Syrian Culture

Communication

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Verbal

  • Indirect Communication: Syrians generally communicate in an indirect fashion. One’s express point is generally reached in a long, roundabout way. This has the purpose of avoiding embarrassment or offence and respecting the other person in the conversation. The best way of reaching an understanding is to ask open-ended questions that allow them to reach their answer in their own time and give agreeable and accepting responses that do not directly disrupt the speaker’s discussion.
  • Communication Style: Syrians commonly joke and banter during conversation. Men often try to one-up each other with witty insults. The humour is likely to be different to what a Westerner is familiar with, however somewhat easy to engage with.
  • Raised Voices: Raising one’s voice is not immediately interpreted as aggressive in Syria. Speaking loudly and with passion shows one’s sincerity and investment in a matter. Such genuine expression often gives leverage and appeal in discussions and is not necessarily a sign of anger or offence.
  • Refusals: To questions and requests which require a yes or no answer, a Syrian’s preoccupation with appearances and politeness automatically requires that they answer “yes” whether it is true or not. A flat “no” can indicate that you want to end the relationship. The polite way to say no is to say something along the lines of, “I’ll see what I can do”, no matter how impossible the task may be. After the person has been queried several times concerning their success, an answer such as, “I’m still checking” or something similar signifies “no”. Such an indirect response also means “I am still your friend/ally, I tried”.


Non-Verbal

  • Personal Space: People often sit and stand closer to each other than the Western norm. Some Syrians may stand at proximities that are slightly uncomfortable for you. In this case, keep in mind that they may not have been made aware of the Australian standard of personal space, and probably do not realise the awkwardness it can create.
  • Physical Contact: Syrians are generally very tactile between members of the same gender. People often hug and kiss one another, leon on each other and walk holding hands or with linked arms. This display of affection between friends or family members of the same gender is more common in public than that between a husband and wife. Rather, affectionate conduct between the genders (even if only friendly) draws the quick assumption that the man and woman are in a romantic relationship.
  • Feet: Displaying the soles of your feet to someone is considered rude.
  • Eye Contact: Syrians expect people to maintain eye contact during interaction. It demonstrates respect, attentiveness and confidence. However, devout Muslims may lower their gaze when talking to those of the opposite gender.
  • Body Language: Syrians may be quite animated when they communicate. They typically gesture largely with their hands and head to emphasise their words. The theatrics of their mannerisms sometimes distract from the conversation, often causing it to digress. To a non-Syrian this body language can make a casual conversation seem quite intense.
  • Refusals: Tilting one’s head back while raising the eyebrows can indicate “no”.
Syrian Arab Republic
  • Population
    17,185,170
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Arabic (official)
    Kurdish
    Armenian
    Aramaic
    Circassian
    French
    English
  • Religions
    Sunni Islam (74%)
    Shi'a Islam (13%)
    Christianity (10%)
    Druze (3%)
    Judaism (>1%)
  • Ethnicities
    Arab (90.3%)
    Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian and other (9.7%)
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 80
    Individualism 35
    Masculinity 52
    Uncertainty Avoidance 60
    Long Term Orientation 30
    Indulgence N.A.
    What's this?
  • Australians with Syrian Ancestry
    19,963 [2016 census]
Syrians in Australia
  • Population
    15,321
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Syria.
  • Average Age
    45
  • Gender
    Male (48.2%)
    Female (51.8%)
  • Religion
    Islam (35.2%)
    Catholic Christianity (18.3%)
    Eastern Orthodox Christianity (13.9%)
    Oriental Orthodox Christianity (10.5)
    No Religion (3.1%)
    Other (22.2%)
  • Ancestry
    Syrian (48.2%)
    Armenian (9.8%)
    Assyrian (9.8%)
    Arab (9.7%)
    Other (22.5%)
  • Languages
    Arabic (71%)
    Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (10.7%)
    Armenian (8.5%)
    English (5.5%)
    Other (4.3%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (72.9%)
    Not well (25.7%)
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (61.4%)
    Victoria (27%)
    Queensland (3.8%)
    Western Australia (3.4%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (70.1%)
    2001-2006 (13%)
    2007-2011 (12.2%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country SY Flag