Folk Saying- Arabian Standard Time

The informant is a nineteen-year old student born in Australia who’s lived in Egypt for two years, England for two years, Jordan for four years, Egypt for two years, India for four years and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA for university.  He is the son of an Egyptian ambassador and speaks Arabic, English and French. He shall be referred to as SH.

SH describes how in many warmer countries along the equator, people are not as inclined to strictly adhere to a schedule as they would in other countries, resulting in people often being late. He refers to this as running on “Arabian Standard Time,” but says a variant of that is “Indian Standard Time” or other versions. He explains how it is a way of referring to the stereotype of people from those countries as being inclined to be late. However, he addresses this with a sense of humor, smiling as he talks about it. He explains that since people from the tropical climates are used to having long hours of sunlight, it is not essential that they follow a clock so closely and that not too much is lost by being twenty minutes late.

Conversely, much of American culture is derived from British culture, where sunlight is scarce and rarely lasts long. Thus, people from those countries place more value in sunlight hours and thus are more insistent on punctuality.

While this is a negative stereotype, it seems to be embraced by the people who it applies to (at least in the case of SH). Thus, it appears they do not take it as negatively. Rather, SH explains a sort of pride at his country of origin and the lifestyle they live. The use of the term “standard time” suggests this is the official way they choose to address time, thus embracing a culture that is not so strict on punctuality.