Trump Made A "Rude" Thumbs Up Sign In Saudi Arabia — But Really Everyone Needs To Calm Down

It's not really considered a rude gesture.

Posted on

But on Saturday journalists following Trump to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president shared photos of this "cultural guide" which said the thumbs up gesture was considered rude or taboo there.

Later on Saturday, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs then shared this photo on Twitter showing Trump giving a thumbs up to her as he rode an escalator next to the Saudi king.

Trump flashed me a thumbs up as he rode the gold escalator up to his first overseas adventure.

Politico reporter Kenneth Vogel called it a "diplomatic faux pas."

Ladies & gentlemen, I present the 1st diplomatic faux pas of Trump's foreign trip (👍=rude gesture in Saudi Arabia).

And others also criticized Trump for the gesture.

.@JenniferJJacobs And there's #Trump already BREAKING a Saudi RULE. Thumbs up.

@moorehn And one of the 1st things trump does is a thumbs up on an escalator. Can't take him anywhere

But Trump supporters backed him for making the "rude" gesture to a reporter.

Trump gave a Thumbs Up to a US Reporter in Saudi Arabia So yes, Trump just gave a US Reporter the Middle Finger. I'm fine with that.

@JackPosobiec Thank God Our President is not PC.

@JackPosobiec That's my President! God love him, he will never stop being Trump!

But here's the thing: the thumbs up is not a rude gesture in Saudi Arabia.

What's with this "thumps up" faux pas story? I'm Arab,lived in Arab world,traveled across region,never heard of it-… https://t.co/yEaWZsSWBT

Take it from this Saudi foreign ministry official..

@anniekarni @cairowire I have no idea where that comes from, but 👍🏼is definitely not rude here

@madamyez @EliotHiggins @JenniferJJacobs Except it's not a Saudi rule. 👍🏼is fine here

We asked BuzzFeed News Middle East correspondent Borzou Daragahi to explain the confusion.

30-35 years ago 👍 was same as middle finger. Hollywood has normalized it. Now people in mideast use middle finger t… https://t.co/1NvFoWcxvp

"I mean in Iran and other parts of the Middle East it was considered rude maybe some time ago, but right now it's just not rude," he said.

"Everyone knows it means, 'Cool, OK,' and I am speculating that is the effect of Hollywood and TV and countless American TV shows dubbed into Arabic and broadcast across the Middle East," he said.

Jacobs, who posted the Trump thumbs up photo, later had this update:

Thumbs-up sign is NOT considered disrespectful here, my Bloomberg coworkers in Saudi Arabia say. "It's normal," say… https://t.co/Mj5Z6h1cuv

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.