What Cultural Profile?

This blog post is a little difficult for me, as Dubai, from my experience, doesn’t fit into a category. Prior to my visit, my research indicated that Dubai was high-context society, where lot of contextual information was known about the people with whom one interacts and does business with. While the Arab culture very much focuses on personal relationships, it is not the sole factor when conducting business. Similar to the United States, Dubai is a business-focused city. The difference is that people may enter a business meeting and ask those around them, “Where are you from?” or something similar. However, this is due to the fact that people are from all around the world. That was the extent of the high context interactions. Once initial questions were asked, whether the parties knew each other or not, they went straight down to business, however, many relationships blossomed from these interactions.  When I arrived to my office, a week had passed before anyone asked me any personal questions, but I was doing a lot of work already.

There is certainly a power distance. Speaking to those that live in Dubai, I learned that this was a frustrating, but accepted, issue. It is not a power distance in the middle class working place. My office, for example, was very open, and access to the CEO and directors was very easy. I was able to communicate to my boss at ease on a daily basis. However, the power distance from the labor class, to the middle class, and to the upper class is extreme. Dubai is a serving society. Those that work in the food business, or hospitality industry of sorts, serve those who work in higher industries. This might sound like any country, where yes, there are servers, but it’s different in Dubai; you feel it. I was not used to being served everywhere I go. If you sit at a coffee shop, you have a server that comes to your table, and you will not find trashcans in food courts for you to throw away your food, you have a server. You are treated “special” everywhere. It creates jobs, yes, but there is hierarchy that was a little unsettling for me.

The strongest power distance in the city is between the locals and everyone else. Similar to what I stated in previous posts, everyone I spoke to always used the phrase, “unless you’re a local.” If you are a local Emirate, from a local family, you have more rights than a construction worker from another country. It is a known fact in Dubai, however, it is not something that I feel comfortable discussing in detail through a public post.

Masculinity is a personal, cultural characteristic. Contrary to what many believe, because Dubai is such a melting pot, masculinity is not a factor. In certain cultures and families it may be, but in a business setting, it doesn’t exist. Men and women are equal, and both are free to wear, and do what they please. There is not a gender bias in the work place. Which brings me to my next point; Dubai is a futuristic city, holding on to past traditions. Dubai is the future. When it comes to business, tourism, innovations, and growth, Dubai is ahead of the curve. When it comes to cultural, religion, and core values, Dubai holds on the Islamic traditions of the Emirates. But, it works. It really works for the Emirate.

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