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Actually this is one of my problems living in Europe 🙂
Our personal (first name) is composed of one name, our family names are our last name. Normally Arabs have only one first name (some can have more- what we call a compounded name). My Name, for example is Nedal Zahran.
However, in Arabic we traditionally kept a long genealogy (it is often a source of pride to list your famous ancestors). This tradition translates in the way we form what we call a ‘full name’ which is composed of your first name, your fathers first name, your grandfathers first name and then your family name. You can also have several variations (like adding a clan name after your family name which is typical in larger clans).
So in our passports, for example, our names are written as a list of the four names that compose our full name. Mine is Nedal Hasan Mohammed Zahran. It is hard to get someone who doesn’t understand Arabic naming conventions to understand that that long name is actually the same as the short name.
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