Every culture has its quirks and strange sayings, and in Saudi, these are taken to another level. I’ve listed some hilarious expressions that are commonly used in my hometown Safwa in the Eastern Province. Of course, some of these sayings may not be exclusive to Safwa or even Saudi, but I’ve included them nonetheless to give a general taste of the region’s popular culture.
- I will stomp your liver -بادوس في جبدك
This is a violent and effective threat that is commonly used in everyday speech when you’re really frustrated with someone. This liver motif is actually very popular and used in different ways like:
please, get off my liver! (said to a sticky child) -قوم عن جبدي
this makes my liver sick (said when feeling nauseous) – يلوع الجبد
you are more precious than my liver (term of endearment) -يابعد جبدي
some more common violent insults for your pleasure…..
I’ll break your head – بكسر راسك
I’ll tear you up into small pieces -بنتفك اتنتف
I’ll slaughter you-بدبحك
- Close your shop – سكري دكّانش
This is a polite way of telling someone (usually a child) that you can see their underpants and should put their legs together in order to ‘close the door’ of their ‘shop’.
- May lightning strike you -صاقعه تصقعك
I have to say, this one is one of my favourites. It’s basically the Safwani equivalent of ‘damn you’ but with a touch of Greek mythology.
- The eye of a virgin- عين غذره او عذراء
Forget the eye of the tiger, the eye of the virgin is what we should all be singing about. According to the culture of the area, the eyes of virgins possess a supernatural power and energy that can even break a curse or inflict one. This is why, during certain conversations, a group of married women might lightly joke that they should be careful about what they say as they are in the presence of ‘the eye of a virgin’ .
- The spring of Athari – عين عذاري
The spring of Athari is located in Bahrain and known for nourishing the distant farms but not the ones closest to it. As a result of this, this expression is used to describe a person who would rather help distant acquaintances than those close to him. You might hear it used in this way:
Well you can’t be surprised with her behaviour, she’s like the Athari Spring.
- You have hot eyes – عيونك حارة
Don’t mistake this for a complement. It’s far from it. Hot eyes are eyes that are particularly good at giving people the evil eye.
Think of this scenario:
You’re eating some vanilla ice cream, and your friend looks at you eating with desire. She wants some ice cream but is quiet. Suddenly you start choking. That’s when you know someone has hot eyes…
- There are Bedouins in the spring -في العين بدو
This expression is used to warn others that there’s an outsider in the group and should be careful about what they say. This expression apparently originated during the olden days when people frequented the springs in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia. A number of Bedouins, who were seen as outsiders and possible Government spies, would also frequent the springs; and so this expression was used to alert everyone to their presence.