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Santa Claus in the desert

What are the best Christmas gifts for Arabic nerds in 2023?

Christmas isn’t far away. So what should you get someone who is learning Arabic and loves Arabic culture? Here are some gift ideas for Arabic nerds.

Last updated: 8 months ago

It's not that easy to surprise people who learn or like Arabic with gifts. It's often easy to be wrong. So I asked around and looked around and created a list of gift suggestions – for all those who are celebrating Christmas or are simply looking for a gift idea for Arabic nerds.

Due to the current situation in the Middle East, this list is somewhat “Palestinian-centric” – for the simple reason that it is a way to recognize and economically support the people there.



Original Palestinian Kufiya (كوفية)

The Palestinian politician Yasir Arafat (ياسر عرفات) wore this traditional garment on his head as it was originally intended and made it an icon (الكوفية البيضاء). Today, people wear it around their necks, as climate activist Greta Thunberg recently did.

Hirbawi is the last company in Palestine producing the Kufiya. You can read more about Hirbawi on their website.

PRICE: ca. € 28 plus shipping

Hirbawy Kufiya - Jenin (جنين) style
Hirbawy Kufiya – Jenin (جنين) style

If anyone is worried about cultural appropriation, this is how I see it: Westerners who wear the scarf in the West like the local Arabs (headscarf) look a little silly anyway. The scarf is rather a fashion accessory that helps preserve a piece of Palestinian Arab (Muslim & Christian) tradition and can be used in many ways, including to brighten up the home. The manufacturer in Hebron (الخليل), which claims to be the last weaving factory in the West Bank, explicitly offers its goods to everyone and is happy about the support. For me, this means the following: Whoever owns or wears the “Palestinian scarf” respects and appreciates the Arab-Palestinian culture. It is a culture that in recent years (long before October 7, 2023) has been attacked in some Western countries (especially in Germany) to the point of denying its existence.

Note: Depending on the country, tribe and region, there are different expressions for the Kufiya: الغُتْرة or الشِّماغ or الحَطّة or المشدة or القَضاضة or الجمدانة.


Personalized Arabic calligraphy (embroidered baby blanket)

According to the description, this blanket is for babies, but I think you can also give it to friends or loved ones. The great thing about it: You can specify a name when you order and it will be embroidered on the blanket in Arabic.

PRICE: ca. € 58 plus shipping

Embroidered Arabic calligraphy
Embroidered Arabic

Fluorescent Arabic wall alphabet

This is really something for nerds (or kids ;-). The Arabic letters light up when you turn off the light.

PRICE: ca. € 9 to € 18

Fluorescent Arabic alphabet
Fluorescent Arabic alphabet

Digital prayer time (Azan) clock

I first saw this device more than 15 years ago when I was in Pakistan. Today, we live in a time where every cell phone knows the prayer times. Since it also shows the date, current time and temperature, and looks somewhere between “space age” and “retro,” not only Muslims but also non-Muslims can use it in everyday life.

PRICE: ca. € 55 plus shipping

azan clock 1
What are the best Christmas gifts for Arabic nerds in 2023? 29

Unique nerdy blanket: Arabic verb “to sleep”

You should be able to conjugate Arabic verbs in your sleep. So maybe it will work if you just cover yourself with a blanket with a verb conjugated all the way through it and it will seep into your subconscious. And if that doesn't work, you've got yourself a unique eye-catcher!

PRICE: ca. € 49 plus shipping


Christmas tree camel

If you still need something for your Christmas tree or just want to spruce up your home, this handmade Bedouin-style ornament from Jordan might be just what you need.

PRICE: ca. € 14 plus shipping (from Jordan)

christmas tree camel
What are the best Christmas gifts for Arabic nerds in 2023? 30

Books

Books are always a good choice. Here are a few suggestions that Arabic nerds might like.

Fish, Milk, Tamarind: A Book of Egyptian Arabic Food Expressions

This books is also suitable for Arabic beginners.

Can you guess what Egyptians mean when they say that something is a “peeled banana,” that someone is “sleeping in honey,” or that someone has “turned the sea into tahini? You may find the answers quite unexpected when you open the pages of this delightful gift book featuring about one hundred popular food-related phrases and used by native speakers of Egyptian Arabic.

PRICE: ca. € 18


From Ibn Sina to Sindbad: A Guided Reader to Classics of Arabic Literature

This book is only for people who already know Arabic well.

From Ibn Sina to Sindbad makes some of the greatest works of the Golden Age of Arab Civilization accessible to intermediate to advanced Arabic students, while also providing a ready-to-use curriculum for teachers of advanced Arabic.
It introduces students to classical Arabic literature through twenty guided readings of works spanning prose genres from travel writing to philosophy, science, religion, humor, and imaginative fiction, including texts by al-Jahiz, al-Kindi, Ibn Khaldun, and Ibn Rushd.

PRICE: ca. € 44


Falastin: A Cookbook

In Germany, many people who live in cities have a cookbook called “Jerusalem” (by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi). The co-author of the book, Sami Tamimi, has since written a book about Palestinian cuisine: 120 recipes shaped by his personal story and the history of Palestine.

PRICE: ca. € 31

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Dust: Egypt's Forgotten Architecture

Between 1860 and 1940, Cairo and other major cities in Egypt experienced a major building boom, resulting in extraordinary palaces and lavish buildings. These incorporated a mix of architectural styles, such as Beaux-Arts and Art Deco, with local design influences and materials. Today, many sit empty and neglected, quickly succumbing to the ravages of time. Anyone who has ever been to Egypt can refresh their memories with this.

PRICE: ca. € 32

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Palestinian Music in Exile

Palestinian Music in Exile is a historical and contemporary study of Palestinian musicianship in exile in the Middle East, spanning half a century in various locations including Gaza, Turkey, Kuwait, and Egypt. Grassroots musicians emerge here as powerful actors whose stories take center stage, offering critiques of existing conditions, new perspectives on displacement and the transmission of Palestinian narratives, and alternative visions for the future.

PRICE: ca. € 44


Stuff that always works

Glass: Arabic verb “to drink”

This glass is perfect to enjoy just a glass of fresh water (or any beverage) to recharge your batteries. It can hold up to 16 oz (0.473 liter) and is a durable, high-quality addition to your glassware collection.

Written text: Arabic verb to drink – conjugation in past and . All pronouns. With colored vowels (diacritical marks), transliteration and English translation.

PRICE: ca. € 17.50 plus shipping

shaker pint glass 16 oz 16 oz front 655672464b3b5
What are the best Christmas gifts for Arabic nerds in 2023? 31

Annual subscription of Shahid

Shahid is the best platform for Arabic series. So if you like streaming, you can give a subscription to Shahid. Unfortunately, there are no coupons. So you have to write a card yourself to give it as a gift.

Monthly ca. € 10


If you know of any good gift ideas, please add them in the comments section or drop me a quick note.

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