Do I have to return this present?
March 31, 2010 2:36 AM   Subscribe

EtiquetteFilter: A business partner's wife handed me a gift for my wife on my latest visit. Said business partner is from (and lives in) the Middle East, same goes for his wife. Their family background is muslim, though they are not really practicing it. I hardly know his wife (met her only twice) and both of them don't know my wife at all. What is the meaning of such a present? Should we give her a present in return? If so, should it be more or less costly than the one for my wife (they are wealthy, far more than I am).
posted by cronholio to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's less about the value of the gift than the intention. I suggest giving something in return that is difficult to find in the middle east, or specific to your region of (USA/Canada/Europe I assume). Anything that you cannot buy in the Dubai airport duty free would be good...
posted by thewalrus at 2:50 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, seconding a gift specific to your country.
I don't know about the wife to wife gifting, but when receiving a gift from a business partner from the Middle East, always reciprocate!
(If you travel there, make sure you pack a few extra gifts in case you get invited somewhere as a guest. There is quite a gift giving culture, more so than in Europe or the US. But I'm sure you know that already.)
posted by Omnomnom at 3:44 AM on March 31, 2010

I believe it is proper to reciprocate , stressing that the gift is from your wife or a close female relative.
Accepting a gift ( even a business gift) from a non-related male in Middle Eastern society is frowned upon.
posted by pentagoet at 8:55 AM on March 31, 2010

Best answer: Yes, get the wife something from your wife. It doesn't need to be as expensive or as big, but if she gave you a diamond necklace, don't give her a kazoo. Something along the lines of what she got you, though your country's version of it, is what you should go for.

A nice scarf or small piece of jewelry would be good. Food and clothes are generally a bad idea because you don't know their restrictions or taste.
What did she give your wife?
posted by rmless at 9:38 AM on March 31, 2010

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