Communications in the United Arab Emirates


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Presentation of an in-depth study of communications in the U.A.E. and how to successfully enter the country as a for profit or non-profit organization. Gives excellent overview of the area's culture.

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Communications in the United Arab Emirates

  1. 1. ‚The people of the UAE, both expatriates and nationals, are unified by ambition… they are unique from consumers in other major economic and cultural centers, where place typically has the upper hand in shaping the individual…in the UAE, it’s the other way around.‛ CEO of Fallon North America Chris Foster, after working on an advertising campaign for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
  2. 2. TOTAL POPULATION Of 4.8 Million, only 15% are nationals 2/3rds under the age of 30 POPULATION GROWTH 6.9% from 2007 to 2008 Expected to drop 20% over the next 2 years due to economic crisis
  3. 3. ETHNIC COMPOSITION 34% Arab 8% Iranian 50% South Asian 8% Western Ex-pats Wealth & power in the hands of the Western & Arabic population
  4. 4. RELIGIOUS STATISTICS Islam 76% Buddhist 5.9% Protestant 5% OFFICIAL LANGUAGE Arabic, but large portion speak English, Hindi & Mandarin Chinese
  5. 5. LIFESTYLE Life Expectancy: 77 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN) GNI per capita: $23,770 GDP per capita: $45, 461 *Less than 0.2% of the country controls 90% of the population’s wealth
  7. 7. WOMEN 40% of total population (as of 2007) 77% in higher education (highest rate in the world) 33% of economic contribution 60% of government employees 18% of electoral college
  8. 8. PRIMARY SCHOOL ENROLLMENT Total - 91% Females – 48% LITERACY RATE All - 90% Female – 81.7% Male – 76.1% 59.5% read the newspaper
  9. 9. UAE according to Hofstede High Power Distance High Uncertainty Avoidance High Context Medium Media Independence High Collectivism Short-term Time Orientation
  10. 10. Economy Capitalist Currency – Emirati Dirham 100 Dollars = 367.25 Dirham The most expensive country for expatriates One of the fastest growing economies in the world
  11. 11. Economy One of the most developed countries in the world Per capita GDP 14th in the world, 3rd in the Middle East Petroleum and natural gas exports play an important role in the economy require at least 51% local citizen ownership in all businesses
  12. 12. Economy currently $350 billion worth of active construction projects World’s largest artificial islands World’s tallest building World’s most extensive airport World’s largest shopping mall
  13. 13. Economy Weakening along with the rest of the world Influx of conservative Muslim money slowing growth and changing formerly liberal atmosphere Announced in November of 2009 inability to pay foreign loans Owe 50 Billion over the next 3 years May have significant impact on world economy
  14. 14. Political Structure Restricted democracy Federation of 7 absolute monarchies De facto hereditary presidency and premiership 3 branches of government
  15. 15. Political Structure President & Ruler of Abu Dhabi - Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Vice President & Ruler of Dubai - Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Consider themselves a democracy, but refer to leaders as ‚rulers‛ Citizens have no right to change their government Law does not distinguish between church affairs and state affairs
  16. 16. Media Editors practice self-censorship Criticism of Islam, the government, ruling families or UAE citizens punishable by imprisonment rarely bash the U.S. because of efforts toward UAE as a westernized nation Broadcast & publish in English and Arabic Most channels owned by government
  17. 17. Media Bloggers report reprimands for writing posts critical of the government or society Forbids use of Flickr, YouTube and Skype Moving to prohibit MySpace and Facebook
  18. 18. Infrastructure 20th busiest airport in the world 7th busiest port in the world Opened Dubai Metro on September 30, carries 27k passengers per hour on 42 trains Primary mode of transportation: airplanes Road networks connecting all major towns and cities Two telecom operators: Etisalat & Du, hold 80 and 20% of the market respectively Influx of one-way ticket purchases as of 2009
