Oral and Nonverbal Communication in the UAE (Dubai)
Due to the UAE's high standard of living and growth in trade, many people from all around the world come to the UAE striving for a better life and jobs that pay well. There are around 4.4 million people in the country, with only 15--20% of them being citizens and 96% being Muslims. Hofstede’s analysis of the United Arab Emirates indicates that religion (Islam) plays an important role in people’s lives. Islam is the official and majority religion and includes almost every aspect of life. Education, laws, food, clothes, daily routines and even conversations are all strongly influenced by Islam. The Islamic faith places great emphasis on behaviors such as generosity, respect and modesty which most Emiratis display. The country scores high on power distance and uncertainty avoidance. That means that the society is highly rule--oriented with laws, regulations and controls.
Basic Cultural Values
Before doing business in a country, such as United Arab Emirates, we need to understand basic cultural values of that country. There are some values that specifically prevail in Arab culture: endurance and rectitude; loyalty and dignity; generosity, courage and self--respect; pride, rivalry and revenge. The basic values include: collectivism, hospitality and honor. In the UAE social relations are crucial. “Nomadic hospitality or diyafa dates to pre--Islamic times and emerged as a coping mechanism in the desert environment, where individuals were utterly dependent on the assistance of others during travel or for protection from avengers or oppressors.” (Feghali, 1997, p. 345).
Language and Communication Style
Arabic is the official language of the UAE but English is widely spoken in Dubai. However, rules and laws are published in Arabic, as well as government affairs. Natives usually speak Arabic called Emirates. You can get by with just speaking English in Dubai, but if you are ready to learn Arabic you will probably be more welcomed by the Emiratis. The number of English speakers has been growing in Dubai due to expats coming to the country. Therefore, the government is afraid that the UAE can lose national identity. Communication style of native Arabic speakers is very different from other language speakers. People in the UAE may communicate with a vocal emphasis, volume and body language that others might associate with being angry or upset. Responding to anger or seriousness with light laughter or a smile is common. This must not be seen as a sign that the other person is not taking you or the situation seriously. (U.S.--U.A.E. Business Council, 2014). Arabic communication style has common features, such as repetition, indirectness, elaborateness and effectiveness. For example, during a conversation Arabs repeat phrases Inshallah (if God wills it), el hamdulillah, hamdillah, kattirkhairallah and ishkorallah (Thanks be to God), and sm ‘allah (In the name of God). Native speakers tend to use considerably more proverbs and preceded ritualistic phrases to praise others. Arabs use the language very expressively meaning that “Where a North American can adequately express an idea in ten words, the Arabic speaker will typically use one hundred words” (Feghali, 1997, p. 358). When Arabs talk to each other they are forced to exaggerate. If you speak softly and unelaborately, you will not be believed by Arabs. In oral communication Arabs use presentation style where people and not ideas are responsible for influence. It contradicts Westerns logical structure of proof. Arabs tend to speak fast and loud. Soft speaking implies weakness.
People in the UAE often greet each other with a number of ritual phrases and fixed responses. Ancient custom governs these interactions. To Western eyes, profuse greetings, inquiries about health and well--being, often take up inordinate amounts of time but it is important in establishing friendly relations. Instead...
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