(خواجة) is an (Egyptian) Arabic
word much used around
usually without their knowledge. It's rather nasty-sounding word even
by the standards of Arabic, starting with a throat-clearing kh
continuing with wAAga!
, like spitting phlegm. The middle A is
a back vowel
r) while the others are front vowel
t), the lack of vowel harmony
making it sound even worse.
The usual gloss is foreigner,
but the official word for that is agnabi. Instead, the colloquial
carries distinct connotations of being both rich and
clueless. Only a khawaga would buy something in a souq
without haggling or pay twenty pounds for a 5-minute ride on a camel;
only a khawaga would barge into a mosque in shorts or
get frustrated when the train is 15 minutes late.
However, it would be wrong to dub khawaga solely an insult or a
pejorative term, as there is a distinct amount of respect and envy
mixed in. Arabs speak of 'u'det al-khawaga, "awe of the
foreigner", referring to the desire to emulate
Western qualities like wealth, sexual freedom, social mobility.
This manifests itself not only in some people's preference for
things foreign over things Egyptian, but also as a suspicion of people
like expatriates who have too much contact with foreigners --
they are assumed to have lost their Arabic culture and many are
referred to and treated as khawagas. These suspicions go back
a long way, to the extent that al-Khawaga is not an uncommon surname.
See also Auslander, farang, gaijin, gringo and gwailo.