  19. 19. Social Structure class-based society, with migrant workers in the lower classes (largely Asian) rare ethnic tension, but usually between expatriates Society revolves around Islam More liberal than Arabic neighbors Ranked third in ‘promoting gender equality and empowerment of women
  20. 20. Human Rights Issues Human Trafficking Drug Conduit Work Conditions for foreign labor
  21. 21. Fashion Western-style clothing fairly popular among the youth Traditional Adults still wear white kandouras and black dishdasha but with more decorations than the other more conservative Arab nations
  22. 22. Fashion Foreigners wearing traditional Arab clothing considered offensive When visiting: Men should wear long-sleeves and long pants, a suit and tie for business Women should wear shapeless clothes with high necklines, low hemlines, no pants and carry a scarf just in case
  23. 23. SPORTS: Cricket (root for Pakistan) Formula One racing – called F1 Soccer
  24. 24. BEHAVIOR Left hand is considered unclean, so gesture with right hand ‚Thumbs up‛ is offensive Do not discuss women or Israel Ask permission before photographing people in general Alcohol is reserved to hotels and bars (mostly tourist locations) Eat with right hand
  25. 25. BEHAVIOR Remove your shoes before entering a building Men walking hand-in-hand is a sign of friendship Showing the bottom of your feet is offensive Traditional greeting between men involves grasping each other’s right hand, placing the left hand on the other’s right shoulder and exchanging kisses on each cheek
  26. 26. COMMUNICATION NUANCES Raised voice not a sign of anger Expect a personal touch & Short attention span praise Enjoy long visits and Enjoy talking one-on-one conversations Less worried about logical Normal to interrupt arguments, than being persuaded
  27. 27. COMMUNICATION NUANCES Like to talk about family & Respond well to frequent connections religious references Sit and stand closer than More important to foster westerners personal relationships and sell your personal values than your company’s mission
  28. 28. RELIGION The majority of the population practices Islam, the religion’s rules and beliefs create the basis for the UAE’s culture, laws and government. Therefore knowledge of Islam’s beliefs is essential to communicators.
  29. 29. RELIGION ‚Islam‛ means peace, love and a devotion to god ‚A true Muslim is one whose actions and words do not hurt his fellow man‛ When Muslims greet each other they say ‚May peace be upon you and may God's blessings be with you‛ Prohibited from consuming pork products, blood, carrion, and alcohol
  30. 30. 5 PILLARS OF ISLAM (1) Say Salah, ritual prayer, 5 times a day (2) Shahadah – testament that Allah is the only god worthy of worship and Mohammed is his messenger (3) Zakat – alms-giving based on accumulated wealth (4) Sawm – fasting during Ramadan, no eating or drinking from dawn to dusk while thinking of one’s sins (5) Hajj – Pilgrimage to Meccca, must be made once in a lifetime
  31. 31. Holidays: Eid al-Fitr – Festival marking the end of Ramadan Eid al-Adha – All meet for ritual prayer in public before sacrificing an animal, distribute meet among the poor Ramadan – month of fasting, must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, meant to teach patience, modesty and spirituality
  32. 32. CULTURAL METAPHORS Real estate Extravagance Clothing (Kandoura & Dishdasha)
  33. 33. NATIONAL ANTHEM Live my country, the unity of our Emirates lives You have lived for a nation Whose religion is Islam and guide is the Qur’an I made you stronger in God's name, oh homeland My country, My country, My country, My country God has protected you from the evils of the time We have sworn to build and work Work sincerely, work sincerely As long as we live, we will be sincere The safety has lasted and the flag has lived oh our Emirates The symbol of Arabism We all sacrifice for you, we supply you with our blood We sacrifice for you with our souls oh homeland
  34. 34. ‚Emiratization‛ New code of conduct for clothing, public behavior Forbids music, dancing, insults, rude gestures 5 – 20% of employees must be Emirati Expatriates must be laid off first Expatriates must pass ‘a local culture’ test to obtain a visa
  35. 35. WHAT THIS ALL MEANS FOR COMMUNICATION It’s okay to be modern, extravagant and westernized, but make sure to not offend the traditional, conservative Arab population.