowing the correct service etiquette as well as the right way to conduct it is paramount because mistakes that might seem harmless to us can end up insulting our guests.

The protocol is almost a cultural ritual and very different from your usual cup of coffee offered in other parts of the world.

Made of home-roasted ground coffee and a mix of spices (including cardamom, saffron, cloves, rosewater), Arabic coffee looks, smells and tastes different than the coffee most of us are used to.

It is served from a medium size, long spout pot called “dallah” in small handle less cups called “finjaans”.

Because it is supposed to be offered piping hot, the amount of coffee poured into the miniature cups is 1/3 up to 2/3 of the cup, depending also on the actual cup size.

Since sugar is not part of the ingredients, fresh Arabic dates are always offered with coffee as a healthy sugar replacement.

The service is conducted by 2 persons: one offering dates, and the other serving coffee to all guests, starting with the highest ranking or the most elderly one.

It is important for the servers to ensure they offer coffee and dates to every single guest as omitting one will be extremely humiliating for the guest.

Besides being offered as a welcome treat, Arabic coffee is also served after a meal gathering as an indication of the fact that the meeting is now concluded.

In this short video, we explain the protocol followed by commercial and VIP cabin crew based in or flying in and out of the Middle East to cater for Arabic guests.

We hope you enjoy it and wish you blue skies and happy landings.

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