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Cultural Differences Between the United States and Saudi Arabia

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Using Key Cultural Factors developed by Edward T. Hall, I explore the fundamental differences between these two cultures. Our experiences of the world vary greatly depending on the culture we are a part of. Understanding the basics of other cultures helps us communicate and form better relationships.

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Cultural Differences Between the United States and Saudi Arabia

  1. 1. SAUDI ARABIA Cultural Differences of MOTAZ HAJAJ & Charis Intercultural Training
  2. 2. Culture as an Iceberg Many cultural differences are obvious, while others are rooted deeply within. SEX ROLES MUSIC & ART GIFT GIVING BUSINESS PRACTICES GESTURES LANGUAGE DRESS FOOD & DINING PERSONAL SPACE HOLIDAYS COMMUNICATION STYLES INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS TIME ORIENTATION ASSUMPTIONS & ATTITUDES DECISION-MAKING METHODS PERCEPTION OF SOCIETAL LAWS LEARNING STYLES VALUES, BELIEFS & NORMS
  3. 3. HIGH CONTEXT VS. LOW CONTEXT Communication Styles
  4. 4. High Context Low Context Different levels of rank or position are respected at a meeting, with junior employees rarely speaking up Negative feedback can be quite direct Resources such as a help desk or internet browser are the first place to go to have a question answered Business plans are introduced with market research, rational logic, or facts to interest the listener Everyone at a meeting is expected to contribute by speaking up, regardless of status, gender or seniority Before a mid-level manager can commit, he must go through many layers of gaining permission, approvals and building consensus. When a person wants to say “no” to refuse work or decline an invitation, but feels it will hurt the relationship, he can say “yes,” “I’ll try,” suggest an alternative or remain silent
  5. 5. High Context Taking the time to get to know someone allows effective communication. Overt conflict is avoided.
  6. 6. When you have spoken the word, it reigns over you. When it is unspoken, you reign over it. Saudi Proverb
  7. 7. MONOCHRONIC VS. POLYCHRONIC AttitudesTowardTime
  8. 8. Monochronic Polychronic For an 8:00 meeting, they arrive at 7:55 and wait for others to arrive Family and friends are asked to use their influence to find jobs Meetings and business lunches do not have fixed beginning or ending times Decisions take a long time, but that doesn’t cause impatience because the stakeholders have a very long term view. When interrupted, they stop what they are doing to help the person right away When interrupted, they check the time and schedule a time to talk later When they know they can’t make the deadline, they give their boss as much notice as possible. When they can’t meet a deadline, they work long hours and may not finish on time. People extend themselves to do favors, pay for things or help a person because they believe it will increase their network. To show their integrity when borrowing something or receiving a favor, the item is returned as soon as possible.
  9. 9. INDIVIDUALISM VS. COLLECTIVISM View of Identity
  10. 10. Collectivism- Family Comes First The importance of relationships in Saudi Arabia cannot be overstated. Belonging to a group (or tribe) is a matter of economic and social survival. Loyalty to family takes precedence over personal needs.
  11. 11. POWER DISTANCE View of Authority
  12. 12. Power & Hierarchy Most of the Arab world has: • An unequal distribution of power • A low degree of disagreement with authority • Class differentiation based on position • A tendency for autocratic decision-making
  13. 13. Want more information on Saudi Arabian Culture? Saudi Arabia +1 925 931-0555 Connect with us to learn how to work across cultures. Motaz Hajaj ChessTag motaz@chesstag.com United States Marian Stetson-Rodriguez Charis InterculturalTraining info@chariscorp.com @motazhajaj
  14. 14. THANK YOU Information in this presentation is based on Edward T. Hall’s Key Cultural Factors

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