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Khawaga (خواجة) is an (Egyptian) Arabic word much used around Western tourists, usually without their knowledge. It's rather nasty-sounding word even by the standards of Arabic, starting with a throat-clearing kh and continuing with wAAga!, like spitting phlegm. The middle A is a back vowel (car) while the others are front vowels (at), 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 khawaga 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.

Actually,it would be better to think of the word 'khawaga' as meaning 'westerner' while the word 'agnabi/ajnabi' means foreigner.

I actually like the sound of the first letter, but that's just personal preference. The first letter/sound is certainly not a nasty sounding letter "even by the standards of Arabic" because it is a standard Arabic letter and sound. Also, the structure of the word is a very common one in Arabic. There is nothing unusual about it.

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