Life at USC

East Quad Cultural Showcase: United Arab Emirates

Who says you have to leave your residence hall to experience a new culture and chow down on some delicious food? Residents of the East Quad dormitory, where our USC International Accelerator Program (USC IAP) students live during their first year, had the opportunity to experience the United Arab Emirates, if only for a night! Our very own USC IAP students from the UAE gave a short presentation about their culture and traditional guest dining etiquette while students enjoyed an array of Middle Eastern food catered by Arabesque, a Middle Eastern restaurant only 10 minutes from campus!

Did you know about these traditional UAE etiquette tips for a dinner gathering?


Is halfway the right way?

  • It is customary for the host to only fill their guests’ coffee (or tea) cups halfway. This prevents the coffee from spilling on the guest and ruining his or her clothes for the rest of the night.
  • Also, the gesture of filling the cup entirely indirectly indicates that the guest is no longer welcome.
  • In all meetings or gatherings, the person pouring the coffee is in charge of seeing if other people want more coffee or have had enough.
    • If guests want more, they will hand the host their cup and the host will pour them more coffee.
    • If guests have had enough, they will hand the host their cup while shaking it. This signals no more coffee is desired.

What’s that smell? 

  • Giving incense to guests serves the purpose of providing them with a lingering clean smell.
  • It also signals that it is time for the guest to leave.
    • If incense is given shortly after a guest had arrived, it signals that the host no longer wants that individual to stay. Therefore, hosts always try to give the gift of incense later during the night when the guest decides to leave on their own.

You go…no after you…I insist! 

  • When walking in the same direction, such as two people deciding to use the restroom at the same time, it is preferable to let the person on the right go first.

Take a look at some of the pictures of the event below!


A sampling of the delicious food students chowed down on!


Just a few of our UAE students dressed in their traditional cultural attire.

Yaser Alsaadi (left) and Khalid Abdulla (right) giving presentations about the UAE culture.


Our UAE students teaching the sign for “Excellence, Victory and Winning” which also translates to “Peace, Love, and Victory”


The East Quad residence hall showing some love for the United Arab Emirates!


Interested in learning more about other cultures? Be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming cultural nights that will be taking place throughout the semester! You don’t want to miss out!


In the meantime, don’t forget to check out what else our USC International Accelerator Program  students have been up to by clicking below!

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