Don't let this post color your opinions in a bad way about Arabs. But personally, as an American woman, I don't really like Arab "shabab." "Shabab" is an Arabic term that means "youths," but I apply it to the over-abundance of men/boys in their late teens/early twenties who seem to have nothing to do but stand around all day staring at people--and especially staring at me. And talking about me (in Arabic) (because they don't think I can understand) and occasionally, if they are brave and with their friends and I am alone, saying things in English loud enough for me to hear, like "what's your name" and "welcome" (remember the zoo in Cairo?).
Even for those who don't know my personality (although you get a rather large dose of it on my blog), this sounds like it would annoy me.
I have for quite a long time wondered why it is considered culturally acceptable to stare at foreigners as though they are some sort of oddity (but then I think of what people in America do when a woman walks by in a hijab or a burka, and I start to understand), especially since I am that oddity--with super white skin, red hair, blue eyes, and a backpack (the biggest red flag that I am American).
Anyway, shabab bother me. They really creep me out. And I try to stay away from them as much as possible, or ignore them (as I do most Arab men--for purposes of safety and annoyance) when not possible.
My "favorite" is when I am at the University. Especially when I walk around by myself, I can feel everyone staring at me (and see it when I wear sunglasses). Especially the males. Like, "what is this odd thing walking through our campus?"
The other day, I was sitting on a bench waiting for my friend (Arab, female, 5'3"--just kidding about that last part). Two "shebab" came and sat on a bench next to my bench and just sat there, staring at me. Naturally, I ignored them, and naturally, they had nothing else to do but stare.
It was kind of awkward.
So then I called my friend and told her that I was waiting for her, etc. The conversation was all in Arabic, as usual, as she is Arab and speaks Arabic :).
As I hung up, one of the shebab said (in a voice loud enough for me to hear, obviously), "She speaks Arabic!" And then he said it again, in case the people around him hadn't heard him the first time.
I really wanted to laugh out loud, but instead I pretended to ignore him. He and his friend left soon thereafter.
And me? I felt triumphant. I guess I really do speak Arabic, if the shebab think so!