Five UAE hand gestures that you need to know

Have you noticed yourself start to use them too?

Regardless of whether you’ve just moved here or are a desert veteran, you’re likely to have encountered some gestures in the UAE that you might not have seen in your home country.

We’ve thrown together a list of new ones and some classics, to make sure you’re all clued up when one of them gets whipped out on you…

#1. Tolerance


#2. Wait, slow down or ‘listen to me’


A sign that gets used in the UAE on a daily basis and basically means shway shway (aka ‘wait’ or ‘slowly’). It can be accompanied by a tut and a frown (meaning ‘wait habibi’), used during driving (‘please let me out’) or can be used while talking to command attention.

3. I don’t know


The ‘I don’t know’ hand sign consists of a cupped hand being flapped 180. A staple in conversations burdened with a language barrier. Can also be used in a ‘come on, man’ scenario, or when asking the price of something.

4. Come here


This one is similar to the cupped hand, waving fingers used in the western world, all you’ve got to do is flip your hand over, and make the same ‘come hither’ motion with all your fingers. This signal is often used from a car to command the attention of the karak man.

#5. Win, Victory, Love


This is our favourite: this hand sign was coined as a logo for the UAE by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE back in 2013.

The hand sign shows the W for Win, the V for Victory and the L for Love, and is commonly referred to as Sheikh Mohammed’s three-finger salute.


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